Was it Monday or Tuesday of last week that I got "the call" from my sister-in-law, "come now" she said, and after checking with the carriers, it seemed that driving over would get me there as fast as flying would. He was not in good shape when we arrived. The plan was to keep him comfortable (pain-wise) and basically ... let him drift away. He is not a candidate for surgery, I say that ... they will "do" surgery (a second bypass to work around the blockage) if doing so is less life-threatening then not ... he may not survive a surgery and ... the upside to a surgery is the potential time it buys. Surgery would also mean no chemo while he's healing (if he heals ... cancerous tissue doesn't heal well, and there aren't any great places to "go in" at).
At some point
Tommy decided to try to get unblocked ... he thought maybe it was a food blockage that would eventually resolve ... and as they relieved pressure behind the blockage (via NG tube) he did begin to feel gas seeping through. That was encouraging. The doctors said a passage might open up enough for flow to resume. Steroids combined with balancing pressure in his digestive tract just might give him another shot ... more time. And it did. Today he is on a clear liquid diet which is moving through him nicely. Yesterday he had tomato soup, but that was too much and slowed things down too much. Various possibilities have been discussed and I am satisfied that he is perfectly able to handle this ... there is a lot to balance. I am impressed at how thoughtfully my brother navigates this time. He wants a few days at home. He says he would rather die at the hospital, but he would like to go home again for a while (and hopefully a long while). He also entertains the possibility that "this" is just another bump in the road to remission ... he is really hoping to get back to "killing cancer" as he calls it.
There was a day
last week when he seemed completely resigned to dying (yeah, I'm using the real word for it as I talk to myself ... it is a hard word, as hard as life). I could respect that ... the reality was that his team was saying, "days, possibly weeks" ... but it didn't seem like Tommy. It was difficult to sit still with him knowing that he was silently pondering the possibilities. Somewhere underneath his closed eyes he found a ray of hope which reignited his spirit, spirit as in determination to fight this thing. I don't know what's going to happen in the next few days. It seemed a vote of confidence for me to come home and light up the Christmas tree ... do some hot glue stuff ... menu planning and shopping ... Christmas stuff. I'll head back over there early Thursday and stay for awhile (maybe he will get to come home ... but if he doesn't we will bring "home" to him).
"You see that glove up there in the light box thing? I wonder if that is a fire hazard", he asked/said once when he opened his eyes. It took me a second to find it ... you can see it only as it is reflected in the mirror. Latter that day the nurse supervisor came in to see how things were going as far as how he felt about the care he was/is receiving from the nurses (they spoil him relentlessly). He bragged on everyone by name, citing specific kindnesses (... the cleaning lady has brought in a card of Catholic Jesus which Tommy told me to tape to the window blind ... he likes that she did that for him because it is an act of mercy which reaches across so many conventions ... it is a demonstration of grace). As the nursing super rose to leave he asked me if there was "any tiny little thing" that I could think of to make Tommy's time with them better. I smiled and said ... you can join us in guessing how that glove got there. It took a bit of maneuvering to get him positioned to see the glove, "What are you people doing in here!?!" he laughingly exclaimed when he finally saw it. Too funny. I guess you spend a few days in the same spot you're going to notice a glove hiding in a lighting cornice. Ms. Mercedes had just the right cleaning tool on her cart to scoop it out when she made her sweet way through his room the next day.
Sister-in-law just called ... all systems go for Tommy going home tomorrow. Time for me to run a few little errands and find a big bow for that front door wreath ... !