To Ferry to the Other Side

Friday November 21, 2014

I don’t know how I got here. Do I have to leave?

No, you don’t have to leave. This is your home.

lThere are bits and pieces, she says, looking around. Some things are familiar, but some things I don’t recognize. Like that. She points toward her orchids.

* *

“I’m going to make your coffee now,” I say. I walk into the kitchen and hear her saying something. I go back to the living room and she is crying. “What’s wrong, Mom?”

“I can’t believe you said that,” she says. “Making me a coffee. It just really hit me there for a minute.”

I bring her coffee.

“Oh, my cup!” she says. “How long did it take you to learn how to make this?”

“It didn’t take long. You taught me. Until yesterday it was Adam who usually made your coffee.”

“He’s a nice man. Did somebody make it underneath?”

“In the kitchen?”

“Did somebody make it under the table?”

* * *

 

“Am I an angry person?”

“No. Why?”

“I hate angry people,” she says slowly. “I was beaten by angry people.”

“You didn’t deserve that. It wasn’t your fault.”

* * *

 

“Do I work?”

“You work around the house. You have a medicine wheel garden in the backyard that you work in.”

* * *

 

She is exhausted and in pain after the short trip to the commode and back into the bed. “I don’t know how much time I have left. I don’t want to spend it this way. I either want to be doin’ . . . “ She doesn’t finish.

* * *

“If I had those wide-soled roller skates, do you think I can go through the house?” How to render that tone, like a curious and humble little girl who’s a little afraid to ask the question.

“I don’t think so. You can’t support your weight right now.” I was immediately sorry I had added those last two words.

“How can I make that better?” she says.

“I don’t think you can, Mom.”

“Why haven’t I seen a doctor?”

“The doctors know what’s happening, Mom.”

* * *

“Can we put the trapeze here?” she asks, pointing at the ceiling above her.

“What do you want to do with a trapeze?”

“So I can put my foot and . . . advertise – advertise,” she says, interrupting herself, already knowing it’s the wrong word. From there things descend to incoherence.

* * *

How can I do my housework?

I’m taking care of that. I’m doing it for you. This is not, strictly speaking, at all true.

But that’s not right.

Well, you’re sick, Mom.

Still. Everything is cattywampus, she says, with the usual sadness of these sentences.

* * *

“Can I do anything?”

“No, you can just relax.”

“That is so boring.” In a small voice she asks, “Can I not work on that little bench that Silke gave me for working outside?”

“I don’t think so,” I say. I’m afraid she’s going to cry. “It’s winter now, and the garden is starting to hibernate.”

* * *

“Can I have a dog?”

“If you want. What kind of dog?”

“Small one. I mean nobody’s sleeping with me, right?” She says this like she needs confirmation. “I’d like to sleep with somebody.”

“I can sleep on the couch there again.”

“Yeah but you don’t lick my ankles.”

* * *

“Have we heard, if Renate died?” “Is this Saturday?” “Is anyone coming this morning?” “What do we have to do today?” “So where’s the . . . microwave?”

* * *

“Somebody said you better get living or get busy dying. There’s an innate star of strength inside. That’s what I need to find. My star. And a dog.” She is silent for a while, then adds, “And he better not die before me.”

* * *

When a dying person can’t remember anything, you have to decide whether to tell them over and over again that no, there is nothing that can be done, so that over and over they would hear the terrible reality as if for the first time. What is the point in causing her pain to give her the truth when she will soon forget the truth and go through the pain again later?

* * *

Vonnie (not Bonnie) the CNA visited earlier and applied Mom’s marijuana salve to her bedsore, propped up her pillows, and generally tended to her while I took a shower. Laurel and Carrie had planned to come, but ran into a babysitting problem, Laurel said, in a text. She added, Carrie is having a really hard time about your mom she does not think she can come and help her it is too hard on her. We will try to come on Monday to see her. I was disappointed not to have their presence here, and not to be able to take a break to run errands or do work, but I could understand. Not long after, Linda Berry called to tell me that I should expect calls from a number of retired nurses and caregivers, some of whom knew my mother, and all of whom wanted to help.

I brought Mom some cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon that I’d cut into small pieces. She ate two pieces of watermelon with relish. The first thing she’s eaten in maybe 15, 18 hours, and hardly anything before that. I’m reminded of Bonnie saying, two days ago, “There will be a time when she doesn’t want to eat anymore. And that’s all right.”

Mom in Heaven with Spices in St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Mom in heaven with spices in St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port, September 2011

* * *

Mom says something about not wanting to be stuck in her bed. “I should be outside with a football and the kids,” she says.

* * *

11:17a.m. I sit back down on the green couch and return to my laptop, writing in my journal, trying to do some work.

She stirs. “It’s not going to take long anymore,” she says, in that small, slow, tremulous voice. A few tears cloud her voice.

“What? Why do you think that?”

“That’s what she told me,” Mom says. Vonnie, the CNA again. I meant to have a talk with her but she left before I was done showering. “And that it’s not going to take long anymore. She doesn’t want me to be alone here without recognizing anything, you know, when it starts.”

“You won’t be alone, Mom. I can tell you that.”

* * *

“I felt like I haven’t spent enough time with you guys.”

I think this is probably more about guilt than regret, so I say, “Sure you have, Mom.”

“Yeah?”

“You spent as much time as you could with us when we were kids, and we’ve spent a lot of time together the last few years. Remember all that time we spent together on the Camino?”

She nods.

A few minutes later she groans. “Do you have pain?” She nods. “Right side,” she says.
I click her pain bolus. A few minutes later, she groans again. It hasn’t been eight minutes so we can’t get any more medication out of the pump. She turns to her side and as I lean down to put my head against hers, and my hand around the back of her head, and my hand around hers, she begins to cry.

“I don’t want to leave,” she says, mournfully. The sound of her voice shreds me.

“I know. No one else wants you to leave, either.”

* * *

Once more, I observe that the same brain that fails to recognize people, that can’t remember how to stop her own pain, is somehow all too aware of its own deterioration and of the reality of death.

* * *

Willa Kay and Jayne bring their signature blend of positivity and joke with Mom.

“I haven’t seen so many outlaws in a long time,” Mom says.

Apropos of this, I tell my aunts how Mom sometimes channels the irascible, profane Grandma Powell. Jayne says, “When your mom came here we taught her how to swear, Cameron. We just thought it was so funny with her German accent. And she’d get all the words in the wrong places. We just loved that. Of course now she’s really good at it.”

Willa Kay has brought a nutrition product called Ensure. She tells Mom about it, and suggests that she add vodka. Willa Kay brought ginger tea last week, but Mom, her high-falutin palate even more finicky now, pronounced it as tasting “like soap”.

“How’s your backside, Inge?” Willa Kay asks.

Mom speaks slowly, as usual. “That’s a very personal question.”

Willa Kay guffaws.

* * *

I miss most of their interaction because I’m on business calls — and the world’s the poorer for it — but they seem to be having a good visit. Berle arrives too. During one of my calls, my nephew Kaleb calls me and wants to FaceTime with Mom and me. I had suggested that Candy arrange for FaceTime calls between Kaleb and Mom quite some time ago. But when I ask Mom if she wants to talk on FaceTime, she knows she’s just too tired. “I don’t know what to say,” she says. She adds, “We’ve just lost too much time. I used to say I wanted to talk to him, FaceTime, but nobody ever had time. And now we’ve run out of time.”

She is asleep. I am on FaceTime with Brianna and Kaleb, in the bedroom, and I ask them if they want to see Oma. They do, so I walk into the living room with the phone’s camera pointed toward Mom. She opens her eyes and asks what I’m doing. Busted. I tell her I’m on the phone with Brianna and Kaleb. I unplug my ear buds and tell the kids to say hi to their Oma, which they do. Their Oma gestures for the phone and pulls it toward her. She sees her grandchildren and she begins to cry, and tries to talk through her tears. “Oma loves you so much.” I find myself concerned about the kids seeing their grandmother sobbing unreservedly. Brianna looks sad.

* * *

I’m on Skype with my core team at Physician Cognition when I hear Mom, loud enough to penetrate the door I’ve closed to let her sleep. I pull out my ear buds, excuse myself, and dash into the living room. Mom is heaving with sadness, great big sobs. “Are you hurting?” I say. “Do you have pain?” I have already reached across her and pressed the painkiller bolus when I see her shake her head. “What’s wrong then, Mom? Why are you crying?”

“Because I have to die,” she says, each word wrapped inside a sob.

What could I do but hold her? I had at last reached the absolute nadir of my helplessness.  “I don’t know how to do this,” she says.

I offer some variety of the faux-profundity I sometimes catch myself in.

“It’s not so much the journey,” she says, after a while. “It’s that . . . I have to do it alone.” This last sentence wasn’t intelligible the first time, maybe twice, because of her crying.

“You won’t be alone, Mom.” I don’t know what I’m talking about. I don’t have a strong belief in what happens, but I know I want to cobble together for my mother a story to hang onto. “That’s what all the near-death experiences have in common. We are greeted by guides who are pure love. They’re made of light and love. Oma will probably be waiting for you too. And your big brothers.”

She weeps.

* * *

It had never before occurred to me that people with terminal cancer and people on death row had so much in common. A big part of the justification for capital punishment is that people are generally really afraid of dying, so if there’s a death penalty, at least some people will avoid it out of pure terror at having an execution date. Similarly, my mother is conscious enough to know that she faces imminent death. I can’t even begin to imagine the emotional distress she must be in. It truly is a wonder that she isn’t crying or shaking or vomiting nearly during nearly all her waking hours. When you are not ready to die, when you very badly do not want to die, there can be no greater terror than knowing you are going to die very soon.

This psychological hell is the second cruelty of cancer. The first is the long and diverse suffering people endure through the disease and its treatments. Cancer’s victims are worse off than people on death row.

* * *

I’ve had various theories for my seeming detachment (i.e., less sad, less desperate to connect). New medication, like thyroid pills. Increasing acceptance. Compassion fatigue. And, most recently, I’m less depressed overall because once again I have a clear purpose, an obvious Camino. I am more engaged in Physician Cognition, which I think helps, but mostly, I am single-mindedly here, on a conspicuous path, with my mother. The path is the saddest of paths, but it has the virtue that I know, for the first time in a while, exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

* * *

“Sneak up here,” she said earlier in the day. It took me a while to understand what she was saying. She patted the bed next to her. I wedged myself between her and the railing, put my arm around her, and felt her head on my shoulder. Other than metaphorically, my mother had never leaned on me before.

Saturday November 22, 2014

I am sleeping in my bedroom when I awaken, and then hear why. Mom is in pain, and she’s crying. I run out and deliver a shot of painkiller and speak soothingly. “Wish I could just flip a switch and get it over with,” she says, through tears. After a while she asks for some tea. I make it and bring it back to her. She gazes at me and then begins to cry. “Everywhere I look all I see is death,” she says. She looks around her. “Death all over.”

* * *

“Tell me about yourself,” she says to me. “Something that’s good.”

“Well, I remember that on my seventh birthday, you gave me a choice between having a birthday party with all my friends or having a fine dinner with you at the Brickskeller, in Huntsville. Do you remember that?” She does. “You were surprised that I chose dinner with you instead of a party. And I don’t remember this, but you’ve said I talked about black holes and white dwarf stars and red giants and galaxies.”

“I remember the white stars,” she says. “You were explaining it all to me like a little professor. I said, ‘Who is this little person? Where did he come from?’” She pauses and rests for a moment. “That was the first time I saw, to my astonishment, how smart you were.” She looks like she’s going to cry. “I knew that you were going to be a different sort of kid.”

* * *

I remind her of trips to Germany and Switzerland, including with Aunt Jayne and my cousin Mike, who would die, ten years later, at 23, of lupus. I remind her of how excited she was to attend my law school graduation.

“I could not have been prouder, happier, anything,” she says, brightening at the memory.

* * *

I look up from my laptop at the sound of her crying pitifully. She has spilled her piping hot tea on her chest. I help her to dry it off but it still smarts for a while. Knowing her belief in her marijuana salve, I offer to apply it to her skin, and I do.

She speaks more slowly this time, almost asleep. “I have,” she says, “an advice. For Damon.” My half-brother, husband of Jannilyn, father of Braxton.

“What is your advice, Mom?”

“To be a good father.”

A few minutes later, she says, “Have we always lived here?”

Somehow wisdom coexists with cofoundment.

* * *

Then the agitated concerns. “Where is Gunter’s watch? We have to get to it, fast. Before anyone else gets to it.”

“Would you like to smoke some weed?” I say.

“Oh, yes,” she says.

“Best idea I’ve had all night.” I hold the glass pipe for her, remind her that she must close her mouth over it and breathe in. “Another hit?” She nods. “Because you deserve it.”

* * *

She gets an infernal itch. She squirms around in her bed and moans from the pain her movement causes. “It’s like when you fall and then you’re healing,” she says, in a fascinating example of still-intact associations.

“You mean like a scab? The way a scab itches?”

“Yeah.”

* * *

I keep administering medicine. Four pumps in a row, the most ever. I hold her hand as she falls asleep and then I sleep on the couch, waking up to her groans every so often, reaching out for the bolus, and clicking the button. The mantle clock ticks down the seconds. The air pump hums.

* * *

This is the third day when she has not only eaten virtually nothing, but drinks very little too. I’ve read that a person can survive for two weeks or so without food, but only a few days without water. I had imagined that she would stop eating first, and then would drink broths and tea for a while.

* * *

“What’s that dog doing?” she asks.

“What dog?”

“The one that hopefully isn’t peeing on the table,” she says, looking behind me.

I turn to see Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which Mieshelle had bought for Mom and I’d stood up on the table.

* * *

“Do you like to read?” she asks me. Only hours before I had credited her with my love of reading and writing, which, I’d said, “is all I do now.”

“Yes,” I say.

“That’s good,” she says.

* * *

“I need to be able to ask you something,” she says, “without fear of recipration.”

“Fear of what?”

“Recipration.”

“What does that mean?”

“Fear of reprisal.”

Or she was mixing reciprocity with retaliation.

“Yes, you can ask me anything.”

“Why,” she says, “do houses always have three or four bedrooms?”

* * *

“God what an altering moment in my life.”

* * *

I am sautéing a halved croissant and some apple slices when I hear her speaking from the living room. She says something about “the great person doing things in the kitchen” for her. She shows gratitude again shortly after, when I bring her tea that is not piping hot and explain, “It’s not as hot as you like it, but it’s also not dangerous, or painful.”

She smiles sweetly and says, “You’re so right.”

* * *

“What’s that thing, hanging down?”

I reach for the airplane neck pillow. “This?” She nods. “This is for airplane travel.” I put it on and lean back on the couch. “See?”

“Did I travel with that?”

“You sure did.”

Her face breaks into sadness. “Where did I go?”

“You went all over the world, Mom. All over Europe, Brazil, around America . . .”

“How did we afford all that?” she says, back to one of the central themes of her life.

“Well, you saved up money. You went on a few trips with Don L——” – an ex-husband – “and I bought a few tickets, and the rest you saved up for.”

“I would never go on a trip with Don L—–,” she says.

“Well, you did then.”

She shakes her head. “Not even then.”

* * *

Maybe it was the long sleep last night, but Mom hasn’t slept much today. It’s a little after 4p.m. and she’s sleeping for the first time since 11ish. Peggie stopped by, bringing Mom some mashed potatoes and gravy from KFC (a guilty favorite in recent months) and me some drunken noodles. Mom ate a tiny bit, just as she’d eaten only a bite or two of her sautéed croissant and apple slices. We had to press the pain pump a few times. Mom was crying with pain, and that made Peggie cry. A lot of Mom’s speech is non sequiturs.

I get up in the bed and hold her for a while and my brain continues to refuse to wrap itself around the idea that in as little as a few days I won’t be able to stroke her hair or kiss her head or see her smile.

* * *

6:40p.m. I hear her cry out and then begin sobbing. I leap up from the couch. “What’s wrong, Mom? Do you have pain?”

“Nightmare,” is all I could make out.

“You had a nightmare?”

She nods.

“Well it’s over now.”

“Are you sure?” In that voice like a three-year-old girl.

“I’m sure. It’s finished now.”

But only seconds later she is again in distress. “Why does my tummy hurt so much?”

“We need to get you some more medication,” I say, moving around the bed to the bolus.

“I thought it was over.”

“No, your pain isn’t over. But we can stop it with this medicine.”

I sit with her and caress her head and hand until she seems to be asleep. She opens her eyes and looks at me, reaches out her hand and begins to stroke my cheek.

“You’re the best man I’ve ever known,” she says.

“Who raised me?” I say.

* * *

She’s taken in a terribly small number of calories lately. Is she eating more than 200 calories a day? How long can this go on? “I look like a starvation person,” she said to me this morning. “If you put me side by side with a starvation person, I would look worse.” And indeed she looks like nothing so much as the concentration camp survivors who were photographed by Allied troops. That is cancer: the concentration camp of the human body.

