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Consumed by Overwhelming Grief


The drummer's wife

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My wife is dying of colon cancer.

She became very ill in January, 2013. We took her to the hospital and an intestinal blockage was discovered. The biopsy revealed it was cancer (Stage IV) and it had spread to her liver.

They performed an anastomosis. She came home in February and seemed to be doing much better through March. Then in early April she got sick again.

This time they discovered two additional blockages; one in the colon and one in the rectum. They performed an ileostomy and inserted a gastrostomy.

They discovered the cancer had spread like wildfire to the peritoneum. They attempted chemotherapy (FOLFOX) and it nearly killed her. She went into AFIB and suffered renal failure.

Now they say we must consider hospice. She's in a skilled nursing facility because she needs 24-hour care and I have to work. I feel like a complete and utter failure.

I go to see her every day and she's handling it as well as can be expected. There were so many days when she was so very sick. Convulsive retching and vomiting.

She's lost 30 pounds off a 145 pound frame. She's all skin and bone. They say maybe three months.

I can't for the life of me make any sense of this. Why her? A completely harmless and innocent person who never hurt anybody.

I sit here at work, consumed by grief and guilt. She was doing so well in March I thought maybe together we could beat this thing.

She's 57; I'm 53. We've been married 21 years. We have no children because we met so late in life.

Any thoughts appreciated.

HK

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HK, I'm so sorry. Our circumstances are similar in various ways. My beloved also lost a ton of weight, such that people were shocked when they saw her. And when I lost her I felt (still often feel) like a total failure. But you are no doubt doing the best you can given the situation, try to remember that. You're only human. I hope this place can help you, whether to answer questions or just vent or whatever. Also suggest you check the "Partner" area. There are also some good forums elsewhere on the 'net if you look around a bit. Thoughts and prayers to you and your wife -

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HK, I too am so very sorry that you are going through this terribly difficult time with your wife. I can relate to all that you are feeling. My own husband went into the hospital this winter for what we felt was a routine colonoscopy. After several hours we were informed that he had a "significant problem". A large tumor was found that was about to form a complete blockage. Biopsies were taken and further tests given. The end result is that he was unfortunately found to have end stage three colon cancer. He too is suffering from significant weight loss and fatigue, etc. Major surgery was performed and several feet of his colon and surrounding lymph nodes were removed. He is now taking the Folfox chemo treatment for six months. We are only into the third one this week. Please do not feel as if you are a failure. Your wife would most certainly not want that! You are doing everything humanly possible that you can. I wish I had the answers to your questions. I feel the same way to most of what you are experiencing. You must take good care of yourself. Try not to get run down. She needs your support more then ever. Why not try talking to others on the various sites that are also in this same situation. it does help to know that there is a place where you can let it all out and be open and honest about your fears, etc. People here get it. They are walking in your shoes. I am really sorry that she is having to go through this. I can only hope that she is under the care of good doctors and a dedicated health team working on her behalf. Stay strong. I know it is hard. I will be thinking of you. Good luck. Kate

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Thank you kate and widower2. I knew there must be other people out there that have gone through this and survived.

I guess in some ways I've been fortunate. My father died at 52 when I was 5 and my mother just simply died one day (out of nowhere) at 78.

I never really had to deal with the prolonged agony of colon cancer before; where the person just slowly withers away before succumbing to malnutrition and starvation.

Malnutrition and starvation, in the midst of plenty. It was just so damn FRUSTRATING to not be able to get her to eat.

I have these horrible, horrible dreams where either it's actually me with the ileostomy and jejunostomy or I'm "pushing her down".

You know, like you'd "push a kid down" on the playground when you were a kid? Why do I have horrible dreams like that? I never laid a finger on her in anger.

I just keep schlepping along, day after day after day. Doing her laundry, paying the bills, eating dinner with her, playing some cards.

Just cannot understand "why her"?

How in god's plan was it preordained that she would have to suffer like this? And why?

HK

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I just lost my wife to colon cancer 6 days ago. She spent 3 weeks in the hospital until the oncologist recommended Hospice. He said there's nothing more they could do for her and that she was suffering. She was there three day's. I lost her on the 3rd of July. I'm on this site now trying to come to terms with her death, I am not doing well at all, and I have 2 children 15 and 8 years old that I promised my wife I'd stay strong for, and I am failing that promise to her. I feel like garbage, How could I do that. I am failing her and my children.She didn't even have cancer 13 months ago. My wife was only 35 years old. I'm thinking of asking our doctor about meds to help keep me stable, at this point I'll try anything. I am very sorry that my post doesn't have any helpful advice, I'm very sorry you have to go through this also. I came back to this site after just now picking up my wifes ashes and was having a very hard time when I came across your post's and saw that our situations had many similarities. Again very sorry, didn't mean to shift focus or highjack your thread, I apoligize . Best of luck to you.

