Today is the day!
All weekend we have both been repeating "One More Day" with giant smiles. (Well, my face was a smile, my husbands more of a fake sad grin, to keep me happy)
One more treatment today and then this torture ends.
No more Mask.
No more radiation.
No more chemo.
One more day. Today. It ends....
My husband hasn't been sleeping in bed.
He has to sleep sitting straight up these last few days since the mucus is so thick in his throat. He has no saliva anymore so this thick stringy stuff just collects like rope in the back of his throat and it chokes him.
Every 3 minutes he must spit it out and when I say it's like rope, that's no exaggeration. It's thick, stringy and will choke a horse.
If he slips and lays too far down, I can hear him choke and each breath is like dragging a car down the drive with no tires. I wake up with a start when I hear him gasping and think
"Breathe, breathe, exhale....wait.......
Inhale...Wait.... exhale..... Inhale.... Wait...Breathe, dammit breathe!"
I can hear that stuff caught there and air has no chance to penetrate it.
Gross? Youbetcha. I can stand vomit or blood... Mucus and spit? Thick and slimy?
Not so much.
I wake up and stagger to the living room in the still dark pre-dawn of morning and find a very pale, weak, sad looking husband sitting upright in his favorite lounger. Wide awake.
I remind him... "One More Treatment" with a shaky grin.
He shakes his head. His voice is completely gone now.
He looks like something the dog drug in from the back yard.
How can he possible put on that dreaded mask, be clamped to the table flat on his back and lie there without moving for 40 minutes thru one last radiation treatment and not choke to death.
Does ONE more treatment matter in the grand scheme of things?
Probably not but I gently remind him that we can and will get thru this last one. One more.
We leave and arrive at the clinic.
I am so fearful they will tack on some surprise additional treatments but they don't.
Our parole begins today.
They call his name. I sit and wait. The time seems to be dragging. What is going on in there? Is he choking to death on that crap?
I hear a siren wailing in the background. Is that coming here or to the hospital right next door?
I feel as tho I took one giant breath as I entered this building and am afraid to take another. Time is crawling. I know they give him a safety buzzer if he is in trouble but geez, this is a man that never ever complains.
Tick tock... One minute is an eternity.
Finally, I see him turn the corner and his sad little face tells me he is done.
No more treatments.
My eyes well up with tears at the thought. I told him I would drag him thru this. Neither of us is pretty but we did it!
Now what happens?
The other patients all call it "Getting put out to pasture"
They send you home and you wait. Wait to get poked and prodded and then scanned for a recurrence.
The chemo stays in your body several days but radiation takes about a month so to scan now would all show up as red hot inflammation from the burning and searing of the radiation.
As I am writing this, our phone rings several times. It seems the word is already out. Our initial doctor's office calls to schedule an appointment for a flex-scope in 4 weeks. The radiation clinic calls for a follow up in two weeks just so see how he is progressing. The chemo clinic calls to schedule an appointment for an infusion of IV fluids on Thursday.
We may be in the pasture now but it's not going to be all rosy.
The feeding tube must remain in place.
If anyone reading this is or will be going thru this or helping a loved one, I plead with you... Implore you and encourage you to get the G-Tube and get it in place before treatment begins. To do it after, you will not have the energy to do so.
It has saved my husbands life.
He has lost 40 pounds but would have probably lost double that without it.
Also, it helps to get pills and water in via the tube. My husband stopped drinking or even sipping water a week ago. I am told he will have to go thru therapy to re-learn how to eat and drink. His muscles have probably locked up. (I know that feeling. My heart locked up about 2 months ago)
So, for now we are out to pasture and I am glad to be there. We have a month of innocent oblivion. We don't know a thing and for now, I'm happy about that.
Recurrence is now our enemy.
We hear so many people that have treatment then say after the first scan, "I beat it. I'm cancer Free!"
Not so fast...
Since entering this nightmare and learning more than I ever wanted to know about cancer, I have discovered that you are only as good as your last scan.
We won this battle. We made it thru the treatment.
Now we must win the war.
Recurrence, keep your smelly ass outta here!