Sunday November 23, 2014

Bonnie arrives at 8 or 9 a.m., Silke tells me by phone she will be here at 1p.m., and Peggie texts me to say Berle has agreed to watch Mom while I watch the Broncos-Dolphins game with Peggie, Pat, and their daughter, Sydney. I call up my friend Jeanne as I’m driving to Starbucks.

Jeanne was a groomsman at my wedding. Well, that was my original idea. In the end she read a poem. Point is, she’s the most solid and long-standing platonic friend I have. Her father died five years ago.  She hadn’t known Mom’s condition and was unhappily surprised and empathetic when I told her. She said she knew it was hard, but my job was to “ferry her over to the other side.”

After her first reaction to her father’s dying, she said, she just got down to business. “If you understand that’s your role, it’s easier.” She said she wished she’d done more than look at photo albums with him. “We should have driven him to the ocean and wheeled him down to the water one last time.”

“I wrote his eulogy before he died,” she told me. “It was my grieving and my therapy. It was a good piece of work, if I do say so myself. It ended up being a powerful tribute that was meaningful for other people who were mourning him.”

“I want to read your blog but I’m afraid I’ll just start crying,” she said. “It’s been five years. I still sometimes have a good cry. Like when I’m at a stoplight, you know the click click of the blinker or windshield wiper. I’ll just break down.”

“It’s a very strange journey,” she said. “It’s the sort of thing where whatever you feel is normal. Grief is different from other motions. It’s this weird, out of body thing, and other physical manifestations. It still fucks me up five years later. I’m so sorry, Cameron. I had hoped your mom would have a lot more time.”

“You’re going to go up and down differently from the way you do other ups and downs,” she said.

She asked if my mother has expressed her wishes about a funeral and the like. Yes, I said. She wants to be cremated, no funeral, and then have her ashes spread over the Black Canyon. I will probably also take them to Braunwald [Switzerland] and maybe on another long walk.

* * *

At Starbucks I work for a few hours, then I head out to the Baker ranch. Good food and sympathetic conversation, and Peggie is super happy that the Broncos come from behind to win.

* * *

Son, she called.

Yes?

The other one.

I look at her to see if she’s joking.

Do I have another one? she says, probably reading my face.

No. Adam was here though, I say, so that she won’t think she’s completely crazy.

* * *

How do we travel?

We’ve traveled with planes and trains and automobiles. Sometimes by foot. We walked about 500 miles across Spain.

She brightens. That is uncool, she says, meaning, I think, cool. How did we do that?

Well, you did it. It was your idea, you made it happen. We were in three different countries, with Carrie —

That’s right.

— and Julio and Marie Anne.

* * *

Hmhh? I say, once again.

For the second time in the last week, she simply closes her eyes (annoyed?) and doesn’t answer.

* * *

How did all that marijuana start? she says. I didn’t just go out in the middle of the street and say, Hey, I’m a middle-aged flower girl.

I remind her. I had suggested that she try medical marijuana in the summer of 2013, to help her deal with nausea and pain. I made her an appointment with a doctor in Ridgway who is sufficiently alternative that he calls other doctors “real doctors”, and he gave her the necessary prescription to get a medical marijuana card.  So she began with joints and bongs, neither of which she liked any more than she enjoyed marijuana. By August, the second chemotherapy had failed and I was meeting a good old boy in a parking lot in Norwood to buy $550 worth of highly concentrated cannabis oil. The most well-known proponent of the oil is a Canadian, now living in Amsterdam, named Rick Simpson. He calls the dark-green substance Phoenix Tears, and he says without qualification that it “cures cancer”. There are some studies indicating marijuana oil can be effective against cancer, but it’s just irresponsible to imply anything will work for every person and every cancer.

Mom began taking the oil in rice-grain-sized portions twice a day. It knocked her out for hours the first time she tried it. Within days her planters fasciitis went away. She slept better, had less pain, and stopped taking her thyroid medication without incident. She quickly increased her dose as much as she could, and took it three times a day, hoping it would kill the cancer just like Rick Simpson said it would do. And for two months, her CA-125 scores, a test for ovarian cancer, went down. Not even 18 sessions of two types of chemotherapy had been able to reverse its steady climb. Now the numbers were cut in half!

* * *

One more question now.

Yes.

We’ve been living together here in . . . France?

We’re in Colorado.

Shit I screwed it up.

* * *

One day we’ll sit down and discuss this whole thing.

Discuss what, Mom?

The story.

What story, Mom?

How you and I ended up together.

Do you remember?

Breathes in. Not really. It’s giving me some different . . . Stares off into space.

You gave birth to me in Rangely, and you were living with Grandma Powell, and my grandpa.

They didn’t smoke pot?

No. Neither did you.

* * *

I ask her if she wants to go to sleep or to look at the photos from her pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago.

Would I like to be excited by that? she says.

I repeat the question and she affirms it. Yes, you would like to be excited, I say. The Camino was one of your favorite things to do.

I want to go to sleep, she says, nodding slightly.

But then she says something that makes no sense at all. Not just a non sequitur (that otherwise makes sense), not just a concept that is trivial or makes only little sense. No, now she isn’t making sense at the grammar and syntax level. I believe this is new as of today.

* * *

I want a last hurrah before I die. I want to be happy just for one second, feel what the feeling feels like. Near tears at the end of the sentence.

You’ve been happy before. I say this hopefully.

She takes a moment to respond. Not in material matters.

You know that doesn’t make people happy.

I know.

You’ve been happy before, right?

More than anyone I know, she says, including me.

* * *

She has said twice that she was really tired, but she keeps coming out of her doze to ask questions. I see her hand moving repetitively. Is this the “restlessness”?

Monday November 24, 2014

“I can’t get over that you’re my son,” she says. “I mean you seem familiar . . . But I’ve missed so much,” she says, with sadness. “Where have I been?”

“You haven’t missed anything, Mom. You were there my whole life.”

“What are you, sixteen?”

“I’m forty-seven.”

She is astonished. “Forty-seven?” She turns her head away from me and mutters to herself, “I’m worse off than I thought.” She is lost in thought for a while. “I need some time. Can I have some coffee? It’s like whiskey to me. For this shock.”

* * *

“How did I meet you?” she asks.

“Well, you gave birth to me.”

“But surely you must have had a house somewhere. You must have wondered where I was.”  She is earnest.

* * *

How did I get here?

Where, Mom?

Here, she said, gesturing around her.

It’s your house.

It’s so frustrating, to be denied things that I need to have and to know.

I know it is. Do you want to try some more water?

* * *

“Where are my parents?” she says.  Another opportunity to make a person, now also child-like, feel anew the pain of losing her parents?  No.  I won’t say they’re dead and of course I won’t say they’re alive.

“They’re in heaven,” I say.

* * *

 

We have been looking at an album of old photos. The first few pages are given over to pictures of me, my cousin, Fiona, my step-father Tommy, and the close German relatives. After I sit back down on the couch, probably to record here something she’d said, she looks at the photo album again. “That doll looks so weird.”

I come around the bed to look at what she’s pointing at. It’s a picture of me, age two.

“That’s me,” I say.  “I’m looking down.”

“I’m looking down too.”

“No, I mean in the picture, I’m looking down. That’s why you just see hair instead of all of my face.”

“That’s grotesque,” she mutters.

* * *

I ask the Certified Nurse’s Assistant, Vonnie, if she had talked to my mother about how much time she had left or if my mother had made it up.

“She asked me,” Vonnie says. “I told her I didn’t know, I couldn’t know. But I wouldn’t try to tell her. We can never tell. Some people hold on for weeks. My mother lived a week and a half with only a few sips of water. Your mother’s confusion is getting worse.” Vonnie also says my mother told her, “They’re telling me my mom and dad are dead, but I can’t accept that.”

* * *

8:50p.m. I have spent the day fielding offers of help and expressions of solidarity and empathy. These people are a big part of what’s helping me to keep my wits about me. Writing helps. There’s even research that says people who write down difficult events afterward recover significantly faster. But my current hypothesis is that I’m also being buoyed by the laser-sharp focus of a crystal-clear purpose: my job is to ferry my mother to the other side.  All but Julio DSC_0015

Fleas and Lice

My goodness. I just cannot believe how long this took to hear anything.

Biopsy was 2 weeks ago. Total disaster. I was in LOTS of pain and awful nausea. Scheduling nurse and I had talked 3 different times about taking my MJ vapors, so I wouldn’t vomit. She said she would make a note of it. Next time, when I brought it up because I remembered the ‘circus’ when having a CT scan.

Once there, however and barely registered, I was taken to the Financial Office to ‘see if they can help me.’ Well, NOT on that day! Just before a procedure.

Again, this ‘nurse’ came up to me as I was waiting on the Gurney to admonish me about ‘smoking’. GOSH! NOT again. I just moaned, cried and rocked with pain. I ‘think’ they finally gave me something for nausea. Speaking of nausea: This last bout of ‘bowel problems’ has been responsible for me losing 35 lbs in 5 weeks. This had me so very worried and concerned. I finally put the symptoms in search engine and there was a NEW word. (New for me.) ‘CACHEXIA’. This is the terrible ‘wasting disease’ caused by cancer. Cancer cells feed and suck the protein out of the healthy cells. NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU WOULD EAT, even if you could, it would not matter. You starve to death. Being so passionate about food and a decent cook, I thought this would be the most cruel end. Many a night I cried with terror of this death and no one told me different. This was an older dated research and I’ve not had time to find more. BUT, other than some Opiates which they say may or may not be effective, what I did see was that this ONE medication for this ‘condition’ has shown good promises: “CANNABIS”. At that time (2006) it was only legal in Europe. Well, was I happy to see that. I’m already on my way. Then, after a break through 2 weeks ago, when I finally had some peace and less pain with bowels. Three days ago, I strted eating ‘NORMAL’ (organic) food. Just small plate but ‘plate’ never the less. My weight had spiraled down to 155 lbs. I’ve gained 5lbs since. I cannot convey the PURE JOY of feeling ‘Hunger’. I’ve also learned, that I have to have 3 different forms of MJ.

First: ‘Tears of Phoenix’ cannabis oil for cancer. One grain of rice-size about 5 times a day. Ingested with applesauce, 1 mini, tiny piece of ‘European butter’ (fat content is higher.) I found the perfect way to get it down without ‘gagging’. I cut off a slice of lemon, suck on it, throw down the ‘cannabis’ and suck on lemon again. THAT way, no taste of MJ.

I’ve also learned, that when you are so very sick, you cannot eat from a plate or ‘chunky food.’ I was still drinking this powerful bone-meat-veggie-broth. In the middle of the painful night, to soothe my poor abdomen, I would get my beanie bag heated and then 1/2 cup of thus HOT broth.

When Cameron was here and we sat down to eat and I couldn’t, he looked at me with such naked fear and tears brimming, that it broke my heart that I can’t do better. But then, if it had been this disease, nothing matters.  I took a photo of my ‘first food’ and posted it on FB. 🙂

Meanwhile, I have also had an appointmenbt with my ‘regular’ doc whom I beseeched to help me get better with the ‘other stuff’. Also asked him, if he would ‘monitor’ me and note changes and improvements.

I guess, we are still doing the CA 125 even though the Diagnosis is in question. When I learned, that even though the Liver has lesions, it is not cancerous. Once I had shared this, I received many ‘congratulatory’ mails and phone calls.

This does NOT mean, I don’t have cancer anymore but only that not now, on the liver. Everythinbg else was still there, last CT scan. The one with the MOST worrying feature, is the tumor on the aorta. No help for that. This is why the Cannabis has to work because THAT could be my death sentence.

I had asked a friend from the medical field to look at a few things. He graciously did so. Since I don’t have a ‘workable’ diagnosis, I asked what it could be? He answered:’ Lice and Fleas!’

WHAT!?  “Some people have a definite cancer (lice) and some people have a definite cancer ( fleas) and some people have LICE AND FLEAS!”  Best medical explanation I ever had. Thanks.

Had to get another batch of cannabis. This one seems to be much improved and so am I. When you consider, that ALL I am taking for the remaining bowel problem, is ONLY 1/2 of an Ibuprofen and ‘maybe’ 1/4 of a Tramadol, then be assured that’s my entire PHARMA. Less and less pharma pills.

Still envisioning going to Germany and Austria. I guess I will know more after next week’s test.

At the hospitas, later, I vomited all over the place. Horrible experience. I made some decisions. I will have all my tests done here, at home. That will reduce the ‘Misery time’ of about 3-4 hours or more. I live only a few blocks from our Hospital. (They are NOT as rude, either.)

I am supposed to have another Biopsy. (Will call my surgeon and ask if he does this as well.) Not sure if I shoud have before or After the trip. (I will interject that if the ONLY option they will offer me is chemo, I probably won’t take it. My bowels and blood clots would not withstand a new toxic assault.

The other day, I felt soo good, I put some ‘Strauss’ on and  I cleaned my fridge, kitchen, changed guestroom, made Pear Strudel, cleaned my bathroom and THEN….. then I danced a waltz. Alone in my kitchen, the pale sun shinig in and tears running down my face for the JOY of just doing this simple, little thing.

“Chemo never felt this good.’  Cannabis can do a lot but it cannot sew. Healing (sewing) damage. Researching new concepts and treatments.

Lost a few ‘friends’. One, because I take Marijuana. (Gateway to Hell) hahaha. The other one, because I won’t play the Political-Hate game. I JUST do NOT care right now. I am trying to save my life and ignorant opinions do not interest me.

Sure wish I could see my grandkids. It’s been over 2 years with Kaleb and 3 years for Brianna. (Dylan is working, still and busy in the high country.)

 

Camino Not Chemo

This took much longer to do than anticipated. Every turn and test was either lost or Doctor was out of town and left us hanging without results. 

Meanwhile, I had received a new batch of cannabis/hash oil. Three vials to see which one I would respond best to. I took the first syringe and tolerated it well. I noticed that small improvements happened. A wart on my index finger disappeared. Blood clots gone. Whatever type of horrible, painful bowel obstruction that was, it’s nearly gone. Thanks to cannabis. It’s all I take.

Second syringe hash oil was still alright and I started feeling hungry. Great feeling. By now, I have lost nearly 30 lbs. A great downward, scary spiral. Just the mere ‘thought’ of food made me ill.  However, I know what happens once you can’t eat. So, I would cook these great, tasty bone broths and I would sip out of a cup. The heat of the broth felt so nourishing, especially in the middle of the night.

Now, it was time for the third syringe with cannabis. I took the first ‘grain of rice size’ and felt just a momentary ‘burning’ but then it was O.K.  When I woke up around midnight with the same rollercoaster spasms, I took the prepared hash oil, which I had near my bed. Barely had landed in my stomach, when immediately I became so very nauseous and the feeling of hell fire burning me alive in my stomach!! I vomited all over myself, the bed and was so sick I thought I may have to go to the Emergency room. By the time I changed my bed, got into a bath (warm, not hot!) and went back to bed, I was totally exhausted, shaking and crying.

I was very upset with this batch. THEY FORGOT TO BURN THE ALCOHOL OFF!! That is nearly 95% PROOF that hit my stomach full force AND without food.

Lost so much valuable time just trying to figure out what type of strain and oil to use. How much of it to use? With food? or not? No one to ask all these questions. What if people cannot take 1 gramm per day? Will it still perform? Meanwhile we had the new CT scan. Finally had it interpreted. I may have had a ‘mis-diagnosis’. I may NOT have Ovarian cancer, which was treated with a non-working chemo for nearly 1 year. But, instead I have lung and liver cancer. (Oh, still the tumor on the aorta too. It’s been there so long, I tend to forget.) 

At least I can eat. I am starting to ‘think’ about food again. I wonder what people do, that don’t cook ? Or know what to eat? Had friends over yesterday and cooked ‘crackling pork roast, potatoe balls, Sauerkraut and mixed salads. I ate 1 potato ball with sauce. MMM. I guess comfort foods it is.

The CA 125 (which stands for ‘ovarian’ may not be the proper test anymore either. Right back to where I was, nearly 4 years ago. After diagnosis, going to Europe. I still have my frequent flyer mile ticket and am planning going this spring. As I said to my oncologist ‘come hell or high water.’ Want to celebrate my 70th birthday with whatever family I have left, and old school friends.

When I had my INR finger stick to determine how well my blood was running (clots) my local doc was soo amazed how quickly this had healed. I had questioned the nurse to take less of the Warfarin but she argued and insisted. So, for another week I took the strong dose only to measure 8.6 which is WAY too fast.

I am losing energy. This is getting so very long. Friends are still close and caring. Some of my family, not so much. Hurts but ‘it is, what it is’.

So, for now I feel so very much improved and the thought of even having to go onto an ‘Oral chemo’ just really has me in a ‘flight mode’. 

Cameron still having to do all the hard stuff. I can’t even begin to imagine, how it would be or where I’d be, if he were not helping me. So, this ‘crap shoot’ keeps going and we’ll see what comes next.

