It has been a rough week for all of us. After we met with the oncologist on April 5, we came home and Theresa crawled into bed. For the next 7 days, I can count less than 10 times that she got out of bed and came out of our bedroom. The pain is so bad and she is constantly tired.
On top of the pain, she has had little appetite and has consumed less food in 7 days than Ryan does in 1. And he’s not exactly a big eater. On Friday, April 8, Theresa ate some yogurt in the morning and 2 chicken nuggets that night. She didn’t eat anything again until Sunday, when she agreed to eat a little applesauce. She had 3 bites and put it down saying it didn’t taste good. I got her to drink a bottle of Ensure in the afternoon and another bottle at dinner time. I have a picture of Ryan and Theresa in her hospital bed from 3 weeks ago on my computer desktop. I compared that picture from 21 days ago to how she looks today. It is so surreal to see the physical decline in so little time. I struggled with putting these pictures in this post, but decided to insert them to show just how much change has happened in the past few weeks.
Another development that took place over the week was the Theresa had periods of irrational speech and thoughts. On Saturday I told her that we may need to look at a feeding tube to get nutrition into her body. A few hours later she asked about feeding and I thought she was asking about a feeding tube. She looked out the window and asked if the horses were still feeding. The problem being, we don’t have any horses. On Monday, Ryan went back to see his Mom when he got home from school and he called out for Nana. When my Mom got back to the room, Ryan said he didn’t understand what Theresa was asking him for. Mom asked her what she needed and she said “Make sure you cook Uncle John’s hamburger well done”. When I got home, she asked if the bathroom remodel was done yet, even though there is no remodeling going on. What I don’t know is if this is being caused by lack of nutrition, medicine or lesions spreading to the brain.
I sent an email to the oncologist on Monday asking about options for nutrition, be that some bland diet or even a feeding tube. I just don’t know what the right path is regarding this. I’m told that the body may not be capable of handling nutrition and it can make matters worse.
I need to rely on the medical professionals for their assessment, but right now they are not on the top of my friends list. The health care network Theresa uses keeps all of her records in an electronic format called MyChart. When I logged onto their site to send the email, I saw some records but there were many missing. I figured out that you had to select a section to bring in hospital records. I downloaded all of these records and spent some time reviewing them.
What I found was disturbing to me. I am her husband and yet I had to read about many things in her downloaded medical chart. From an MRI done on her abdomen: At least 5 hepatic metastases with the largest measuring 5.6cm progressed since prior PET/CT; Extensive diffuse osseous metastases through the imaged axial and proximal appendicular skeleton; Bilateral femoral neck metastases are present; Redemonstration of extensive left breast tumor extending to the skin and extending posterior through the left chest wall and abutting the pericardium; Suspected peritoneal carcinomatosis due to thickening observed in the MRI.
From a Total Spine MRI: Diffuse osseous metastatic disease, involving the vertebral bodies and posterior elements most notably within the lower thoracic and lumbar spine; Multilevel thoracic spondylosis and degenerative changes of the lumbar spine.
Is it any wonder why my wife is in so much pain? The known extent of the metastatic disease was shocking to me. They hide behind HIPPA and patient privacy laws to keep from telling the family what is truly going on. Several years ago, we completed an estate plan along with medical power of attorneys for each of us. I reviewed this tonight with my attorney and he agreed that given the amount of morphine she is on together with the periods of irrational speech that I have every right to demand that all discussions/decisions must go through me as her appointed attorney. It was a moment of relief that we have the proper documents in place, but also a moment of profound sadness and fear. Am I the one who is going to have to decide to continue or stop a treatment? Am I the one who is going to have to decide to have a feeding tube inserted or not?
I had stopped by the parish today to return something and several of the workers asked about Theresa. When I told them what was happening, Fr. Rankin said that he would stop by tonight. I told him that several people have asked me about healing for Theresa and if I believed God could heal her. My answer has been the same to all who ask. Yes, I believe that can happen. But I also point out that in most of the healings demonstrated by Christ in the Gospels, he preceded the bodily healing by healing their soul. The bodily healing was more for the benefit of the crowd gathered. I told him that I wanted more than anything for her complete restoration to health. But, my priorities right now are to make sure she is prepared spiritually for the future and to help Ryan prepare for things that are to come.
When Fr. Rankin arrived, we prayed with Theresa and he anointed her. As he was leaving, he told me that he asked Theresa if she was at peace and at peace with leaving her family. She shook her head no. He said our job was to ease her anxiety and fears about the path ahead and move her to being at peace with what the future holds. I’ve said it before, but thank you God for good and holy priests.
I know many people are praying for Theresa and for her family. I am profoundly grateful for that. Please pray for peace of mind for Theresa and understanding for Ryan.
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!