Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Stepped into Heaven

We knew it would happen but not so soon.
Robin has returned to his place in heaven with all those loved ones who went ahead of him.
His last few days were very sad to see as he struggled to shake off his mortal body and take that last step through the veil. I am relieved to know he isn't hurting any more and that his mind is at peace.
The blessing of all the children in our home as he neared the end was priceless. We had such a bonding experience and found ourselves learning a lot about ourselves and each other.
The children had decided a few days ago that I shouldn't be alone and arranged for a brother and a sister or couple to be here with me through the night. What a comfort to know that I was no longer totally responsible to keep watch over him. They cooked and cleaned up, helped prepare his many medications and took turns sitting by his side while I slept. Oft times we were all gathered around his bedside but many times it was just one sitting with Dad and talking softly or reading the scriptures to him.
The end came in the early morning hours as we were winding down after a long night of visiting and remembering. Some had gone to bed and some had actually started for home. Those few minutes, after he had breathed his last breath, we gathered again to start the procedure of calling the Hospice nurse who would than call the mortuary. By the time all was done and Robin had been taken away it was almost 6 o'clock Sunday morning.
For the past three days we have been getting organized for the services, the obituary, the eulogy, the part everyone will take in the funeral program and decisions about music and prayers. Many of those things I had partly worked through in my mind as the end came near but I really couldn't bring myself to say it out loud or write them down.
Tonight I feel like we are nearly ready to face the day to say our final farewell to our husband, father and grandfather. http://www.premierfuneral.com/ will have an online obituary soon and a place to make comments.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Almost Home

It has been two months since we were given the "word". And it has been 6 weeks since I last wrote on the blog.
So much has happened...in slow motion...that has seen Robin move from walking independently to being bed ridden, from talking freely to garbled speech because of the tumor in the roof of his mouth, from enjoying eating to rejecting all food completely, from reasonable calmness to frantic actions and reactions. No longer do we snuggle in our King-sized family bed but now he lies in a hospital bed in the small bedroom near by.

As I write this I wonder how he would feel about my choice of words and how would he look at what has developed. I think we knew from the start that the end would be hard but we really didn't understand how hard.

Our days are filled with waiting and wondering. If it were not for the love and caring of family and friends we would find it almost impossible to cope. We are blessed with the knowledge of our Heavenly Father's love.

After an especially hard night this week it was decided by the children that they would take turns staying with us through the night. With the presence of our sons and sons-in law we have the blessing of the Priesthood to comfort us. Our daughters have been or will be present and we know our daughters-in-law would be here also except for their responsibilities with their very young children. All the family is working together to make the passing of this time as smooth and peaceful as possible.

We still enjoy the phone calls, email, cards and letters from far off friends and family. Robin has very few lucid moments but enjoys a report from me of new happenings. When I told him that Carissa had been out Wedding Dress shopping he wanted to hear more. He bid Mandy a sweet farewell as she left to return to Maine and her Counselor duties. Most every day finds someone on our doorstep with a serving of something tasty for me and words of love and support. I can never tell you all of the sweet comfort I receive with knowing we are in your prayers and that our names are added to the prayer rolls of many Temples. Thank you so much.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Family is everything...

It has been three weeks since I last posted and it seems like time is standing still /rushing by.

We had a very special Christmas with the highlight being our "C" Dinner evening on the Night Before The Night Before Christmas. All our children and their spouses were there and we crowded into our tiny living room (with some of the furniture moved out) seated together at a long table...14 of us! We had our traditional meal of "C" foods and visited up a storm.

After dinner we moved out the tables and some of the chairs. Then our children brought in a beautiful leather, mororized lounge chair they had purchased for their Dad. We visited some more and exchanged gifts with lots of laughing and sillyness. Robin seemed to be soaking up the love. It was suggested that we talk a bit about their Dad and their love for him and ask him questions and tell him things they felt they needed to say. It was a very precious hour with tender moments and testimonies shared. We expressed our decision to forgo any medical therapy or treatments and spend the remaining time Robin will have as quality time. (The doctors explained that treatment could possibly extend the time but would surely be very painful and uncomfortable.)

As the evening came to a close there were hugs all around and expressions of love, one to another. The kitchen was cleaned and furniture restored. Robin and I sat alone and simmered in the lovely feeling.

Christmas Eve was very quiet and solitary as we knew our families were snuggled in their homes with their children around them. Christmas Morning we prepared to travel to Bountiful where we would all be together again plus all the grandchildren. It was a fun but very tiring time and we were glad to return to our cozy home in Orem.

In the last two weeks we have had many visits from family and old friends... and our new Hospice friends. We feel well cared for and loved. We have not second guessed or questioned our decisions... even tho some have felt we need to get a second opinion, or turn to herbal remedies, or find someone "special" to give a "miracle" blessing. All these suggestions have poured off us like water and only strengthened our resolve to stay the course. We have grown closer as a couple and sometimes feel like we are on a "second honeymoon."

We are not sure just how much time we have to be together but we are trying to make the most of every day. It is hard and will get harder but we want everyone to know we have great comfort in the Plan of Salvation and The Atonement. Our children are very attentive and keep us company when we need it. Family is everything.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

We wait...

