A field guide for men who are supporting their wife or significant other in becoming free of cancer. Especially when they are hit by a stroke in mid-treatment. I outline the process and experiences, and offer tips and hints for others. My dear wife, Meagan, died from Stage 4 melanoma cancer.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Friday Evening Update
Meagan is contentedly watching "When Harry Met Sally" on her laptop, snuggled in her hospital bed, wearing yoga clothes, with her cashmere shawl around her shoulders and her wool hat on. We enjoyed a hospital meal, although enjoy is not really the word I'd use. She is feeling quite good. She is very tired, overly tired due to the large number of assessments foisted on her by medical staff here. Most if it is all good, it sets the stage for therapy and insurance approval when they document her status. But it's tiring. And she discovers new things about herself - those insults to the brain. For example she has difficulty with numbers and dates. There are a litany of things about her which have changed, none of which are worth highlighting or listing. It seems too demeaning, and not focused on the positive aspects she retained. Many issues will resolve in time. She's still Meagan. We will pursue therapy actively, and are looking at options including a home based service. But she is tired of all the assessments and poking and prodding - she doesn't like to fail and when she misses something that competitive spirit comes out. And yet she is remarkably sanguine about it all. As Terry highlighted in her recap - she is approaching this whole thing in a very positive way. Over dinner I recounted the entire last two weeks and she has very little memory of it all. She is sick and tired of being here and wants to be home so she can kiss the dogs and be with Casey. But she will not leave with unpleasant thoughts about this experience or where she is right now.
We've talked about the process and game plan for her cancer which we will develop with Dr. Kaplan once she is discharged from Harborview. She is aware she has to undergo radiation treatment and then two weeks in the hospital on Interleukin 2. She is quite fine about it all. Timing is all uncertain - brain recovery has to occur first.
In terms of discharge we are eternally optimistic. Her sodium levels have recovered to the appropriate levels - now they just want to see them stable and have decreased the intervals in between checking. They are using an abundance of caution, which is fine. "Que sera sera". When she goes home we want it to be for good. We've convinced the medical staff that we are going home after medical discharge and will deal with therapy on an outpatient or in-home arrangement. We've cited the Meagan's Fairies network as one example of the fabulous support we have. So all the wheels are in motion for discharge, the neurology team just needs to give the go ahead. Her numbers tomorrow morning will likely dictate their decision. It could be tomorrow or Sunday or Monday. We will let the docs do their job and exercise their judgment and we will be fine either way. Tomorrow really is a day of rest for her - she did have over 5 assessments today and they are just draining. Stroke victims need their day rest!!
I am incredibly impressed and proud of her - I do not think I would be approaching this situation with the grace and optimism and joie de vivre she displays. I think you will all be quite relieved and happy when you have a chance to visit or talk with her. And that bad ass scar - wow that is one impressive momento.