Posts Tagged ‘breathing’
I am in Benalla hospital on four nights respite to give Pauline a break and to get some better pain relief for myself (Aug 27 – 31).
I was nervous about going this time around as it may well merge into my final illness … and this would become my Last Post.
Pauline is nervous too! She fears that I will not come back and that I will die this time around. If that is how it pans out, we have to accept that.
There are scheduled posts into October that will be published automatically – even if I am no longer around.
As I write this, I have no intention of giving in. However, as things deteriorate, I will probably welcome the end. Will I be brave enough to accept the syringe pump of morphine and sedatives which is the start of the dying process? I will certainly take one last shot at recovery before submitting to the syringe pump!
Just in time, I found Lee Gallagher – or should I say he found me – to continue this blog with the developing story of his life with Prostate Cancer. I wish I could be around to see how Lee records his story but I am sure you will be following his progression with PCa.
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone from family, friends, and blog readers, who have taken an interest in my story. What I have left behind can become a valuable resource for others who develop this disease if it is regularly updated. If there are any others who wish to be a contributor, please leave a message and it will be arranged.
What have I learned since contracting Prostate Cancer?
- I have prepared myself as much as I am able for the end of my life.
- I have prepared the family to accept it. They have already come to terms with the grieving process.
- Smoking gives you emphysema which makes it difficult to breathe as your body deteriorates.
- Diet can be a contributor to contracting disease. Increase alkaline foods and reduce acidic foods.
- Boost your immune system. It is the only tool your body can fight back with. That is why I take Lactoferrin capsules and, over the last four years, I believe it has been worthwhile.
- Natural Progesterone cream should be tried to see if it improves your general well being or “Quality of Life”
- Supplements and preventative measures are pretty useless once you have been diagnosed and the tumour has escaped the prostate. Hopefully, they will slow the progression but they will certainly not stop it or cure the cancer.
Please take notice
Yesterday, I had been suffering from pleuretic pain in my left lung. Every time I breath in, the pain grabs me. Well, it was serious enough for me to ring my doctor to see what could be done about it and his response shocked me.
He told me that they can give me intravenous antibiotics in a high dose to try and control it. If it cannot be managed, It will lead to me dying and he asked if I wanted to chose that as an option.
Like, I’m ready to call it quits? Not bloody likely!
There is still too much life in this body, mind and spirit to take the voluntary suicide option.
I have spent four years training this man to tell me as he sees it – what is good is good – what is bad is bad. Apparently, he sees it quite differently to me at this moment. But, I know I am not ready to toss in the towel. Hey Doc, we are not on the same page.
The way I feel, at this moment, is that there is no immediate threat to my continuing existence. Of course, that can change overnight with an unplanned event happening that drags me off to hospital – and potentially the end. But, let’s see how it plays out. I can’t see it happening tonight!
I must admit, there is not much point to my ongoing existence if I cannot get past this lung problem. Whilst I am uncomfortable and in pain, all I can do is sit and wait for things to improve. I cannot get up and move around – or do anything useful. It makes you wonder, “What is the point of continuing?” I am certainly not ready to say goodbye yet!
To live forever – an unobtainable goal – has to be measured against the obtainable goal of living a good life until we have to die.
I had never realised the strength in the will to live. Those who have followed this blog since I was diagnosed with prostate cancer some four years ago, would have to agree that I have prepared as well as one could and accepted the inevitability of my terminal disease. Yet, as close as I came to death a month ago, I have no indication that my time is up.
Right now, life is a struggle. Whilst the pain is managed with opiates, and I sleep well all night, my day times are simply filling in time as I am not stable enough to participate in anything. Due to emphysema, my breathing is shot and I am on life support oxygen most of the time. I also need Ventolin with cortisone to help open my airways but it is a variable battle. Things can be fine for hours on end yet simply going to the toilet can have you bent over trying to catch your breath.
Last Thursday, Anita – the District Nurse – phoned and found me incredibly short of breath. It concerned her so much that she called back an hour later to see if I was still struggling. I was, so she called around after lunch. After contacting my doctor, Chris Lourensz, we turned up the oxygen supply to 4 litres a minute and that made a big difference.
