Terminal Musings -- Rallying Around the Dying

I got some devastating news yesterday.  My 92 year old aunt is in renal failure, and is refusing dialysis.  I'm told by my cousin who spoke with our aunt's nurses that "she knows this is the beginning of the end".  They say that it could be as little as a few weeks until her final days.

A little bit about Aunt Kathryn:  She is one of ten siblings, my father's sister.  She is a retired nurse, and nun.  She is currently residing in a convent for retired nuns.  She and I share a birthday.  She is loved by many.

Yesterday afternoon and evening was spent in a group chat with my cousins.  We have created a group calendar online on which we can all post.  We are filling in the days with the dates of our visits to our Aunt Kathryn, so that she will not be alone for the rest of her days.

This all brought to mind when my sister was in the hospital, and the doctors told us that there was nothing else they could do.  It was time to transfer her to a Hospice House.  I called …

Living Scared

Let me preface this by saying why I tell you all of this.  It's not so you'll feel sorry for me.  I do that enough myself.  My hope is that by understanding a little better what I go through, you might better understand the actions and feelings of your loved one going through a tough time.  Also, so you understand why I might be a little snarky sometimes, and seem to have lost my filter a bit.


This week was a tough week for me.  I've been pulled from my regular position at work to help out somewhere else.  That's fine; that's not a problem; I love the work.  What is stressful is trying to balance the two.  I've been more tired this week than usual.  We were all so tired the other night that we didn't even have dinner.  Not just the "cereal for dinner" time -- we didn't even have the energy for that.  This week, a few loads of dishes and a few loads of laundry were done, but not much else.

Yesterday, I received a check from a fun…

If I Had Known Then What I Know Now....

It's still dark outside when my alarm clock sounds at 4:00am.  It's earlier than I usually awaken, but in order to fit as many appointments in one day as possible, these days start early.  I try to fit as many appointments in one day as possible so as to use as little leave at work as I can.  Today I was lucky enough to have been able to schedule five appointments, which is unusual.  I am completely exhausted, but must get up and be ready to leave the house at 5:00.  I packed my bag last night (snacks, phone charger, knitting project, ipad for books, games, puzzles), so after a quick shower and make-up, I'm ready.  No coffee or jewelry until after the CT scans.  My watch, wedding rings, and medical id bracelet are tucked safely in my bag, along with the necklace and earring set I usually wear to my medical appointments.  Yes, there is a specific set that I wear to every appointment.  I call it my armor.  It's a Touchstone Crystal by Swavorski set, called the Guardian. …

My Story, as of January 2018

I have quite a few new readers of this blog, so I thought I would make an entry with a summary of my story to date.

I was diagnosed at age 50 with Stage IV breast cancer.  Stage IV means that it has moved from the spot of origin to other organs.  Mine is in my left lung.  It's not lung cancer; it's breast cancer in my lung.  I had the misconception that I would have chemo, maybe radiation, maybe surgery, then get back to normal.  Boy, was I wrong.  I had seven rounds of chemo, the last one of which put me in the hospital for about four days.  That's when my oncologist and my surgeon made the decision that surgery was the best option at that point.  My first CT scan after surgery showed No Evidence of Active Disease.  This means that whatever they can see in my lung, they're not sure what it is.  It could be scar tissue, it could be cancer, it could be really anything.  So, I have CT scans once every three months to monitor.  They can not say that I am cancer free.  The…

Terminal Musings -- Last Meal

This may sound morbid to most of you, and you might think I'm a little off my rocker for posting this, but trust me, I've thought about it.  Lots of us have thought about it.

Have you ever thought about what you would want your last meal to be?  I hadn't until I was diagnosed with a terminal disease.  This is actually a question that comes up periodically in the facebook support groups that I am a member of.  We've thought about it.  We've planned the meal in our minds.  If you could plan your last meal, what will it be?  Here's mine:

An appetizer of Stuffed Shrimp from Captain Billy's, along with a Hawaiian Punch (one of the drinks that they're famous for).  The main course will be a Delmonico steak from Hancock Family Farms, cooked outside on the grill, accompanied by potatoes, sliced and fried with onions in a cast iron skillet like my father used to do.  I guess we should throw in some vegetables, too, as long as corn is included.  Since the Hawaii…

12/13/2017 Endoscopy

I've been having trouble swallowing.  I've choked on my medication a few times, and on food.  I now take my pills with applesauce (I was using milk, but that stopped working).  I had a swallow test done, which showed some spillage.  Yesterday I had an upper endoscopy.  I arrived at the hospital at 7:00am for the 8:00am procedure.  After I changed into a hospital gown, they put me on a gurney, then a nurse inserted an IV.  After a few minutes, I was wheeled down the hall.  They put an oxygen tube in my nose, then the anesthesiologist put something into my IV.  He said was a numbing agent, because whatever he was giving me next may have a burning sensation.  Then I was asked to turn onto my side, and a nurse put the mouthpiece in.  I rested there waiting for a few minutes, then I was waking up in the recovery room.   Done.  I don't remember the anesthesiologist giving me anything else.  After I got dressed, I waited for the doctor to come in with the results.  She didn'…

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I posted this on my personal facebook page, and it turned out much longer than I intended.  So, I thought I'd copy and paste it here:

Tomorrow marks the beginning of October. Please, no pink hearts by themselves as a status update. It's not spreading awareness, especially when you're supposed to "keep them guessing", and "don't tell the guys". How is that spreading awareness when you're not supposed to say what it means? And - newsflash - guys get breast cancer, too. And face it, we're all aware.
NFL -- You can stop turning everything pink during October. We're aware. The money that you're spending on all that pink stuff can be better spent on research. That goes for the pink firetrucks and police cars I've seen, too.
And please (and this goes for any charitable organization), if you see something out in the stores that has a pink ribbon emblazoned on it, read the fine print. If you want to buy it to give to someone in a sho…