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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Chi-Chi Ran, But The Bird Was Faster

I've known that I'd have to write this posting for some time, and I fear that I won't be faithful enough to the spirit of the writing.  That being said, here goes...

My wife, Ruth Anne Ashton, died on Friday, June 27.  She was 48 years-old.

I would like to add two things to this sad news.

Never underestimate the value of black humor.  Ruth and I enjoyed watching the television series Northern Exposure together because we found it intellectually stimulating.  The heading to this post is taken from one episode, "Blood Ties."  In it, a recurring character, The Jedster, visits the town of Cicely, accompanied by his hunting falcon, Taylor.  Taylor ends up hunting down a white poodle named Chi-chi.  After telling the town doctor, Joel Fleischman, about the dog's tragic death, Marilyn Whirlwind adds, "Chi-chi ran, but the bird was faster."  Ruth considered having this put on her grave marker.  Since she decided on something different ("Love is a Verb"), I thought it would be a fitting epitaph for the blog, as it reveals something about her intellect and sense of humor.

Life is fleeting.  Love is fixed.  The second season of Northern Exposure included an episode entitled, "All is Vanity."  Most will recognize the reference to the first chapter of Ecclesiastes.  (We had a passage from this book read when we were married in the Church a little over a year ago.  More black humor.)  During the episode's closing scene (see the link below) Maggie O'Connell reads Sonnet 116.  I include the link and the poem as Ruth loved this scene and I believe ours is "a marriage of true minds."

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments.  Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rose lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
  If this be error and upon me proved,
  I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

I miss you deeply, Beloved.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Results: The Disappointment that Waits from Being Overly Optimistic

Last week, I had my post-radiation, post-scan doctor’s appointment to find out if radiation worked. I had also been experiencing some new symptoms in my spine and sacrum, so these were also being examined.

I was feeling, at least in regards to the brain radiation, pretty optimistic. I figured that the radiation would work with little trouble, as that has been the pattern for radiation and me.

Instead, we found that as fast as the radiation was working (killing tumors) it was also growing more (tumors) so much so, that the brain scan pretty much looked the same.

In addition, there is more tumor activity in the lungs (accompanied by a dry, loud, persistent cough which everyone kept tell me was “allergies”.  Apparently not. There are more, active tumors in my spine and sacrum, which have become excruciatingly painful. It has become very difficult to walk and sit in particular positions. If you’ve ever had bone pain, you know how ugly it is.

I was told the next step was chemotherapy (again) to which I said, “no”. I’m done with chemotherapy, which will hold off the inevitable for a mere three to four months while making me feel subhuman.

So, I signed up for home hospice yesterday. I met with a very nice Austrian lady named Esther who got me some very lovely meds that made my pain disappear and made me into a much more pleasant person.

It took me a day or two to come to terms with it – I was sad and confused and afraid and angry, and wondering how in the world this happened, and how did it happen so fast? I’m coming around, though, and hope to be able to spend good time with family and friends.

Until “D-day” I hope to keep up my blog. I’d like to document my dying days to help people (all of whom will die some day) have and idea of what goes through someone’s mind and body as it slows down and dies.

At this point, I’m happy and at peace with having made this decision. There’s something of a relief to it, not having to make any more big treatment decisions that could change my life in horrible ways.

I hope you that if any of you have this choice to make, that yours is made with such peace.