“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present.”
– Mike Ditka
FOR A WHILE, IT SEEMED like the sickness would never end.
The first nausea came in a brief wave last Tuesday right after her second day of the second round of chemotherapy. She was on her way to the bathroom and got one whiff of my dinner and the vomiting began and it didn’t stop for seven days. Last Thursday morning, she sent me a text that read: “I’m struggling.”
I arrived 30 minutes later and when I left after midnight on Friday, she was still living with a bucket at her feet and more waves of stomach-churning illness channeling through her into the fourth straight night.
On Saturday, with her sister by her side, she didn’t know what day it was and was quite combative and insistent about many rambling thoughts. Jenn was convinced that I wasn’t even with her on Thursday or Friday. After the Ravens loss on Sunday night, I slept on the cot in her room because she was so disoriented that I didn’t want her waking up alone in a panic without being able to calm her.
She wasn’t on her mobile phone or iPad for eight days because she really couldn’t type. She was far too loopy and weak to even paw at the keys as her frustration mounted. All throughout the weekend nights, she said dozens of nonsensical phrases, rambling words and was wildly talking in her sleep and twitching a bit with her hands – almost trying to motion by pointing like she does when she talks.
At one point on Sunday morning, she sat up in bed and looked at me, insisting with full clarity that I send her sister a text reply to tell her that she “got the message.”
Meanwhile, her sister was sitting two feet away from us, and staring at her. She was asleep again moments later. It was like something out of “The Shining” – a giant fever dream.
Her sister Jessica was planning to come to Baltimore to spell me, so I could go to San Francisco for the Ravens game. I never really came close to leaving her. She was just so, so sick.
(And that was before she watched the Ravens play in Santa Clara.)
By Sunday afternoon, the lesions caused by the chemo had settled into her esophagus and throughout her GI tract, and the pain was so severe that on Monday night the bags of morphine started coming. On Tuesday morning, they began feeding her through a tube because she needs the liquid nutrition to keep her strength for the rest of this literally bloody battle. Plus, with the sores on her tongue, in her mouth and down her throat, there is no way she can swallow anything beyond a little water. They have a dentist-style suction tube next to her bed to extract the mucus from her throat.
On Tuesday night, she started to rebound with some energy. I’m pretty sure the pain meds act as a stimulant. Her hair stylist came to shave her head bald once again because her beautiful, curly hair was ripping out of her scalp in clumps over the weekend.
On Wednesday morning, she announced that she wanted a Boston cream donut. Of course, there’s no way she could eat it. But, she did make me bring her some shepherd’s pie later that night and she made it through a few mouthfuls of mashed potatoes and gravy.
She said the mashed potatoes were “like glue in her throat.” Today she is moving on to Ensure milkshakes. This is why…
There is no romance in leukemia treatment.
Week 2 at “The Hotel” has been a living hell for my wife.
It has been a display of courage and bravery that leaves me speechless. It takes my breath away.
Welcome to #JennStrong2.
Yes, cancer still sucks. Anyone who’s been subjected to it as a patient or a care provider understands where Jenn is in the process of her long journey to recovery and health. It’s been incredibly hard to watch and …