Sunday, September 19, 2010

Still surprised sometimes

I am surprised at how strong the grief can still be at times. Most days, I don't have the overwhelming, intense grief that seemed to be my constant companion during the first year following Keith's death. Somewhere along the way this summer, the grief became less intense and the surges of big grief became less frequent as well.

I have really become comfortable with the grief that I do carry around with me daily. There are times when I miss Keith with an intensity that my heart simply aches. Those times are usually limited to something with the kids or some kind of goal I've met. You know, the kinds of things that a wife shares with her husband who is also her best friend.

The past few days have been days that the grief has been more intense. So much is changing within our family and it just doesn't seem right that Keith isn't here to have in a part in it. I'm not going to go into the minutiae of all the changes, but it's all good stuff. It's normal living for the most part. It's living a life that isn't entirely focused on the treatment of cancer and the end of that battle. It's being able to get into a routine that doesn't include spending hours and hours in the chemo clinic several days a week.

My heart is aching tonight for my sweet husband. I miss him. It still catches me off guard sometimes...even more than a year later.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

14 months

I haven't posted in a while about how long it has been since Keith died. I haven't needed to. For a while after his death, writing about exactly how long it had been served a good purpose for me. It helped me come to terms with the reality of Keith's death. It is very difficult to truly come to terms (both in your heart and in your mind) with the death of your loved one. It doesn't matter if the death was expected or sudden. It is tough to come to terms with the finality of death.

In keeping up with the hours, then days, weeks, months, and finally reaching the one year mark, I have been able to reach a point emotionally and mentally that I can DEAL with the results of Keith's death. I finally crossed over into the land of acceptance. It didn't all come in one fell swoop or happen overnight. It happened in little pieces all during the last year. It is a healing wound.

Why am I posting about how long it's been now? I've been thinking about it a lot this week. It struck me that this 7th was exactly on the day that Keith died. I haven't been overcome with a huge amount of grief. I actually have found that while there is grief, there is also a huge measure of healing that has taken place. My emotions have been closer to the surface this week than I have experienced in a while. I find that I have needed to cry some this week. That's fine. I cry when I need to.

I miss Keith. Some days, I miss him with a longing that is so intense I still expect him to walk through the door. I have realized that what I miss is the "well" Keith. I miss everything about him. In accepting his death, I have come to terms with the loss of the dream that we would return to that life one day. I had to accept that my life is meant to continue on without Keith. That is another level of acceptance that is very difficult to reach and CAN NOT be rushed.

I still have work to do though. I am still coming to terms with the reality of life after his death. I have to live. I have to take care of my children. I have to find some kind of gainful employment to take care of us. I am only one person. I have limitations. I am a single parent. I am the go to guy. I am my children's rock. I am the _________ (fill in the blank, and it probably applies).

I do realize that the work that I have to do is work that I will always be doing. When Keith died, I became the most important person in our children's lives. Sounds weird, but hang with me a sec...The kids went from two solid parents to one solid, but grieving parent. That shakes up a kid. I know when my dad died (I was 22), it shook my very foundation, even though I was married and had a baby. I see some of that in my kids. The death of their dad shook their foundations...AND why wouldn't it?!

Death should shake your foundation. It should make you question your mortality, where you go when you die, how will you survive the death of someone you love. It should be difficult to deal with if only because death is permanent. Once absolute death occurs it can not be reversed. Death is forever.

As the realization and acceptance that surround death begins to settle in, the children begin to realize just how much their lives have changed and are continuing to change. As their only living parent, I KNOW that I will be the most important person in their lives for a very long time. They don't have two anymore. They only have one.

Keith has been gone 14 months. This week I feel every one of those months apart. It's been a tougher week than I have had in a while. It's okay though...that is how grief works.

As always, I strive to remain...

In His Grip!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Update on Nick 9/3/10

Yesterday proved to be one of the longest days we have had in the clinic in a long time. We arrived shortly after 8:00 and we didn't leave until 5:00. That is certainly a full day.

The checkup went well...mostly. The oncologist has decided to hold off on any chemotherapy for now. He wants to wait until some kind of symptom presents. That is not an unusual way to approach the kind of cancer Nick has. Right now, the cancer is acting as an immunological deficiency. The doctor is wanting to wait until the cancer is acting like a cancer.

How will we know? The doctor is watching several different things for signs of a change. He is keeping a check on the size of Nick's spleen, different blood counts that would indicate anemia, pain levels in the back and abdomen, unexplained nausea or fevers. The onset of any one of these will be closely watched in order to establish a pattern. Once a pattern develops, the decision to begin chemotherapy will be made.

A couple of things that the doctor noted during the checkup yesterday: two of the blood test results were a little bit lower than last month, and Nick's spleen seemed a little larger during the physical exam. The differences were not significant to indicate that a pattern is being established. It is, at this point in time, something the oncologist will be watching. He feels that overall Nick looks good and everything is okay.

Nick's IGG level was low...again. Last month's mega dose of IVIG (750 ml-regular dose is 350 ml), did help some. Nick's IGG level yesterday was in the 400s instead of in the 200s. That is good, but since the low end of normal is about 750, Nick still has a long way to go. The IVIG dose Nick received yesterday was 550 ml. We didn't go with another mega dose yesterday because Nick had a rough night after the dose last time. The doctor decided to split the difference and see how Nick did with it.

Nick did very well during the infusion and during the night last night. One thing that might have helped is that the IVIG was run very slowly yesterday. I don't think it was intentional since there was a nurses meeting that our infusion nurse was attending. We had a couple of nurses that were watching over Nick and the rates didn't get increased at the normal pace.

Honestly, I was not happy about it yesterday because we were there all day long and I was tired. Seeing how well Nick felt and how good his night was, I'm counting it as an unexpected blessing.

We will go back in 4 weeks for another checkup, blood work, and IVIG. The decision on chemotherapy will be reevaluated with each checkup. The doctor has decided that when chemotherapy becomes necessary, he will begin with the mild chemo. He was very attentive to Nick's concerns about taking the aggressive therapy. Follow-up CT and PET scans will likely be sometime around December. The doctor doesn't want to wait too long and miss something.

Please pray as God leads you.

In His Grip,
Kristy Baxley