Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Six Months of a Year of Firsts.........

Message to my honey:

Tomorrow, you will have been gone six months. Six months. Six months. Six months. It seems impossible that I've lived, without you, this long. This wasn't supposed to be....or maybe it was. We vowed "til' death do us part"......I just never realized how hard that would be. 

I'm going through this "year of firsts....."

The most important "first" is the fact that you are no longer here, with me/us, physically. That has probably been the hardest "first" with which I've had to deal. I know there are verses, in the Bible, that mention God bringing the dead back to life. I prayed and prayed for that.....for a miracle.......and I finally stopped. On a Sunday, I listened to a television church service which talked about grieving for those who have left us. The minister reminded me that "You would still be here had it been in God's plan." I know people may think I'm crazy (and I care not) but I hope you enjoyed our Christmas trip. That's one of the blessings of having you in an can still travel with me. I just couldn't stand the thought of you being alone, at Christmas. Or was it that I just couldn't stand to be without you?  I touch the urn and feel like I'm still touching you.

My 2nd "first" was the first trip that I took in October, without you. As long as I had an audio book, or something to which I could look forward - I was okay. Otherwise, those long stretches of road contained many tears. The hardest part of the trip was when I would get to an area where we had been, together. I had memories, but I also had tears and an almost constant disbelief that you were gone.

Your 77th birthday happened, not long after you left us. That was the 3rd "first". We had gotten to the point that we were just thankful to wake up ..... birthdays weren't a big deal, but it was a big deal that you were no longer here to wake up beside me.

Thanksgiving, 2014 was the 4th "first". Thankfully, I wasn't alone. Adam came home, from Engineer Training School, to be with me. He sat at your place at the dinner table. It wasn't the same. You always helped with the cooking. I felt alone, in the kitchen. You weren't there to help with the dressing, to bake the wasn't the same.

Then came Christmas 2014 the 5th, and what I feared would be one of the hardest, "first".  You and I spent this Christmas, in Texas. That's one of the blessings of having you in an urn. You can go with me. You were always so hard to buy for, and that's about the only blessing to this new life that I'm now living. You bought the best Christmas gifts. Christmas was hard - but so are many days. Again, thankfully I was with family, and I wasn't alone. I slipped out of the room, often, to shed my tears.  I just couldn't stand the thought of you being alone, at Christmas. Or was it that I just couldn't stand to be without you?  I touch the urn and feel like I'm still touching you.

I started 2015 without 6th "first". I was back in the town where we had spent so many of our beginning years of marriage and where our first child was born. Where we owned our first house. It was an "only"....the only time that I had been there without you. I didn't drive by our old house, or your parents old house, or your old school. I couldn't.  We've shared so many years together. This seems to be one of the hardest of all the "firsts"......the fact that it's going to be a year in which you won't have been with me.

My birthday....I added another "first"....the 7th.  Adding another year to my life, even though your years stand still. Tonight I realized that one day (God willing) I will reach the year, in age, when you left us.

Mardi Gras. You loved catching those beads! I wish you had been with us on this 8th "first" when it was Sydney's first, and Olivia's first, Mardi Gras. 

And then Valentine's Day....the 9th "first." "Libby", as you called her, brought me a rose. Gale sent candy and a gift, Robbie called. They didn't forget me, but it wasn't the same. It was supposed to be "Lover's Day".... you will always be my love, even though you aren't here. 

The "firsts" will continue as the years pass. There will be many things that I do that you won't have done or won't have been with me, to do. 

I read something, I see something, I hear something and immediately, I want to tell you about it. "I need to tell Bob about this," seems to be my constant thought. How often we talked, on the phone......several times each day....about everything....or nothing. 

We had 54 years....we should have had 100! 

Life is good, but it often doesn't seem fair. 

These six months have flown seems like just yesterday when you said "I Love You".....and I'd really love to hear it, just one more time.

Grieving through a year of firsts.....
#grieving #firstyear #cancer #sad @sixmonths #death #grief

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Am Ordinary.....

