Kris Fuller, CancerWifeNinja sharing my journey... as my husband battles Stage 4 Colon Cancer.
|Posted by email@example.com on July 2, 2020 at 11:15 PM||comments (0)|
I shop as fast as I can. I have no idea what I have at home. The last six days have been me alone and I am not certain of anything. $84.12 and forty minutes goes fast! I'm home in a jiffy and I whip up ham sandwiches.
Meow. It's my Mia!!! She pads in, purrs up against me and I sneak in a cuddle. I put her down and say, "Sorry, little bug, I have to go again. Meow, meow." She stays at my feet and she circles between my legs. Rub, rub, tail touch. OH, my heart. I just want to curl up with the loving ball of fur.. but she will have to wait.
I peel oranges, cut vegetables, pour ranch into a container and make a salad. I know he likes fresh food and I have no idea what he will feel like. I bring cookies and rice crisps and just in case, I grab some sour candy too. Clothes ipad, and I'm ready for the loathed 22 minutes...
I get to the hospital to find Ben up and about. It's nice to see. It's nice to be greeted at the entry of his ward. He hugs me and tells me not to let his mom's emotions be my burden too. So, he knows.
I cry and he holds me in the hallway. This feels amazing. He would usually want a hug in private but not today. He just hugs me in the middle of the hall and my heart bursts.
We go to his room and I lay out the picnic. He can't believe I have done this much in so short of timeframe. I am pleased with myself.
Oh, there's two sandwiches. Are we having supper together? I nod yes and he smiles.
We unload everything on the bed-table and have a hospital picnic together.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on July 2, 2020 at 9:00 PM||comments (0)|
I find Lisa in the parking lot and I can't believe how slow the day started and now it's like a whirl wind. We are behind the transport van by a litte. It doesn't really matter, Ben is on the way back to our local area and I'm so happy for that.
I'm so tired, why did I think I would have nap or rest during this day...? My eyes are burning with exhaustion and my brain is tired. Exhausted.
I exhale and update the Support Group, Ben's sisters, and feel another wave relief. He's okay. We are okay. And now they know, too. Our cheerleaders.
I'm grateful for Lisa, glad she is driving and can't wait to leave Kelowna behind us.
Not thirty minutes down the road, Ben's mom calls and my heart sinks. I forgot to call her. I forgot to update her after the sugery. She was worried and I feel bad. I apologize for the wait. I didn't do it on purpose, I'm sure it was very worrying.
I feel sick. I feel defensive... I told your family! I want to defend... but it's not the same and I know it. How did I let this happen? How did I fail on this? I'm so upset with myself over it.
And the worst part is...she ended up *not* coming to Kelowna today because her dad went into hospital last night. In Saskatchewan. Ben's grandpa. It's a lot - injured dad, sick son - and since I have my sister with me, Ben's mom decided to stay home and try to find peace in her chaos.
My job was to loop her in. And I let her down. My shoulder slump and I feel the angst of this ...missed communication.
Lisa and I drive the rest of the way home in silence. I feel deflated now. Lisa offers to drive me all the way home, but I say No, I can do it. It's forty minutes past her house and she's done enough today. She tells me I should let it go, not worry about Ben's mom and try to find my own peace. I nod. She's right. But it's not easy for me.
Just before I leave Lisa's, Ben text me. He needs new clothes, the ipad and something to eat. His hospital supper wasn't enough. I want to go home and cry and sleep... but I drive to the grocery store instead.
I text him: Call your mama. I hope he does, and I hope it helps.
|Posted by email@example.com on July 2, 2020 at 7:50 PM||comments (0)|
We ordered Shirley Temples and Summer Smoothies. Fun, but alcohol free. I just wanted sugar and delight. Our appies arrive and we eat on the patio in sunshine. Shortly after (3:30) Ben texts... it's done. I'm getting transported in 20 minutes. I really want a coco-cola slush.
What?! Really!? We demand our cheque and our server is amazing. We pay, leave half of our things on the table and rush out the 'This is NOT and EXIT' gate. We don't have time to care.
Is Ben serious about the slush? Lisa asks. I don't know, but it's our mission now. She drives and I goolge 7-11, Mac, slush, convenience stores. We see a CircleK on the map 1 block from the hospital and we step on it. She slams to a stop in the parking lot and I run in. It's 3:12... eighteen mintues to go.
I fill a small slush and yell at the shop owner: SEE THIS $5 FIVE DOLLAR BILL??? It's for THIS ONE SMALL SLUSH!!! I HAVE TO GO!!!! I drop it on the counter and run. Lisa's turned the car around and I hop in.