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Jeff's Mom

Bobby Lee, I am so very sorry for your loss. I do know how difficult it can be to sit back and helplessly watch a loved one slowly wither away. Please do take good care of yourself, and hopefully in time you will begin to see the pain soften somewhat. I do think that perhaps asking your family physician for meds to help you over this difficult period would not be a bad thing. Anything that would help in a positive way is an area to explore. HK, so very, very difficult to have this thrust on us. I have absolutely no idea about why this must happen to people. Yes, the core facts of how we watch them die is horrific. My MIL also spent two months in hospital while we watched her starve to death. I will say that they kept her as comfortable as was humanly and legally possible. Perhaps in watching her die this way it is why I am so frightened for my husband. I would not ask an animal to go through this. I simply do not know what is in the cards for him at this point. We are just taking it each and every day. What else can we actually do? As to your dream? I have absolutely no idea what it represented. Have you considered seeking grief therapy? Perhaps they would be able to explain the meaning of this dream. At any rate, I am thinking of both of you and wishing you some degree of peace. Please do take care of yourselves. Kate

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We're into the final days now, perhaps the final hours.

My beloved wife developed a fever on Saturday. They discovered she had developed an infection near her port implant.

She was unresponsive on Sunday. I sat with her for hours, but I don't believe she was aware that I was there.

She came around a bit on Monday. They moved her out of the ICU and into a private room.

She's confused. She keeps asking me where is her purse and where is her car? I keep telling her everything is fine.

She doesn't remember anything about Friday, Saturday or Sunday. She keeps asking me why I wasn't there (I was). I just tell her I was there honey, you just don't remember.

It's the most heartbreaking thing imaginable. I can't see how anyone could ever be the same after an experience like this.

It will almost be a relief when her suffering, her nightmare, her horror, is over.

HK

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We're into the final days now, perhaps the final hours.

My beloved wife developed a fever on Saturday. They discovered she had developed an infection near her port implant.

She was unresponsive on Sunday. I sat with her for hours, but I don't believe she was aware that I was there.

She came around a bit on Monday. They moved her out of the ICU and into a private room.

She's confused. She keeps asking me where is her purse and where is her car? I keep telling her everything is fine.

She doesn't remember anything about Friday, Saturday or Sunday. She keeps asking me why I wasn't there (I was). I just tell her I was there honey, you just don't remember.

It's the most heartbreaking thing imaginable. I can't see how anyone could ever be the same after an experience like this.

It will almost be a relief when her suffering, her nightmare, her horror, is over.

HK

I am so sorry you have to go threw this, I do know what your going threw. Very, very similar indeed, the eating( or lack of) and the not being able to communicate well with them, like there confused. I myself was not prepared for that part, and found it the hardest to deal with. Best of luck to you in this very difficult time.
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Hardknox, Oh almost forgot, although your wife seems confused, continue to talk to her normally as she is still in there and can most definitely here you. Advise I received from my Hospice nurses for my wife, that seemed to ring true, and did help.So sorry, again my condolences.

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although your wife seems confused, continue to talk to her normally as she is still in there and can most definitely here you.

I do. I did.

Yesterday her niece brought her newborn baby to visit. My wife actually "perked up a bit" and seemed to enjoy holding the baby against her chest.

It was nice to see her smile again. Her eyes are so sunken and dark.

The most heartbreaking moment was when my wife took my hand and said that her illness was "serious" and that "she probably wouldn't be coming home".

Yes, I know honey. I know your illness is serious. I've been taking care of you for the past six months.

Bobby Lee, your wife was only 35? That's horrible. My wife is 58 and that's way too young to die.

I have a real good idea of what you and your wife went through Bobby. I've been living it the past six months.

Colon cancer is a vicious, brutal disease.

All we (the survivors) can do is keep schlepping along, one day at a time.

HK

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Hardknox, Oh almost forgot, although your wife seems confused, continue to talk to her normally as she is still in there and can most definitely here you. Advise I received from my Hospice nurses for my wife, that seemed to ring true, and did help.So sorry, again my condolences.

