I don’t think anyone really wants to die, even though we sometimes say those words out loud. Although there have already been a few moments within the past few weeks that I felt as though I was ready to end the pain and suffering. Did I really want to die? Of course not. I just wanted the pain to cease or at least decrease to a tolerable level.
I know that my readers may just prefer to get only the non-personal aspects within this journal… this journey beyond the edge of terminal lung cancer, instead of reading my ramblings about the emotional aspects of this horrible illness. Sure… it’s about the pain… about the loss of air capacity… about the weakness… about the pulmonary arteries and bronchial tubes being crushed by the tumors… about how it feels when cancer eats its way into the bone… about how the medications they give you to… umm… “keep you comfortable”, add to your misery with their additional side effects. But to me… the biggest struggle… is with the emotional part of it all. I promised at the beginning of this journal to ‘tell it like it is’ and I will always make a good attempt to do just that. And ‘that’… includes the emotions involved with facing death.
Why would anyone choose to document themselves dying? I would think it to be a very strange and unusual thing to do. Knowing that you’re dying with nothing left medically to do for you to find a cure or even the ‘hope’ that there is something somewhere that can slow the growth and spread of the tumors is really quite a personal thing to go through. I admit… along with everything else… it does get more and more difficult to write along with everything else that becomes more difficult. My poetry blog has suffered greatly just as this one has. I haven’t done a very good job of keeping my posts regular and up to date. But I’m trying. Severe pain definitely has a way to alter your thought process.
Writing is one of the few things that keeps me going… makes me feel as if I still have something of interest to say… if only for my own benefit… a reason to reach for tomorrow. I know that some of these posts can get somewhat boring… but life… or in this case… ‘death’… is not always a pleasant and exciting experience. Maybe I’m just weird (well… I really think that question has already been answered), but have you never been in a quiet room with all kinds of things passing through your mind when suddenly… something inside your mind says… “I wonder what it’s really like to die.” Well… probably not.
Is this the hell everyone talks about? Some people are lucky enough to die in their sleep, although I suppose that wouldn’t be considered lucky by those who cared about them. Some have to live with extreme pain and suffering and to be honest… it’s hard not to at least have a thought or two about your own life, how you lived it, how you treated others… and if there is something within those thoughts that might have caused you to deserve the pain and suffering for some reason or another.
Summing up all the chaos and trauma. I now weigh 108 pounds. The loose skin on my body has sunken and collapsed into the spaces between the bones where the muscle has deteriorated… nearly wrapping itself around each individual bone to the point of literally being able to see my entire outer skeletal system… with plenty of sagging skin remaining… in a most graphic display of ‘what gravity does to the human body’. Wow… is that a rude thing to see in the bathroom mirror early in the morning. I scare myself. I scare small children and probably a number of adults. Talk about emotions flowing…
I try to keep as much of myself hidden as I possibly can. However… at this point in the journey… that is impossible to do. Other people have to help you along the way. When you’ve always been extremely independent throughout your whole life, I feel guilty every time I ask for something. EVERY TIME!
Here’s my Tuesday. I awoke at 2:25 in extreme pain. I took a dose of liquid morphine and unsuccessfully tried to get comfortable. I turned on the tv in an attempt to find something that would make me smile… there was nothing. I finally dozed off around 4 a.m. and woke again just before 5. I was in excruciating pain, unable to swallow even water without great difficulty and running a low grade fever. Not particularly a great start to the day. I remained in that condition through the entire day and night. My hospice nurse came by around 10:30 a.m. and asked the same questions she always asks. I told her my throat had gotten worse and that I was having a very hard time swallowing… even water. They gave me an antibiotic for thrush after I cautioned them about those that affect my heart. Sure enough… what they gave me had a big side effect warning about affecting the heart rhythm. The throat problem continued all day long. I had virtually nothing to eat on Tuesday. I had a small amount of chicken noodle soup broth… couldn’t swallow the noodles. That night I tried drinking a small glass of milk and managed to get maybe a couple of ounces in me, but it wasn’t easy.
Update: I haven’t been able to eat food since Tuesday. Ice cream, pudding and water. My daughter and son in law picked up some popsicles for me and they feel wonderful on my mouth and throat but are still difficult to eat because of the sore swollen lips. The nurse came on Friday, told me to take the medicine they gave me for Thrush because the consequences of not taking it are far greater than if I do. So I took it (crushed) on Friday afternoon. It did affect my heart… more arrhythmia, shortness of breath etc… But so far, obviously… it hasn’t killed me.
I was having a bit of a better evening than usual until about 8 p.m. when I started having severe chills. I crawled under the covers with a hoody over me, a heating pad, and an extra blanket. My daughter gave me liquid morphine and some liquid children’s Motrin because that is all we had for fever that I can swallow. I finally quit chilling around 9 and turned out the lights. My temp actually continued to rise until around midnight but the chills had stopped.
This morning I’m weak, still the same horrible symptoms… but the fever has decreased to a more tolerable level. I just took another crushed med for thrush that affects the heart but it seems I have no other choice.
I know this post is far too long but I would still like to add some very interesting ponderings that have been wandering my mind over the past few weeks… things I suppose I never would have pondered if I were not looking at death up close and personal. I did however write them in semi poetic form and hope you will take them to heart… Some day you may be asking yourself these very same questions.
Ever had a tale to tell…
But couldn’t tell it?
Ever had a soul to sell…
But didn’t sell it?
Did it swell inside your mind
To blind your sense of reason?
Did it dwell inside your veins
Till it pained your state of mind?
Ever want to know the truth…
But couldn’t find it?
Ever looked within yourself…
Then hid behind it?
Did your secrets feed the beast
Just to feast upon the shame?
Did you live your hearts desire
To acquire the living flame?
Ever see a miracle…
But couldn’t seize it?
Ever find the perfect time…
But couldn’t freeze it?
Did you grasp the sharpened steel
Just to deal with secret pain?
Did you wonder what is real
Just to feel the touch of rain?
Ever faced reflection’s truth…
But then erased it?
Ever gazed in mirrored glass…
But couldn’t face it?
Did you lie to thine own self
Just to pine in perfect ruse?
Did you look the other way
To portray the blameless muse?
Ever ponder “Who am I”…
Ever wonder “What is life”…
With no deception?
Did you douse the candle’s flame
Just to claim your wounded pride?
Did the writing on the wall
Scrawl the secrets that you hide?
We cannot dwell on human fallibility
For our world does not exist within perfection
Imperfect as it seems we find what’s beautiful
When all we have to share is our affection
Have a most beautiful day and thank you for spending time with me…