We arrive at 3:17 and I hope the transport is not early. My phone has died so I rush in. Daaaa..mmmm...itttt... Screeners block me. I can't explain fast enough WHO I am. This is my third time in TODAY. I try to rush the questions with my pre-emptive answers. No to COVID, No, to temperature, No to travel.... but the screener is not impressed. WHERE is your visitor bracelet then? She eyes the slurpee that I am trying to non-chalantly tuck under my purse/armpit. You need a visitor bracelet. She steps back to make 'the call' and I rush past... I'm sorry but I really have been here before... I have no time...
It feels awful to break the rules, but I am singular in my goal: See Ben.
I make it to his floor, uninterrupted and present the slush. He's delighted and takes it without any fanfare. In that same moment, the nurse gives him 4mg of hydromorh and the transport team arrives.
We pull the curtains back for full privacy and Ben gets dressed. No, he doesn't want my help.
The transport team has a gurney but Ben wants nothing to do with that either. He wants to walk to the van.
Slurping and walking on his own, he leaves me. He's strong and able. He feels better already.
Is this it? He's done? We just go? I'm in a tizzy with all the commotion of Ben leaving but I get it together and tell him I will see him back in Salmon Arm. They leave left and I must go right.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on July 2, 2020 at 6:20 PM||comments (0)|
Lisa had offered muffins while she was out but I declined. But now, a few minutes later, it's a different story. The lattes aren't enough and we go to a local restaurant for a snack.
It's slow and annoying. We wait in line, tables are sterlized, time drags. I understand why but today I just want to be given a pass. No more waiting, screening, health, COVid.
Just let me sit. And feed me. But I can't make this change, I can't rush the procedures and policies that ultimately I believe in, know they are for good reasons and choose to abide for health, safety and society. It's just that in THIS moment, I want the world to see me. See my hurt, see my journey, know my pain. And then, make special allowances for me.
|Posted by email@example.com on July 2, 2020 at 5:20 PM||comments (0)|
The hotel is amazing. It's right on the lake front. A true treat and a luxury I didn't expect. My sister and I turn in as soon as dinner is done (okay, full disclosure, probably 30 minutes later... but not like our usual nights together). We tuck into the queen size bed and sleep comes fast.
It doesn't last, though. I wake up at 6 and send Ben a hello. He's still in Salmon Arm. Transport is scheduled for some time this morning. We text for a while and by 8am he's off to rest again.
Lisa's so thoughtful. She brought nice shampoo and conditioner for us. Without her, I may not have even showered. It's one day. But a shower feels amazing and I needed it. It refreshes me, and good thing too... a long day ahead is about to start.
We go for breakfast and around 10:30 Ben texts that he is in the Kelowna General and his wife may visit. Now. We grab the tab, run to the car and zip to the hospital. It's only 2km down the road but it feels like forever to drive it.
We squeal into the main entrance, both car doors fling open- I run inside. Lisa runs to the drivers seat and she's off.
I am stopped by welcome/screening at the front door, but it's too slow for my liking.
COVid, coughing, temperature, travel. No, no, no, no.
The screeners make a call.
I'm anxious and I text Ben, I'm here, honey.
He sends a smiley.
The screeners say, yes, I'm on the list. I may proceed.
I find Ben in the GI ward (gastro-intestinal).
He's so cute in his hospital gown and bald head. And that smile! I saw him last night but it feels like forever. I slide into his curtained-off-zone and we chat. The transport was so-so, the hotel is great, yes I'm tired, yes it hurts. I sit at his feet and rub his legs. Swollen again.
I text Ben's sisters and ask them to fill in his mom. I don't want to make phone calls in the hospital.
Beep, beep. I check my phone. It's Lisa. I left with my car keys. Stupid buttons! Who makes cars these days! Argh. She pulled over and parked 4 blocks away. The car started screaming at her and she didn't know how far she could actually get without the key-free FOB. So, she's walking back for keys and I go to meet her. I tell the screeners, Oh hey, I'm just stepping out to give my sister keys... I will be right back in.
Keys to Lisa. Done. Hugs. Bye. Message soon. Yes, yes, of couse. I'm so glad my sister is here. I return to the hospital. I've been gone 2 mintues and 12 seconds.
The screeners pretend they have never seen me before in my life. They are appalled that I suggest they would remember me from a moment ago. And so the important entry routine begins again:
COVid, coughing, temperature, travel. No, no, no, no.
The screeners make the call. Again.
I wait. Again.
I'm annoyed and I text Ben, be back soon.
