Tuesday, August 21, 2007


#73 Dear Diary

July 15, 1988

Dear Diary.......It's been almost three months since the diagnosis that spun my world. What seemed like a "simple" gallbladder attack back in April, was in reality stomach cancer. Things have been so crazy since then that I haven't had time to write. We have been thrust into a world of hospitals, doctors, needles, and drugs. Of feeling sick almost all the time. The good days are few and far between. And I am so tired.

Our first doctor washed his hands of us....said that surgery or chemo wouldn't do any good. How does he know this? He has done nothing more than biopsy a metastasized lump in B's neck. I know that the fact the cancer has moved from point A to point B is not a good thing. Still....it seems cruel to have all your hopes dashed to the floor in one quick sentence. This doctor is a brilliant surgeon, but his lack of tact and cold bedside manner are well known. B tells him...SCREAMS at him...that we will find another doctor. He is not going to just give up. Th doctor replies, "Well.....good luck to you, buddy."

We find another surgeon who is willing to operate. To cut B open and see just what's going on. So on a lovely day in May we head up to St. Peter's. There is a large group of us....B's family, and our pastor and his wife. The surgery was going to be a long process, and they encouraged us to go get some lunch while we waited. We went to Wendy's and kept the talk light and upbeat.

We had just gotten back to the waiting room when Dr. H appeared. He had the saddest, tenderest look on his face as he approached me. I'm sorry, he said. The cancer is through all his organs. There was nothing I could do for him. Maybe chemotherapy can help.

I just stared at him in disbelief, and then slowly walked to the ladies' room. I stumbled inside and collapsed against the wall. Sinking to the floor, I began sobbing. My sister-in-law was right behind me, and together we sat on that cold, hard bathroom floor, crying as tho the world had ended. I know lots of women went in and out, but no one said anything....after all, this was a hospital, and tears can be pretty common.

B was moved into the hospice unit, and chemotherapy began. For two weeks drugs were pumped into his system. I drove from Aberdeen to Olympia every day to sit by his side. It must have been adrenaline that kept me going, for I was exhausted....mentally and physically. Lots of friends came to visit while he was there, and the guys from the archery shop brought in their VCR and some hunting tapes for him to watch in his hospital room. Their visits cheered him greatly.

Because B has
hypogammaglobulinemia, he is uninsurable. We have no medical insurance that is going to cover ANY of these expenses. The hopsital was wonderful about it. They gave us forms for Medicaid, and told us that what the state wouldn't pay for, they would wipe off their books. I was so grateful....I cried again.

After he came home from the hopsital, he continued getting chemo from our local hopsital. This was a several hour ordeal, and he was placed in a hospital room for the treatment. I had always been terrified of needles, and couldn't bear to see them stuck in anyone. It has now become so common that I don't even turn my head. To pass the time of his treatments, I am crocheting. My first afghan. The nurses tell me I am doing a great job.

Last week we were told that the chemo wasn't working. In fact, his tumors had doubled in size. I guess we can't be in denial any more.

I am busy during the day. Friends are in and out a lot. One of his family members is here every day. It irks me that his family sits back and expects to be waited on with coffee and food...as if I don't have enough to worry about. Fortunately, my church family has been awesome. They come by regularly with foods they hope will whet his appetite. He doesn't want to eat. His body is shutting down. So, it gives me something to feed the visitors.

I don't know if I sleep. My mind goes constantly. I think I feel guilty that he is dying. I prayed so often to be taken out of this abusive marriage. Well, God has answered my prayer, but not in the way I ever expected. So, part of me is sad....part of me feels guilty....and part of me is relieved. Oh, that sounds so horrid! What kind of person am I to feel even a bit of relief that he is not going to be around any more? That I am going to be free of the verbal, mental, and physical abuse he has handed out for the past 14 years? I must be some kind of monster to feel any kind of gratefulness. He has asked me to forgive him. And of course, I do.

What will my life be like with him gone? I'll turn 40 next month, and soon I'll be a widow. I haven't worked in years, other than to help run the well drilling business we own. And I'll be left with the responsibility of that, and dealing with his son, who thinks that the business should be handed over to HIM...not me.

But I can't deal with any of that now. I'm so tired. And I'm so scared.


strauss said...

Wow Kathleen, that is such a powerful diary entry, extremely confronting and confusing; scary times also I am sure.
I am in awe of your grace....I really mean that.

Mountain Dweller said...

A hard hitting and beautifully written post that had me reaching for the tissues.

Elizabeth said...

Me too.
They have said it all and more.