I sit in my rocker on my front porch of our house built by my honey. I watch the tall pines, to the east of my house, as the tops are circling in the wind. I’ve burrowed deep into Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ ‘Five Stages of Grief.’ I think I actually began the grieving process the day I was told he had cancer. I knew this day would come. I tried to imagine how it would be without him. At night, as I lay beside him, I would attempt to commit the nights to memory – knowing that, one day, he wouldn’t be there.

I remember those nights, I remember those “front porch days” – days when I would sit and rock, knowing that one day he wouldn’t be inside, in his recliner. I now look back on those nights and days – remembering and trying to feel him, there beside me. It was an impossible feat, then and it’s impossible, now.

I look at the legacy he left behind. He was a very talented craftsman. I live in a home that he designed and built.  Our children and grandchildren and friends have beautiful “Handcrafted by Bob Gorrell” pieces. We would rather have him!

My pastor recently spoke on “Being Ordinary”. At the time, I didn’t connect what he was saying to me.

Recently, a sweet cousin who lost her husband, made me realize that I’m not so unusual. I mentioned that I had prayed, fervently, that God would allow this to be a bad dream. Let me awaken one morning and have Bob there. I would imagine saying to him, “you won’t believe what I dreamed.” Her response was, “I also did that.”

I related to our youngest daughter, my conversation with my cousin, and her response was “Mom, that’s what Brother Beard preached about. He was speaking to you. You are normal.”

God works in mysterious ways, and things happen for a reason – even though we may never understand why. God has proven to me, in so many ways, how blessed I am to be in this small town with so many friends and family. I’ve also learned that I am ordinary …..and that’s such a relief!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Life Goes On.....

We all have hard days of one kind or another, in our lives. A young son-in-law was killed, in a one car accident, years ago.....that was a hard day. My dad had a massive stroke and passed away.....that was a hard day. My mom died, suddenly........that was a hard day. My honey was diagnosed with MM on October 7, 2010....not quite 4 years ago (the doctor predicted that he would live 5 years).....that was a terrible day. He has been in and out of remission during this time, but remission was "just a word" (as one caregiver reminded me). He very seldom felt good and was in pain most of the time. On Thursday, August 28, 2014 I called hospice......and that was a bad day. But the worst day, of my entire life, came on Friday, September 5, 2014 when my honey took his last breath. 

He had begun to have many, mini strokes. He could no longer swallow without being reminded to do so. He was incontinent and was unable to stand and straighten his legs. Our youngest daughter and I were his constant caregivers. Near the end, I put a baby monitor in his room so I could hear him call me. 

God truly blessed us. During those last days, there were about 3 where he could still speak and knew what we were saying to him. He had begun to call me "mama" over the past year and he often called out to me. We were able to express our love, for each other, one last time. 

He left us a legacy....a beautiful house that he designed and built. A front porch that is my place of solace....a place where we can go to cry because he's no longer here....but remember the good times, good memories, good man.

He always commented that, if we died, we'd have to call "Rent-A-Friend". I hope he was able to see all the folks who came to honor him. 

His Urn of Ashes now sits in the Library he built, in our house. I feel comfortable knowing that he's "back home" with me. It will sit there....until I go....then mine will, once again, be joined with my honey. goes on.

#MultipleMyeloma  #death  #passing  #cremation

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Another MM Warrior in heaven..........

                                                         For Bob                        

God gave you the strength of the mighty oak
He blessed you with the warmth of the sun
You received the energy of the raging wind
And your laughter he threw in for fun.

Your hair like snow covering a mountain
Your eyes blue as the sky above
He gave you a smile that could light a room
And a heart overflowing with love.

You were blessed with wonderful talent
God gave you a sense of design
Forever you’ll be remembered
By the legacy you’ve left behind.

We’ll remember you loved to travel
So many sights we were able to see
You had a sense of adventure
And a love of history.

Your shop was your place of solace
You loved NASCAR and state football
Golf was a favorite hobby
But love of family topped them all.

You’ve been a perfect role model
For our family through the years
We’ll cherish the lessons you taught us
As we wipe away our tears.

Your side of the bed now empty
No one in your favorite chair
How can I live without you?
We were the perfect pair.

