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The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

August 11, 2013

And I thought bipolar was a rollercoaster ride………

Will had a GREAT day yesterday. He was every bit his old self—felt good, ate well, even did some household chores without collapsing in exhaustion. We watched funny shows on TV and enjoyed each other’s company all day long (hence, no blog entries last night); we cuddled and reminisced about old times. And all the while, I was storing up memories to hold me together later when there won’t be any more.

Today, again, is not so good. He’s eating relatively well and holding it down, which is wonderful—I am SO glad we wandered into that alternative store and learned about ginger root, because it’s controlling the nausea and he hasn’t vomited in two days. But his blood sugar keeps crashing because the tumor on his pancreas is causing it to dump too much insulin, and these episodes scare him even worse than his prognosis.

Here’s where being a nurse is actually helpful, because it gives me a false sense of control. It’s like “Hey, I know exactly what to do about this!!”. As if eating every 2-3 hours and monitoring his glucose levels are going to stop the cancer juggernaut. As if I don’t see him wasting away more every single day, no matter how well he manages to eat.

He used to be seriously overweight, carrying around about 260 lbs. on his five-foot-ten-inch frame. He’s been gradually dropping pounds over the past year or so, but now the process is accelerating and other than a big belly from liver enlargement, he looks almost as slim as he was when we met. His double chin is gone, as is what used to be a bubble butt. And every day, there is new evidence that his body is consuming itself: I see more and more of his ribs, his thick neck is now a shadow of its former self, and his skin is beginning to hang off his bones like that of someone who is starving to death.

I’d give almost anything to see him at 260 again, obese but hale and hearty. I don’t know this body; I’m half-afraid to hug him because he may break in two right in front of me. Yesterday I gave meds to an emaciated fellow at work whose diagnosis I don’t know, but he had that being-eaten-alive look, and it struck me that this will be my husband in another few weeks. It took every bit of professionalism I could muster to give the gentleman his pills and then get the hell out of the room without bursting into tears.

Speaking of which…….I’ve gone a whole 36 hours or so without crying. A small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Tomorrow is our hospice visit. I don’t know what will happen—if he’ll sign on, or if he’ll still want to fight. There’s less and less to fight with every day that he goes without chemo; on the other hand, I’d rather see him go out comfortable and with the dignity that has defined his entire life. I don’t want him to be nauseated, miserable, incontinent. But I’m not in charge here, and I’m glad I’m not, because I ran things for over three decades and this is not a responsibility I ever wanted.

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