Saturday, January 29, 2011

So Far Away...

Rick was “gone” after two days of chemo and the pain meds.  He was a shell of the man he was before the nightmare began. He would talk with me but it wasn't him.  This was Chemo Rick. It was very hard to deal with this person who was with me; I didn't know him.  I had no idea how long he would be with me.

Is this Rick forever?  Where is my husband?  Will he ever be back?  He’s inside and he will come back; I have to believe it.

I chose to believe he was in there under all the coldness.  For ten days he was in the hospital being poked, prodded, scanned, x-rayed, zapped by radiation and poisoned by chemo.  He had gone away to somewhere else.

At home, our house had been turned upside down in order to make room for our adjusted life.  Rick had seen this all before when his dad was ill.  His dad went to the hospital and returned to the family room and the hospital bed.  His father died in his hospital bed.

Someone got fast food for dinner.  It was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  We all sat around the kitchen table eating hamburgers.  It was my mother that remembered first.  She burst out with, “We’re not supposed to eat meat today.  It’s Ash Wednesday!  What was I thinking?”   My brother in-law, the priest looked at all of us and said in a low voice, “Well, I wasn’t going to say anything!”  We roared with laughter.  Everything was a mess and quite frankly, I wasn’t worried about eating meat.  I was more afraid I would be giving up Rick for Lent.

Jack and Michael were out of sorts.  They could tell that everything had changed.  I could see right away this was going to be very hard on them.  The boys were a threat to Rick’s immune system.  They really couldn’t have close contact with him and they needed to be washing their hands constantly.  I am sure that it felt like rejection to be restrained from loving-on their dad. He was their buddy and pal and loved to snuggle them.  Rick's happy-go-lucky spirit had changed.  He was gone.

Rick was in a wheelchair, slumped over with his head down.  He was in constant pain.  We had been given Dilaudid, morphine patches  and  Roxanol, liquid morphine to put under his tongue for break-through pain.  The chemo had started its side effects; he tasted metal, had no appetite and basically wanted to die.

My parents left the evening we came home.  They wanted to get a jump on getting home and would get a hotel room in Pennsylvania.  It was okay; I would handle it.  Rick’s brothers would be back in the morning to help with taking him to the hospital for radiation.

We got up the next morning and I had the boys rolling toward going off to day care and school.  I was getting breakfast when I heard the usual bickering between the boys.  Rick exploded yelling at Jack, my oldest to stop.  It was over the top.  Rick came into the kitchen in the wheelchair and I looked at him very seriously and said, “You had better stop right now.  I don’t care if you’re in a wheelchair or not;  If you yell at him again like that, I’ll knock you on your ass!  They have enough to deal with right now; this is an adjustment for them too.”

I know he’s in there somewhere.  Please come back to me, Rick.

I decided right then that I had to do something.  I got on the phone to the oncology nurse coordinator and told her that Rick was depressed and he needed to be on meds right away.  I explained the incident with the boys; she said she would call Dr. Death and get him to call something in.

I knew that this would be a bone of contention with Rick.  He never liked taking any medications before this; now he was on 16 different medications during the day.  Each time I took out the medications and got them ready for him.  He would look at me with a glare and say,” What am I taking?  What is this one?  Why this one”?  It was literally enough to make me crazy.  There were six different times during the day that he was taking pills and each time, I got the same inquisition.

Our secretary was a beautiful antique piece of furniture that my Aunt Kathleen had given me.  It had three shelves inside the glass doors.  This quickly became known as “the pharmacy.”  The three shelves were filled with all Rick’s meds, Kytril, Dilaudid, Morphine, Roxanol, Dexemethasone, Prilosec, Elavil, Ativan, Coumadin,  Colace, Senokot  and a lovely cocktail to prevent sores in his mouth from the chemo.  The pharmacy would be added to with each visit to the doctor weekly.

Steve and Paul came to the house around 8 o’clock to take over for me so that I could take the boys off.  Steve arrived first and then Paul.  I felt great relief just to see their faces.  I could not face this alone and they were there.

The ambulance arrived at 10 a.m. and this crew looked a lot more capable than the crashers from the day before.  There was an older gentleman, who was the in charge of them who had a friendly manner about him.  Rick liked him instantly.  At least I felt like he was in capable hands.

I had to go to school to check in; my principal had given the okay to come and go so I took advantage of the time to make an appearance.  The guys went off to the hospital for radiation and would meet me back at the house.  It was going to be a long day.

No comments:

Post a Comment