Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Time of Illness

I had two days off. No schedule for radiation, but
The tests for clotting factor went on as usual
Without me. I rested like a long distance runner
My drug fueled system humming along as if I ran
On chemicals alone. Did you know that Warfarin is
Rat poison? This is proof to Z that all medicine is poison
To me it means that someone found a really good use for
Rat poison. I take twice as much Warfarin as Z to keep me
From blowing a gasket, to keep my heart humming along
Like a clock that runs a bit too fast, but steady as she goes.
The bruises that cover my arms and legs don't bother me at all.

Z hemorrhaged again last night but refused to go to the hospital.
She determines that she just needs to cut back on the Warfarin
I ask her why and she says, "What can they do? All they can do is
Give me a transfusion." I wonder why that is such a bad idea. I want
Oxygen. I want oxygen rich blood. I think they might give her Oxygen
But keep my mouth shut. I took her fresh peach cobbler hot from the oven
Vanilla ice cream. She eats it as if she were a starving child and I choke back
The truth that the peaches were purchased at the grocery store and were only
99 cents a pound. I make up a perfectly plausible story about my neighbors friend
Drew who grows peaches in Southern Utah for peach brandy. He always has too many
Brings a bushel basket for the neighbor who passes plenty to me for fresh peach cobbler
Thankfully she doesn't ask about the ice cream. It is Bryer's All Natural, Natural vanilla
She eats it like a starving child. I took certified organic red potato soup, organic milk,
Watermelon cut into bite sized pieces and chilled. I know from having spent a lot of time
With Z that she does not get enough fluids to stay well hydrated. I liked the idea that when
She was in the hospital they pumped fluids into her veins. She says it made her swell. Well,
Yes, when the tissue is hydrated it plumps with pulsing life.

I'm a woman who takes a handful of pills every morning with her first mug of latte.
I don't do a lot of research on the drugs I take or study inserts for dire
Side effects.
Life has some nasty side effects. Life can kill you.
Don't we start dying from the moment we're born?
I took so many risks, still do, daring death to take me
Like a lover, who sees an opportunity when I sleep
I should be so lucky

So, the schedule is set for this week. Radiation every day
Clotting factor and food are on Z's agenda and mine
If all her radiation treatments are in the afternoon
I can take her, park the car and wait with a book
Patiently. I hope I live up to her expectations
I hope I don't disappoint her. Today it was peach
Cobbler and vanilla ice cream, tomorrow begins
The hard part, now that the tumor is bleeding
She's no longer just getting rid of the blood clots
In her lungs. Now the tumor is bleeding. Isn't that
A bad thing? I try not to show my extreme distress
I come home and take a handful of pills with my
Evening cup of Earl Grey Tea and smoke half a dozen
cigarettes. I resolve to keep on doing what I'm doing
As if it will protect me from her loss. What are the odds?


Beach Bum said...

I hope I live up to her expectations
I hope I don't disappoint her.

All we can do is the best we can.

Utah Savage said...

I know but... She's my only sister so to speak. I live so differently. She lives so strangely to me. I to her. How can I not disappoint? I've never really felt I'd done my best. I always disappointed someone in my life. This has a bit to do with my choosing to live alone. But with so few connections to other people, the possible loss of one I never thought I'd lose is unthinkable, yet I think about it every day. She seems to be slipping through my fingers and into deaths.

Lisa said...

You are there instead of running from it. From where I sit, that's an enormous gift to Z and I'm sure, even as she contemplates what comes next, she recognizes that.

AirmanMom said...

my heart sings and hurts all at the same time, while reading your words.
It's all as it is meant to be...some days it sucks, other days hopefully won't suck as much!

PENolan said...

Even if Z is slipping into death's fingers, - at least she's eating peach cobbler you made with your own hands, filled with love.

Utah Savage said...

Odd that it is only in reading your comments that I see death galloping toward us and... My throat tightens and the future stretches out in front of me like an empty road. But without you I'd be truly alone and lost. Thank you for hanging in there when all I talk about is cancer and the possible loss of this battle. I know Anita is disgusted with me for making my friend's cancer all about me. So it's hard not to be disgusted with myself. But if I don't talk about this, I'd have no place to put my feelings.

