Sunday, October 10, 2010

This will be the final entry in Tippi's Cancer Blog. 7AM, Sunday October 10th

Tippi's life ended at about 4AM. She went peacefully with no indication of pain or anxiety.

About a week ago she was able to celebrate her 76th birthday. Friends dropped in throughout the afternoon and she shared in the good wishes and goodbyes. Steep decline started on Wednesday and ended a few hours ago. The Hospice night nurse made the necessary phone calls. Tippi had requested cremation. So now I'm waiting for the funeral home.

Our daughter-in-law Gail has been here during the final days. Friends, family and hospice have been very supportive. They have made a great difference to both of us.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Read text below

Better than "Beam me up Scottie"

The purpose of my blog has always been to show that no matter how difficult the problem presents itself, we can usually find some resource to bring us close to a solution..

There was a school reunion for my class at the end of this month and I strongly wanted to attend, mainly because two of my close friends from high school planned also to go and we all thought it would be the last time we'd see each other.

But the week before we were to make the trip -- which was six hours across the state, overnight at our sons house in eastern Pennsylvania and then another four hours north to Connecticut; it was clear that I couldn't do it.

We called my friend Ruth in Boston -- she is pretty computer savvy -- and got her to load in the Skype into her laptop and tested out between Boston and Pittsburgh. What a thrill to see her face and hear her voice and I think she was pretty impressed too. She and Angela, my other friend, would be staying at the same hotel and we arranged to have a Skype conference on Saturday morning..

Come that morning the phone rang and I switched over to my computer and answered it on Skype. I turned on my video button in order to see my face at the same time as they and hear the oohs and ahs and exclamations from my friends when they first saw my face. I told them to turn on their video through Ruth’s computer and then it was my turn to ooh and aaw and exclaim, seeing their faces talking to me from Connecticut.

What a perfect solution. We talked, the three of us, for over an hour, I had had a wonderful last visit with my friends and afterwards, they, at my urging, went over to the cemetery and had a first view of my stone.

And there I was, at home, and bed bound and talking to my friends like a character from “A Christmas Carol”.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Lows

This is the hardest blog to write. I am pretty much bedridden and can not receive visitors. Larry is taken good care of me and is making sure I eat and take the proper pills at the proper time

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

the next step

I was surprised at how quickly my condition went bad. A week ago I woke with a pain in my right leg, which is one of the sites of cancer. I knew the pain would eventually come, and that it would be severe.

The first day I got around , like an orangutan by moving from one piece of furniture to the next. And it convinced me that now was the time to call hospice.

The intake nurse came on July 1. Nice and clean, I am starting the second half of this year in hospice. She checked all my present medications and indicated which ones hospice would cover. I would have to change to a different oxygen system. They ordered a walker with wheels, and a potty chair for me.

On the 2nd the equipment and the oxygen was delivered. A seamless change-over! The wheeled walker is wonderful, smooth moving and quiet and really sturdy. We stored the potty chair in the basement. In the evening a driver delivered a bag of medications. After I signed for it, I looked at the packing slip. I did not recognize a single medication, and I did not recognize the ordering doctor. Clearly they had sent the wrong order, and some one who needed these medications was not getting them!

A phone call to hospice the next morning cleared it up. This was my emergency package, with extreme medications for emergency, to save a trip in the ambulance.

Today, a visit from my visiting nurse, the same who had been here before. Just to get our schedules in sync. Now that I have “someone to watch over me” I am feeling more relaxed about this pain.

But it will have an impact on my gadding about. Anyone who takes me to lunch will have to take me and my walker and my new oxygen bottle. I am still happy and comfortable to have friends come visit, and admire my flowers and my porch.

Before the pain hit me, my niece and her husband came to visit. We had a wonderful 2 days, they kept the visits short and it was so good to see her after so many years.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

the next step

All on the same day, I received emails from 3 distant friends. “Why haven’t you updated your cancer blog? You leave us hanging in a not very good space!”

When you are on a plateau, with each day similar to the last, and no improvements, it is easy to forget obligations like a blog. I owe you all better.

The purpose of the cancer blog was to report my experience from the inside, But as time went on and I found the cancer easy to live with – even when I was deep in chemo and radiation, it became a cause: to defuse the fright people face when diagnosed with this dreaded disease.

Now we face a different challenge: my easy cancer has turned out to be tenacious and has resisted treatment. It is still with me. I am not willing to move on to harsher chemos, and so I have opted to sign up for hospice.

Not the end of life hospice, but an intermediate step, palliative care. I can always opt out of this stage of hospice and return to serious chemo. It is reassuring to think I can, but I don’t think I will. My body longs for a rest.

I will have a visiting nurse and social worker, who will offer us their support. We are not making this journey alone.

Meanwhile, we are looking into two problems that might be corrected; I have not spoken like a normal person since March, it’s a raspy, squeaky voice, very pianissimo. There may be some damage to the larynx. And to my esophagus, which feels like it has closed. Only the most finely cut foods will slip down it without pain. The result is that I am eating less and less and have lost a lot of weight.

I think of myself as a reporter, embedded with the team, as I make this final journey. 140

Monday, March 1, 2010

a rough spot

I have been reminded by some of my friends that my blog needs to be updated. How true! The thing of it is that I have dedicated this blog to point out the positive – that I have lived with cancer for over a year and a half, and for the most part very well. There have been rough patches, which eventually get resolved. I don’t like to write when I’m down.

I am in a rough patch right now. My oncologist knew, and I knew, that the last scan would be bad. And so it was. The cancer was still there, and had not been reduced. That is so discouraging. So now I am on a heavier soup of chemo, which brings with it the heavier side effects. Losing hair, nails effected, and the coughing is back, which affects my sleep. I am very tired.

And then this February’s snowfall is enough to make anyone depressed.

There are positive notes. Not is all gloom and doom. My husband takes such good care of me. I have found a driver for those days he is not available. My church circle meets at my house so I have company at least twice a month, and one or two stalwart friends make it over from time to time.

And my precious grand daughter, who is a freshman at Pitt, comes for the weekend every two or three weeks – even in all the snow! Last weekend she was here to keep me company, cook us a wonderful eggplant parmesian dinner, and do her laundry.