Connections; people I’ve come to really care about

Monday was an odd day. I got up late as I was still having trouble sleeping, and the first thing I did was log onto my computer. A message popped up on the screen informing me that the clock had been set to expire in 2001. ?! Sure enough, even though it was now the 2nd of January, 2012, the little calendar icon at the bottom told me it was the 31st of December, the time was 7:30 pm, and when I clicked on CNN under news, it was all about the New Years Eve celebrations  currently under way. Remember the classic Bill Murray film Groundhog Day?

David did a little of this and a little of that and my computer returned to the proper time frame. I had a scheduled 11:30 am appointment for labs in Boston, and I was going to be late.

When I pulled up to the Yawkey building a little before noon, there were big plastic barriers blocking the entrance. The garage had the usual number of cars, but when I got off the elevator and stepped into the lobby, it was eerily quiet. And when I arrived at Yawkey 7B, the doors were locked and the waiting room empty. Now this was a fine kettle of fish.

The first thing I did was to call David and have him check my printout calendar, just in case I’d made a mistake. But, in fact, I was supposedly in the right place at (almost) the right time. As Boston is a good hour or more (depending on traffic) from my residence, and this was just a blood draw, I was in no mood to come back the next day. A phone call later, and I was in Infusion, which was open with a smattering of patients and staff. I explained my situation and after several more phone calls, I got my blood drawn. Everything was back on track.

On a much more somber note, my friend Rob (who, along with his wife Leslie, sent me the wonderful groundhog puppet), has not been doing well. It would seem he gets one issued resolved only to have another, more serious symptom pull the rug out from beneath his feet. Christmas Eve was Rob and Leslie’s second anniversary, and he entered home hospice not long after. He is always on my mind, and I wished to write about Rob, but struggled mightily with how to do it.

Leslie and Rob have published a blog together ever since his diagnosis, and Leslie’s post dated December 27th, described in a straightforward and beautiful fashion the current situation. I asked her permission to reprint it here. Should you like to catch up on their story or receive updates, simply click on this link: Rob’s Adventure, sailing upwind in a storm.

December 27, 2011 – Sad times

Rob was sprung from the hospital on Saturday and was able to spend Christmas eve at home – the best anniversary present ever. On Christmas day our dear friends John and Jo Ann brought a wonderful dinner of fresh crab and smoked salmon, which we were able to enjoy with Rob’s sister Marnie, who flew in from Rhode Island. Rob is now completely bedridden and sleeps much of the time, but he is comfortable and in no pain (he no longer needs any pain meds). This is remarkable since only a couple of weeks ago he was in excruciating pain from the sciatica — at least the radiation therapy worked for those symptoms.

His desire for food and drink has diminished, one of the signs that the end is growing near. There’s no way to know exactly how much time he has left, but we are focused on making his remaining time as comfortable and full of love as possible. The Hospice by the Bay team has been wonderful. It’s reassuring to know that there’s a number I can call 24/7 for help with any issue that might arise.

Thank you to everyone who has written. I read every letter and email to Rob, even though they are bittersweet for him. He especially likes to remember stories from his adventures over the years. Hearing is supposedly the last sense to go, so please keep them coming.  He is incredibly sad that his life is being cut so short. One of the social workers explained that while we are losing him, he is losing all of us — everyone and everything in his life. Unbelievably difficult.

A number of friends have asked about visiting. Rob is sensitive to having people see him in this diminished state, and has asked that this final time to be spent privately with family and only a few friends.

Please keep Rob and Leslie in your thoughts.

8 responses to “Connections; people I’ve come to really care about

  1. I will keep them in my thoughts. It remember me a few years ago, my dad died from a pancreas cancer and he just wanted the close family and the closed friends at the end…it was difficult for us but he was good to see him not in pain anymore, just sleeping and leaving us slowly…after 6 awful months, his face was not so tired…
    Thank you Linnea for your blog, so much love in your words…Take care

    • Elisabeth, my father also had pancreatic cancer. It is a brutal disease, and the last time I saw him was about six weeks before he passed. He was an extremely private person and terrified of dying, and he didn’t even want most of his family to see him as the disease took it’s toll. His was such a sad death.

      Rob is fortunate to have Leslie at his side and in charge. She is making certain he is comfortable and surrounded by a small circle of close friends and family. Of course, my heart breaks for her as well. Thanks for keeping them in your thoughts.

      Linnea

  2. Linnea- I had been following Rob’s progress on his blog, via your link. I just read the beautiful Edward Abbey quote, posted on Jan 1. I hope that Rob is now walking those soothing vistas in his mind. It is very painful to read Leslie’s all-too-familiar words on his condition. I have come to know so many wonderful people through Chris’s cancer, but I hate hate hate this disease.
    Be well, Linnea!
    Joan

    • Joan, I know it is not reasonable, but sometimes I feel as if lung cancer targets wonderful people. It is simply because, I like you, have become connected to so many (wonderful) people that I would not have if it were not for this (hated) disease. You are one of them.

      Love, Linnea

  3. You know Linnea, thanks to your blog that I found trying to understand lung cancer to help my dear friend, thanks to people like you and my friend who are fighting every day, I feel lucky to be in good health and I appreciate every little thing in life. I admire you, your sensibility in your writing…I keep you, Rob, Leslie in my prayers and thoughts.
    Elisabeth

    • Thank you Elisabeth. Your friend is so very fortunate to have you, and I am glad you are ‘here’ as well.

      Best, Linnea

  4. Linnea, I am so sorry to hear about your friend Rob. The social worker put things into a very real perspective when she said that he is struggling with losing everyone and everything from this life. So difficult to hear. Today I had a complete full blown panic attack with missing Silas ~ I only hope that he is okay & happy where he is. This cancer is so brutal, and some days it is just hard to be happy. That’s not very uplifting, but real. Still, life and love are such hopeful things, I can’t help but believe they travel on. Much love to you my friend.

    • Lorraine, sometimes my heart just cracks wide open for you. Really. I do believe Silas is okay. I can tell you that just because I have thought so often about where I too will ‘go’, and it really is okay. It is you I worry about. Not that you aren’t as tough as they come, but it is just so much for one heart to bear.

      One of my New Years Resolutions is to spend some time with my friend Lorraine. I will work on a plan and get back to you.

      Much love back, Linnea

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