Wow, this is new to me. I don't know how long I will do this, but it was fun setting it up. I decided to write this to have a place to tell how I feel about the loss of my husband. Last year I turned fifty! Rick was 11 1/2 years older than me, and when he turned fifty, I had him a surprise birthday party. I kind of dared him NOT to do that to me, but he did and it was fun, but in hind sight which is always 20/20 I noticed he was a bit forgetful, but we just blamed it on being tired. Even Norma, Sandy and my mom noticed he was a bit forgetful around that time too. He always worked hard and didn't really slow down any so we went on about life. Late summer last year we did a little remodeling of the house, nothing major all cosmetic except we put hardwood floors in our bedroom and closet. Then he decided to sell the timber and set that money aside. He was a bit more forgetful, but didn't think anything about that either, he'd been anemic for some time, and was a bit more tired on a daily basis, but we'd been through that too.
On November 22 which was a Sunday, I was working and looked up, and there he stood grinning with a diet coke for me! I was happy to see him, though that was a bit unusual. We talked a few minutes, then he asked what I'd like him to bring home for supper. I told him what I wanted and he left. Later after I got home from work, he told me he'd had difficulty ordering the food, he passed off as tired. You know, poor tired gets the blame for a lot!
The next morning November 23 at breakfast as he said grace he had some difficulties with his words. I asked him if he was OK, poor tired got the blame again! By this time we were into the wood cutting business again for the winter, and he and Nick had several orders to cut and deliver. They went out and I went about my house work for the day. I put on a pot of pintos and fried potatoes and made a skillet of cornbread. He came in about 11 am and I told him lunch would be ready by noon. He went back out, I came out of the utility room to the bedroom to get clothes and found him sitting on our bed with his coat on, arms crossed in the dark looking lost. I asked him if he was OK, he said he was waiting for his radio to charge (he meant cell phone), the phone was on the charger. He'd never done that before. He went back out and up to the store. He came back in at noon. I told him lunch was ready, he said he'd eaten at Keith's. Strange. He always wanted a hot lunch when I wasn't working at the hospital. He sat down on the couch and said he was tired. Then he picked up the remote (his best friend) and looked at it with a bit of loss on his face. He did not know what to do with it.
I called Nick to the house. That is when I found out he had not been helping in the wood all morning. Again not like Rick. Tired got the blame for that too. He looked like he wanted to say things but couldn't find the words. His mother had died from complications from a cerebral hemorrhage, so I am more concerned now. I got Nick *who was in EMT class and we did the "stroke scale" on him. He passed that but there were a few things he could not do. One was touch his finger to his nose and my finger with my finger held above his head (in reach of course). I told him he was going to the hospital either in an ambulance or I would take him but he was going right then. He let me take him to the ER.
I called a friend in ER and she alerted the folks we were coming and it was neuro changes. They were waiting for us. With in ten minutes or less he was getting a CAT scan of his head. Rusty *a friend and CAT technologist* brought him back to his room, made excuses and a quick exit. I thought that was strange. Labs were drawn, IV's started and then the ER physician came in. He asked questions, examined Rick, made an excuse and went out of the room for a few seconds, came back in and said "there is a mass in your brain" WHOA! I held it together long enough to make sure he was OK, stepped out of the room and slid down the wall. It was like getting kicked in the chest with cleats! Paula was there and caught me. I gathered myself and went back in. Dr. Bennyworth came back in, got more information and I asked to be sent to Dr. Carl Hampf in Nashville, I had worked with him for 13 years at Baptist Hospital. Dr. Hampf accepted him and he was moved by ambulance to Nashville. I followed in the car.
In Nashville Rick underwent many tests the first night. At midnight they were doing a head to toe CAT scan looking for other sites for tumor. None were found. After high doses of steroids and several tests, it was determined it was a primary brain tumor, type still to be determined. Dr. Hampf suspected and stated he thought it was a glioma of some type probably an astrocytoma that was probably at least a stage III. But that was just a guess. He placed him on anti seizure medication as a precaution and sent us home for Thanksgiving with surgery scheduled for December first.
The picture for this blog was taken after the diagnosis but before surgery. I think he knew this would not turn out good. We spent Thanksgiving with family and friends. It was a good holiday despite the diagnosis.
We had prayer meeting on Thanksgiving eve. That was the day he came home for the holiday. We attended. I witnessed things I'd only heard about. The spirit of the Lord was there, Rick came up front, the elders of the church were called around and prayer for Rick was the majority of the service. Faith was high!
The day of surgery, December first was a very scary day! But many friends and family went with us. He spent Tuesday night and Wednesday night in the Neuro Surgical ICU then moved to the floor for a night. On Friday morning Dr. Hampf came in, sat down and said he had the pathology report back Stage IV Gliosarcoma. Probably about as bad news as it could be! OK. We will face this together. Our faith was still strong despite this diagnosis.
More doctor visits, scans, radiation were to follow. Christmas! Wow, Christmas came quickly. I had been sick, he spent his last Christmas with his family. I was there for a while, but I was sick from something I'd eaten or a stomach virus. Never did know. I had mixed feelings about how that Christmas was to be spent. I feared it would be our last one together. I didn't argue with him over it though. I let him spend it with his sisters, brother, nieces and nephews.
December 29 radiation started. That was difficult. He'd been strong, but within a few treatments, we noticed he was weakening tremendously! Between steroids, sleeplessness from those and the draining effects of the radiation, he was going down hill quickly!
On January 21, he was in an accident. Someone ran a red light and he hit them. He was not injured, I took him home. He had radiation on January 22, drove himself. During the night, he was up watching TV unable to sleep. He'd not been able to eat or drink much that day. I heard him cough a lot over night.
On January 23, he could not walk unassisted. His cough was horrible. I listened to his lungs. His breath sounds were too loud in his bases with rhonchi. (Rhonchi are bubbling noises) I thought he might have pneumonia. He was so short of breath. I finally got him to go to the doctor. He refused to go to the ER. Dr. said pneumonia, gave him a shot and a Z-pack and sent us home. I really wanted him admitted. We got his pills filled, stopped by Bonita's and borrowed a wheel chair, then I took him home.
Later that afternoon, about 2 pm, his breathing worsened. I put oxygen on him. He made me go to see Henry Rea and pay for his burial plot. I did not want to leave him, but he insisted. There was no other way! When I got back (gone less than an hour) he was no better. His sister Debbie came over, we talked a while, then she left.
About 5 pm, I convinced him he needed to go to the ER. I told him he had to go by ambulance. I'd emptied my oxygen tank on him already and he needed more. I called an ambulance and all of WVFD responded! Folks were here in minutes!
EMS arrived, placed him in the ambulance and had to place him on a non-rebreather on 100% oxygen because his oxygen saturation was only 58% (should have been 100% on that oxygen amount). That is the beginning of the next chapter in our journey. To be continued.