 

24 Hours in the life of….

Aside

As days passed in a haze of pain and misery, not knowing why I was hurting so bad.. and why the Vapors were not working. Coupled with such debilitating nausea and loss of appetite that I rapidly lost 22 lbs before one month was out. I was trying desperately to slow, halt this slide toward starvation…As a total Foodie and passionate cook, not being able to cook/eat was so sad. Cameron came to help out and take me to the store. It had been days since I’d been out. But only a few minutes in the Grocery store I had to leave very nauseous. Sight and smell of food was ‘disgusting’ to me. I asked to hurry home.

Weak and sick, so sick. So much in pain. PLEASE-DEAR-GOD-MAKE-IT-STOP-PLEASE-PLEASE-PLEASE…..crying and snot running down the same time. That’s all I have against the pain. If I take morphine, constipation so severe, same pain.

I had been off the cannabis for 3 days and decided to restart with the original  ‘rice size’. I swear, that only 3+ hours later , pain subsided and I could ‘go’. But, at night, still between the hours of 1-4 A.M I was in Painhell!! I noticed, that this pain was like a ‘rollercoaster’ peaks and valleys. I thought: this is NOT the cancer, this is the COLON trying to PUSH and if it is blocked, then the matter pushes against your stomach, which immediately makes you sicker than a dog! Being nauseous from NOT eating is different. Learn to listen to your body. The cycle continues IF there’s no relief. In the pain category,

I would judge this way: 1. Kidney stones, 2.Bowel obstruction, 3. Childbirth. (I’ve had all 3.)  Bowel and Birth pain is about the same with ONE HUGE difference: After labor pains you get a lovely, little baby and then it’s over.  With bowel obstruction, all you may end up with is a bag that doesn’t match anything you have.

As lay helplessly weeping and hiccupping, Cameron came to sit with me, talk and hug me.

Then I learned these small but oh so important improvements.

First: I manage the pain throughout with smaller portion but more times. Right now, I take this times 4, so it covers me DURING the spasm time. Then, I take some ‘vapors’ against the NAUSEA. I’ve cooked a strong beef-bone stock and this is what I divided into 2 batches. I take 1/2 cup of hot stock and the warmth that I feel going down, is priceless. The instant relief one gets is miraculous. So. Now I could start to eat. (Cameron did not inherit any cooking genes.) When I woke in the morning without ANY pain nor NAUSEA, I sank to my knees, just overwhelmed with blessed, heavenly relief.

BRAEKFAST: 1/2 cup stock. 1/8th Melon, a few vapor puffs, wait 10 min then 1/2 sandwich.  ( A few vapor puffs, wait, then LUNCH: 1/8 of Melon, 1/2 bowl of Spaghetti with only a little garlic taste and butter, plus 1 German Hamburger. Later: Tea with 1/2 slice bread.

DINNER: Left over Spaghetti, same way with 1 more hamburger.

I have learned to PUREE my food so it will NOT become a harsh mass. BE kind to your colon and learn to eat ‘different’. Your brain only knows ‘what was’. That’s why we want to ‘sit down with the family and eat a nice dinner.’ Well, of course you can sit down with them BUT you cannot EAT like them. We now have a new way of eating. Small portions, pureed so I can have (organic) meat-protein as I’m not allowed much Vitamin K. (Blood clots from chemo). When my friend Silke took me to CT scan and then out to Lunch, I’d asked to have this great soup ‘pureed’ and they are more than glad to do this.

To fight cancer successfully, you should really RESEARCH well. Go to: www.phoenixtears.ca learn how to make it. http://phoenixtears.ca/videolibrary  THIS IS NOT IN A DISPENSARY. You have to find someone to make it. IF it is NOT high in THC content and it’s not been decarboxylated FULLY— then it is NOT Rick Simpson’s oil (RSO). Suggested is 95-98% of INDICA strain .( SATIVA is what is used more for brain matters such as Epilepsy, Alzheimers.)

The latest link is from a Swiss clinic, which reports marvelous successes. When you click on link, there are little Flags which depict language uses.

http://www.qcmaf.eu/our-swiss-clinic-opens-on-the-28th-october

Friends have asked, how much do you take? Well, it is different for everybody. That’s why you start so small. But, rule of thumb: If you ‘poop’ like an elephant, it’s too much, if it’s like a Hummingbird, not enough. (That’s one of the ‘side effects. Great, huh? FOR US it is. I have managed to get it nearly right after 3 mos of hit and miss.

Still waiting on CT scan results. SOO many desperate phone calls and messages. SOOO many people in PAIN. SOOO many ignorant people.  Be at least open minded. Research. You may just save your or your child’s life. There has been an Exodus to Colorado by parents who bring their very sick children to have this PLANT medicine. NO one should be denied to help themselves and their child.  I had to make a decision, when Chemo was in-effective, I remembered this quote: When you are on the edge of a cliff and there’s no way out, you better grow wings OR take a LEAP of faith. This is what I did.

 

48 harrowing hours

I am astounded that I am still here. I am not exaggerating. The whole past months I was continuing with cannabis, I was in so much pain that I was just an exhausted, weeping mess. Every night, between 1:00 and 4:00 A.M I woke up with great abdominal pain. I would try to take 1/2 Ibuprofen, with a half of Tramadol. Might as well spit into the wind. I would put heating on it, I would fix tea, etc. I twist and turn and I could not sleep. Could not figure out why MJ was not helping much.

The next thing that happened was as I was on the couch and my abdomen was extented and I had ‘gained’ 17 lbs starting chemo. I kept telling the nurse, I don’t know why I gain  as I can hardly eat and have to have Marijuana vapors just to get a few bites in. Well, December 29th, the day when this ‘hard knot seemed to ‘snap, break, sharp pull, etc. I nearly blacked out with pain. Some time after I had the urge to use the bathroom. Seemed like an elephant got there first.  I had lost 16 lbs in 2 days. I am holding my ‘old’ weight even though appetite is still a problem.

The way  I am dealing with food is different now. It occured to me that we always expect to sit down and eat our plate. When you’re nauseous that way too much food to look at. So, I wouldn’t eat. BUT you HAVE to eat. Then I had the idea to minimize. I am using my small, tiny prep bowls and would put 3 grapes in one, 2 apple slices in the next, banana, etc. In between, I would use my MJ vapors to produce appetite long enough so I can eat a few bites but I ate throughout the day. I’ve become addicted to Wendy’s Chili. When I can’t cook, that’s is great to have.

The other worrisome change that happened was my mental agility. I felt as if there was a  steel band around my head. Pressure. I would talk to my friends and after every 5 seconds I would ask, ‘what was I talking about? Where am I going with this? It made my friends pay excellent attention as they had to remember.  NAUSEA. NAUSEA. That was my companion all day. I just did not know why. Then came: Depression, anxiety, paranoia, nausea, loss of appetite,  I was getting scared as I felt I am falling into an unknown hole. But by being unable to eat, I was nauseous because I had no food. Terrible catch 22. Since I was already up, I researched Rick Simpson again. I had always used the You Tube video info. I knew that one cannot overdose on Marijuana. You may get really sick, they said, like bad drunk but you will not die as one  would with alcohol. I am the living proof.

There were the ‘Side Effects listed, if you take too much stuff. I had overdosed regularily for 2 months. All of the symptoms that are listed  further up are the ones. My goodness. Trying so hard to save my life- may kill me! But from chemicals NOT MJ. I stopped right away to hydrate and try and flush it out. But I was so nauseous. VERY surprising, I had absolutely no withdrawal or anything like one would with some REAL BAD drug. Not addictive UNLESS you decide. When I’m well, then I’m done stuff!

Doctor exams, all well. They said not to try to diagnose myself. I said, well, I’m sorry but I had NOT HAD the best of luck with proper diagnoses. Besides, that’s what we do. When things are not really helping, you just want to do it to get it done. Just want the pain to stop. Just that tiny bit of ‘mental problem’ the weeping, etc. is so very painful (even if it is not you) that ‘anything’ would do to ram it in there to STOP.

My blood pressure , three hours later when I saw doc, was still 190/95. She said, she could not believe that I did not have a stroke. Also, the horrible, horrid abdomina pain was an “bowel obstruction’, which is fairly common with chemo. (Also, chemo injures the colon. A woman from my support group, died because most of her colon had become thin as paper and then broke when fecal matter moved through. Because I had been regular I did not know.

CA 125 cancer marker numbers were UP but not much. Doc said, what with all that trauma of colon and nausea and a new Lab may be responsible. I am NOT starting another chemo. My colon is trying to repair itself. I did say again, that I did NOT think that this was the ‘Cancer’ . Maintaining that 1/2 of an Ibuprofen would not help managing cancer. Besides, it would also be painful during other hours. (Oh, excuse me. I just ‘diagnosed’ again.  :-)I think it’s healthy LOGIC. I’ll just keep it to myself. Tuesday CT scan to see ‘inside’. At the cancer center I was so manic and wired, that I had to ‘suck’ on my vapors to get rid of feeling. The problem was, that there was too much SATIVA in it. This works on your mental receptors. That’s why they are using it on Alzheimer patients now. INDICA is the one for cancer and many other illnesses. It is usually mixed because Indica seeds are very hard to come by and GOVERNMENT does NOT allow the cultivation. So, we have a ‘lower’ quality. I suppose, Gov wants to make money too.

A friends’ 95 year old mother is on this for Alzheimer’s and doing pretty well. (She still has Alzheimers but not so severe and has bright times.

While I was gone, my sweet friend cleaned the whole house! Vacuumed. Had taken the morning off to give me this gift. THIS IS WHAT WE NEED. Someone to help. When I walked in, I cried. She also came after work to stay with me until my other friends came. They had gone out for their anniversary dinner. (My friend texted if it was possible t come, not knowing. ) I will cook you a 5* menu when I’m better to make it up. Love you guys.

Also had to get back on Warfarin because ‘those numbers’ were too low. 

Trying to get cannabis after my son left for a little time off, turned out to be a very stressful circus. It has become harder and harder for me to get this ‘paste’ down, even with aplesauce. My gag reflex is the best working thing in my body.  I was anxiously awaiting my appointment for blood work to see new results. Also had appointment with my ‘old’ Oncology surgeon who gave a big hug and smile. I had wanted a CT scan to see if the tumors had less or more activity. I mean, I had 2 hours between appointments and I didn’t want to make an extra trip.  Not till Tues.

The night before my appointments, I was not feeling well. But, as usual since there is nothing  else I can do, I used my homespun tricks. Finally, I got up at 1:28 A.M to take a hot bath with epsom salt, which always helps. I ran the water into the tub, added salt and could hardly wait to go into that wonderful warmth. I figured since I’m already here, I might as well shave my legs, now that’s it’s growing agin. Suddenly I was overcome with a nausea so severe that I thought this is BAD..black spots in front of my eyes and I could hardly breath. I propelled myself out over the rim of that high, old tub, as I was afraid of ‘blacking out’ and drowning. There I was. The skin of my whole body was Lobster red. Never experienced anything like it. I looked over to the tub and all I said was, ‘well, that won’t do.’ I crawled to the bedroom because I was shaking uncontrollably and felt like fainting. I need  HELP I thought. I called my good friend Bonnie. There are REALLY friends you can call at that time. She drove right over. She stayed with me until my other friend Berle, came to take me to Grand Junction. As we were sitting there, talking, I remembered suddenly a sentence in a conversation that I had with a nurse friend, right after the blood clot incident. I was telling her about my tub/salt preference. She looked at me funny and said: YOU CAN’T TAKE A HOT BATH WHEN YOU ARE ON CUMADIN! WARFARIN!! I had a severe reaction and nearly had a stroke. That’s what that bright lobster red was. I had taken the pill the evening before.

Some people received wealth, Beauty, talent at the time of their births. I? I received 9 Lives. THANK GOD!

This is for my support group “TEAL Warriors:

Dear friends. I’m using this way to answer requested info.

Marijuana is the plant.  Cannabis as a product, divided into INDICA and SATIVA  (many otherstrains and combinationa.) ONE product dowes not work on everything. It’s like cooking. Let’s sa, recipe calls for Parsley and Dill , they go well together but if you add some curry that’s not good. The right strain for the ‘right’ illness. You need the TEARS of PHOENIX model, not just ‘some oil. I can’t afford Rick Simpson’s oil as it is %4000.00 for 3 mos. Still WAY cheaper than chemo but WE have to pay this. I needed an EXTRA $1200 per month to buy my cannbis. My son thinks, that these prices were before it became legal in a few states.

My son gave me the Link to a Foundation to help financing the treatment. I can’t access the link right now but I will later.

You remember how you start? a small rice-grain size with European butter to take it. The higher fat content will intensify the healing properties. What cannabis does, is to instruct the cancer cells to committ suicide without harming surrounding cells. This could have been the reason that my first month on it, the numbers were lower.

Tears of Phoenix is NOT like cooking OIL. It’s a dark, dense PASTE. You take it x3 a day. Also supplement with Tinctures, Vapors and WEW. (What ever works.)

Victoria, and all of you precious friends try to get this. I cannot promise ‘it’ will do exactly the same with you guys. Everyone is different. The break through from blocked bowels was the prolonged (2.5 mos) use of cannabis. The properties of the LEAF PLANT had worked it’s way through, THANK GOD. After that, the terrible pain was gone, the nausea dissipated. Oh MAN, I can take a deep breath without thinking I’m throwing up. Just the next day, I’ve eaten more than the other 3 days combined.

Research : Rick Simpson but this time NOT on You Tube. There’s a new web site full of GREAT info, testimonials. Go to www.marijuanadoctor.com  If you need more info, CALL> xxxooo

CANNABIS vs CANCER

At first, I wanted to wait until I had results from CA 125 blood test. But, meanwhile, things change and my memory is not the best these days. In 2 weeks, I will start my 3rd month on cannabis oil ONLY. People have asked me why I would not take anything else with it. Like, chemo or pills. How would we know WHAT had worked? I need to know that it was the cannabis. It’s vitally important to many people who are waiting to ‘see’ how things turn out with me. Of course, many cancers are different and this treatment is too new but we do know, it works! 

I don’t understand it. Someone has cancer. They do all the conventional treatments. Then, one day, while they are settling into their chemo line and sit there, while Toxins run into the body and they’re trying so very hard to use gentler Visualization of this ‘liquid’; why they would NOT run out and get something far less damaging. I thought, once they see that it works and cancer numbers are coming down, that this would convince them. Well. Knock me down with a feather!! That did not happen. I suppose people will do what they KNOW. No matter that it fries their intestines, damages veines, loss of hair, appetite, sick, sick, sick till the cows come home. And you want to use it again? How many people know that Chemo comes from Mustard gas??

Well, then comes the day that they tell you, you have become “Chemo resistant’. When you have no choice, then you eat dirt if it helps!! Wouldn’t you think that in over 50 years of cancer reserarch and the BILLIONS of dollars for research, they’ve not come up with something better and more humane. Already in 1989 the Cancer Industry made more than 100 MILLION per year from cancer, in the US alone. What does that tell you? Huge business.

Christmas was a quiet affair and sad. Grandkids are too far away, and so is family. No tree this year. No money for frills. It all goes to ‘Cannabis.’ This ‘new’ batch though was MUCH more pleasant to ingest and it only takes applesauce to get it down. The taste for that split second in my mouth, gags me. I would never make a ‘Druggie’.

Here is a BIG shout out of THANKS to the group: German Girls Living In America.’ It is due to their compassionate collection and donations, that have made this possible. Ihr Lieben. I cannot thank you enough. Also, your never wavering Belief and support means the world to me. Other friends have made generous christmas checks and so I could have another month.

Cameron is in New York. A well deserved Respit. I’ll try not to bother him while he is there. (Hope you have LOTS of good times, son.)

To get a refill on cannabis, I called the producer of this oil. (Usually, Cameron does this for me as it takes over an hour to get it to Montrose.) This turned into a circus of frantic messaging. But, finally that nice guy got a ride and DROVE all the way to bring me my medicine. At $550.00 this makes it very expensive and NO Ins pays for this. (NOT even Affordable Care  Act. 🙂 This last about 2 weeks.

I’ve read that to be better equipped to fight cancer, one needs to be ‘comfortable’ with death. Accept it. Only then can you move on. (Seems paradox but, if that’s what it takes?)

So. I’ve written and determine what is to happen with my (meager, few) possessions. I’ve decided, that this spring I will go to the gorgeous Black Canyon, find me a pretty spot and when the time comes, put the Ashes there. Take a photo of the area and breathtaking surrounding of the canyon and its Billion year old rocks. But, of course this little excercise is not what is meant. Taking stock, asking and giving Forgiveness.

In pondering this one, it surprised me how many people are holding on to ‘Stuff’. Someone very dear to me, brought up an incident which happened over 25 years ago! It was nothing earthshattering but obviously bothered enough for so many years. Need to forgive. The heart is big and elastic. It will adapt to any size. Just not too small.

I’ve been doing pretty well for most part. Twice, there was an episode and always at night, that the pain was so excrutiating that I layed on the floor, in fetal position, just howling. I put my feather comforter over my head, so the neighbors wouldn’t hear. But, there was nothing else I could do. This took about 2 VERY long hours before it abated.

