Leaves on the Current had her 3rd (of 10) sessions of radiation for her condition this afternoon. After she came back, we talked with her physician. The only reason she is not home already is that I needed time to prepare the room into which we are placing a hospital bed for the near future to help support her back. Several friends who live nearby came over to help me clean the room and move some furniture around. The TV is in that room, there is a bathroom and it is right next to the kitchen, all on the main floor of the house.
Leaves has asked that I not be too specific about her type of cancer and the location of her lesions. It is as the preliminary pathology report had informed us a blood-born cancer that so far is limited to a soft-tissue mass on her spine and several lesions in her spine. We will meet with her oncologist next Friday morning to plan the course of treatments after this round of radiation is complete. She will have chemotherapy as part of it.
The good news is that this is a very active area of cancer research, there are a variety of treatments that are available, and they are hopeful that within some months she will have enough strength in her back that she will not constantly have to wear her back brace, which she has named Gregor, after the character created by Franz Kafka, because she feel almost transformed into a bug or a beetle when she puts it on.
Let me offer a few more thoughts and observations.
We are hopeful that in the not too distant future she will be able to telework, both to stay connected with her work and to maintain her income- (she makes far more than me, and that has been true since we agreed on my leaving my previous career to become a teacher. I have often said that saved my life and it certainly saved my sanity. She assures me that in my caring for her I am now returning the favor.
We expect after perhaps another two weeks I will be able to return to work, although we may have either friends or a visiting nurse stop in to see her during the day while I am away.
She has been trained to test her blood sugar and to give herself insulin if necessary. We have a meter given us by the hospital, and we will get the insulin, pen, and testing strips tomorrow. She will only have to test herself once a day unless things change drastically.
The diabetic condition she has may well be temporary, but we are prepared for the possibility it could become Type II Diabetes Since she may have to return to steroids in the future, we are making some modifications in how we eat. The female of the friends who helped me today is herself diabetic and she brought over some diabetic foods and 10 recipes that are diabetic friendly.
As well as thoroughly shampooing the carpet in the room in which she will be staying, I got her a grasper to extend her reach and a sponge on a rod so that she does not have to twist and turn to clean herself. She would prefer to be independent in her grooming.
I also got a small table of the kind you can use to serve breakfast in bed. What is nice about this is it has a provision that enables you to prop up a laptop on it, which will enable her to telecommute. She is not to lift more than 8 pounds or so at a time, but she will be able to move it herself over to the side of the bed to get in and out without necessarily needing me.
Now I want you to imagine something.
Imagine someone who was in her younger days a serious ballet dancer.
Then later in life delighted in walking through our neighborhood, on beaches, in the woods, along mountain trails.
Now imagine that person will for several months every time they are going to stand up or sit up has to put on a bulky back brace with which she will need assistance putting on and taking off.
Now, before you think of that as a downer, as something depressing, consider this -
she will be out of the hospital.
So long as she has it on she can walk, she can sit.
Her spine will eventually strengthen.
She has an incredibly support system, of which I am only a small part.
She feels surrounded by love and sustained by prayers.
We have so many offers of assistance.
This will be the last of these, at least for now.
From time to time I will inform all of you again of her progress or if there are any setbacks.
We appreciate the prayers.
We will accept offers of assistance, and when I can get the house in a bit better order we will welcome visitors - since I expect to be home with her for at least the next two weeks we will have time for me to catch up on a lot of things I should have done some time ago.
We consider ourselves very lucky.
We consider ourselves rich in friends and in love.
Most of all, we are beginning to understand what it means to be truly committed to one another, not just in this life, but whatever may came afterward.
We are both fond of an English anchoress, Lady Julian of Norwich, who wrote down the visions she had when she was ill to the point of death.
Many know her words without knowing they are her words, because they are used by T. S. Eliot in what is perhaps the poem that means the most to me, Little Gidding, the last of his Four Quartets (which is a remarkable set of poems). Perhaps those who know the Eliot will recognize these words:
All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.
Lady Julian was as a result of her visions, or as she called them, "shewings" - very optimistic. The title of the book in which she recorded them is Revelations of Divine Love.
For me whatever it is I know of what others call God is in other people, it is the love and generosity of others as how I most experience what some call God's love.
Leaves is very rooted in her Orthodox Christian faith. Like Julian, she is viewing this as an opportunity to be closer to God. I believe that only happens when we open ourselves to the truest image/icon of God, the human being before us.
The easy part is to offer our own love.
It is hard to surrender and accept the love of others.
When we are infants we are dependent upon the love and caring of others.
We feel totally surrounded by love.
Perhaps one gift of being something of an invalid is to recognize that we are not alone, to be able to let go and accept love.
In 12-Step programs one is taught to "Let go and let God."
We start that by letting go and entrusting ourselves to others.
We might not be as infants, and yet there is something to be learned from infancy.
I have rambled enough.
The house is ready for the hospital bed to be delivered.
Now I will walk the 5 minutes to the hospital so my beloved is not alone in her last night in that hospital room, before she returns to our home, to be embraced in love by our four felines.
How blessed I am to be able to love and serve her.