He sends a smiley.
The screeners say, yes, I'm on the list. I may proceed.(no, kidding.)
I return to Ben. A nurse stops by and tells us two others are ahead of Ben for GI surgery. Each surgery can be 30mintues to 2 hours. She will keep us posted. She never returns.
At 2:15pm the anesthesiologist comes to talk us through the procedure. It's now that I learn we are not removing the gall bladder. It's now that I learn that it could be a drainage or stent procedure. It's now that I learn it could be a futile surgery, success is not guaranteed. I ask about the effects of going under on the liver. The doctor explains that they will use different drugs- ones that don't filter through the liver - so that Ben is in the best state. I think of my uncle who was an anesthesiologist and this guy reminds me of him. Friendly, loving, helpful, kind.
At 2:20 the GI doctor comes by. He is stoic and all-business. He makes funny moves, sucking in with his teeth and lips. He is no-nonsense and fires through stats about complications, deaths and blood transfusions. 20%, 5% , 1 in 1000. His no-nonsense approach is great for Ben. Yes, I understand, yes to blood if needed, no, I don't have questions. It's fast and I am left wondering, what about me? Do I have questions?
But I have no time to process that. The GI doctor leaves. Ben imitates his mouth-gestures and I snicker. If Ben feels good, then I feel good. And this small giggle relaxes me a little. Once the doctors leave, Ben will be going in moments. He says, well I guess you can go. I'll text you when I'm done.
Reluctantly, I leave him. My sister picks me up with 2 coffees. We drive to a residental street and park, drinking lattes in silence.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on July 2, 2020 at 1:00 AM||comments (0)|
Dear Jaxon with an 'x'
You were our server tonight. My sister and I. We were weary travellers. We ate late and you served us. I felt bad that I wasn't dressed up, I wished I had the time and energy to look nicer in the beautiful hotel... but today I have cried so much that mascara doesn't stand a chance in any case.
Your smile lit up my heart...it's a great smile. You were delightful, energetic, on point with kind conversation. Your energy and personality were so easy going and natural. You were a light in my life this night and I wish I could have told you how much it meant to me. You have no idea the weight that is on my shoulders right now but you took care of my sister and I at dinner.
We talked about how great your name is- one of my favourites- Jackson- I have a cousin and a nephew with that name, but neither have that 'cool 'x''. You were sincere and pleasant and we joked about how you requested the 'x' on the day you were born... popped out and say, 'If you're cool, you're cool. Make that Jaxon with an 'x' please.' Like babies can talk. Like you had any say in your name. But you kabutzed with me and my sister about the whole name thing. It was goofy and it was perfect.
You made jokes about my 'doing dishes' when I couldn't find my bank card and quickly added that you would 'help me with that'....and I honestly think that is the kind of young man that you are.
You brought us Canada Day cupcakes from your staff room because the kitchen had closed by the time I was interested in dessert! They were mini red-velvet with tiny Canada Day flags. This act of kindness was too much. You were so kind and such a breath of fresh air in the midst of my chaos.
I bet you think you were only serving a couple of late night guests, diners who let the day get away on them. We were one of the last parties there on a Wednesday-mid-week night. But to me, you made a difference. You didn't sigh or show disdain for our late seating and you really lifted me up. Jaxon with an 'x'... thank you for being you. Thank you for showing love and kindness in such a beautiful way on the heaviest night of my life.
A night when I don't know what the future will hold. A night when I hope and pray ...that it... well, that it isn't my husbands last night. I don't think it will be... but I'm scared and I can't thank you enough for your service tonight.
Love, Kris with a 'k'
P.S. Happy Canada Day
NOTE: I sent this letter to the hotel to let them know how awesome Jaxon is.
|Posted by email@example.com on July 2, 2020 at 12:45 AM||comments (0)|
I am in a panic. I have to get this house ready... in case Ben is discharged to my care after surgery. Flip the sheets, wash the floors, scrub the toilet. Priorities for him. My exhaustion and neglect has added up in four days. Dishes, counters, dusting. It's all undone and I'm sweating and I power clean... late in the day. I know I have three hours of driving and tasks still to complete tonight as well....
Finally (around 6pm), I drive to Salmon Arm with a badly packed bag (for me!) and arrive to the hospital. It's my second time there today (I am so tired of the 22 minute drive, it's been multiple trips daily since he was admitted and I am ready for it to end.).
I pack up his laptop, clothing, shaving kit and wallet. We tuck his care card into his pocket and I've written a recipe card with my name, number and details as requested. He only needs minimal items for surgery day. Nothing of value. Nothing cumbersome.
