Friday, November 16, 2012

Joe's Last Chemo Day

As a part of my grieving process over the past month and a half, I have been looking back over my CaringBridge blog posts from this time last year.  I have found it helpful to revisit the events that occurred and my perspective on them because it connects me with the special times the three of us shared as a family, the challenges we faced, and the friends and family who supported us through it all. In reflecting on those things, I've slowly been able to find within myself a thankful spirit. 

Being able to find some gratitude in the midst of grief has gotten me through some rough times recently. Hurricane Sandy being one. An increasing workload another. The inevitable stress of a single mom traveling with a 2 year old yet another. There are certainly moments when I encounter overwhelming grief for the losses in my life, but somehow in the next breath, I've been able to point to one, two, or twenty things I am thankful for in spite of that loss.

Looking back over my posts from November 15 and 16 of last year was hard. As I read, I realized that it was on November 15 that Joe underwent his last cycle of chemo. When we returned for his next cycle two weeks later, he was too weak to receive it. Reading that post in particular brought back a flurry of detail. I'm pretty sure that I still have in my wallet a Panera lunch receipt from this last chemo day. It is a reminder to me of our routine at MSKCC in Basking Ridge and how we were able to be together through most of his various treatments. On chemo days, once he was settled in and getting his infusion, I would sneak away for a short time to grab lunch, usually at the Panera up the road. He would almost always be asleep with his earphones on when I returned. I would find something to do on my iPad or check out Twitter or Facebook. It may not make sense, but I cherish those incredibly mundane memories now.

In reading back over my posts from last year, I found places of gratitude. I am thankful that Joe was supported throughout his illness by his company and his co-workers and that I was allotted time from my job to care for my ill husband. Too many workers in our country do not have that and I don't take it for granted. I am thankful that Joe was able to spend lots of time with Domani and that we had reliable care for him while we were at Joe's medical appointments. All three of us benefited greatly from that stability. And, today, with the holidays and the one year anniversary of his passing both fast approaching, I am most thankful that Thanksgiving week was an "off" week from chemo for him. It ended up being a special week for us and I'm glad we were able to go through it without any medical appointments.

I'm also thankful that I was keeping a blog this time last year. It is helpful beyond words now as I piece together memories of those final weeks with Joe and use those to build a new normal for Domani and me.

Here is my post from last year:
(As a side note, Joe did have the thoracentesis done the next day and it was successful in relieving some of his breathing difficulties.)

Chemo Day

Written Nov 15, 2011 11:51pm by Anne Luck-Deak

I started this morning crawling around on the floor looking for a dropped oxycodone pill so that Domani wouldn't eventually find it and ended the day accidentally deleting a message from Joe's new home care nurse because Domani was wrecking the bedroom. Geez, this cancer stuff is much more challenging with a 1 year old running around the place! Fear not, we tracked down the pain pill (under the radiator) and properly disposed of it so there will be no hopped up baby. We will also just follow up with Joe's oncologist again and ask that the woman from care agency give us a call again. All's well that ends well.

Our visit to MSKCC in Basking Ridge today went well. Joe's platelet levels were fine and enabled him to receive his next round of chemo without delay. His chemo includes a 48-hour pump so he will be receiving it through Thursday when he will disconnect at home.
While we were there, Joe also received some fluids because he was a bit dehydrated and some oxygen because he again has some fluid in his right lung. He is now scheduled for a thoracentesis at Overlook Hospital tomorrow at 10:00am. This is the same procedure he has had previously, but the one X-factor will be whether his blood is clotting well enough to prevent the need for a plasma infusion. If a plasma infusion is needed it may delay the procedure to the point that it might not be done tomorrow.
He does need the relief so we hope that all will go forward as planned tomorrow and they will be able to perform the drain on his lung. He has experienced a slight improvement in his appetite over the last several days so we hope that as his chemo treatments continue that will also continue.
The best news? Next week will be an "off" week from chemo so we will be free to enjoy the holiday and be thankful for the time with family.

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