Tuesday, December 06, 2011

6th December

Well the rollercoaster ride of grief continues… and today I’m still on the up which is a real relief. I’ve spent too much time in recent days and weeks feeling far too upset for comfort. I’m fed up with giving myself headaches, with the subsequent relapse into Chronic Fatigue, through crying so much. So today I haven’t got upset at all, not even a little bit. And I’ve even been able to think about Jane with something akin to fondness for much of the day, which is quite a remarkable achievement. More normally I would zoom in on the traumatic events of her final few hours and days, or look back to the years of battling for her life. But at the moment I’m finding it really helpful to continue seeing her as she lives today, in her new heavenly home, rather than as she died in mine. I still find it so terribly painful remembering how she died and somehow I need to see that time differently.

But I do feel so grateful that I was able to make Jane as comfortable as possible all the way through her ordeal. I literally held her hand through almost every hospital interview for well over 5 years, and most of them brought bad news. I kissed her goodbye as she was wheeled into operating theatres and then sat waiting for hours in high dependency units until she came out of anaesthesia. Every day for weeks I sat waiting as she endured radiotherapy. She called me at midnight the second her selectron treatment ended and I drove both her and her room-mate home. Her first experience of chemotherapy almost killed her and yet a couple of years later I found myself sitting beside her for a final attempt at extending her life with another poisonous infusion. We lived on a crazily complex organic vegetarian diet for almost a year. When on a ward, and the days added up to many months, I would sit by her bedside for the entire visiting time allowed and later we’d text. During her final few days I pushed myself beyond a place of total exhaustion to ensure her comfort and medical care were the best possible in the environment of our own home. I didn’t sleep or really eat for her last 3 days; I could have done no more. I do not regret one minute of the attention I gave to Jane, though her ill health transformed both our lives for several years. Indeed I have to say that if I had not given myself so fully I would today be feeling horribly guilty wondering if one slightly different decision or one extra prayer might have changed her pathway. And conceivably that is true, though I don’t actually believe it to be the case. No, I gave Jane my all, holding nothing back and can have no regrets or concerns that things could have been different.

It was horribly traumatic for both me and my 4 kids but Jane remained at peace, relatively comfortable and basically pain free all the way through. Having both lungs filled with massive growths is a horrible way to die. But she remained in control of her medication levels, seeking to remain as alert as possible, and I looked after her personal care. To the end she was fresh and clean and her hair was tidy, she even wore her perfume, and she was able to spend her final hours with all 4 children and myself in our lounge, albeit transformed with an electric profile bed.

So why look back at all this stuff? I did not intend to write about it this evening, it just all started coming out. And in the writing I feel a real assurance that I did well by Jane, I not only did all I could, I also did all the ‘right’ things. So when I look back I feel comfortable that in one sense all was well, I need have no personal doubts to take into my future. I have zero guilt or doubt about any decision or action and no complaints about her clinical care either. The simple fact is that leiomyosarcoma is the real villain, not me or anyone else.

So Jane’s all right now on her new adventure in heaven and I’m all right now as I progress on my journey through grief. I will get there and I will build a new life and it will be good. One day Jane and I will meet again, but in the meantime I plan on having a few more decades to enjoy planet earth, so I’ll be ready for a new adventure sometime soon! Maybe…

Romans 8:1 ‘So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.’ (NLT)

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