You’re our own special angel
Watching us from above
Thanks for the years you gave us
Thanks for the unconditional love.

With all my love, Sarah

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

You Want Me To Do What??

 I took my honey to his GP, yesterday (it was a struggle, but he finally agreed to an attempt to find out why he feels so bad.)

(1) On Friday, his Blood Glucose was 263 and daughter Gale (nurse) gave him Insulin. (In the hospital, insulin is given if it is over 150.) Said GP got irritated and told me I was "premature" in doing this.'s what he advised: Increase his oral med (from 2.5 mg to 5 mg), take Blood Sugar twice each day....and if it's over 250, give insulin.  Isn't that what we did? (Except that we didn't increase the oral med.)

(2) Several months ago, we were having issues with Bob's Blood Pressure dropping. He was on a "check BP and if the Systolic (top) is over 150 give BP med, and if it's below 150, do nothing" plan. (Another GP had us doing this.) This GP (we changed docs) did not like that plan, so put him on a med to bring his BP up and I could understand this. When it finally got back to what I considered "normal," I discontinued the drug. Yesterday, when I revealed that to the GP......I was told I need to ALWAYS give him the drug to bring the BP up...and if it's over 150, give him his BP med to bring it down! So, the BP is now in a normal range and I'm going to give meds to cause it to go up and then give him meds to cause it to go down.  What????? How is that different from what I was doing....except I wasn't pushing it up (it has not been low, for months). This morning, the systolic was 122, and I really had a hard time giving him a little white pill to make it go up.

 (3) GP advised that my honey's meds for anxiety/depression should be increased, and my thoughts were......."if we keep seeing you, I'll need to have my own increased!"

(4) An antibiotic was prescribed for the bacteria and mucus, found in his kidneys. I'm hoping this is the reason he has been feeling so bad. If so, it was worth the trip!

I'm not trying to play "doctor" as I was once told, by a friend. I just have enough sense to question what sounds unreasonable or ridiculous. Too bad that our good Dr. H. isn't a Hemoc/GP!! 

My honey told me last night, as we were getting close to sleep....."I was praying that you and that doctor weren't going to get into a fight.....I could see the hairs standing up, on the back of your neck."  (Next time, he may not let me go with him!)

We appreciate your comments.......

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Patient or the Caregiver?

Not long ago, a Multiple Myeloma patient asked the following question on the Multiple Myeloma Support Group Facebook page:  "I often wonder, what is mentally worse, the person who has MM or the wife, husband, etc who cares for that person?"

Of course, responses were many and varied from both MM patients and caregivers. The concensus was that the patient gets the worst end of the deal.  As one would expect, most of the MM patients felt that their caregivers had it worse.

MM leaves no stone unturned, so to speak, in the patient's body. It affects the blood and bone marrow, it can leave the bones, including the skull, with lesions (looking like lace or Swiss Cheese). The bones become weakened and fragile, and with the fragility comes the risk of fractures. The kidneys are affected, as is the immune system; leaving the patient vulnerable to all types of infections.  The various types of chemotherapy treatment, while attacking the cancer cells, also attack the good cells which can also introduce other organ issues.

While it attacks the patient's body, the Multiple Myeloma metastasizes to the entire family - mentally. Everyone is affected, but the caregiver becomes immersed in everything dealing with the patient; the care, the disease, the frustration, the treatment, the decision making process, the drugs, stress, lack of rest, lack of sleep, new responsibilities that were once handled by the patient, and often financial responsibilities. Cancer isn't cheap!

The patient's body is often racked with pain, but once the journey is over - the pain is transferred to the caregiver and the family. The pain isn't the same - it's the pain of grief, lonliness, frustration, anger, despair, decisions, and again financial responsibilities.

I'm so thankful I have not yet had to travel the final leg of this journey. We've been fortunate. My honey was diagnosed in October, 2010 and after six cycles of Velcade/Dex, he achieved a short response/remission the following May. He relapsed after only three months and Revlimid/Dex was introduced. This time, after only two cycles he was, once again, in CR and has been so (without a SCT) since November, 2011.

