I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love ~ Mother Teresa
With TLO’s recent diagnosis that his cancer has spread to multiple parts of his body, I have to admit this news, along with intense Caregiving over the past month, has put me in a position where I have hit the wall with blogging. While I’ve learned over the past two years that writing about TLO’s bout with esophageal cancer has provided a great deal of comfort for both of us, I now find it interesting that writing about the end stages of our Caregiving journey to be a tad more difficult.
And that is precisely where we are at in our Caregiving journey, we are at the end-stage.
TLO was admitted to Gold Coast Hospice as an inpatient on Monday, March 3rd. We are in a small 8 unit facility under the umbrella of Broward Health. With the mindset that we were going to inpatient care “just for a few days for an evaluation and re-set of his medications;” we have since learned that God and TLO’s body had other plans.
The last thing he said to me on Monday night was…”Please go home and get some rest, I will be OK here and we’ll see each other in the morning.” Reluctantly I agreed with him and headed home. Now knowing that this is going to be our last lucid conversation we have on this journey is fitting, for in his time of strife, his concern and love for me was first and foremost in his mind. We tend to share that similar trait when caring for each other.
TLO has been resting comfortably in our hospice suite since Tuesday; in and out of consciousness, his little body is ravished by cancer. “We don’t know how this man has lived so long with the amount of cancer that is inside of him,” the hospice doctor said to me Friday. “It is only by the grace of God and the love that the two of you have that has kept this man alive.” The Doctor’s words are comforting because it has taken me a few days to get beyond the quick transition from our Monday evening conversation, to finding him resting peacefully since my arrival on Tuesday morning. I suspect that he needed that time alone on Monday night moving into Tuesday morning, so that he could rest and prepare for his journey.
While in the midst of Caregiving, we often lose sight of what is transpiring right in front of us because we are so intent on service and care. Trips for radiation become routine because that is something that is just a part of our day? With one of my sisters here helping us for the past month, I’ve come to realize that what I might think is a routine day, is totally off the charts by normal standards. I’m sure most family caregivers can get in touch with that.
“If you could look inside his body you would understand what is going on inside of him” was another comment the hospice doctor said to me on Friday. This ‘trip’ has been hard for me to accept because I am so used to him just getting up and continuing on. He is such a fighter! Yet this ‘trip ‘ is just a little bit different because he has acknowledged that he is tried, he has acknowledged that he is ready and from our previous conversations, he knows that I am going to be safe. So in just a few short hours, I have had to learn how to separate my emotions from the reality that we face; TLO was able to do that after I left on Monday night. In fact, he had prepared for this day longer than I have ever realized.
I have had to put into perspective that this journey just did not start on Monday of this week, this journey started over three years ago in a little Greek restaurant in Indianapolis when there was the first indication that something might be wrong with his throat. Through all the tests and tribulations of the last three years, not to mention the original diagnosis of 3 to 4 months to live in 2011, I’d say we have had a pretty darn good run at it. Up until recently, we have had more good days and bad, and along the way on this journey, we have met so many wonderful friends from around the world who simply ask…”How’s TLO”. The Caregiving community is so vast, so strong and so very comforting; Where would we have been without you!
TLO is just mighty fine my friends! He is resting peacefully, and we have been able to communicate through touch and some words. He now gets to run the show and call the shots. Actually, he’s been doing that for quite some time, I’ve just been here proud to be along for the ride. Right now I just want to be his partner, holding him close, caressing and kissing him while telling him that I love him with an everlasting love. His squeeze of my hand gives me strength and helps take my sadness away.
You see…Cancer is not winning here. Love is winning here.