After we say goodnight, I drive 22 minutes home again. I refresh Mia's water, food, change one last load of laundry and lock up. I drive 45 minutes to Coldstream and pick up Lisa. Together, we drive another hour and arrive in Kelowna just before 8pm. We check in. I'm starving, exhausted and a bundle of nerves.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on July 1, 2020 at 10:55 PM||comments (0)|
I was going to stay with a friend who lives close to the hospital in Kelowna. We have a cold in the house, she text me. I don't think you'll want to risk it. It's just a runny nose, but she, too, has had a cancer journey and understands the importance of health. Understands the risks of weak immune systems.
She's so loving and respectful and then she adds, "We have treated you to a hotel downtown. It's already booked. I'm emailing you the confirmation."
At first, my heart dips with disappointment. I was looking forward to staying with THIS friend! She has held me up countless times and been such a beacon of light... with cancer in particular. She's my squash and I'm her sunflower. It's a garden analogy- we grow together- one provides shade and shelter and one provides soil nutrients... I wrote a funny rap about how we were like these 2 vegetables once and it's just sort of stuck. Now, there's so many beautiful stories to this friendship squash/sunflower team... and I feel her love even in this change of plans.
I don't want to be alone in Kelowna, waiting, wondering, wishing. At the same time, I am so touched by her generosity and thoughtfulness. She has taken the problem-solving out of the equation for me and I am emotional about it.
Only moments later, I text my sister and lay it out... the plans, the cancellation, the hotel. Can you come with me? She doesn't hesitate: yes.
|Posted by email@example.com on July 1, 2020 at 7:10 PM||comments (0)|
Tomorrow is Ben's surgery. I am glad for the projects and busy work today to keep my mind off it. I'm excited for the surgery to work, to be the main source of pain- and have it FINALLY - be eliminated. That's my best wish and hope.
But I am also quite scared. I hope he is strong enough for this surgery and that everything goes super smooth. So many things have not gone smooth on this cancer journey...we are overdue for a gentle ride. Please let it be tomorrow. I can't even write about the risks and possible outcomes, all I want is to focus on the good, perfect result.
I want to bring my man home, plop him down on his own bed in our house. I want to walk him through his gardens and celebrate my award ceremony. I want to stop driving to the hospital two or three times a day and just relax for a while. And Mia misses him, too.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on July 1, 2020 at 7:10 PM||comments (0)|
Alenna and Preston have come out on July 1 - Happy Canada Day- to help with a few projects. The ladies start staining cedar wood for inside and Preston starts the garbage shelves. I do love a work crew. We are so blessed!
There's a light drizzle, but we manage to work under cover and stay dry.
The best part is they also take a truckload of plants to put for sale in their front yard. I'm so grateful and excited for Fullergreens to keep going. Hugs to all my love and support.
|Posted by email@example.com on June 30, 2020 at 11:05 PM||comments (0)|
Today I won four awards! I am the employee of the month at Fuller Greens.
Did I make up the categories myself? Yes.
Did I choose myself as the winner. Also, yes.
Was Ben smiling with delight when I showed him. Yes. So much yes. We had another evening visit at the hospital. He can't wait to be home again.
I told him I intend on having an awards ceremony at home, on Friday, after his surgery. I asked what he would be wearing.
Sweat pants and his "dress" crocks. (That's what we have donned the clean pair.)
I can't wait.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on June 30, 2020 at 4:25 PM||comments (0)|
My neighbours have cut the trim for our house to the sizes I need (the long way.. making a 1x6 into a 1x4 for a few oversights I made on my wood order).
When I was there going over the cuts, they sent me home with a freshly caught trout. They just made my day, and guess what? Now I feel like I CAN get the laundry done.
|Posted by email@example.com on June 30, 2020 at 12:25 PM||comments (0)|
While Ben is in hospital waiting for surgery, I thought, 'Great! Now I can really get things done in the house, too.'
One of my challenges has been navigating around him. His sleep, his being in the house constantly, his schedule. It's hard to run the dishwasher and laundry while being quiet. When to change the sheets without disrupting him. Even feeing the cat makes too much noise sometimes! And I know what it's like trying to rest when you can feel someone bustling around! So I try to balance the need for sterility and cleanliness... with Ben's needs.
I thought while he was away I would catch up on everything. I got 4 loads of laundry done and dishes. But now, it isn't going my way. Without him here, I don't feel motivated to do anything more. Instead, I've forced Mia into my arms (she gives me mad ears but starts purring at the same time so I know she's fine) and watched TV on his electric bed. Instead of getting up to stretch, I use the buttons to move my body. Up, down. Flat. I'm so tired.