I have proven a poor friend to all of you. I do not visit now that I can think of nothing but what comes next in the horrible journey we're on. I'm terrified she's waited too long, thinking it was something else. How could someone who took her health so seriously that she eats nothing that isn't certified organic be facing death, while I poison myself with beef, pork, melons imported from Guatemala so I can eat cantaloupe whenever the urge hits.

Dada said...

Utah: No need for apologies. I love when you write like this, for in talking of death stalking, you are speaking of life. And, oh, reading you, what better friend could one have at such a time of need than someone like you?


Utah Savage said...

I find the rest of life squeezing me. They tree guy called tonight to schedule for tomorrow. He says his crew can be in by eleven and out by one. That's cutting it close. I can't possibly be late, so if they run long or show up late I will have to cancel. Then Tuesday I have therapy. That can do nothing but help. Still it seems obscene that life goes on.

Fran said...

Oh this is a rough journey..... you have to take it one day at a time. Please don't apologize-seriously- you are fully immersed in this situation w someone near & dear.
Remember~ you need to care for the caregiver too.

Since hydration is an issue, does Z like those Super Green drinks? Odwalla makes a nice blend.... they have all kinds of good stuff & some calories to them as well.

Maybe she might chug down some of that & get liquid & nutrients down the hatch @ the same time?

Keifer is good too, if she is handling dairy OK.

Does she have a case of bottled water in her room?
Sometimes just having it there makes it easy to keep hydrated.

Just throwing out random ideas.

I'm thinking good thoughts & trying to come up w creative ideas to help. Take what you need & leave the rest.

Anonymous said...

You're doing the best you can, that's all anyone can do. And you're not here to live up to anyone else's expectations of what is the "right" way to handle this, feel about it, or anything else. Anita clearly has issues that have absolutely nothing to do with you or how you're handling things with Z. Why she has decided to take them out on you - in a public forum, no less - is anyone's guess. Let her keep her shit - it's hers to deal with. You don't need it. Especially right now.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and ps - I ate a lot of watermelon when I was going through my cancer treatments - it helped with rehydration. Just a suggestion.

Sherry said...

you are doing wonderfully well. take this from another that never seems to live up to her own expectations.

no one except my late grandfather and perhaps one of my uncles(but he lived out of state)ever accepted me for the way i am without trying to "improve" me.

so, from one who knows-you rock!

Gail said...

Hi Utah-

When my sister's husband was dieing of cancer so much of what he went through is like Z and so much of what my sister went through is like you. I recall her always questioning if she was doing enough for him, or the right thing for him - she agonized over her self-doubt. SO what you are feeling is so normal when you are the primary support for a loved one during a time like this.

Love to you

D.K. Raed said...

wanted you to know I read and then can't think of anything to say. pretty much a first for me. just know I admire you and the way you are handling this so much. it is not your illness, it is your friend's illness and possible death that makes you feel ill. hope the tuesday session goes well. you cannot change the end, for you or anyone, all you can do is be where you are doing what you can.

Cat said...

I doubt very much that she is disappointed in having someone like you in her life. In fact I would imagine she would see her life as being blessed because of you being there the way you are. Peach cobbler and all.

The Peach Tart said...

There may have been choices you made over the years that disappointed her but you have done nothing but be there for her, taking such loving care of her, probably to the detriment of your mental health. Everyone makes mistakes and no one should judge another. You are being so good to Z. Blessings to you both.

La Belette Rouge said...

Loving her is enough. You don't have to understand her or agree with her. Really, loving her during this illness is even more important than agreeing with her. The gift of friendship you are giving her is extraordinary. Where did you learn to be such a nurturer? Please do some nurturing for you.

Utah Savage said...

LBR, I learned to nurture by knowing what I was not given and knowing that it was what was needed. What was missing was always what was needed. I treated others as I wish I had been treated.

Fran, she will only drink "magic water." I have no idea who is supplying this water but it is all she'll drink. I bet it's expensive because she drinks it in tiny sips. She has a big container of it in her bathroom which is only a few steps from her bed.

I take watermelon cut into bite sized pieces. She eats it like candy. This is good.

Freida Bee, MD said...

Just keep making her peach cobblers- maybe blackberry cobblers, tomato bisques, and pumpkin loaves, too. Keep busy and eat your wonderful creations with her.

I also recommend asking her to marry you and going on a honeymoon.