I have had big problems with loss of appetite. (One of the 4 symptoms of ovarian cancer.) I look at food and I’m hungry but then it nauseates me. No matter what it is. THIS is what is soo debilitating for cancer patients. They starve to death.  If I did NOT have my MJ Vapors to produce appetite, I could not eat at all. This way, I can eat small amounts and get appetite.  Even though, I’ve lost 15 lbs so far. Cannot and am NOT allowed Dairy as it produces painful inflammation. (Eggs are not dairy.)

Yes, I have Morphine, Tramadol, Oxycodon, etc. I cannot take ANY of it. The side effects are too severe. All I have, is my little 600 mg Ibuprofen. I don’t ‘like’ it either. It damages your liver and I already have a ‘cancer leasion’ there. But, what to do? At some point I said, ‘Dear God. I’m not doing this anymore. I can’t stand it anymore. It’s been (nearly) FOUR years with this bout. I just want the pain to stop! Yes. Cannabis helps and I do take it when I go to bed. But then, it wears off and by the time I get more in, I’m already in pain. (GOSH. This is sooo BORING to talk about. I’m sick of it myself. 🙂

Wishing all of you the VERY best of 2014. Make it YOUR year. Change your lifestyle. Walk a little more. Be kind. Be tolerant. Thank you for sticking with me through this journey.

             HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Look Ma! .. No net!

So. How does this saga continue? On Oct. 14 th with Cameron in tow as well as Adam, who was visiting, I showed up at the Cancer Center. I visited Sue first.

Sue has had ovarian cancer over 3 years ago and dealing with a recurrence right now. It is really upsetting and worrisome that NOTHING was detected. She had her bloodwork and tests, she had her CT scan and all showed ‘clear’. She had complained about pain but also ‘diagnosed’ herself… thus saving docs the trouble and cost of medical school. She kept telling her oncologist that she may have ‘appendicitis.’!!!! I believe that ANY time a cancer patient complains of a long lasting pain, you don’t send her home. They all trusted these tests. And then, she had emergency surgery and it was finally noticed that she has new tumors. So. Now a much worse scenario. But she’s fighting the fight. As one motto says in our group: Fight like a girl”. Big shout-out to Gerald, her husband, who is such a tremendous help with everything.

We’ve lost 3 of our ‘Teal Warrior’s. Wow. So young. There’s Sonya, not quite 48 years  who did not get to see her grandchild being born. Not even the measly-amount of 3-6 mos ‘given time’, was upheld. We are all reeling. Of course, the unspoken fear is, that ‘YOU’ are next. We’re all moving in a little closer to each other, as if for protection. Who will the Boney guy pick next? You all duck!!

Here I am, after a whole month being absent from the ward and visiting Sue, I went to Doc’s office. Cameron was there. First thing: Scan shows no new growths. No significant changes. I asked her if she thought I could stay off chemo for another 6-8 weeks and give this Tears of Phoenix’ a chance. If we start chemo and, at the same time, take this, I won’t ever know if it really worked. Since the last 2 chemo’s did not work anyway, I’m not losing a lot.

It does feel odd. No chemo. No radiation. No magic pill. Only a tiny, dark powerhouse. I spread that grain of rice-size cannabis on my cracker and the taste of it, errupts in dramatic shakes all over me. I do not like this at all. Yuck. I have now sheduled my ‘waking errands and chores’ before I take anything because I am totally useless, once I have it.

It’s a good thing, one can’t overdose. I thought I was ready to doulbe my dose. It had been 10 days, although when I have an appointment or some things to drive to, I won’t take anything because I cannot function. After about 35 min there was this pressure around my forehead and my surroundings were compromised. Like swimming through Molasses. I tried to get up but couldn’t. It took all I had to GET up! When I finally managed to be upright, I bounced off the wall like the bumper-game machine. That night was really horrible. Dreams and images, torn and loud.. …but I noticed that was me coughing my lungs out. Terrible cold to boot.

My grandson, nearly 19 years old, is here to help me. All the way from Alabama. They move 10 years ago but he’s till our Colorado boy. Have not seen him in a long time and I sure hope he can withstand my present life. We had the ‘booze-drug’ talk and a few others. Done. He has worked in the yard, cutting down some of those silly trees that have thousands of seed pods to procreate and they’re such a nuisance.

What if ‘Tears’ of Phoenix’ does not work? Well, there are a few chemo’s left (that may not work either.) Meanwhile I now have problems walking with these compromised legs. Still taking Werferin but can’t go far. Maybe around the block. I really have to increase my distances. I am just tired.

I borrowed Pumpkin. My best Poodle buddy. He snugggles up and stays close and is totally devoted. I wish he could fetch and carry. But, I have to get up and go for a walk with him. (NO! Please. No dogs for a gift.) I have Cassie next door, whom I love and visit. There’s Bruno, another fun dog and Pumpkin. Those are enough.

 

 

 

Chemo Limbo and Tears of Phoenix

There is always something else to rattle my brain and make me shake all the way to my “argyle socks’, if I had any. I’ve had another CA 125 (the cancer marker blood test) after my second ‘Doxil’ chemo to find out how it is working. Well, the Hawaiian Punch carried NO punch. My numbers went up a few points. In itself not a drastic change were it not in the middle of CHEMO treatment!! Now what? I can’t quite understand it. This had never occurred to me that chemo may not work. Doc is not giving me another chemo until we find out why this one has not worked.  She will say:’ Cancer cells got smarter’.

What is our option now? Atom bomb? Next step is CT scan. Is there, perhaps a new tumor? Is this the preventing factor that cancer cells don’t die? In a few days, this question will be answered. Wait for blood test, wait for phone call, wait for news, wait for next step. Wait for CT scan. Wait….

I had researched the ‘Tears of Phoenix’ quite a bit a few years ago but

THC and CBD mixture the size of a grain of rice

THC and CBD mixture the size of a grain of rice

could not find anything on where they make them, who makes them, what it is exactly. Meanwhile, there is a LOT of information on You Tube. The founder’s name is Rick Simpson. He had to leave the country, years ago because the Fed’s were after him. This goes with all the horrid meds are allowed but let someone invent something cheaper that actually helps, well there’s hell to pay. Of course, Medicare (Nor any other ‘care’) will  pay for this. So it was out of my budget zone.

Then, something absolutely wonderful happened. A Facebook friend told me that she and a few of her friends were talking about my situation. The exorbitant cost of being sick. She asked if I had a Pay Pal account because her friend would create a “Widget’ for me. (A ‘what’s -it??) Never heard of it. But soon, there was this Widget on our Camino page (under ‘Read our Story’) as well as on the group page.

Pretty soon, I heard the ‘ding-ding’ of e-mail alerts on my I-phone. I looked and saw names I did not recognize, sending money. More names, some I did recognize from my German Group. ‘German Girls Living In America.’ Had not known much about the other group called ‘Laester Schwester’. Seems they are at odd with another. BUT, for my sake, this time, there was only the desire to help, putting aside their differences. (Unlike the Government, this seems to work.) So, with utmost gratitude and waves of overwhelming feelings of so much kindness and sharing of even a few dollars, had me crying. Their generosity now allowed me to purchase the very concentrated Hash oil to ingest. For the amazing hash properties to go in and tell this ‘smart-ass’ cancer cells to commit suicide.

I really, really want to thank all involved of helping me so I could buy this stuff. I was a little apprehensive. Here I am again, taking and trying more ‘stuff’. Going on some Internet info and FAITH that this will not only work but better and cheaper than chemo!! –which does not work.

Help Inge get treatment that works.  You can do so here (ignore the ad on top) where it says “Pitchin“:

I take this on a cracker, with just a little butter. The size not much larger than a half a grain of rice, and take it 3x per day. The tiny Powerhouse looks like a ‘ mouse-turd.’

So. I had my first cracker with the oil on it. My son took me out for breakfast. Not knowing what to expect, I thought oh, this is not so bad. Other than a little off center, I didn’t feel anything. Luckily not, till I got home. Then had to sit on the couch. Fog descended, things seem to move much slower. I felt like I was talking very slow myself. My son, meaning this in a good sense gave me a double dose for lunch… just before he left to drive to a wedding. Well, I sat there much later, still. I thought, ‘good Lord, I sure hope somebody comes and feeds me’. Couldn’t get off the couch. Fell asleep in the middle of one of my favorite programs. I’m thinking, the world needs more of this. They won’t argue, fight, kill each other. My foot started to feel much better but I’m not sure if this is a coincidence or some ‘early healing.’  I can’t believe that this tiny, eensy =weensy bit has that much POW.

So. After 4 days, we double the dose. I hope I have enough time taking this hash oil, before someone decides to throw chemo after it. I want to see how it helps but if I do get another chemo, I won’t know for sure whether the cell death is due to chemo or hash oil. But then again, if chemo does not work…again… except make me miserable and sick, I may ask for more ‘non-chemo’ time to allow hash oil to work. I guess, it depends on the CT scan results.

Meanwhile A BIG, HUGE Thank you to my German ‘Girls.’  Ich druecke euch alle in tiefer Dankbarkeit, das ihr mir diese Lebenschchance ermoeglicht. 

 

Door Number 1-2 or 3?

A few years ago, there was a T.V show with that title. Contestants would go through a series of differnt question they had to answer correctly and then they got the choice of the 3-curtained doors. Two had nice and sometimes valuable prizes, one of them a ‘boobie’ prize. A bale of hay, or a pile bricks.

I feel like I got one of those doors.

Two weeks ago, I had a CT scan to determine how well (or not) chemo therapy was doing and, what change, if any, about the ‘tumor.’ As many scans as I have had, this result was very much anticipated.

Lab person was going to use my port to access veine for dye. Not sure what happened but the pain and burning sensation was so severe, that I yelled and came off that chair. Startled, nurse pulled it out quickly. To allow her to do this again took great effort.

My friends and I went to have lunch down town and theybought  bought this delicious Gelato for me to minimize ordeal.

After I got home, I waited for the call which would give me results. There was Tuesday evening, Wednesday, Thursday. Nothing. Friday I called Oncologist’s office only to find out she had left.

Then, I called local doc. I knew they also would get a copy. Left message. Then I went grocery shopping. Walking is still an effort. Although swelling has receded, there are places which are painful and I have to wear compression hose, which go up to the thigh. After walking some, they roll over and then there’s a big, red indentation and I constantly have to pull it up. Annoying. I need one of those stocking holders. As I drove home, my cell phone rang and it was the nurse from local doc. She said, they were looking at scan and that blood clot had not dissipated. Was still there and in precarious place. I needed to go to Hospital as soon as I could and have another Ultra sound. I was really confused why they would see the ‘clot’? She said, that scan reaches a larger area.

So. Went to hospital and got scan. Waited till they send it to doc before I was allowed to leave. He did tell me that tumor had receded. But not how much, or anything else, since this was not his expertise. Waiting some more.

Tuesday, chemo day and appointment with Oncologist. So. This is the good news. Tumor has shrunk from 5 cm to 2.2. Doing the happy dance for that. Now I am hoping, that these 2.2 cm will be gone in another 2 month. Then she says, that blood clot did not originate in the leg but in the abdomen. It was very unsusual that the clot would travel DOWN instead of UP. Which would’ve been very dangerous. I totally believe, that I had my little miracle. My blood tests, which I have to have prior to each chemo is ‘perfect’.  (I asked what I was doing there if everything is so perfect!!)

The down side is, that the chemo is destroying my veines. There’s the catch. I can’t stop chemo now but for the veine, it’s a horrid thing. Which door to choose??

After so many rounds, the effects from the chemo are felt more and more . Most of the time I am very fatigued and can’t catch up with house and yard work. For 2-3 days, bones hurt and I am freezing form the inside out. Depression is marching in as though it belonged. Watching a commercial the other day, I started crying although there was nothing about it to cause this. At the store, suddenly there are tears. My nose is dripping constantly, until we figured out it’s because I have no ‘nose hair’. No eye brows, lashes … nose hair. Now that it is getting warmer, the pretty wig feels like a fur cap. My memory is becoming faulty and this what we call ‘chemo brain’.

Bills are piling up and that one night stay at the Hospital cost a whopping $6800.00 and of this $1,133.00 which I have to pay fully. I am feeling overwhelmed. It shows that one cannot be allowed to get sick in the ‘Golden U.S.A.’ I’ve not opened the bills from St. Mary’s.

I have had wonderful and caring support. Some from people I have never met. (I received a $25.00 donation from a ‘Stranger’. I was so very touched.) I get uplifting and caring posts nearly every day from a new and precious friend ‘Michele M.”  Two days ago, I had a particular hard time, when a beautiful sun flower appeared on my Facebook wall. This helped more than any pill I could have taken.

I also got to drive to Telluride to visit my son. A dear friend drove as she was certain, this may be too much for me, to start. (She was right). A most beautiful, perfect day and drive. His new apartment is gorgeous and roomy. I had prepared lunch to take up. (Hungarian Gulash, Spaetzle, cucumber-tomatoe salad and fresh strawberries for dessert. We drove to the end of town to see the many waterfalls. Azure sky and awesome surrounding. Good to breath and be out of this house. It was slow going as the altitude was making walking more labored but I did walk from mid town to the apartment. Small victories.

In a few days, it’ll be my birthday. I am totally grateful that I get to be here and celebrate, although this will be the first time in many years, that I won’t (can’t) host a party.

I still try to reconcile the actual number of my years with my internal years. Where have the last 20 years gone??

 

Too close for comfort.

If this were not my life, I would believe someone made it up! What more can possibly happen?

It’s nearly two weeks ago, now, that when I went for chemo, we noticed my right leg being really swollen. All the way up to the groin and down to the toes. Immediately an Ultra Sound was ordered and performed to check on blood clots. I could hear the return ‘swooshing’ of the blood. NO obstruction, they said.

By the time I got home, it was worse and I was in a LOT of pain and could hardly lift that leg. I called twice on that Thursday, needing help and asking what to do?

They said, it was ‘probably’ lymphatic blockage and I needed to go have it ‘drained.’First, there was this thorough process of marking and measuring certain points, up and down the leg. By the time it reached the groin, we had 68cm. (Used to be almost my waist size.)

The massage felt rather pleasant and I was happy that finally something that didn’t hurt. Came home and was miserable.

I cannot move. Cannot walk. Two steps and I’m done for. The skin is so very tight that I’m afraid it may just crack open. I was to have another massage on Friday. Cameron took me there. When the Therapist saw the leg, which now sported a huge, red-hot area of 20″ inches, she became very concerned. Thought it might be cellulitis. (I thought that meant ‘fat-handles’.) Absolutely no massage. I was so worried and requested that this leg should be seen  by a doctor. Easter was coming up and people go out of town and help may be scarce.

She called over to the E.R and then wheeled me over. They inserted an IV. (They did not access the port as that may bring a different problem.) My ‘old’ doc came and I sure was glad to see him. He just knows my whole history. They decided I should be admitted and stay for observation overnight. They were not sure whether this red area was an infection. The Ultra Sound showed at least 3 blood clots. What? Where do they come from? Well, that’s the $64,000 dollar question. Could be from chemo. Could be from the port. Could be from not being able to move a lot. Could be that when I stopped the Ibuprofen, the blood thickened? Well, just a guess. I feel ‘betrayed’. I was soo good to my body the last few years and this is how it pays me back? Childish outcry.

I felt so removed from reality. This is now my LIFE!! A leg that is the size of small tree.  Luckily, cellulitis was ruled out. (Staff and hopsital were great.)

A friend, who is a retired nurse had agreed to stay with me, so I could have help. That fell through. Cameron had already left for Telluride. He has to find a new apartment since winter season is over. We were supposed to fly to New York for a dear friends’ wedding. Certainly I can’t go.

As I layed there, leg way up and in white TED hose, totally feeling sorry for myself, the thought came to me HOW VERY LUCKY I WAS! Yes.  In all of that, I was so very close to disaster. IF she would have massaged the leg, the blood clots could’ve been set loose and traveled to lungs, heart, brain. BOOM!

Had I ignored all the little signs, at that point and went to Germany, this could have turned into a full blown disaster. So, even in all of that, I was protected. Now, all I want, is to just walk again. Do all of the mundane chores. I would LOVE to clean the toilet.

Friends have been a big, big help. Sending food and coming by. But, there are many hours in the day to fill. I have never been so ‘still’ in all of my life. Whole different reality. Having a problem adjusting to these blows, one after another. Back on pain pills. Of course, there’s MJ. My good buddy. Have very little appetite but this could be because I am not busy enough.

I had to give myself shots. Twice a day, in the abdomen.  There were 8 shots in all. That cost? $611.00.  There’s nothing generic or anything else. Either that or you could die! Also taking Warfarin to help thin the blood. It did come up from 1.1 to 2.8.

I think, somewhere along the lines, I lost a portion of my positivity and good humor. I am cranky and whiney. I am in pain and general discomfort. Now, I have to deal with constipation from the darn pain med. (I don’t know me like that either!!)

