Things are worsening quickly. The main goal now is to keep Mike comfortable for the next few days, which likely means an increase in pain medication. Alison and I have just come home for the palliative care unit, having been assured by the nurses that Mike was likely to sleep comfortably through the night. We will return in the morning when we expect him to be more awake and a little more communicative.
He is very brave, dignified and accommodating, and it breaks our hearts to see how difficult all this is for him, especially since only a few weeks ago he was his hearty, hardy, humorous – OK, then, gleeful – self. In retrospect, I can see that he was worried about a few things, but they seem much like the worries we all have at this time of life: forgetfulness, mild confusion, lost keys, fatigue, and so on. Now we realize that he was likely ill for some time, that he probably had lung cancer for at least a couple of years, and maybe he was uncomplainingly ignoring some symptoms. Or maybe the symptoms were silent. In any case, after all the stresses he endured last fall (two surgeries, a long time on a catheter, and so on), the cancer just spread really quickly, affecting the spine, the pancreas, the brain and the liver as well as the lungs.
All of us, family and friends, are glad that he will not have to suffer an extended illness. He appeared hale and hearty until February 8th, when he was admitted to hospital for, I think, the first time in his life, and he has had an extraordinarily happy 74 years, entertaining himself and others and, as he liked to say, “exercising his faculties at large.”
We are hoping for a few more peaceful and comfortable days with him. Probably I will be staying at the hospital from tomorrow night on, and probably Alison will do so for a few days as well. We’ll keep adding to the list of things we love about Mike – it’s so easy to find those – but I think the blog may be a little silent for awhile.
Thanks so much to all of you for your expressions of love for Mike. It has been a great comfort to our family.