I was always sorry my exciting cruising blog had become a cancer blog but I am even more sorry now to have to report that my captain, friend and lover passed away yesterday afternoon. Bill told me he never wanted to think of his picture being the blog picture along with a death announcement. He certainly didn’t want to die but the past few months of his life were no way to live.
Ever since we came home from the long hospital stay after Bill’s brain surgery he had no energy to do anything. We blamed it on the many drugs he was taking, or the fact that he hadn’t been moving around at all, but the fact of the matter is that the cancer was growing too fast in his lungs and restricting his breathing and zapping his energy. Bill basically lived on the living room sofa from the beginning of November. It didn’t make either of us very happy.
The last few months we’ve been trying different procedures to help Bill’s breathing. As I wrote in the last blog update we were going to Hopkins for bronchoscopys and were about to try getting the fluid drained from Bill’s lungs. In the last two weeks Bill had three thoracentesis procedures, the official name of the draining of the fluid – at the hospital they just call it a tap. On Wednesday we were on our way to the third scheduled procedure in the hospital in Annapolis when we had to go back in the house after struggling to get Bill to the car. He was having a horrible time breathing and was incredibly weak. He couldn’t make it up the front step and tumbled to the ground. I couldn’t get him up, a friend drove by and helped too but Bill was having so much trouble breathing that we couldn’t do it. He told me to call for an ambulance. I was dreading another ER visit – it would be our fifth in five months – but I called. They came and took him to the hospital with lights and sirens. The significance of that was not lost to Bill, a former police officer. Not breathing is serious.
I was worried they wouldn’t take the fluid out of his lungs because they were more focused on making him breathe. They came and did it right in the ER room though. This time, because of the lack of space, they placed the collection bottle in Bill’s lap so he could watch the bottle fill up. He was very interested. After that was finished, and we had been through all the other indignities the Emergency Room has to offer, the doctor told us we could go home or stay in the hospital. I said Great! Draw up the discharge papers. After the doctor left Bill said he thought he was too weak to go home – so we stayed.
It was a good thing to do though – as always Bill knew what he was talking about. Unfortunately they didn’t have a room right away and we ended up sleeping (or not sleeping!!) in the ER. We didn’t get up to the oncology floor until about 4pm on Thursday. They were very good to Bill and addressed some issues that no one else was addressing. I wasn’t sure how long we were staying but I was prepared this time – I had gone home for a short time on Thursday and picked up some things. Unfortunately early Friday morning Bill woke up very very agitated and complaining about significant chest pain. I called for the nurse and the drama soon started. Every department showed up to check to see if Bill was having a heart attack. It was like on TV – but a lot slower. They concluded it was a respiratory issue. We managed to go back to sleep but a few hours later Bill woke up again even more agitated and very disoriented. I decided I better call for the nurse again. They sedated him somewhat, but he still wasn’t doing too well. I ended up sitting next to Bill and holding him in the bed. That is when a doctor I know and respect came in. The evening before a doctor I didn’t know, and certainly don’t respect, had visited us and told us that if Bill had any type of distress that needed intervention they wouldn’t bother because he wasn’t going to make it anyhow. The “good” doctor on Friday morning basically told me that the cancer was too advanced and Bill only had days, not weeks, and that we should change the focus of what we were doing to make him more comfortable. As it turns out he only had hours. Our three kids came and we all said goodbye, even though Bill wasn’t very conscious. At one point I told him that everyone who knew him loved him and that is when he raised his eyebrows – the only response I had seen from him. I wasn’t sure whether that meant he didn’t believe me – or whether he was acknowledging that it was true.
So now we are dealing with the details of wrapping up a person’s life. We will be having a memorial service in Annapolis on Saturday, February 27th. Here are the details : Your text to link...