Pauline contracted a bad cold a few weeks ago and, as I sleep with her, I got it too. An X-Ray shows heaps of phlegm in my lungs. I am on antibiotics to get rid of this muck.
Visiting the doctor is a major deal as he is located in Benalla – a 40 minute drive away – for an update and new
prescriptions. That means an oxygen bottle and a bag of clothes in case he wants me to go to the hospital where I can get some more specialised treatment. As it turned out, I opted to come home and return to the hospital if things turned sour. Today has seen an improvement with little need for oxygen throughout the day. It seems that the antibiotics are doing their job in breaking away the phlegm in my lungs. If that works, I will live to fight another battle. If not, I am in trouble.
My general condition is terrible as I am not eating well enough. I have lost a couple of kilos in the last fortnight. Of course, losing one’s appetite is an early sign that the end is near. As the body shuts down, one has little need for nourishment. Now, what quality of life is that?
Now, this is where I get confused. I know that my time is running out – my doctors have told me so – and my body agrees with them. Yet, I have no sense of approaching the end. Sometimes, when I go to bed, I advise Pauline that I might need an ambulance before the morning. Yet, I get through waking in a much better state.
People tell me I am one hell of a fighter. However, I am not trying to fight the outcome. I am simply doing what needs to be done to keep on going until the inevitable final illness overtakes me.
The last few days have been satisfactory. The breathing problems come and go but the pain management remains under control. My basic test of functionality – playing and singing with my guitar – has been a bit variable with the voice being not quite strong enough. But hell! I am still here!
My time in Benalla hospital did have some positive benefits. It gave me the opportunity to look for the most comfortable way to end my journey. At this time, I have settled on the use of a morphine/sedative pump to see me out. I will continue with the oral morphine until such time that they can no longer manage my pain levels. As the body slows down, they will use the pump to infuse morphine and a sedative direct into the blood stream adjusting the concentration to allow me a dignified and comfortable exit. I have opted to have this occur at The Benalla Hospital where the nurses have a fine reputation in end of life treatment. If you know of a better way, please leave a reply.
Finally, everyone recognised the elephant in the room and realised my time is limited. More important than that, the family came together to arrange my funeral with some input from me. The service will be held at the Catholic Church in Benalla followed by burial at the Whitefield Cemetery in the King Valley with a wake/get together at the Swinburn Pavillion at the Whitfield Football Ground.
We moved to the King Valley in 1999 to experience the village lifestyle of a small country town. When new folk move to the area, the locals leave you alone for about six months before inviting you to join one of the local community groups. I joined the CFA volunteers and Pauline joined the Red Cross. In 2000, I was hired as the co-ordinator of the King Valley Learning Exchange which opened up all sorts of opportunities to work on council planning groups. Towards the end, I ran an early “Men in Sheds” program collecting obsolete computers from schools and business, renovating them and giving them away to people who would not otherwise get involved in computers. This program came second in a statewide Adult Education Innovation Award. Overall, I am happy that I served my community well so have chosen to return there upon my death.
I woke about 10.30am when the District Nurse called to check up on me. They call Mondays and Thursdays on behalf of Palliative Care in Benalla offering any help they can from bathing me to allowing Pauline some time off to go shopping, play bowls etc. By the way, Pauline had a big win on Tuesday in the Grand Final of the 100 Up competition at the Euroa Bowling Club with a follow up picture in the local paper.
My biggest problem is breathing as I am suffering from emphysema – no doubt from a lifetime of smoking. Stupid me … in hospital when I was expecting to live a matter of days, I started smoking again after a 15 month cessation. Now, I am not as bad as the guy in the TV commercial, but I need oxygen to sleep and when my breathing deteriorates during the day. I also use a specialised puffer first thing in the morning. I play my guitar as a measure of my breathing ability. If I can get out a song, I am doing OK. Today, I didn’t pick up my guitar at all.
As the body slows down preparing for the inevitable, you are robbed of your energy. The other day, I tried to stand on the bottom rung of a kitchen ladder and could not make it up just 6 inches. So yesterday, I started a step-up exercise on the side of a brick (about 4 inches). I was able to do about 8 reps only. That’s bloody weak.