Every Christmas season Steve grows his beard in preparation to play Santa. This year is no different. His beard is looking very Santa-like. Here’s a picture of him brushing it out after the aide has washed it up. He was able to shave his own neck, which was comforting to him. He is still sleeping a lot but otherwise not too uncomfortable.
I was getting ready to go to Tai Chi yesterday evening when I noticed that Steve’s urinary catheter bag was not filling. I felt his belly and it was bloated and hard, indicating a full bladder. I felt sad for not noticing it sooner. I called the Hospice nurse and she came right over and inserted a new catheter. The urine started flowing, but pretty slowly. And now today it is flowing very slowly. As a nurse I know this may be the result of clots or tumors in the bladder, or a sign of kidneys shutting down. Although he is not complaining of pain he has slept most of the day, and only ate breakfast. He has only been awake a couple of hours, during which time he said he was ready to go and was wondering when God would call him home. I asked him if there was something holding him here and he said, “I should have had more fun with you.” I told him we had plenty of fun, and to let that go if he could. We reminisced about some fun times we had. He especially liked our Hawaiian trips. I told him his family would not hold him here. We want him to be happy and healthy and free.
It’s been 9 months now since my husband Steve was diagnosed with bladder cancer and about 4 months since we were told that he probably had about 6 months to live. He’s been enrolled in home-based Solstice Hospice Care for a couple of months now and the hospice team is caring, fun, honest and just really outstanding. Steve is going slowly downhill. He can no longer get out of bed for any reason, although he wants to go to see Star Wars with the family on December 19. We already have the tickets. He sleeps most of the time, although some days more than others. He often doesn’t make sense when he’s talking – we assume that’s the pain meds talking. A new tumor has blossomed on his left upper arm, and his abdomen is swollen and lumpy. His pain is managed by tons of meds. It is a challenge to watch him suffer and I often pray that God will take him sooner rather than later. I honestly did not think it would take this long. On this journey we haven’t asked “why me?” or “why now?” or “why did he get Cancer?” But I have to admit that now I am asking “why is it taking so long?” It’s not that I want him to die, it’s that I want him to stop suffering and move forward into the next leg of his journey. His bags are packed and he’s waiting for the train. I know he is headed to a beautiful place filled with wonderful people and restful peace. Why not now?
My husband Steve continues the end of life process. Physically he is unable to get out of bed, and it hurts him to move in bed. An aide comes to bathe him 3 times a week, and the hospice nurse visits 2 or 3 times a week to assess his progress and comfort level. His pain is fairly well managed.Mentally he comes and goes. He often makes statements that make sense only to him. Interestingly, he gets lucid and acts perfectly normal when visitors are here. He just gets delusional around family members. That’s interesting. He is delighted to have visitors. We were especially happy when some old friends from Kearns, Utah visited. We were all young parents together, and now we are growing old together. Instead of talking about Boy Scouts and soccer and kids, we talked about the challenges of aging. Time flies.
Yesterday Steve wanted to see our Christmas tree in the living room. Since he couldn’t do that, I bought a small tree and set it up in the bedroom, with the help of our grandson Braxton and our son Brad. Steve has always been a huge fan of Christmas lights and just loves the little tree.
I am getting more challenged as time goes by. Yesterday I did not meditate and it really made a difference. I got frazzled. Around 6:00 PM I finally sat down and decided not to cook dinner. As Marlo, Steve and I discussed where to go get dinner, my friend Debbie texted and asked if I needed anything. I was so stressed I just said thanks but no. Then she offered to bring over dinner so I said yes. Talk about perfect timing! The angels are watching over us. And Debbie’s soup was fabulous. While we waited for it to arrive Steve and I meditated and it calmed me down considerably. I just have to take care of myself if I want to take care of Steve.