Breath, In

Waiting outside the CT room and I can hear the machine whir into action. “Breath In” says the 1990’s era synth voice. I think after this one she gets a free nuclear powered toaster, having filled her loyalty card. Kathleen is massively doped up to try and deal with the intense pain of laying on her back. She is medicated as much as possible once again so she can stay still while they image another area. Its not as long as the MRI thankfully.
Photo 2013-03-02 1 33 03 PM The latest theory (this time by a very earnest Neurologist) is an abscess in her sacrum. The MRI showed a relatively normal back “unfortunately / fortunately” depending on how you look at it. Some age related degeneration and some fluid but nothing that would account for the massive pain she has. If it is an abscess, it can be drained bringing almost instant pain relief. After so many tries– and they really are trying— Kathleen needs this win. The pain is grinding her down.
I think about some of the intractable work problems I have faced in the past. You come up with a theory, put in all sorts of effort to implement the plan only to have it fail. You think you have it. You get your hopes up…. no. You get beat down. You pull yourself up somehow, only to get beat back down. Repeat. Thats just money and equipment at work. This is very different of course. Its easy for me to say we will keep trying, as its Kathleen that has to endure.

More pills to try and get her through the symptoms. She took this photo this morning– her AM regime. I havent had a chance to ask her what was on her mind yet, but I will include it here.
Photo 2013-03-01 8 45 59 AM

Upstairs now and Kathleen is sleeping off the drugs. She had another rough night. On top of the pain, they are trying to get all the excess fluids out of her tissues which means more trips to the washroom. Her one leg has started to get better, but not the other raising some concern of a blood clot somewhere. But they are on it. They dont shy away from doing ultrasounds to make sure.

Lovely visit from her maternal aunt and uncle from Montreal this morning. They were in Toronto visiting their grandchildren and came up to see Kathleen and Elaine. They brought her a St. Patricks day drinking hat 🙂
Photo 2013-03-02 12 31 56 PM


Team Effort

Really, when I think I have seen it all in terms of level of care and support, the staff at Grand River Hospital one up themselves. It seemed like half of the hospital was involved to help get Kathleen through her MRI. Nurses, techs, Radiologists, pharmacists, doctors. They got as much pain relief and sedition as safely possible, timed it all as perfectly as possible… Sent additional staff down into the MRI lab to inject more pain meds half way through– all so they could get an image and hopefully get to the bottom of what is causing the pain. If a tumor, irradiate it. If infection (discitus), treat it with specific antibiotics. If physical, they said they would even get an orthopedic surgeon to look at finding temporary pain relief. Wow. Thats all I can say. And of course, delivered with the utmost compassion, care and kindness. I would love to mention everyone’s names, but for privacy reasons I wont here.

And wow! is all I can say to all the emails, pics, videos and cards people have sent. They really do help get us through this difficult road. Each email, note, pic, video, when added to all the other emails, pics, videos and cards combine to a very warming foundation of support. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for that. It really brings us a smile that we have such a wonderful community around us. I will include this one particular pic from her service club which I think is ok to post here. zonta

After all that, a very generous and sweet stylist came and cut Kathleen’s hair, Jess/Jenn. Interesting story around her name.

On the medical front, Kathleen is technically considered to have pneumonia as there is fluid in her lungs right now. Having so much pain medication pushed into her, and then the attending saline to flush the meds, has caused her to accumulate a great deal of fluid throughout her body. Third spacing its called. (I think she is on ‘forth’ if there is such a thing.) She describes her legs as elephant trunks. She refused to allow me to take a picture, so here is an artist’s conception approximating how they look.


As you can see, they are quite large! I still love em. But I think she needs some moisturizer. More meds to deal with it slowly and gently. No results from the MRI yet. We will hopefully get something tomorrow. In the mean time, the pain is definitely down from its high point which is great. But its still to the point where she can only walk a few steps. It was a physically and emotionally exhausting day for her, but its one in the win column… on many fronts.


On The Stage Please

Its been a busy few days of chasing normality. Kath’s back is still really bad, but she is doing her best to lead a normal life despite the new challenge. She managed to get through the MRI last night, so hopefully we will get to the bottom of it. She really had to dope up on the pain meds– 3 different types maxed out and even then, it was almost too much. Here she is looking a little giddy after popping many pills under the religious tech poster. Saint Technician of the Toroidal Ring order. Praise be to GE? 🙂


Today we went to a play! We used to go a lot to Stratford and the Shaw. As she has to sit in a very particular way to control her back pain, we brought the wheelchair along to the theater. We went to see Cafe Daughter in a very small and intimate setting. Its a play acted by just one performer, so the size was perfect. Drew’s partner Richard is the stage / production manager from the troupe and it was great to see his craft in action. A very powerful production. One actor telling a story from many voices. Very emotional, very well done. After the show, off to our favorite Saturday cafe (Nougat) along with the ‘cast’ so to speak. Lovely young lady who has a great deal of talent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her in bigger venues in the future.
Yesterday, Kathleen’s work colleagues came by to visit and cheer her up. It sure worked. She was just glowing in all the attention after. Its hard for Kathleen to give up work. She loved what she did and loved the people she worked with. She was very touched that they all came by with such warm wishes and delicious dishes. We are both the type of people who derive much of our identities and self worth through what we do. Cancer steals that role from you and you then have a new part to play. But as they say, there is no such thing as small parts, only small actors. That makes Kathleen the biggest star in my books.
The star of the play, PJ Prudat, Worlds greatest Mother-in-Law, and the star of my show.