You bring up an excellent point:

EVERYONE should ALWAYS talk to their loved one "as if they were still there" - BECAUSE THEY ARE. Obviously they are "there," and nobody truly has much if any idea how much a person in their final days is "really there," maybe it's just they can't respond as you'd like. Even in my beloved's final days when she was unresponsive I felt you never know, and what if she COULD hear and/or comprehend to some degree or other, but just couldn't respond? So I think one should assume they can - because if you're right and they hear you and understand you, they have the comfort that you "know" they are still there and still communicating with them, which they desperately need in those dark hours. Besides, if it turned out you were wrong, you've certainly lost nothing. The joke that was our hospice talked about my beloved that way ie like she wasn't there (and nearly became patients themselves thanks to me) - pls don't make this mistake.

I'm so sorry for these hardest of days and for everyone who has been through this.

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I am so truly sorry that you are having to endure this very hard ordeal. I know it is a feeling of extreme helplessness. I agree with Widower...by all means keep talking to her as you would normally do. They say that hearing is the last thing to go. Your voice and support will be her last memory. Yes, colon cancer is awful. All disease is horrible if you ask me. Regardless of a persons age we are forced as a loved one to stand by and watch helplessly as they begin to decline. I was happy to see that she was able to hold the baby. Any bright spot that is uplifting is so important. Those that I have witnessed die have told me that they do not want the doom and gloom around them. They crave to have positive and happy support. I know it is so hard to follow through with that. To feel a true sense of peace and able to let go is what they crave. Often a person will hold on because of unfinished business. I watch as my own husband is fighting this demon and wonder where it will all end. I continue t try to grab any piece of hope and go with that. I am thinking of you tonight and holding you both in my thoughts and prayers.

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HK, thinking of you today and wondering how your wife is doing. Please let us know how you are coping. Thinking of you and sending prayers. Kate

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HK, thinking of you today and wondering how your wife is doing.

She died.

She died Sunday, July 28 at 3:45PM. I was there at her bedside until the very end.

Her breathing had been labored and raspy, then became labored and soft, then long pauses between breaths, then she was gone.

I've been a wreck since that day. I took a week off of work and slept 10-12 hours a day.

I think I've got a handle on the fatigue part, but the heartbreak, not so much.

I want to erase the image of her on her deathbed. I want to remember her as young and vibrant, funny and silly.

God I miss her so much already. We'll never play another Scrabble game again. I'll never hear her sweet voice over the phone.

The Beast (cancer) takes yet another victim.

And the rest of us are left behind to pick up the pieces.

HK

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HK, I am so sorry for your loss. I am thinking of you and hoping that you will take good care of yourself. This grief process is so very hard...as you well know. My thoughts and prayers reach out to you and your sweet and dear wife. If you need to talk please pm me at any time. Kate

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HK I am so terribly sorry. I know it's a cliche but try to take a day at a time. I understand wanting to erase that image. For me over time that did fade, for what it's worth, and slowly but surely I am remember her as "her," how she really was. This place is here if you want to vent......

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The drummer's wife

She died.

She died Sunday, July 28 at 3:45PM. I was there at her bedside until the very end.

Her breathing had been labored and raspy, then became labored and soft, then long pauses between breaths, then she was gone.

I've been a wreck since that day. I took a week off of work and slept 10-12 hours a day.

I think I've got a handle on the fatigue part, but the heartbreak, not so much.

I want to erase the image of her on her deathbed. I want to remember her as young and vibrant, funny and silly.

God I miss her so much already. We'll never play another Scrabble game again. I'll never hear her sweet voice over the phone.

The Beast (cancer) takes yet another victim.

And the rest of us are left behind to pick up the pieces.

HK

I was at my husband's side when he passed...I too, can not get the image of his last moments out of my heart and head...I keep his cell phone active and when I achingly long for his voice, I call him....so do our friends and family...we leave him messages...I have yet to listen to any of them...maybe I never will...eventually I will disconnect it.

((hugs)) Missing them feels so awful. Peace and love on your journey.

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My wife is dying of brain cancer and all I do is grieve. I can;t talk to anyone because I start crying. Them I fell bad for doning it cause I know I should be strong. Just can't inmagine what it going to be like when shes gone. Somethime I feel like I should die too but know better but still think it.

 

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