Cancer Therapies | Camino Not Chemo!

To Ferry to the Other Side

Friday November 21, 2014

I don’t know how I got here. Do I have to leave?

No, you don’t have to leave. This is your home.

lThere are bits and pieces, she says, looking around. Some things are familiar, but some things I don’t recognize. Like that. She points toward her orchids.

* *

“I’m going to make your coffee now,” I say. I walk into the kitchen and hear her saying something. I go back to the living room and she is crying. “What’s wrong, Mom?”

“I can’t believe you said that,” she says. “Making me a coffee. It just really hit me there for a minute.”

I bring her coffee.

“Oh, my cup!” she says. “How long did it take you to learn how to make this?”

“It didn’t take long. You taught me. Until yesterday it was Adam who usually made your coffee.”

“He’s a nice man. Did somebody make it underneath?”

“In the kitchen?”

“Did somebody make it under the table?”

* * *

 

“Am I an angry person?”

“No. Why?”

“I hate angry people,” she says slowly. “I was beaten by angry people.”

“You didn’t deserve that. It wasn’t your fault.”

* * *

 

“Do I work?”

“You work around the house. You have a medicine wheel garden in the backyard that you work in.”

* * *

 

She is exhausted and in pain after the short trip to the commode and back into the bed. “I don’t know how much time I have left. I don’t want to spend it this way. I either want to be doin’ . . . “ She doesn’t finish.

* * *

“If I had those wide-soled roller skates, do you think I can go through the house?” How to render that tone, like a curious and humble little girl who’s a little afraid to ask the question.

“I don’t think so. You can’t support your weight right now.” I was immediately sorry I had added those last two words.

“How can I make that better?” she says.

“I don’t think you can, Mom.”

“Why haven’t I seen a doctor?”

“The doctors know what’s happening, Mom.”

* * *

“Can we put the trapeze here?” she asks, pointing at the ceiling above her.

“What do you want to do with a trapeze?”

“So I can put my foot and . . . advertise – advertise,” she says, interrupting herself, already knowing it’s the wrong word. From there things descend to incoherence.

* * *

How can I do my housework?

I’m taking care of that. I’m doing it for you. This is not, strictly speaking, at all true.

But that’s not right.

Well, you’re sick, Mom.

Still. Everything is cattywampus, she says, with the usual sadness of these sentences.

* * *

“Can I do anything?”

“No, you can just relax.”

“That is so boring.” In a small voice she asks, “Can I not work on that little bench that Silke gave me for working outside?”

“I don’t think so,” I say. I’m afraid she’s going to cry. “It’s winter now, and the garden is starting to hibernate.”

* * *

“Can I have a dog?”

“If you want. What kind of dog?”

“Small one. I mean nobody’s sleeping with me, right?” She says this like she needs confirmation. “I’d like to sleep with somebody.”

“I can sleep on the couch there again.”

“Yeah but you don’t lick my ankles.”

* * *

“Have we heard, if Renate died?” “Is this Saturday?” “Is anyone coming this morning?” “What do we have to do today?” “So where’s the . . . microwave?”

* * *

“Somebody said you better get living or get busy dying. There’s an innate star of strength inside. That’s what I need to find. My star. And a dog.” She is silent for a while, then adds, “And he better not die before me.”

* * *

When a dying person can’t remember anything, you have to decide whether to tell them over and over again that no, there is nothing that can be done, so that over and over they would hear the terrible reality as if for the first time. What is the point in causing her pain to give her the truth when she will soon forget the truth and go through the pain again later?

* * *

Vonnie (not Bonnie) the CNA visited earlier and applied Mom’s marijuana salve to her bedsore, propped up her pillows, and generally tended to her while I took a shower. Laurel and Carrie had planned to come, but ran into a babysitting problem, Laurel said, in a text. She added, Carrie is having a really hard time about your mom she does not think she can come and help her it is too hard on her. We will try to come on Monday to see her. I was disappointed not to have their presence here, and not to be able to take a break to run errands or do work, but I could understand. Not long after, Linda Berry called to tell me that I should expect calls from a number of retired nurses and caregivers, some of whom knew my mother, and all of whom wanted to help.

I brought Mom some cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon that I’d cut into small pieces. She ate two pieces of watermelon with relish. The first thing she’s eaten in maybe 15, 18 hours, and hardly anything before that. I’m reminded of Bonnie saying, two days ago, “There will be a time when she doesn’t want to eat anymore. And that’s all right.”

Mom in Heaven with Spices in St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Mom in heaven with spices in St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port, September 2011

* * *

Mom says something about not wanting to be stuck in her bed. “I should be outside with a football and the kids,” she says.

* * *

11:17a.m. I sit back down on the green couch and return to my laptop, writing in my journal, trying to do some work.

She stirs. “It’s not going to take long anymore,” she says, in that small, slow, tremulous voice. A few tears cloud her voice.

“What? Why do you think that?”

“That’s what she told me,” Mom says. Vonnie, the CNA again. I meant to have a talk with her but she left before I was done showering. “And that it’s not going to take long anymore. She doesn’t want me to be alone here without recognizing anything, you know, when it starts.”

“You won’t be alone, Mom. I can tell you that.”

* * *

“I felt like I haven’t spent enough time with you guys.”

I think this is probably more about guilt than regret, so I say, “Sure you have, Mom.”

“Yeah?”

“You spent as much time as you could with us when we were kids, and we’ve spent a lot of time together the last few years. Remember all that time we spent together on the Camino?”

She nods.

A few minutes later she groans. “Do you have pain?” She nods. “Right side,” she says.
I click her pain bolus. A few minutes later, she groans again. It hasn’t been eight minutes so we can’t get any more medication out of the pump. She turns to her side and as I lean down to put my head against hers, and my hand around the back of her head, and my hand around hers, she begins to cry.

“I don’t want to leave,” she says, mournfully. The sound of her voice shreds me.

“I know. No one else wants you to leave, either.”

* * *

Once more, I observe that the same brain that fails to recognize people, that can’t remember how to stop her own pain, is somehow all too aware of its own deterioration and of the reality of death.

* * *

Willa Kay and Jayne bring their signature blend of positivity and joke with Mom.

“I haven’t seen so many outlaws in a long time,” Mom says.

Apropos of this, I tell my aunts how Mom sometimes channels the irascible, profane Grandma Powell. Jayne says, “When your mom came here we taught her how to swear, Cameron. We just thought it was so funny with her German accent. And she’d get all the words in the wrong places. We just loved that. Of course now she’s really good at it.”

Willa Kay has brought a nutrition product called Ensure. She tells Mom about it, and suggests that she add vodka. Willa Kay brought ginger tea last week, but Mom, her high-falutin palate even more finicky now, pronounced it as tasting “like soap”.

“How’s your backside, Inge?” Willa Kay asks.

Mom speaks slowly, as usual. “That’s a very personal question.”

Willa Kay guffaws.

* * *

I miss most of their interaction because I’m on business calls — and the world’s the poorer for it — but they seem to be having a good visit. Berle arrives too. During one of my calls, my nephew Kaleb calls me and wants to FaceTime with Mom and me. I had suggested that Candy arrange for FaceTime calls between Kaleb and Mom quite some time ago. But when I ask Mom if she wants to talk on FaceTime, she knows she’s just too tired. “I don’t know what to say,” she says. She adds, “We’ve just lost too much time. I used to say I wanted to talk to him, FaceTime, but nobody ever had time. And now we’ve run out of time.”

She is asleep. I am on FaceTime with Brianna and Kaleb, in the bedroom, and I ask them if they want to see Oma. They do, so I walk into the living room with the phone’s camera pointed toward Mom. She opens her eyes and asks what I’m doing. Busted. I tell her I’m on the phone with Brianna and Kaleb. I unplug my ear buds and tell the kids to say hi to their Oma, which they do. Their Oma gestures for the phone and pulls it toward her. She sees her grandchildren and she begins to cry, and tries to talk through her tears. “Oma loves you so much.” I find myself concerned about the kids seeing their grandmother sobbing unreservedly. Brianna looks sad.

* * *

I’m on Skype with my core team at Physician Cognition when I hear Mom, loud enough to penetrate the door I’ve closed to let her sleep. I pull out my ear buds, excuse myself, and dash into the living room. Mom is heaving with sadness, great big sobs. “Are you hurting?” I say. “Do you have pain?” I have already reached across her and pressed the painkiller bolus when I see her shake her head. “What’s wrong then, Mom? Why are you crying?”

“Because I have to die,” she says, each word wrapped inside a sob.

What could I do but hold her? I had at last reached the absolute nadir of my helplessness.  “I don’t know how to do this,” she says.

I offer some variety of the faux-profundity I sometimes catch myself in.

“It’s not so much the journey,” she says, after a while. “It’s that . . . I have to do it alone.” This last sentence wasn’t intelligible the first time, maybe twice, because of her crying.

“You won’t be alone, Mom.” I don’t know what I’m talking about. I don’t have a strong belief in what happens, but I know I want to cobble together for my mother a story to hang onto. “That’s what all the near-death experiences have in common. We are greeted by guides who are pure love. They’re made of light and love. Oma will probably be waiting for you too. And your big brothers.”

She weeps.

* * *

It had never before occurred to me that people with terminal cancer and people on death row had so much in common. A big part of the justification for capital punishment is that people are generally really afraid of dying, so if there’s a death penalty, at least some people will avoid it out of pure terror at having an execution date. Similarly, my mother is conscious enough to know that she faces imminent death. I can’t even begin to imagine the emotional distress she must be in. It truly is a wonder that she isn’t crying or shaking or vomiting nearly during nearly all her waking hours. When you are not ready to die, when you very badly do not want to die, there can be no greater terror than knowing you are going to die very soon.

This psychological hell is the second cruelty of cancer. The first is the long and diverse suffering people endure through the disease and its treatments. Cancer’s victims are worse off than people on death row.

* * *

I’ve had various theories for my seeming detachment (i.e., less sad, less desperate to connect). New medication, like thyroid pills. Increasing acceptance. Compassion fatigue. And, most recently, I’m less depressed overall because once again I have a clear purpose, an obvious Camino. I am more engaged in Physician Cognition, which I think helps, but mostly, I am single-mindedly here, on a conspicuous path, with my mother. The path is the saddest of paths, but it has the virtue that I know, for the first time in a while, exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

* * *

“Sneak up here,” she said earlier in the day. It took me a while to understand what she was saying. She patted the bed next to her. I wedged myself between her and the railing, put my arm around her, and felt her head on my shoulder. Other than metaphorically, my mother had never leaned on me before.

Saturday November 22, 2014

I am sleeping in my bedroom when I awaken, and then hear why. Mom is in pain, and she’s crying. I run out and deliver a shot of painkiller and speak soothingly. “Wish I could just flip a switch and get it over with,” she says, through tears. After a while she asks for some tea. I make it and bring it back to her. She gazes at me and then begins to cry. “Everywhere I look all I see is death,” she says. She looks around her. “Death all over.”

* * *

“Tell me about yourself,” she says to me. “Something that’s good.”

“Well, I remember that on my seventh birthday, you gave me a choice between having a birthday party with all my friends or having a fine dinner with you at the Brickskeller, in Huntsville. Do you remember that?” She does. “You were surprised that I chose dinner with you instead of a party. And I don’t remember this, but you’ve said I talked about black holes and white dwarf stars and red giants and galaxies.”

“I remember the white stars,” she says. “You were explaining it all to me like a little professor. I said, ‘Who is this little person? Where did he come from?’” She pauses and rests for a moment. “That was the first time I saw, to my astonishment, how smart you were.” She looks like she’s going to cry. “I knew that you were going to be a different sort of kid.”

* * *

I remind her of trips to Germany and Switzerland, including with Aunt Jayne and my cousin Mike, who would die, ten years later, at 23, of lupus. I remind her of how excited she was to attend my law school graduation.

“I could not have been prouder, happier, anything,” she says, brightening at the memory.

* * *

I look up from my laptop at the sound of her crying pitifully. She has spilled her piping hot tea on her chest. I help her to dry it off but it still smarts for a while. Knowing her belief in her marijuana salve, I offer to apply it to her skin, and I do.

She speaks more slowly this time, almost asleep. “I have,” she says, “an advice. For Damon.” My half-brother, husband of Jannilyn, father of Braxton.

“What is your advice, Mom?”

“To be a good father.”

A few minutes later, she says, “Have we always lived here?”

Somehow wisdom coexists with cofoundment.

* * *

Then the agitated concerns. “Where is Gunter’s watch? We have to get to it, fast. Before anyone else gets to it.”

“Would you like to smoke some weed?” I say.

“Oh, yes,” she says.

“Best idea I’ve had all night.” I hold the glass pipe for her, remind her that she must close her mouth over it and breathe in. “Another hit?” She nods. “Because you deserve it.”

* * *

She gets an infernal itch. She squirms around in her bed and moans from the pain her movement causes. “It’s like when you fall and then you’re healing,” she says, in a fascinating example of still-intact associations.

“You mean like a scab? The way a scab itches?”

“Yeah.”

* * *

I keep administering medicine. Four pumps in a row, the most ever. I hold her hand as she falls asleep and then I sleep on the couch, waking up to her groans every so often, reaching out for the bolus, and clicking the button. The mantle clock ticks down the seconds. The air pump hums.

* * *

This is the third day when she has not only eaten virtually nothing, but drinks very little too. I’ve read that a person can survive for two weeks or so without food, but only a few days without water. I had imagined that she would stop eating first, and then would drink broths and tea for a while.

* * *

“What’s that dog doing?” she asks.

“What dog?”

“The one that hopefully isn’t peeing on the table,” she says, looking behind me.

I turn to see Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which Mieshelle had bought for Mom and I’d stood up on the table.

* * *

“Do you like to read?” she asks me. Only hours before I had credited her with my love of reading and writing, which, I’d said, “is all I do now.”

“Yes,” I say.

“That’s good,” she says.

* * *

“I need to be able to ask you something,” she says, “without fear of recipration.”

“Fear of what?”

“Recipration.”

“What does that mean?”

“Fear of reprisal.”

Or she was mixing reciprocity with retaliation.

“Yes, you can ask me anything.”

“Why,” she says, “do houses always have three or four bedrooms?”

* * *

“God what an altering moment in my life.”

* * *

I am sautéing a halved croissant and some apple slices when I hear her speaking from the living room. She says something about “the great person doing things in the kitchen” for her. She shows gratitude again shortly after, when I bring her tea that is not piping hot and explain, “It’s not as hot as you like it, but it’s also not dangerous, or painful.”

She smiles sweetly and says, “You’re so right.”

* * *

“What’s that thing, hanging down?”

I reach for the airplane neck pillow. “This?” She nods. “This is for airplane travel.” I put it on and lean back on the couch. “See?”

“Did I travel with that?”

“You sure did.”

Her face breaks into sadness. “Where did I go?”

“You went all over the world, Mom. All over Europe, Brazil, around America . . .”

“How did we afford all that?” she says, back to one of the central themes of her life.

“Well, you saved up money. You went on a few trips with Don L——” – an ex-husband – “and I bought a few tickets, and the rest you saved up for.”

“I would never go on a trip with Don L—–,” she says.

“Well, you did then.”

She shakes her head. “Not even then.”

* * *

Maybe it was the long sleep last night, but Mom hasn’t slept much today. It’s a little after 4p.m. and she’s sleeping for the first time since 11ish. Peggie stopped by, bringing Mom some mashed potatoes and gravy from KFC (a guilty favorite in recent months) and me some drunken noodles. Mom ate a tiny bit, just as she’d eaten only a bite or two of her sautéed croissant and apple slices. We had to press the pain pump a few times. Mom was crying with pain, and that made Peggie cry. A lot of Mom’s speech is non sequiturs.

I get up in the bed and hold her for a while and my brain continues to refuse to wrap itself around the idea that in as little as a few days I won’t be able to stroke her hair or kiss her head or see her smile.

* * *

6:40p.m. I hear her cry out and then begin sobbing. I leap up from the couch. “What’s wrong, Mom? Do you have pain?”

“Nightmare,” is all I could make out.

“You had a nightmare?”

She nods.

“Well it’s over now.”

“Are you sure?” In that voice like a three-year-old girl.

“I’m sure. It’s finished now.”

But only seconds later she is again in distress. “Why does my tummy hurt so much?”

“We need to get you some more medication,” I say, moving around the bed to the bolus.

“I thought it was over.”

“No, your pain isn’t over. But we can stop it with this medicine.”

I sit with her and caress her head and hand until she seems to be asleep. She opens her eyes and looks at me, reaches out her hand and begins to stroke my cheek.

“You’re the best man I’ve ever known,” she says.

“Who raised me?” I say.

* * *

She’s taken in a terribly small number of calories lately. Is she eating more than 200 calories a day? How long can this go on? “I look like a starvation person,” she said to me this morning. “If you put me side by side with a starvation person, I would look worse.” And indeed she looks like nothing so much as the concentration camp survivors who were photographed by Allied troops. That is cancer: the concentration camp of the human body.

