Sunday, August 9, 2009

Flash forward . . . 2009

Waiting has got to be the hardest thing to do in this world. No matter whether it is waiting for something really good, like your birthday or Christmas, or something really sad.

That is what I am doing now. Waiting for something really, really sad.

My sweetlove, my partner and best friend for the past 20 years, is in the throes of end stage liver disease. This is not a surprise for me. He first got really ill about 6 years ago and ended up in the hospital. He was there for about three days during which he had a few quarts of good blood pumped into him along with several tests and an MRI. He was told at that time that he had lost about 65% of his liver function and it was at the point where it would not renew itself. So, he quit drinking. For over a year. But he started again.

He was the kind of drinker who would pop a Budweiser at 8 am and keep on 'em all day and, after a quick "power" nap, start over and go into the night.

I've known this about him since that first weekend we met. What I didn't know was that while he could drink beer nonstop for days, he could also go without eating as well. I, myself, cannot go a full day without eating something, I just can't do it. I used to fuss at him about it, but I stopped after a while.

Then, about a year later, he got sick again and ended up in the hospital. After pretty much the same thing as the first time, when he was released he quit drinking again.

This stopping and starting has gone on for these last few years. I fussed, and yelled, and kicked him out of the house, only to welcome him back a few days later on the promise he would "straighten himself out." A promise surely meant when first spoken, but too easily broken when the bug would get him again.

Eventually, I quit fussing, and yelling, and threatening, and just accepted that this is what he was going to do regardless of how I felt. And I gave up the responsibility of it to him.

He would start and quit many times. But each time he landed in the hospital, he came back just a little weaker, the bounce back a little slower. Until this last time.

He had been trying not to drink for a few weeks. Especially since he had a doctor's appointment. But he had chest pains on Friday and I took him to the emergency room. They kept him overnight although the ER doc didn't think it was a heart attack he just wanted to be sure. It was Memorial Day weekend.

He came home seemingly healthy. At first, one of his feet swelled. That had happened before so we didn't think too much of it and figured it would go down in a couple of days. But it didn't. Then his other foot swelled, and then his legs, and he wasn't speaking very well, and he was easily confused. Then his belly swelled. That scared me enough to call his doc, who called Hospice.

Within the first few days of the first Hospice visit by the Nurse Practitioner, our home was filled with a hospital bed complete with a tray on wheels, a wheel chair, a walker, a shower chair. All the accouterments of being in the hospital without really being there. Our home is tiny to begin with, so the bed takes up most of the space. It has been here for two weeks now and I am still shocked to see it when I come in the door from work.

The Ol' Salt is very weak now. I have to have him repeat what he says sometimes 5 times before I understand what he is saying. The other day I stood in front of him and leaned in close to have him repeat so I could hear what he had been saying. Seems he wanted me to move so he could put his legs down and stand up. We laughed at that one. I told him he just should have said "get the heck out of my way, damn it, I'm trying to stand up."

And so I wait.

He won't use the shower chair because he says it is a pain in the ass. So he bathes on his own. But after he fell trying to stand up to get out of the tub, I help him to stand and get his barings. I made him promise not to take a bath unless I was there. He did.

And so I wait.

I try to make things that are easy for him to eat. I no longer make big meals. We eat mostly sandwiches and sometimes soup. When he has a taste for something I make it for him. Usually, he only takes a couple of bites.

And so I wait.

I was angry with him when all this first started. The realization that this was really it has brought on a plethora of emotions. And I am ashamed that I want sometimes for it just to be over. And then I think about how terribly I am going to miss him.

He made me laugh.

He still makes me laugh.

And so I wait.

And knit.

And start blog after blog, but not publishing because when I read back what is written, it is just too depressing. It is not the time for me to be lighthearted.

I can think of nothing else right now except what am I going to do when my granddaughter leaves on the 20th and moves to Massachusetts. My sweetlove will be home all day alone. So many "what if's" come into my mind. If I could, I would quit my job. But that is impossible.

And so I wait.

And pray. I pray that my sweetlove passes quietly and with no pain. Sometimes I wonder if he realizes that this is the end for him. If not, I don't want to be the one to tell him. I am not known for my tactfulness. And I would probably just burst out with "You're going to die, dumbass." "What did you think was going to happen?"

And so I wait.

And he worries because he isn't leaving me with anything. And I have to remind him of the last 20 years and all the memories I have. Because of him.

And so I wait.



Roberto said...

Hey K, I am so sorry, I am praying for you two. If you need any help, anything, please just let me know. My mother in law went through the same thing, but for four years. Was hard, only good people can do it. God is proud of you an so I am.

Roberto said...

Hey, this Roberto, It's me Fernanda

Kate and Crew said...

OMG Kathryn, how did I miss this post? I was off the computer for a couple of weeks and somehow I missed this. I am so so sorry. I can't imagine what you're going through. I'm glad you've got all those years of memories to hold on to. You're in my thoughts...