Search This Blog

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Life continues to show us how unpredictable it can be.

We've had an eventful week. We were doing ok, adapting to Suzie's increased care needs and trying to bring some interest and activity into the rare occasions when Suzie wasn't too sleepy to cope with it. We'd managed a 'run out' in the car a couple of times to get a change of scene, and we'd had a couple of visitors.
Last Wednesday Suzie was a little more sleepy than usual, but not showing any indication that anything was particularly wrong. She's on a lot of medication, recovering from the very traumatic chest drain procedure, not to mention being less than three weeks into this course of chemotherapy, so when she asked me to put her to bed at 7.30pm we both thought she just needed all the rest she could get. I checked on her a few times and she was sleeping soundly and peacefully, so I decided to go to bed early with my iPad so that I could be next to her whilst I got some much needed rest too. It sounded good in theory!
Suzie has often talked in her sleep, and she began to do so that evening, but with a level of intensity that was rather more extreme than usual. It was as though every area of her past life was being unearthed and thrown ferociously into the room. I gently reassured and pacified her, and she would be calm for a few minutes, but then a different fear or 'rant' would erupt, and so it went on for quite some time. At one point she even demanded that I go to the shop to get her some cigarettes.... We gave up smoking a long time ago!! She was quite insistent on this one, and the only way I could stop it was to ask her 'Does your Dad allow you to smoke?' When she replied that he didn't I said that I couldn't possibly go against him. She accepted this, apologised and said good night! 
Things gradually settled down and I dozed off briefly, but I was awoken just after 1am by Suzie calling me to take her to the loo. I got her out of bed and quickly realised something was very wrong. She was quite hot and sweaty, and she wasn't with it at all. I did a few basic checks, the results of which prompted an immediate phone call for an ambulance. My call was answered swiftly and I explained my concerns and reported my observations - blood oxygen level under 80%, temperature 37.9 and pulse rate 150 beats per minute, plus other relevant info.... recent chest drain and current chemo status etc. I was put on hold for less than a minute, then told to put the lights on outside as the ambulance would be there very soon. It actually pulled up outside our house as we were speaking. The paramedics did their own checks, Suzie's temperature had increased to 39 degrees, her blood pressure was very low, and her breathing was getting worse so there was no doubt she was seriously ill. I had made the 999 call at 1.20am and we were in the Hospital A&E dept. by 2am. That was pretty impressive by anyone's standards!
During the hours that followed Suzie was given three lots of IV antibiotics, various other IV medications, she was put on a saline drip and she had a chest x-ray. There were Doctors and Consultants coming and going frequently as the day unfolded and we had some rather scary moments along the way. The hardest conversation we had was with a lovely Doctor who had the incredibly difficult and sensitive task of going through the 'What if' questions that they have to ask regarding resuscitation, CPR and life support options. God willing, we're nowhere near the point of making 'end of life' decisions yet, but it brought the reality of what we're facing into rather uncomfortably sharp focus.
At 7pm that evening a miracle happened and Suzie was moved to Turner Ward, which is a very calm and tranquil cancer ward where beds are like gold dust! She was put in a light and spacious side room which has its own en suite facilities and is very peaceful. I found out later that it is a 'Neutropenic' isolation room that is used for vulnerable patients in order to protect them from infection. Suzie is having regular treatment to help her breathing and she is still on antibiotics and a saline drip. She's had a CT scan and we will find out more about the results and treatment options next week. 
The last few days have been very 'up and down' with some very precious and beautifully peaceful moments of calm, and some less welcome times of extreme anxiety and distress. When I arrived this morning Suzie was particularly distressed and her breathing was alarmingly bad. As the day went on she became calmer, but this evening she was very unsettled. It took over two hours for me to get her comfortable in bed and settled enough to leave her. It was suggested by one of the staff that it might be beneficial for Suzie if I were to stay overnight, but after discussion with the senior nurse it was agreed that this wouldn't be sustainable for any length of time and maybe should be kept as a 'safety net' option, with the assurance that they could call me any time of the night and I would come straight over. I made it clear that I would be perfectly happy to stay with Suzie 24/7 if it would be beneficial, and both Suzie and the staff seemed to be reassured by that.
Amidst all the medical drama I did get to enjoy a lovely family occasion on Friday as we celebrated the Wedding of my darling little sister and her delightful fiancĂ©. We had previously arranged for a very dear friend to look after Suzie for the day, so she said she would pop in and spend a bit of time with Suzie at the hospital so that I could feel able to enjoy our family celebration. As it turned out, her 'pop in' was actually a 5 hour stay at Suzie's bedside, feeding her, attending to her personal care, accompanying her for a CT scan and generally doing everything I would have done. We are so blessed to have such a special friend. With the exchange of a few text messages and a phone call to the ward I was confident enough that Suzie was ok and I was able to relax and enjoy this important occasion with my wonderful family. It was a perfectly beautiful day. My sister and her new husband both looked gorgeous, and it was so lovely to share in their special day. I enjoyed some quality time with all my family and it was a truly blessed occasion. I arrived home soon after 9pm where I was joined by another very special friend who came round to have a nightcap with me...... Four and a half hours and a bottle or so of wine later she went home and I went to bed, where I slept soundly for over six hours. It was the perfect end to a special day.
With everything else going on I nearly forgot that, today (or should that be yesterday now?) I also celebrated my birthday! I was moved beyond words by the many cards, texts and Facebook messages I received, and I was delighted to see our Rowcroft Hospice fundraising get ever nearer our target. 
So now, as we look towards the coming week, with all its uncertainty and apprehension, we rely ever more fully on God's sustaining grace to give us the strength we need. We don't know what the coming weeks will bring, but we hold fast to the knowledge that our lives are safely held in the tender hands of our loving God.
Thank you to all my wonderful friends and family. I love you all so much. xxxx