Sunday November 23, 2014

Bonnie arrives at 8 or 9 a.m., Silke tells me by phone she will be here at 1p.m., and Peggie texts me to say Berle has agreed to watch Mom while I watch the Broncos-Dolphins game with Peggie, Pat, and their daughter, Sydney. I call up my friend Jeanne as I’m driving to Starbucks.

Jeanne was a groomsman at my wedding. Well, that was my original idea. In the end she read a poem. Point is, she’s the most solid and long-standing platonic friend I have. Her father died five years ago.  She hadn’t known Mom’s condition and was unhappily surprised and empathetic when I told her. She said she knew it was hard, but my job was to “ferry her over to the other side.”

After her first reaction to her father’s dying, she said, she just got down to business. “If you understand that’s your role, it’s easier.” She said she wished she’d done more than look at photo albums with him. “We should have driven him to the ocean and wheeled him down to the water one last time.”

“I wrote his eulogy before he died,” she told me. “It was my grieving and my therapy. It was a good piece of work, if I do say so myself. It ended up being a powerful tribute that was meaningful for other people who were mourning him.”

“I want to read your blog but I’m afraid I’ll just start crying,” she said. “It’s been five years. I still sometimes have a good cry. Like when I’m at a stoplight, you know the click click of the blinker or windshield wiper. I’ll just break down.”

“It’s a very strange journey,” she said. “It’s the sort of thing where whatever you feel is normal. Grief is different from other motions. It’s this weird, out of body thing, and other physical manifestations. It still fucks me up five years later. I’m so sorry, Cameron. I had hoped your mom would have a lot more time.”

“You’re going to go up and down differently from the way you do other ups and downs,” she said.

She asked if my mother has expressed her wishes about a funeral and the like. Yes, I said. She wants to be cremated, no funeral, and then have her ashes spread over the Black Canyon. I will probably also take them to Braunwald [Switzerland] and maybe on another long walk.

* * *

At Starbucks I work for a few hours, then I head out to the Baker ranch. Good food and sympathetic conversation, and Peggie is super happy that the Broncos come from behind to win.

* * *

Son, she called.

Yes?

The other one.

I look at her to see if she’s joking.

Do I have another one? she says, probably reading my face.

No. Adam was here though, I say, so that she won’t think she’s completely crazy.

* * *

How do we travel?

We’ve traveled with planes and trains and automobiles. Sometimes by foot. We walked about 500 miles across Spain.

She brightens. That is uncool, she says, meaning, I think, cool. How did we do that?

Well, you did it. It was your idea, you made it happen. We were in three different countries, with Carrie —

That’s right.

— and Julio and Marie Anne.

* * *

Hmhh? I say, once again.

For the second time in the last week, she simply closes her eyes (annoyed?) and doesn’t answer.

* * *

How did all that marijuana start? she says. I didn’t just go out in the middle of the street and say, Hey, I’m a middle-aged flower girl.

I remind her. I had suggested that she try medical marijuana in the summer of 2013, to help her deal with nausea and pain. I made her an appointment with a doctor in Ridgway who is sufficiently alternative that he calls other doctors “real doctors”, and he gave her the necessary prescription to get a medical marijuana card.  So she began with joints and bongs, neither of which she liked any more than she enjoyed marijuana. By August, the second chemotherapy had failed and I was meeting a good old boy in a parking lot in Norwood to buy $550 worth of highly concentrated cannabis oil. The most well-known proponent of the oil is a Canadian, now living in Amsterdam, named Rick Simpson. He calls the dark-green substance Phoenix Tears, and he says without qualification that it “cures cancer”. There are some studies indicating marijuana oil can be effective against cancer, but it’s just irresponsible to imply anything will work for every person and every cancer.

Mom began taking the oil in rice-grain-sized portions twice a day. It knocked her out for hours the first time she tried it. Within days her planters fasciitis went away. She slept better, had less pain, and stopped taking her thyroid medication without incident. She quickly increased her dose as much as she could, and took it three times a day, hoping it would kill the cancer just like Rick Simpson said it would do. And for two months, her CA-125 scores, a test for ovarian cancer, went down. Not even 18 sessions of two types of chemotherapy had been able to reverse its steady climb. Now the numbers were cut in half!

* * *

One more question now.

Yes.

We’ve been living together here in . . . France?

We’re in Colorado.

Shit I screwed it up.

* * *

One day we’ll sit down and discuss this whole thing.

Discuss what, Mom?

The story.

What story, Mom?

How you and I ended up together.

Do you remember?

Breathes in. Not really. It’s giving me some different . . . Stares off into space.

You gave birth to me in Rangely, and you were living with Grandma Powell, and my grandpa.

They didn’t smoke pot?

No. Neither did you.

* * *

I ask her if she wants to go to sleep or to look at the photos from her pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago.

Would I like to be excited by that? she says.

I repeat the question and she affirms it. Yes, you would like to be excited, I say. The Camino was one of your favorite things to do.

I want to go to sleep, she says, nodding slightly.

But then she says something that makes no sense at all. Not just a non sequitur (that otherwise makes sense), not just a concept that is trivial or makes only little sense. No, now she isn’t making sense at the grammar and syntax level. I believe this is new as of today.

* * *

I want a last hurrah before I die. I want to be happy just for one second, feel what the feeling feels like. Near tears at the end of the sentence.

You’ve been happy before. I say this hopefully.

She takes a moment to respond. Not in material matters.

You know that doesn’t make people happy.

I know.

You’ve been happy before, right?

More than anyone I know, she says, including me.

* * *

She has said twice that she was really tired, but she keeps coming out of her doze to ask questions. I see her hand moving repetitively. Is this the “restlessness”?

Monday November 24, 2014

“I can’t get over that you’re my son,” she says. “I mean you seem familiar . . . But I’ve missed so much,” she says, with sadness. “Where have I been?”

“You haven’t missed anything, Mom. You were there my whole life.”

“What are you, sixteen?”

“I’m forty-seven.”

She is astonished. “Forty-seven?” She turns her head away from me and mutters to herself, “I’m worse off than I thought.” She is lost in thought for a while. “I need some time. Can I have some coffee? It’s like whiskey to me. For this shock.”

* * *

“How did I meet you?” she asks.

“Well, you gave birth to me.”

“But surely you must have had a house somewhere. You must have wondered where I was.”  She is earnest.

* * *

How did I get here?

Where, Mom?

Here, she said, gesturing around her.

It’s your house.

It’s so frustrating, to be denied things that I need to have and to know.

I know it is. Do you want to try some more water?

* * *

“Where are my parents?” she says.  Another opportunity to make a person, now also child-like, feel anew the pain of losing her parents?  No.  I won’t say they’re dead and of course I won’t say they’re alive.

“They’re in heaven,” I say.

* * *

 

We have been looking at an album of old photos. The first few pages are given over to pictures of me, my cousin, Fiona, my step-father Tommy, and the close German relatives. After I sit back down on the couch, probably to record here something she’d said, she looks at the photo album again. “That doll looks so weird.”

I come around the bed to look at what she’s pointing at. It’s a picture of me, age two.

“That’s me,” I say.  “I’m looking down.”

“I’m looking down too.”

“No, I mean in the picture, I’m looking down. That’s why you just see hair instead of all of my face.”

“That’s grotesque,” she mutters.

* * *

I ask the Certified Nurse’s Assistant, Vonnie, if she had talked to my mother about how much time she had left or if my mother had made it up.

“She asked me,” Vonnie says. “I told her I didn’t know, I couldn’t know. But I wouldn’t try to tell her. We can never tell. Some people hold on for weeks. My mother lived a week and a half with only a few sips of water. Your mother’s confusion is getting worse.” Vonnie also says my mother told her, “They’re telling me my mom and dad are dead, but I can’t accept that.”

* * *

8:50p.m. I have spent the day fielding offers of help and expressions of solidarity and empathy. These people are a big part of what’s helping me to keep my wits about me. Writing helps. There’s even research that says people who write down difficult events afterward recover significantly faster. But my current hypothesis is that I’m also being buoyed by the laser-sharp focus of a crystal-clear purpose: my job is to ferry my mother to the other side.  All but Julio DSC_0015

Fleas and Lice

My goodness. I just cannot believe how long this took to hear anything.

Biopsy was 2 weeks ago. Total disaster. I was in LOTS of pain and awful nausea. Scheduling nurse and I had talked 3 different times about taking my MJ vapors, so I wouldn’t vomit. She said she would make a note of it. Next time, when I brought it up because I remembered the ‘circus’ when having a CT scan.

Once there, however and barely registered, I was taken to the Financial Office to ‘see if they can help me.’ Well, NOT on that day! Just before a procedure.

Again, this ‘nurse’ came up to me as I was waiting on the Gurney to admonish me about ‘smoking’. GOSH! NOT again. I just moaned, cried and rocked with pain. I ‘think’ they finally gave me something for nausea. Speaking of nausea: This last bout of ‘bowel problems’ has been responsible for me losing 35 lbs in 5 weeks. This had me so very worried and concerned. I finally put the symptoms in search engine and there was a NEW word. (New for me.) ‘CACHEXIA’. This is the terrible ‘wasting disease’ caused by cancer. Cancer cells feed and suck the protein out of the healthy cells. NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU WOULD EAT, even if you could, it would not matter. You starve to death. Being so passionate about food and a decent cook, I thought this would be the most cruel end. Many a night I cried with terror of this death and no one told me different. This was an older dated research and I’ve not had time to find more. BUT, other than some Opiates which they say may or may not be effective, what I did see was that this ONE medication for this ‘condition’ has shown good promises: “CANNABIS”. At that time (2006) it was only legal in Europe. Well, was I happy to see that. I’m already on my way. Then, after a break through 2 weeks ago, when I finally had some peace and less pain with bowels. Three days ago, I strted eating ‘NORMAL’ (organic) food. Just small plate but ‘plate’ never the less. My weight had spiraled down to 155 lbs. I’ve gained 5lbs since. I cannot convey the PURE JOY of feeling ‘Hunger’. I’ve also learned, that I have to have 3 different forms of MJ.

First: ‘Tears of Phoenix’ cannabis oil for cancer. One grain of rice-size about 5 times a day. Ingested with applesauce, 1 mini, tiny piece of ‘European butter’ (fat content is higher.) I found the perfect way to get it down without ‘gagging’. I cut off a slice of lemon, suck on it, throw down the ‘cannabis’ and suck on lemon again. THAT way, no taste of MJ.

I’ve also learned, that when you are so very sick, you cannot eat from a plate or ‘chunky food.’ I was still drinking this powerful bone-meat-veggie-broth. In the middle of the painful night, to soothe my poor abdomen, I would get my beanie bag heated and then 1/2 cup of thus HOT broth.

When Cameron was here and we sat down to eat and I couldn’t, he looked at me with such naked fear and tears brimming, that it broke my heart that I can’t do better. But then, if it had been this disease, nothing matters.  I took a photo of my ‘first food’ and posted it on FB. 🙂

Meanwhile, I have also had an appointmenbt with my ‘regular’ doc whom I beseeched to help me get better with the ‘other stuff’. Also asked him, if he would ‘monitor’ me and note changes and improvements.

I guess, we are still doing the CA 125 even though the Diagnosis is in question. When I learned, that even though the Liver has lesions, it is not cancerous. Once I had shared this, I received many ‘congratulatory’ mails and phone calls.

This does NOT mean, I don’t have cancer anymore but only that not now, on the liver. Everythinbg else was still there, last CT scan. The one with the MOST worrying feature, is the tumor on the aorta. No help for that. This is why the Cannabis has to work because THAT could be my death sentence.

I had asked a friend from the medical field to look at a few things. He graciously did so. Since I don’t have a ‘workable’ diagnosis, I asked what it could be? He answered:’ Lice and Fleas!’

WHAT!?  “Some people have a definite cancer (lice) and some people have a definite cancer ( fleas) and some people have LICE AND FLEAS!”  Best medical explanation I ever had. Thanks.

Had to get another batch of cannabis. This one seems to be much improved and so am I. When you consider, that ALL I am taking for the remaining bowel problem, is ONLY 1/2 of an Ibuprofen and ‘maybe’ 1/4 of a Tramadol, then be assured that’s my entire PHARMA. Less and less pharma pills.

Still envisioning going to Germany and Austria. I guess I will know more after next week’s test.

At the hospitas, later, I vomited all over the place. Horrible experience. I made some decisions. I will have all my tests done here, at home. That will reduce the ‘Misery time’ of about 3-4 hours or more. I live only a few blocks from our Hospital. (They are NOT as rude, either.)

I am supposed to have another Biopsy. (Will call my surgeon and ask if he does this as well.) Not sure if I shoud have before or After the trip. (I will interject that if the ONLY option they will offer me is chemo, I probably won’t take it. My bowels and blood clots would not withstand a new toxic assault.

The other day, I felt soo good, I put some ‘Strauss’ on and  I cleaned my fridge, kitchen, changed guestroom, made Pear Strudel, cleaned my bathroom and THEN….. then I danced a waltz. Alone in my kitchen, the pale sun shinig in and tears running down my face for the JOY of just doing this simple, little thing.

“Chemo never felt this good.’  Cannabis can do a lot but it cannot sew. Healing (sewing) damage. Researching new concepts and treatments.

Lost a few ‘friends’. One, because I take Marijuana. (Gateway to Hell) hahaha. The other one, because I won’t play the Political-Hate game. I JUST do NOT care right now. I am trying to save my life and ignorant opinions do not interest me.

Sure wish I could see my grandkids. It’s been over 2 years with Kaleb and 3 years for Brianna. (Dylan is working, still and busy in the high country.)

 

Camino Not Chemo

This took much longer to do than anticipated. Every turn and test was either lost or Doctor was out of town and left us hanging without results. 

Meanwhile, I had received a new batch of cannabis/hash oil. Three vials to see which one I would respond best to. I took the first syringe and tolerated it well. I noticed that small improvements happened. A wart on my index finger disappeared. Blood clots gone. Whatever type of horrible, painful bowel obstruction that was, it’s nearly gone. Thanks to cannabis. It’s all I take.

Second syringe hash oil was still alright and I started feeling hungry. Great feeling. By now, I have lost nearly 30 lbs. A great downward, scary spiral. Just the mere ‘thought’ of food made me ill.  However, I know what happens once you can’t eat. So, I would cook these great, tasty bone broths and I would sip out of a cup. The heat of the broth felt so nourishing, especially in the middle of the night.

Now, it was time for the third syringe with cannabis. I took the first ‘grain of rice size’ and felt just a momentary ‘burning’ but then it was O.K.  When I woke up around midnight with the same rollercoaster spasms, I took the prepared hash oil, which I had near my bed. Barely had landed in my stomach, when immediately I became so very nauseous and the feeling of hell fire burning me alive in my stomach!! I vomited all over myself, the bed and was so sick I thought I may have to go to the Emergency room. By the time I changed my bed, got into a bath (warm, not hot!) and went back to bed, I was totally exhausted, shaking and crying.

I was very upset with this batch. THEY FORGOT TO BURN THE ALCOHOL OFF!! That is nearly 95% PROOF that hit my stomach full force AND without food.

Lost so much valuable time just trying to figure out what type of strain and oil to use. How much of it to use? With food? or not? No one to ask all these questions. What if people cannot take 1 gramm per day? Will it still perform? Meanwhile we had the new CT scan. Finally had it interpreted. I may have had a ‘mis-diagnosis’. I may NOT have Ovarian cancer, which was treated with a non-working chemo for nearly 1 year. But, instead I have lung and liver cancer. (Oh, still the tumor on the aorta too. It’s been there so long, I tend to forget.) 

At least I can eat. I am starting to ‘think’ about food again. I wonder what people do, that don’t cook ? Or know what to eat? Had friends over yesterday and cooked ‘crackling pork roast, potatoe balls, Sauerkraut and mixed salads. I ate 1 potato ball with sauce. MMM. I guess comfort foods it is.

The CA 125 (which stands for ‘ovarian’ may not be the proper test anymore either. Right back to where I was, nearly 4 years ago. After diagnosis, going to Europe. I still have my frequent flyer mile ticket and am planning going this spring. As I said to my oncologist ‘come hell or high water.’ Want to celebrate my 70th birthday with whatever family I have left, and old school friends.

When I had my INR finger stick to determine how well my blood was running (clots) my local doc was soo amazed how quickly this had healed. I had questioned the nurse to take less of the Warfarin but she argued and insisted. So, for another week I took the strong dose only to measure 8.6 which is WAY too fast.

I am losing energy. This is getting so very long. Friends are still close and caring. Some of my family, not so much. Hurts but ‘it is, what it is’.

So, for now I feel so very much improved and the thought of even having to go onto an ‘Oral chemo’ just really has me in a ‘flight mode’. 

Cameron still having to do all the hard stuff. I can’t even begin to imagine, how it would be or where I’d be, if he were not helping me. So, this ‘crap shoot’ keeps going and we’ll see what comes next.