The piles of things to do are small...but massive. The yard is done, but I can't seem to get to the house.
I have a book to do final edits on, too. But my brain can't seem to stay focused on that. My editor sent a gentle reminder yesterday, 'Are you close?'. No, Editor, not really. I'm on page 3. I'm doing my best but it's a lot.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on June 30, 2020 at 3:15 AM||comments (0)|
I love the help that comes to lift us up. Family and friends keeping Fuller Greens going in this first exciting year.
Well, it should have been a first exciting year. 2020 was it! He was ready! It was exciting to finally get it going for the public. Ben works so hard on being perfect in his garden arena. He wants perfect plants, perfect website, perfect everything. His business philosophy is the opposite of mine. I leap, jump and go for it...even when I'm scared, even when I don't feel ready. It's been different, even difficult to see his slower, methodical ways. And so, for 2020 to be planned, started and then rudely interrupted has been just heartbreaking. On so many levels, but especially for the green dream.
And when help comes to lift us up, we focus on the greens. The greens for Ben. Keeping his hope and his dream going while he recovers. While he is weak. It brings him so much joy. It's good for his spirit, heart, and mindset. When help shows up I am so grateful for this Ben-focus.
|Posted by email@example.com on June 29, 2020 at 1:45 PM||comments (0)|
Ben's mom will visit with him in the hospital today. She wants to but I also get a break!
My cousin is coming to do more yard work (her girls loved it!) and I am so excited. She's bringing lunch and I can't wait.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on June 28, 2020 at 8:50 PM||comments (0)|
Ben is scheduled for a gall bladder removal on Thursday in Kelowna.
They want to keep him admitted in hospital until then for pain management and monitoring his middle. I'm back and forth to the hospital three times today to visit and sit with him. It's so long and boring in this room. Sir-Farts-A-Lot is still in action, too. Poor Ben!
At the same time we feel peace for his pain management and 24 hour care. We had talked about this option with home care. The idea of checking him in to do 24 hour care for a few days and get it sorted out once and for all. The timeline has changed, that's all.
We were waiting for July 1st for that beautiful medical coverage to kick in. (That's what I get for celebrating on June 13! Only 17 days to go, my foot. We have had more services in the last 2 weeks than the last 2 months!)
But, my philosophy is the same. His care matters most. It's only more bills. I will figure it out.
I have always figured it out. It's been a while since I groused about it - about the MSP situation that Ben is in- and now I feel bad that it crossed my mind. That's the thing with 'letting things go'. It's not always smooth and easy.
|Posted by email@example.com on June 28, 2020 at 7:45 PM||comments (0)|
Ben has a roomate. Another cancer patient. There is a curtain between us but we can hear what is going on.
Farting. A lot of farting. He lets one go now!
I stifle a snicker and look at Ben.
He farts all night, Ben whispers to me. And we get the giggles. The silent giggles. I put my hand over my mouth. I can hardly control my laughter and we continue to hear toot,toot,toot, braaaaachk from the cot behind the curtain.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on June 28, 2020 at 3:45 AM||comments (0)|
I visit Ben in the hospital. His pain was as high as it's ever been. It was a 9 last night he says. I thought I was going to die.
I sit gently beside him on the hospital bed. How do you feel now? I ask him and he says much better. He wants to live, be alive! He wants to be home and keep planning. But last night was hard.
I cannot imagine a 9 /10 on pain for him. Thank goodness we were not at home he says and I choke back a sob. What would I have done? Yes, thank goodness.
|Posted by email@example.com on June 27, 2020 at 9:35 AM||comments (0)|
I wake up early. Mia is at my feet. (smiles)
I text Ben at 6am and he replies with a heart. (love)
Don't rush over, he says. They are getting me in for a CT scan and the doctor won't be here until noon. We text for a while and I go back to sleep with Mia.
Oh, Mia-Mia.... you're so tired... I say as I pet her. She stretches big and we snuggle together for more sleep.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on June 27, 2020 at 7:20 AM||comments (0)|
After Ben checks in, I wait in the parking lot until midnight.
I recline in the drivers seat and call my sister in Alberta. She's awake and good company for this midnight car. We talk about how tired I am, how much the pain is annoying and how good it is to be at the hospital. We talk about her boys and their farm. And we talk about me. Am I okay? Am I getting enough support? Yes. I feel loved.
Eventually Ben texts me to go home, he will spend the night at the hospital.