The pain, so we thought, was due to a pulled muscle or stress culminating in his back muscles. Easy to fix one might think. Not so, we found out. I had Ron visit no less than five physical treatment professionals; chiro, physio, and targeted pain management. Oh, he did respond to the physical treatment albeit, temporarily. The week of Dec 20th to 23rd was difficult for me to leave him while I went to work. Keep in mind, we believed the therapy he was undergoing would do the trick and he would eventually be pain free. Surely by Christmas the pain would subside. Not so.
Ron, being the trooper he is, endured the three hour Volvo ride to the Comox Valley. It was the worst driving conditions I had experienced in years: rain, blackness, and wind. We were comfortable and safe in our new Volvo.
Bill and Leanne, graciously hosted our families at their house for Christmas Eve dinner, complete with Santa. We will never, ever lose sight of the depth of our friendship... you two have given new meaning to the word. We worked side by side to cook, tidy and set up for family to arrive. Gracie, Bill and Leanne’s three year old, was excited that our grand kids were coming over. They had a great evening together with Santa being the show stopper – he came all the way from the North Pole, so three year old Amelia tells us. Stewart, Meghan, Kirsten and Ryan, it made Ron’s Christmas to spend it with you and your families. You made Christmas Eve happy and joyous. Thank you for joining us!
Did you know that cancer does not recognize Christmas nor any other holiday for that matter. Ron managed and was able to add some humour to the day. We exchanged gifts. It was very difficult. As I observed his movements, his comments and his desire to enjoy the day, I could not help but wonder if this would be my last Christmas with him. Ron’s two kids, Kirsten and Ryan, joined us for breakfast before heading back to Victoria. The rest of the day for Ron was spent trying to find a position in order to sleep more than half an hour. Ron’s sleeps were more like power naps. He would swear he was in a deep sleep for a couple hours but it was only minutes. We had the best day we could, it was quiet but we were not alone. For me, being with Bill, Leanne and Gracie was consoling; it was vital. Ron’s sleepless nights continued, the pain continued despite the varied treatments.
Ron had reached the end of his rope. He requested a visit to emergency. It was not meant to be. The wait was 2, 3 maybe 4 hours before he could be seen. Ron could not manage the wait at the hospital; he could not be still. I felt desperate. Ron and I see ourselves as givers, not receivers. This whole experience has been humbling; taking, taking and more taking from caring and generous friends and family. In my desperation for Ron, I called on Eddy and Donna our good friends (Eddy, a physio). Could you come and give Ron emergency IMS? It is December 26 and I am frantic. We met Eddy at The Joint. We all had a little cry and a huddle. Yes, we still have moments of disbelief that this is all happening. Eddy was able to offer Ron some relief. We went home to Mulholland and Ron slept soundly for a couple of hours. Thank you, Eddy. We love you!
Despite all the physical treatments, the pain, In fact, intensified and a new dimension was added... pressure in the chest. Off to emergency we trundled. It was 3:00 AM. As we left the house on Mulhholland, Ron paused to comment of the twinkling stars and the clarity of the morning sky. He even thought we should be setting up tripods and capturing the stars on camera. He loves looking at the stars. When Ron writes me a card he often signs “ I will love you until all the stars fall from the sky”.
The staff at St. Josephs Hospital was wonderful. Ron had the full attention of one nurse who gave him morphine every 10 minutes until the pain subsided and he slept pain free. He had his heart checked and another CT (with contrast) done. The results... blood clots. As Ron slept, I silently wept. With Ron awake and digesting the news, the nurse gave him instructions on how to self inject the blood clot medications. Ron would have to inject each day for the rest of his life. OK, just a little bump in the road... it is not the end of the road.... it’s not the end of the road... it is not the end of the road. Once back home on Muholland Drive, Ron slept in the snippets he could find comfort. I slept for a couple hours and felt much better. I even slept through my ringing phone... a message from the emergency doctor. I listened, listened again and listened again. I jumped up and put the cell phone on speaker for both Ron and Bill to listen – ‘I apologize, there has been a mistake in the reading of the image, there are no blood clots.” I cannot explain how I felt at that moment. Jubilant comes to mind. That feeling was short lived as we still have to find the source of pain in Ron’s back...
A number of days ago, it was recommended we see an MD who practices (for lack of a better description) ‘needling’ for pain. He happened to call on Dec 27. As I was fatigued, I was not thinking straight and told him we would be home later on Dec 28. Ron could see him on Dec 29. This morning Ron’s sleep deprivation and grimacing reminded me that we needed to find some relief and find it soon. My telephone call and email to Dr Siren resulted in a reply call saying that he could see Ron at 1 PM today. We literally threw our belongings into the Volvo and headed for home. Once finished at Dr. Siren’s office Ron needed to head home to sleep. Again there was some relief. Tomorrow we visit Ron’s doctor, Andrea.
You gotta love drugs. Medication was ordered up! Between Dr. Lewis and oncologist Dr. MacPherson the news was delivered to us that the tumor was growing and starting to penetrate the chest lining. That is what is causing the pain, not a muscle as originally thought. That explains why Ron did not respond to any physical treatments. While we are extremely saddened that the cancer is spreading faster than anticipated, we are elated that Ron is on medication and has found some relief within a few short hours.
Doug and Karen, thank you so very much for making our New Year's celebration a happy one. You company, excellent food and of course copious amounts of wine were very much appreciated. We are thankful that Ron felt well enough to participate!
Conclusion To This Post
As I write this post, I have yet to open the Christmas card from Ron. I am so afraid it will be the last. In hindsight, I feel that I have been numb these past few days. People wishing me or us a Happy New Year catches me off guard. I have to stop, be positive and believe... it will be as happy as we make it.
Ron has no use of his left lung. The tumour is spreading faster than we like to accept. While we cannot see the cancer everyday Ron is living with the affects and symptoms; shortness of breath, fatigue, pain, numbness and tingling in left arm, and side effects from drugs. These are only the physical. I can only imagine what is going through his mind. Perhaps one day, he will write and share. I know he will when he is ready.
Ironically, a neighbour lost her husband early in the fall. She is facing the first year of occasions on her own. Periodically thoughts will invade my mind; will this be our last Christmas, will this be our last Happy New Year celebration, will this be my last birthday with Ron... these thoughts are invasions and not welcome. I have to take these stormings and deliberately push them away to let the positive thoughts of the moment flood my mind. I look at Ron, my lip turns up in part snicker, part smile and I know that I have him in my life today and tonight. Love is grand. He can still put a smile on my face, light me up and warm me from the inside out.
Saturday (Jan 8) we leave for Orlando, Florida. Ron wants to visit Disney World and of course Harry Potter!
A heartfelt thank you to Tim and Tara for offering to take Winston. Twelve days will be the longest we have ever been away from him in the ten years he has adopted us. We know he will be loved and spoiled while we are gone!