Feb 02, 2020
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future
To a known God”
Corrie ten Bloom
My wife of 58 years (June 10) and best friend Eileen had been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the esophagus, in February 2019. This blog gives my thoughts, fears, prayers, and hopes during this challenging and difficult time.
The change is slow but steady, as she eats effectively nothing and drinks a few small cups of tea and a few sips of water a day. Many have come to say goodbye, and her brother was here on Saturday, plus five of our nephews and nieces, and left today (Sunday).
We have had to increase the morphine to 1 ml every two hours to relieve the pain, and we are trying as I write this to reduce it to 0.75 ml as the 1 ml seems to cause Eileen to sleep all the time. We shall see. So far, so good. The nurse came Friday night and determined that her system was not eliminating waste as much as needed and inserted a catheter to relieve the constant urge to go to the bathroom and failing. She assured us this is normal at end-of-life and she is doing as well as expected.
Even though Eileen seems to sleep much she is alert much of that time. Thursday eve we played trivia until midnight, and she chimed in with responses, often winning. Much laughter from all, including Eileen. It is a joy to all that our daughters are here to join in. When so many of the extended family arrived on Saturday she was up, in her chair, and joined as much as possible. Eileen lasted until the supper time of pizza, and went to bed before we had supper, around 6:30. All in all, as good a day as we could hope.
It is a challenge to rise every two hours at night, and Barb and Janet will often do that when the bell rings. Yes, my iPhone works well to alert us when 2 hours are up. We all know now that someone should be with her at all times, and one of the girls will sit when I am not around.
One of the issues that occur at this time of life is the tenderness of the skin, and how easy it is to have bed sores. We try to put her in different positions, but we are limited due to the pain in the left arm. Still she seems comfortable most of the time, and loves to join in the conversation when she can. The incoming messages are moving, and cards, flowers, and visits are a blessing to us at this time.
Eileen has chosen comfort at every turn of events, and God has given her comfort, with medications and techniques of position, sheets for movement, pillows to relieve pressure points, and helpful knowledge by experienced people, including a nephew and a niece who were here that work with cancer patients. The wonderous efforts of all the nurses and aids, especially now in hospice, is moving me to tears of gratitude. Yes, there are many kind and gentle people on our earth.
The gentleness of easing into the final stages is a gift from God. The pain seems manageable so far, and if we are careful to keep her mouth moist and give drinks of water and tea during the day, usually through a straw at night and a small bone-china tea cup during the day, and Eileen seems comfortable. From what I have read and heard, Eileen is experiencing the feelings of sadness of leaving and normal fear of the unknown, but firm in her beliefs (and that is what we have, beliefs and hopes, not absolute knowing) that she is resting more and more in the care of God.
Oh Gentle One, let my beloved’s time on earth ease gently into Your presence. Grant her rest and let her feel the Love that surrounds her at this time, and fill her soul with peace. Let my soul rest in peace, and help me to let her go with love into Your care. Ease our minds, and I thank You for all the expressions of love and care we see in family and friends at this moment wonderous time.