This has been the hardest entry to start. I'm not sure I will continue this blog. So sorry.

We went to our appointment with our Oncologist yesterday and he laid it all out on the table...there will be no cure. I think we both sort of knew what was coming but needed to hear it spelled out. Squamous Cell Carcinoma in the neck and spread to the liver and some lymph nodes... We are still in shock and mulling the information over.

We were given lots to read and several options on where we want to go from here. Chemo and radition will prolong life but may reduce the quality. Thank goodness there are medicines for pain and people standing ready to answer any questions we may have. To our question "Did we wait too long to go to the doctor?" the answer was "no...by the time it was noticible it had already progresses too far." I'm not sure I want to share everything and that I want to answer any questions as we really don't know all the answers. I think for the next few weeks we are going to gather as a family and discuss... what we are going to do.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Another needle...

We have just returned from our ENT doctor visit in Payson. As suggested the doctor wanted to talk about doing another needle biopsy in the roof of Robin's mouth. Seeing as the liver biopsy was not successful they saw this as being the next step. Robin bravely consented to let him do it and it was done without much fuss. The needle was for a core sample and the doctor got "two good ones." Now we just WAIT to hear the results and the next step. At this moment Robin is almost asleep in his Lazy boy and doesn't seem to be in any more pain than usual. We wait...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Put off again...

The last two days have been rather quiet and calm. Robin takes his Hydrocodone APAP (Loritab)pain pills regularly and rests and is quiet all day.

Here it is Friday again and the appointment with Dr. Wallentine was called off. Last week before Robin had even had the liver biopsy Dr. W. had set us up with an appointment to see the results and discuss our plan for treatment.

Dr. W. himself called at 9 am and said that he had the results and they were inconclusive. (?) He said on the face of it they looked good... no cancerous cells found... but the "kicker" was...the biopsy wasn't done to his satisfaction and there really wasn't a clear "sample" taken. He said there was nothing to view in the lab as the needle they used wasn't for a core sample and hadn't gone into the right place...What? Robin says he remembers someone saying..."this needle isn't long enough!"

Anyway when the doctor hinted at trying for another sample...he caught himself before I could scream...Noooooooo! He agreed that Robin's liver biopsy could be titled "torture" and thought Robin would not consent to another. He agreed and thought maybe they would do a core sample biopsy on his mouth/jaw tumor. It got almost the same reaction from me. But he did suggest it be done with Robin under anesthesia. That could be his choice.

When I hung up the phone and gave Robin the news the look on his face was one of horror! Even the mouth biopsy got the same reaction.

I talked, later, to Dr. W.'s nurse and she said the ENT doctor would call us with info on what they planned to do. When his nurse called it was cut and dried...it is to be done by the doctor, in his office, with a local only. I tried to tell her what Dr. W. had suggested but I don't think she listened to me... but then said..."well I guess we could see what the ENT doctor says and if Robin wants to be put under... we can WAIT till there is an opening at the hospital or the doctors schedule". I feel like we are being held for ransom!

The last word was that Robin has an ENT appointment Monday morning...(originally scheduled to check his ear and if the antibiotic is helping)... and then we can talk about the "mouth" biopsy... and perhaps do it there and then.

We spend our days wating and wondering and hoping all this passing of time won't come back to haunt us. The weekend is going to drag by and I think Robin won't feel able to go to church. He also misses the MTC and his missionaries and the "clothing ladies".

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What a day!...

Another day...and what a day! We arrived at the hospital for the liver biopsy at 10:00 and spent the next 2 hours filling out papers, doing a blood work up and waiting... for an hour to get the OK to start from the lab. Finally the lab said go! (his blood was "thick" enough to allow the biopsy.)

I sat in the small room adjacent to the CT scan room where they took Robin to pass him through the scan and set the needle in the right spot to get the right sample. The technicians were in and out of the door many times and after the doctor arrived...in and out of the door a few more times and then at 12:30 the doctor announced...OK we're ready to get the biopsy. What! I couldn't imagine what had taken so long. The "spot" was on the inner side of the liver and they had had to push the needle all the way through the liver to get the "piece" they wanted. By the time they emerged saying..."It's done!" We had been there 3 hours.

Robin was in such pain he was not able to lie still or be prepared to go home. I couldn't think how I was going to take him home and care for him yet. He was moved to a recovery area and his nurse continued to watch over him. I was able to give him some crackers and water with 2 of his Vicoden pills but that didn't reach the pain. Finally the nurse gave him a pain shot of Demerol and phenogren and he was able to settle down. An hour later, at 3:30, he was wheeled out to our car and we headed the few blocks home.

Heather was there waiting for us and April arrived, from school, shortly after. They saw us settled and left us to rest. As the pain shot wore off Robin was restless and tense again. April suggested a blessing and he was desiring one. She called Matthew at work and he called Richard at his work and they quickly showed up. How blessed we are to have them come and comfort their Father with loving words and a priesthood blessing. As Robin relaxed back into a restful sleep we sat around him and quietly visited and gave each other comfort.

It has now been over 4 hours since they all left...(April came back to deliver me some dinner...) and we both have been sleeping in our Lazy boys with the TV on low....our best spots for a nap.

I hope the rest of the night goes peacefully.