 

24 Hours in the life of….

Aside

As days passed in a haze of pain and misery, not knowing why I was hurting so bad.. and why the Vapors were not working. Coupled with such debilitating nausea and loss of appetite that I rapidly lost 22 lbs before one month was out. I was trying desperately to slow, halt this slide toward starvation…As a total Foodie and passionate cook, not being able to cook/eat was so sad. Cameron came to help out and take me to the store. It had been days since I’d been out. But only a few minutes in the Grocery store I had to leave very nauseous. Sight and smell of food was ‘disgusting’ to me. I asked to hurry home.

Weak and sick, so sick. So much in pain. PLEASE-DEAR-GOD-MAKE-IT-STOP-PLEASE-PLEASE-PLEASE…..crying and snot running down the same time. That’s all I have against the pain. If I take morphine, constipation so severe, same pain.

I had been off the cannabis for 3 days and decided to restart with the original  ‘rice size’. I swear, that only 3+ hours later , pain subsided and I could ‘go’. But, at night, still between the hours of 1-4 A.M I was in Painhell!! I noticed, that this pain was like a ‘rollercoaster’ peaks and valleys. I thought: this is NOT the cancer, this is the COLON trying to PUSH and if it is blocked, then the matter pushes against your stomach, which immediately makes you sicker than a dog! Being nauseous from NOT eating is different. Learn to listen to your body. The cycle continues IF there’s no relief. In the pain category,

I would judge this way: 1. Kidney stones, 2.Bowel obstruction, 3. Childbirth. (I’ve had all 3.)  Bowel and Birth pain is about the same with ONE HUGE difference: After labor pains you get a lovely, little baby and then it’s over.  With bowel obstruction, all you may end up with is a bag that doesn’t match anything you have.

As lay helplessly weeping and hiccupping, Cameron came to sit with me, talk and hug me.

Then I learned these small but oh so important improvements.

First: I manage the pain throughout with smaller portion but more times. Right now, I take this times 4, so it covers me DURING the spasm time. Then, I take some ‘vapors’ against the NAUSEA. I’ve cooked a strong beef-bone stock and this is what I divided into 2 batches. I take 1/2 cup of hot stock and the warmth that I feel going down, is priceless. The instant relief one gets is miraculous. So. Now I could start to eat. (Cameron did not inherit any cooking genes.) When I woke in the morning without ANY pain nor NAUSEA, I sank to my knees, just overwhelmed with blessed, heavenly relief.

BRAEKFAST: 1/2 cup stock. 1/8th Melon, a few vapor puffs, wait 10 min then 1/2 sandwich.  ( A few vapor puffs, wait, then LUNCH: 1/8 of Melon, 1/2 bowl of Spaghetti with only a little garlic taste and butter, plus 1 German Hamburger. Later: Tea with 1/2 slice bread.

DINNER: Left over Spaghetti, same way with 1 more hamburger.

I have learned to PUREE my food so it will NOT become a harsh mass. BE kind to your colon and learn to eat ‘different’. Your brain only knows ‘what was’. That’s why we want to ‘sit down with the family and eat a nice dinner.’ Well, of course you can sit down with them BUT you cannot EAT like them. We now have a new way of eating. Small portions, pureed so I can have (organic) meat-protein as I’m not allowed much Vitamin K. (Blood clots from chemo). When my friend Silke took me to CT scan and then out to Lunch, I’d asked to have this great soup ‘pureed’ and they are more than glad to do this.

To fight cancer successfully, you should really RESEARCH well. Go to: www.phoenixtears.ca learn how to make it. http://phoenixtears.ca/videolibrary  THIS IS NOT IN A DISPENSARY. You have to find someone to make it. IF it is NOT high in THC content and it’s not been decarboxylated FULLY— then it is NOT Rick Simpson’s oil (RSO). Suggested is 95-98% of INDICA strain .( SATIVA is what is used more for brain matters such as Epilepsy, Alzheimers.)

The latest link is from a Swiss clinic, which reports marvelous successes. When you click on link, there are little Flags which depict language uses.

http://www.qcmaf.eu/our-swiss-clinic-opens-on-the-28th-october

Friends have asked, how much do you take? Well, it is different for everybody. That’s why you start so small. But, rule of thumb: If you ‘poop’ like an elephant, it’s too much, if it’s like a Hummingbird, not enough. (That’s one of the ‘side effects. Great, huh? FOR US it is. I have managed to get it nearly right after 3 mos of hit and miss.

Still waiting on CT scan results. SOO many desperate phone calls and messages. SOOO many people in PAIN. SOOO many ignorant people.  Be at least open minded. Research. You may just save your or your child’s life. There has been an Exodus to Colorado by parents who bring their very sick children to have this PLANT medicine. NO one should be denied to help themselves and their child.  I had to make a decision, when Chemo was in-effective, I remembered this quote: When you are on the edge of a cliff and there’s no way out, you better grow wings OR take a LEAP of faith. This is what I did.

 

48 harrowing hours

I am astounded that I am still here. I am not exaggerating. The whole past months I was continuing with cannabis, I was in so much pain that I was just an exhausted, weeping mess. Every night, between 1:00 and 4:00 A.M I woke up with great abdominal pain. I would try to take 1/2 Ibuprofen, with a half of Tramadol. Might as well spit into the wind. I would put heating on it, I would fix tea, etc. I twist and turn and I could not sleep. Could not figure out why MJ was not helping much.

The next thing that happened was as I was on the couch and my abdomen was extented and I had ‘gained’ 17 lbs starting chemo. I kept telling the nurse, I don’t know why I gain  as I can hardly eat and have to have Marijuana vapors just to get a few bites in. Well, December 29th, the day when this ‘hard knot seemed to ‘snap, break, sharp pull, etc. I nearly blacked out with pain. Some time after I had the urge to use the bathroom. Seemed like an elephant got there first.  I had lost 16 lbs in 2 days. I am holding my ‘old’ weight even though appetite is still a problem.

The way  I am dealing with food is different now. It occured to me that we always expect to sit down and eat our plate. When you’re nauseous that way too much food to look at. So, I wouldn’t eat. BUT you HAVE to eat. Then I had the idea to minimize. I am using my small, tiny prep bowls and would put 3 grapes in one, 2 apple slices in the next, banana, etc. In between, I would use my MJ vapors to produce appetite long enough so I can eat a few bites but I ate throughout the day. I’ve become addicted to Wendy’s Chili. When I can’t cook, that’s is great to have.

The other worrisome change that happened was my mental agility. I felt as if there was a  steel band around my head. Pressure. I would talk to my friends and after every 5 seconds I would ask, ‘what was I talking about? Where am I going with this? It made my friends pay excellent attention as they had to remember.  NAUSEA. NAUSEA. That was my companion all day. I just did not know why. Then came: Depression, anxiety, paranoia, nausea, loss of appetite,  I was getting scared as I felt I am falling into an unknown hole. But by being unable to eat, I was nauseous because I had no food. Terrible catch 22. Since I was already up, I researched Rick Simpson again. I had always used the You Tube video info. I knew that one cannot overdose on Marijuana. You may get really sick, they said, like bad drunk but you will not die as one  would with alcohol. I am the living proof.

There were the ‘Side Effects listed, if you take too much stuff. I had overdosed regularily for 2 months. All of the symptoms that are listed  further up are the ones. My goodness. Trying so hard to save my life- may kill me! But from chemicals NOT MJ. I stopped right away to hydrate and try and flush it out. But I was so nauseous. VERY surprising, I had absolutely no withdrawal or anything like one would with some REAL BAD drug. Not addictive UNLESS you decide. When I’m well, then I’m done stuff!

Doctor exams, all well. They said not to try to diagnose myself. I said, well, I’m sorry but I had NOT HAD the best of luck with proper diagnoses. Besides, that’s what we do. When things are not really helping, you just want to do it to get it done. Just want the pain to stop. Just that tiny bit of ‘mental problem’ the weeping, etc. is so very painful (even if it is not you) that ‘anything’ would do to ram it in there to STOP.

My blood pressure , three hours later when I saw doc, was still 190/95. She said, she could not believe that I did not have a stroke. Also, the horrible, horrid abdomina pain was an “bowel obstruction’, which is fairly common with chemo. (Also, chemo injures the colon. A woman from my support group, died because most of her colon had become thin as paper and then broke when fecal matter moved through. Because I had been regular I did not know.

CA 125 cancer marker numbers were UP but not much. Doc said, what with all that trauma of colon and nausea and a new Lab may be responsible. I am NOT starting another chemo. My colon is trying to repair itself. I did say again, that I did NOT think that this was the ‘Cancer’ . Maintaining that 1/2 of an Ibuprofen would not help managing cancer. Besides, it would also be painful during other hours. (Oh, excuse me. I just ‘diagnosed’ again.  :-)I think it’s healthy LOGIC. I’ll just keep it to myself. Tuesday CT scan to see ‘inside’. At the cancer center I was so manic and wired, that I had to ‘suck’ on my vapors to get rid of feeling. The problem was, that there was too much SATIVA in it. This works on your mental receptors. That’s why they are using it on Alzheimer patients now. INDICA is the one for cancer and many other illnesses. It is usually mixed because Indica seeds are very hard to come by and GOVERNMENT does NOT allow the cultivation. So, we have a ‘lower’ quality. I suppose, Gov wants to make money too.

A friends’ 95 year old mother is on this for Alzheimer’s and doing pretty well. (She still has Alzheimers but not so severe and has bright times.

While I was gone, my sweet friend cleaned the whole house! Vacuumed. Had taken the morning off to give me this gift. THIS IS WHAT WE NEED. Someone to help. When I walked in, I cried. She also came after work to stay with me until my other friends came. They had gone out for their anniversary dinner. (My friend texted if it was possible t come, not knowing. ) I will cook you a 5* menu when I’m better to make it up. Love you guys.

Also had to get back on Warfarin because ‘those numbers’ were too low. 

Trying to get cannabis after my son left for a little time off, turned out to be a very stressful circus. It has become harder and harder for me to get this ‘paste’ down, even with aplesauce. My gag reflex is the best working thing in my body.  I was anxiously awaiting my appointment for blood work to see new results. Also had appointment with my ‘old’ Oncology surgeon who gave a big hug and smile. I had wanted a CT scan to see if the tumors had less or more activity. I mean, I had 2 hours between appointments and I didn’t want to make an extra trip.  Not till Tues.

The night before my appointments, I was not feeling well. But, as usual since there is nothing  else I can do, I used my homespun tricks. Finally, I got up at 1:28 A.M to take a hot bath with epsom salt, which always helps. I ran the water into the tub, added salt and could hardly wait to go into that wonderful warmth. I figured since I’m already here, I might as well shave my legs, now that’s it’s growing agin. Suddenly I was overcome with a nausea so severe that I thought this is BAD..black spots in front of my eyes and I could hardly breath. I propelled myself out over the rim of that high, old tub, as I was afraid of ‘blacking out’ and drowning. There I was. The skin of my whole body was Lobster red. Never experienced anything like it. I looked over to the tub and all I said was, ‘well, that won’t do.’ I crawled to the bedroom because I was shaking uncontrollably and felt like fainting. I need  HELP I thought. I called my good friend Bonnie. There are REALLY friends you can call at that time. She drove right over. She stayed with me until my other friend Berle, came to take me to Grand Junction. As we were sitting there, talking, I remembered suddenly a sentence in a conversation that I had with a nurse friend, right after the blood clot incident. I was telling her about my tub/salt preference. She looked at me funny and said: YOU CAN’T TAKE A HOT BATH WHEN YOU ARE ON CUMADIN! WARFARIN!! I had a severe reaction and nearly had a stroke. That’s what that bright lobster red was. I had taken the pill the evening before.

Some people received wealth, Beauty, talent at the time of their births. I? I received 9 Lives. THANK GOD!

This is for my support group “TEAL Warriors:

Dear friends. I’m using this way to answer requested info.

Marijuana is the plant.  Cannabis as a product, divided into INDICA and SATIVA  (many otherstrains and combinationa.) ONE product dowes not work on everything. It’s like cooking. Let’s sa, recipe calls for Parsley and Dill , they go well together but if you add some curry that’s not good. The right strain for the ‘right’ illness. You need the TEARS of PHOENIX model, not just ‘some oil. I can’t afford Rick Simpson’s oil as it is %4000.00 for 3 mos. Still WAY cheaper than chemo but WE have to pay this. I needed an EXTRA $1200 per month to buy my cannbis. My son thinks, that these prices were before it became legal in a few states.

My son gave me the Link to a Foundation to help financing the treatment. I can’t access the link right now but I will later.

You remember how you start? a small rice-grain size with European butter to take it. The higher fat content will intensify the healing properties. What cannabis does, is to instruct the cancer cells to committ suicide without harming surrounding cells. This could have been the reason that my first month on it, the numbers were lower.

Tears of Phoenix is NOT like cooking OIL. It’s a dark, dense PASTE. You take it x3 a day. Also supplement with Tinctures, Vapors and WEW. (What ever works.)

Victoria, and all of you precious friends try to get this. I cannot promise ‘it’ will do exactly the same with you guys. Everyone is different. The break through from blocked bowels was the prolonged (2.5 mos) use of cannabis. The properties of the LEAF PLANT had worked it’s way through, THANK GOD. After that, the terrible pain was gone, the nausea dissipated. Oh MAN, I can take a deep breath without thinking I’m throwing up. Just the next day, I’ve eaten more than the other 3 days combined.

Research : Rick Simpson but this time NOT on You Tube. There’s a new web site full of GREAT info, testimonials. Go to www.marijuanadoctor.com  If you need more info, CALL> xxxooo

CANNABIS vs CANCER

At first, I wanted to wait until I had results from CA 125 blood test. But, meanwhile, things change and my memory is not the best these days. In 2 weeks, I will start my 3rd month on cannabis oil ONLY. People have asked me why I would not take anything else with it. Like, chemo or pills. How would we know WHAT had worked? I need to know that it was the cannabis. It’s vitally important to many people who are waiting to ‘see’ how things turn out with me. Of course, many cancers are different and this treatment is too new but we do know, it works! 

I don’t understand it. Someone has cancer. They do all the conventional treatments. Then, one day, while they are settling into their chemo line and sit there, while Toxins run into the body and they’re trying so very hard to use gentler Visualization of this ‘liquid’; why they would NOT run out and get something far less damaging. I thought, once they see that it works and cancer numbers are coming down, that this would convince them. Well. Knock me down with a feather!! That did not happen. I suppose people will do what they KNOW. No matter that it fries their intestines, damages veines, loss of hair, appetite, sick, sick, sick till the cows come home. And you want to use it again? How many people know that Chemo comes from Mustard gas??

Well, then comes the day that they tell you, you have become “Chemo resistant’. When you have no choice, then you eat dirt if it helps!! Wouldn’t you think that in over 50 years of cancer reserarch and the BILLIONS of dollars for research, they’ve not come up with something better and more humane. Already in 1989 the Cancer Industry made more than 100 MILLION per year from cancer, in the US alone. What does that tell you? Huge business.

Christmas was a quiet affair and sad. Grandkids are too far away, and so is family. No tree this year. No money for frills. It all goes to ‘Cannabis.’ This ‘new’ batch though was MUCH more pleasant to ingest and it only takes applesauce to get it down. The taste for that split second in my mouth, gags me. I would never make a ‘Druggie’.

Here is a BIG shout out of THANKS to the group: German Girls Living In America.’ It is due to their compassionate collection and donations, that have made this possible. Ihr Lieben. I cannot thank you enough. Also, your never wavering Belief and support means the world to me. Other friends have made generous christmas checks and so I could have another month.

Cameron is in New York. A well deserved Respit. I’ll try not to bother him while he is there. (Hope you have LOTS of good times, son.)

To get a refill on cannabis, I called the producer of this oil. (Usually, Cameron does this for me as it takes over an hour to get it to Montrose.) This turned into a circus of frantic messaging. But, finally that nice guy got a ride and DROVE all the way to bring me my medicine. At $550.00 this makes it very expensive and NO Ins pays for this. (NOT even Affordable Care  Act. 🙂 This last about 2 weeks.

I’ve read that to be better equipped to fight cancer, one needs to be ‘comfortable’ with death. Accept it. Only then can you move on. (Seems paradox but, if that’s what it takes?)

So. I’ve written and determine what is to happen with my (meager, few) possessions. I’ve decided, that this spring I will go to the gorgeous Black Canyon, find me a pretty spot and when the time comes, put the Ashes there. Take a photo of the area and breathtaking surrounding of the canyon and its Billion year old rocks. But, of course this little excercise is not what is meant. Taking stock, asking and giving Forgiveness.

In pondering this one, it surprised me how many people are holding on to ‘Stuff’. Someone very dear to me, brought up an incident which happened over 25 years ago! It was nothing earthshattering but obviously bothered enough for so many years. Need to forgive. The heart is big and elastic. It will adapt to any size. Just not too small.

I’ve been doing pretty well for most part. Twice, there was an episode and always at night, that the pain was so excrutiating that I layed on the floor, in fetal position, just howling. I put my feather comforter over my head, so the neighbors wouldn’t hear. But, there was nothing else I could do. This took about 2 VERY long hours before it abated.

