Monday, June 7, 2010

Palliative Care

There are no longer any clocks that tick in our home. Or tock, for that matter. Once upon a time the metronomic beat of the clock was all there was to be heard in the silence of the night. But now, everything is digital. And quiet.

In a few moments Linda will be getting up to get ready for work. Lindsay will be asking to go out, neighbours will start pulling out of their driveways and heading off into the early morning. Birds will start their song.

I have coughed myself awake again and have brought myself out to the livingroom to allow Linda another hour or so of sleep. The procedure I had done to remove fluid from around my lungs has had minimal, if any effect and I am still staggeringly weak and often panting for breath.

And in pain.

My brother Keith came and took me over to his home for the afternoon yesterday where I relaxed in his backyard with his wife and son. They had a couple gifts for me. A shower chair for the bathtub to minimize any risk of a fall and a shillelagh to use as a cane when I walk.

"You look really cool with the shillelagh" Keith's wife told me.

"Just call me House," I replied in my thin new voice. A voice so strangled and strange I sometimes wonder who is speaking.

This afternoon is my first visit with the Palliative Care Unit at the hospital. Of course they don't call it that. Formally it is known as the Psychosocial Oncology Unit. But, of course, all the staff just call it palliative care. And among the services they offer, they do admit to "providing ongoing care and symptom management to meet the complex needs of individuals whose cancer has not responded to other treatment."

That would be me.

Although tomorrow I finally get in to see the thoracic surgeon to see if he can to anything further to relieve the fluids still trapped in pockets around my lungs. And on Thursday I restart chemo.

And by the weekend, maybe I will be feeling somewhat improved.

At least, that's the plan. For now.

As I hear the first car of the day creep up our street and somewhere far in the distance, the "rita, rita, rita" call of a Cardinal.