He is bothered by almost continuous pain, in his back, if he stands too long - even with pain medications. And PN is a constant companion even though he has had no Velcade (believed to be one of the culprits) since May, 2011.

As his wife and caregiver, I've been completely "wrapped up" with him and his cancer since he was first diagnosed. He had enough going on, so I took it upon myself to take care of his medications and his appointments. I began to research every bit of information I could find on the subject as well as any supplement that might help with whatever his current issue was. I became the record keeper and started a journal with minute details of changes taking place within his body - on a daily basis. I created a medication list with the name of the drug, the dosage, the date started and the instructions. His system was, and still is, very sensitive to any change, so that list became extremely important. Whenever he began to have issues, I checked the medication list to determine if there was a new drug or a change to a drug. More than once, that list helped to resolve an issue.

I had always "bragged" about my own good health. I was in my early 70s, and I had never had to take any meds with the exception of a weekly bone strengthener. My honey was in remission and all would be right with the world.  It was not to be.

Just about three months ago, early one morning I was awakened with pains in my chest, arms and jaws. I got out of bed, took a baby aspirin, went back to bed and the pain subsided. The next morning, about the same time, the same thing happened. I allowed myself to lie in bed, for awhile, and try to reason that it was the bone strengthener - perhaps it was causing ONJ. Of course, I couldn't wrap my mind around why my chest, back, and arms were hurting! I finally got out of bed and once more, took baby aspirin - this time I took 4 rather than just 1. The pain didn't go away. I took my Blood Pressure, and I knew enough to know that there was trouble in the making.

My Blood Pressure was dropping and my heart rate had risen to well over 100 (it should be in the 70 - 90 range.)  Around 8 a.m. (4 hours after my pains had started), I called our daughter Gale, a RN.  A good "tongue thrashing" by said daughter for not calling earlier, a trip to the ER, IV meds to get the heart rate down and the blood thinned (it had gotten so thick it was unable to be drawn), a Heart Cath, a few days in the hospital, a diagnosis of AFib, and a handful of new prescriptions later....and I was now among the "elderly" (I do hate that word!) that must take meds.

I could not help but wonder why my heart issues happened AFTER things had gotten better, in our house.  As our daughter Robbie (who made the trip home from Texas to help out) said "Mom, this was a wake up call". I didn't have a stroke, and I didn't have a heart attack, but I had been given notice that I needed to start taking better care of the caregiver: me!

I know, without a doubt, that it's my honey who got the worst end of this deal. I'll continue to do everything within my power to assure that his journey is as comfortable as possible....and I'll try to take better care of me while I'm taking care of him.

Please feel free to leave a comment: 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

An Angel gets his wings....

My honey was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in October, 2010.  Seven months prior to that, in March, Mike Murray from our neighboring state of Alabama was diagnosed. Mike's wife, Angie, and I became friends through a mutual friend, Dina, who knew that we had something in common.....husbands with the same type of incurable cancer.

When I first became friends with Angie, her honey had already had two Stem Cell Transplants, but was taking Chemo. I couldn't understand, if he'd had transplants, why he was still having to take Chemo? Angie explained that Mike's MM was very aggressive, and he would probably always be on treatment.

For much of the time I have known Angie, they have been at MIRT (Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy) at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. They lived in a furnished apartment in Little Rock; supplied by a church for patients who have to be there long-term.

Angie has been Mike's full-time caregiver as he has traveled this journey. She has been his source of support and comfort, and has truly exhibited the Bible's phrase, "the strength of Job."  Her faith and love has never faltered as she has walked this often stressful, and tiring pathway with the love of her life.

On Thursday night, just before Easter, Mike was moved into a hospice facility. Those of us in the MM community knew that Mike's journey would soon end. Angie's postings on his Carepages website had become infrequent, and we knew that all her waking moments were being spent by his side.

The day before Easter, Angie's "Magic Mike" finished his battle and ended his journey. May the rest of us caregivers, in the MM community, learn from Angie Murray.  She faced the unthinkable with grace, dignity, strength, and faith .......

and her Angel got his wings, on the perfect weekend.