To begin with, we had no idea when the fall started. Her son and I went through what we could find and there seems to have been a slow decline about two months ago. She had just started a new job, got rave reviews from her employer, who wants her to return, but at the same time, little things were pushed aside, never to be picked up again. Dental appointments, any bill not on antopay, and we had no idea that the power wasn’t on autopay until the lights went off yesterday.
Now, I think we’ve gotten everything back on the right path, but there are still the day-to-day life events that have to be handled. There’s cat litter, dog meds for fleas and heartworms, there’s house cleaning and there’s laundry. I have to go through her phone every once in a while and call people back, schedule appointments, but the Nurse Navigators, and I had no idea there were such people until now, are beginning to realize I’m the best bet for information and scheduling.
We went to pick up meds yesterday and there are a half dozen in one day. Pain meds, steroids, meds for nausea, meds for diarrhea, meds for nausea again, and three supplements. I’ve learned to give B-12 injections, and I am the proud owner of one of those old people pillboxes that have days of the week and times of the day. I use all of them, and Amazon’s Alexa reminds me of when all the meds are due.
Because we’re not married, there are issues with me picking the meds up from the pharmacy, and it’s hard for them to understand that they can call her, and she’ll tell them she will pick the meds up, but she can’t. I’m not sure she understands she can’t, but at the same time, I have to get a wheelchair and roll her into the store, pick the meds up, and roll her out again. Some of the people behind the counter are beginning to recognize the situation, and they tell me just to have her call before I get there, but the pain meds are a different animal.
Meanwhile, Mom is back home fretting about all of this, and unable to get out and about because of the plague. I’ve got to get groceries back to her, get dog food and dog meds, and it’s been three days since I’ve been able to get back. Both Mom and my girlfriend have mobility issues, but Mom, at least, knows what’s going on around her and can do some housework.
We went to an oncologist yesterday, and after thirty minutes of me telling him, “That’s not factual” or “That’s not correct,” he stopped asking her questions and started listening to me. These are the meds she’s taking, this is the food she is eating, this is how her body is responding to the meds, these are the symptoms that are worse, and please for the love of Inanna, listen to me when I tell you what’s going on here, Doc, because the patient doesn’t know.
The doctor asks me to step out of the room but in two minutes he asks me back in. Simple tests; does she give the same answers to the questions asked in other forms? She does not.
After the oncologist and the pharmacy, there’s lunch and she sleeps. Fourteen to sixteen hours a day, waking up to eat and take meds. Long naps are in order. Sometimes when she wakes she is lucid, and the woman I love is with me for a few minutes. Other times she tells me there’s another dog in the house, a cat in the closet or someone has called her, but there is no record of that conversation on her phone.
Death by cancer isn’t the hard part. The end isn’t what kills everyone around the patient. The real pain is watching someone be deduced in their own life, to be diminished and dimmed, like a signal fire being extinguished by a hard rain.