I have had big problems with loss of appetite. (One of the 4 symptoms of ovarian cancer.) I look at food and I’m hungry but then it nauseates me. No matter what it is. THIS is what is soo debilitating for cancer patients. They starve to death.  If I did NOT have my MJ Vapors to produce appetite, I could not eat at all. This way, I can eat small amounts and get appetite.  Even though, I’ve lost 15 lbs so far. Cannot and am NOT allowed Dairy as it produces painful inflammation. (Eggs are not dairy.)

Yes, I have Morphine, Tramadol, Oxycodon, etc. I cannot take ANY of it. The side effects are too severe. All I have, is my little 600 mg Ibuprofen. I don’t ‘like’ it either. It damages your liver and I already have a ‘cancer leasion’ there. But, what to do? At some point I said, ‘Dear God. I’m not doing this anymore. I can’t stand it anymore. It’s been (nearly) FOUR years with this bout. I just want the pain to stop! Yes. Cannabis helps and I do take it when I go to bed. But then, it wears off and by the time I get more in, I’m already in pain. (GOSH. This is sooo BORING to talk about. I’m sick of it myself. 🙂

Wishing all of you the VERY best of 2014. Make it YOUR year. Change your lifestyle. Walk a little more. Be kind. Be tolerant. Thank you for sticking with me through this journey.

             HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Look Ma! .. No net!

So. How does this saga continue? On Oct. 14 th with Cameron in tow as well as Adam, who was visiting, I showed up at the Cancer Center. I visited Sue first.

Sue has had ovarian cancer over 3 years ago and dealing with a recurrence right now. It is really upsetting and worrisome that NOTHING was detected. She had her bloodwork and tests, she had her CT scan and all showed ‘clear’. She had complained about pain but also ‘diagnosed’ herself… thus saving docs the trouble and cost of medical school. She kept telling her oncologist that she may have ‘appendicitis.’!!!! I believe that ANY time a cancer patient complains of a long lasting pain, you don’t send her home. They all trusted these tests. And then, she had emergency surgery and it was finally noticed that she has new tumors. So. Now a much worse scenario. But she’s fighting the fight. As one motto says in our group: Fight like a girl”. Big shout-out to Gerald, her husband, who is such a tremendous help with everything.

We’ve lost 3 of our ‘Teal Warrior’s. Wow. So young. There’s Sonya, not quite 48 years  who did not get to see her grandchild being born. Not even the measly-amount of 3-6 mos ‘given time’, was upheld. We are all reeling. Of course, the unspoken fear is, that ‘YOU’ are next. We’re all moving in a little closer to each other, as if for protection. Who will the Boney guy pick next? You all duck!!

Here I am, after a whole month being absent from the ward and visiting Sue, I went to Doc’s office. Cameron was there. First thing: Scan shows no new growths. No significant changes. I asked her if she thought I could stay off chemo for another 6-8 weeks and give this Tears of Phoenix’ a chance. If we start chemo and, at the same time, take this, I won’t ever know if it really worked. Since the last 2 chemo’s did not work anyway, I’m not losing a lot.

It does feel odd. No chemo. No radiation. No magic pill. Only a tiny, dark powerhouse. I spread that grain of rice-size cannabis on my cracker and the taste of it, errupts in dramatic shakes all over me. I do not like this at all. Yuck. I have now sheduled my ‘waking errands and chores’ before I take anything because I am totally useless, once I have it.

It’s a good thing, one can’t overdose. I thought I was ready to doulbe my dose. It had been 10 days, although when I have an appointment or some things to drive to, I won’t take anything because I cannot function. After about 35 min there was this pressure around my forehead and my surroundings were compromised. Like swimming through Molasses. I tried to get up but couldn’t. It took all I had to GET up! When I finally managed to be upright, I bounced off the wall like the bumper-game machine. That night was really horrible. Dreams and images, torn and loud.. …but I noticed that was me coughing my lungs out. Terrible cold to boot.

My grandson, nearly 19 years old, is here to help me. All the way from Alabama. They move 10 years ago but he’s till our Colorado boy. Have not seen him in a long time and I sure hope he can withstand my present life. We had the ‘booze-drug’ talk and a few others. Done. He has worked in the yard, cutting down some of those silly trees that have thousands of seed pods to procreate and they’re such a nuisance.

What if ‘Tears’ of Phoenix’ does not work? Well, there are a few chemo’s left (that may not work either.) Meanwhile I now have problems walking with these compromised legs. Still taking Werferin but can’t go far. Maybe around the block. I really have to increase my distances. I am just tired.

I borrowed Pumpkin. My best Poodle buddy. He snugggles up and stays close and is totally devoted. I wish he could fetch and carry. But, I have to get up and go for a walk with him. (NO! Please. No dogs for a gift.) I have Cassie next door, whom I love and visit. There’s Bruno, another fun dog and Pumpkin. Those are enough.

 

 

 

Chemo Limbo and Tears of Phoenix

There is always something else to rattle my brain and make me shake all the way to my “argyle socks’, if I had any. I’ve had another CA 125 (the cancer marker blood test) after my second ‘Doxil’ chemo to find out how it is working. Well, the Hawaiian Punch carried NO punch. My numbers went up a few points. In itself not a drastic change were it not in the middle of CHEMO treatment!! Now what? I can’t quite understand it. This had never occurred to me that chemo may not work. Doc is not giving me another chemo until we find out why this one has not worked.  She will say:’ Cancer cells got smarter’.

What is our option now? Atom bomb? Next step is CT scan. Is there, perhaps a new tumor? Is this the preventing factor that cancer cells don’t die? In a few days, this question will be answered. Wait for blood test, wait for phone call, wait for news, wait for next step. Wait for CT scan. Wait….

I had researched the ‘Tears of Phoenix’ quite a bit a few years ago but

THC and CBD mixture the size of a grain of rice

THC and CBD mixture the size of a grain of rice

could not find anything on where they make them, who makes them, what it is exactly. Meanwhile, there is a LOT of information on You Tube. The founder’s name is Rick Simpson. He had to leave the country, years ago because the Fed’s were after him. This goes with all the horrid meds are allowed but let someone invent something cheaper that actually helps, well there’s hell to pay. Of course, Medicare (Nor any other ‘care’) will  pay for this. So it was out of my budget zone.

Then, something absolutely wonderful happened. A Facebook friend told me that she and a few of her friends were talking about my situation. The exorbitant cost of being sick. She asked if I had a Pay Pal account because her friend would create a “Widget’ for me. (A ‘what’s -it??) Never heard of it. But soon, there was this Widget on our Camino page (under ‘Read our Story’) as well as on the group page.

Pretty soon, I heard the ‘ding-ding’ of e-mail alerts on my I-phone. I looked and saw names I did not recognize, sending money. More names, some I did recognize from my German Group. ‘German Girls Living In America.’ Had not known much about the other group called ‘Laester Schwester’. Seems they are at odd with another. BUT, for my sake, this time, there was only the desire to help, putting aside their differences. (Unlike the Government, this seems to work.) So, with utmost gratitude and waves of overwhelming feelings of so much kindness and sharing of even a few dollars, had me crying. Their generosity now allowed me to purchase the very concentrated Hash oil to ingest. For the amazing hash properties to go in and tell this ‘smart-ass’ cancer cells to commit suicide.

I really, really want to thank all involved of helping me so I could buy this stuff. I was a little apprehensive. Here I am again, taking and trying more ‘stuff’. Going on some Internet info and FAITH that this will not only work but better and cheaper than chemo!! –which does not work.

Help Inge get treatment that works.  You can do so here (ignore the ad on top) where it says “Pitchin“:

I take this on a cracker, with just a little butter. The size not much larger than a half a grain of rice, and take it 3x per day. The tiny Powerhouse looks like a ‘ mouse-turd.’

So. I had my first cracker with the oil on it. My son took me out for breakfast. Not knowing what to expect, I thought oh, this is not so bad. Other than a little off center, I didn’t feel anything. Luckily not, till I got home. Then had to sit on the couch. Fog descended, things seem to move much slower. I felt like I was talking very slow myself. My son, meaning this in a good sense gave me a double dose for lunch… just before he left to drive to a wedding. Well, I sat there much later, still. I thought, ‘good Lord, I sure hope somebody comes and feeds me’. Couldn’t get off the couch. Fell asleep in the middle of one of my favorite programs. I’m thinking, the world needs more of this. They won’t argue, fight, kill each other. My foot started to feel much better but I’m not sure if this is a coincidence or some ‘early healing.’  I can’t believe that this tiny, eensy =weensy bit has that much POW.

So. After 4 days, we double the dose. I hope I have enough time taking this hash oil, before someone decides to throw chemo after it. I want to see how it helps but if I do get another chemo, I won’t know for sure whether the cell death is due to chemo or hash oil. But then again, if chemo does not work…again… except make me miserable and sick, I may ask for more ‘non-chemo’ time to allow hash oil to work. I guess, it depends on the CT scan results.

Meanwhile A BIG, HUGE Thank you to my German ‘Girls.’  Ich druecke euch alle in tiefer Dankbarkeit, das ihr mir diese Lebenschchance ermoeglicht. 

 

Door Number 1-2 or 3?

A few years ago, there was a T.V show with that title. Contestants would go through a series of differnt question they had to answer correctly and then they got the choice of the 3-curtained doors. Two had nice and sometimes valuable prizes, one of them a ‘boobie’ prize. A bale of hay, or a pile bricks.

I feel like I got one of those doors.

Two weeks ago, I had a CT scan to determine how well (or not) chemo therapy was doing and, what change, if any, about the ‘tumor.’ As many scans as I have had, this result was very much anticipated.

Lab person was going to use my port to access veine for dye. Not sure what happened but the pain and burning sensation was so severe, that I yelled and came off that chair. Startled, nurse pulled it out quickly. To allow her to do this again took great effort.

My friends and I went to have lunch down town and theybought  bought this delicious Gelato for me to minimize ordeal.

After I got home, I waited for the call which would give me results. There was Tuesday evening, Wednesday, Thursday. Nothing. Friday I called Oncologist’s office only to find out she had left.

Then, I called local doc. I knew they also would get a copy. Left message. Then I went grocery shopping. Walking is still an effort. Although swelling has receded, there are places which are painful and I have to wear compression hose, which go up to the thigh. After walking some, they roll over and then there’s a big, red indentation and I constantly have to pull it up. Annoying. I need one of those stocking holders. As I drove home, my cell phone rang and it was the nurse from local doc. She said, they were looking at scan and that blood clot had not dissipated. Was still there and in precarious place. I needed to go to Hospital as soon as I could and have another Ultra sound. I was really confused why they would see the ‘clot’? She said, that scan reaches a larger area.

So. Went to hospital and got scan. Waited till they send it to doc before I was allowed to leave. He did tell me that tumor had receded. But not how much, or anything else, since this was not his expertise. Waiting some more.

Tuesday, chemo day and appointment with Oncologist. So. This is the good news. Tumor has shrunk from 5 cm to 2.2. Doing the happy dance for that. Now I am hoping, that these 2.2 cm will be gone in another 2 month. Then she says, that blood clot did not originate in the leg but in the abdomen. It was very unsusual that the clot would travel DOWN instead of UP. Which would’ve been very dangerous. I totally believe, that I had my little miracle. My blood tests, which I have to have prior to each chemo is ‘perfect’.  (I asked what I was doing there if everything is so perfect!!)

The down side is, that the chemo is destroying my veines. There’s the catch. I can’t stop chemo now but for the veine, it’s a horrid thing. Which door to choose??

After so many rounds, the effects from the chemo are felt more and more . Most of the time I am very fatigued and can’t catch up with house and yard work. For 2-3 days, bones hurt and I am freezing form the inside out. Depression is marching in as though it belonged. Watching a commercial the other day, I started crying although there was nothing about it to cause this. At the store, suddenly there are tears. My nose is dripping constantly, until we figured out it’s because I have no ‘nose hair’. No eye brows, lashes … nose hair. Now that it is getting warmer, the pretty wig feels like a fur cap. My memory is becoming faulty and this what we call ‘chemo brain’.

Bills are piling up and that one night stay at the Hospital cost a whopping $6800.00 and of this $1,133.00 which I have to pay fully. I am feeling overwhelmed. It shows that one cannot be allowed to get sick in the ‘Golden U.S.A.’ I’ve not opened the bills from St. Mary’s.

I have had wonderful and caring support. Some from people I have never met. (I received a $25.00 donation from a ‘Stranger’. I was so very touched.) I get uplifting and caring posts nearly every day from a new and precious friend ‘Michele M.”  Two days ago, I had a particular hard time, when a beautiful sun flower appeared on my Facebook wall. This helped more than any pill I could have taken.

I also got to drive to Telluride to visit my son. A dear friend drove as she was certain, this may be too much for me, to start. (She was right). A most beautiful, perfect day and drive. His new apartment is gorgeous and roomy. I had prepared lunch to take up. (Hungarian Gulash, Spaetzle, cucumber-tomatoe salad and fresh strawberries for dessert. We drove to the end of town to see the many waterfalls. Azure sky and awesome surrounding. Good to breath and be out of this house. It was slow going as the altitude was making walking more labored but I did walk from mid town to the apartment. Small victories.

In a few days, it’ll be my birthday. I am totally grateful that I get to be here and celebrate, although this will be the first time in many years, that I won’t (can’t) host a party.

I still try to reconcile the actual number of my years with my internal years. Where have the last 20 years gone??

 

Too close for comfort.

If this were not my life, I would believe someone made it up! What more can possibly happen?

It’s nearly two weeks ago, now, that when I went for chemo, we noticed my right leg being really swollen. All the way up to the groin and down to the toes. Immediately an Ultra Sound was ordered and performed to check on blood clots. I could hear the return ‘swooshing’ of the blood. NO obstruction, they said.

By the time I got home, it was worse and I was in a LOT of pain and could hardly lift that leg. I called twice on that Thursday, needing help and asking what to do?

They said, it was ‘probably’ lymphatic blockage and I needed to go have it ‘drained.’First, there was this thorough process of marking and measuring certain points, up and down the leg. By the time it reached the groin, we had 68cm. (Used to be almost my waist size.)

The massage felt rather pleasant and I was happy that finally something that didn’t hurt. Came home and was miserable.

I cannot move. Cannot walk. Two steps and I’m done for. The skin is so very tight that I’m afraid it may just crack open. I was to have another massage on Friday. Cameron took me there. When the Therapist saw the leg, which now sported a huge, red-hot area of 20″ inches, she became very concerned. Thought it might be cellulitis. (I thought that meant ‘fat-handles’.) Absolutely no massage. I was so worried and requested that this leg should be seen  by a doctor. Easter was coming up and people go out of town and help may be scarce.

She called over to the E.R and then wheeled me over. They inserted an IV. (They did not access the port as that may bring a different problem.) My ‘old’ doc came and I sure was glad to see him. He just knows my whole history. They decided I should be admitted and stay for observation overnight. They were not sure whether this red area was an infection. The Ultra Sound showed at least 3 blood clots. What? Where do they come from? Well, that’s the $64,000 dollar question. Could be from chemo. Could be from the port. Could be from not being able to move a lot. Could be that when I stopped the Ibuprofen, the blood thickened? Well, just a guess. I feel ‘betrayed’. I was soo good to my body the last few years and this is how it pays me back? Childish outcry.

I felt so removed from reality. This is now my LIFE!! A leg that is the size of small tree.  Luckily, cellulitis was ruled out. (Staff and hopsital were great.)

A friend, who is a retired nurse had agreed to stay with me, so I could have help. That fell through. Cameron had already left for Telluride. He has to find a new apartment since winter season is over. We were supposed to fly to New York for a dear friends’ wedding. Certainly I can’t go.

As I layed there, leg way up and in white TED hose, totally feeling sorry for myself, the thought came to me HOW VERY LUCKY I WAS! Yes.  In all of that, I was so very close to disaster. IF she would have massaged the leg, the blood clots could’ve been set loose and traveled to lungs, heart, brain. BOOM!

Had I ignored all the little signs, at that point and went to Germany, this could have turned into a full blown disaster. So, even in all of that, I was protected. Now, all I want, is to just walk again. Do all of the mundane chores. I would LOVE to clean the toilet.

Friends have been a big, big help. Sending food and coming by. But, there are many hours in the day to fill. I have never been so ‘still’ in all of my life. Whole different reality. Having a problem adjusting to these blows, one after another. Back on pain pills. Of course, there’s MJ. My good buddy. Have very little appetite but this could be because I am not busy enough.

I had to give myself shots. Twice a day, in the abdomen.  There were 8 shots in all. That cost? $611.00.  There’s nothing generic or anything else. Either that or you could die! Also taking Warfarin to help thin the blood. It did come up from 1.1 to 2.8.

I think, somewhere along the lines, I lost a portion of my positivity and good humor. I am cranky and whiney. I am in pain and general discomfort. Now, I have to deal with constipation from the darn pain med. (I don’t know me like that either!!)