Steep and Slippery Slope
I remember tobogganing as a child. Faster was better down the Prince of Wales Public School hill. There was a dip in the middle of the hill, and if you had enough speed, you would get air time. It was always a challenge to see if you could acquire enough momentum to make it across the parking lot at the bottom and get to the school wall. When at University in Waterloo, we didn't have access to a toboggan. We improvised, utilizing the plastic cafeteria trays. Unfortunately, these past several weeks, I have been on a steep and slippery slope that hasn't been as much fun.
Shortly after returning from my trip back to Ontario to visit with family at the end of August, the signs and symptoms of liver failure quickly manifested in my body. The abdomen distended with fluid, as did the edema in my legs. My whites of my eyes were jaundiced, and I continued to lose muscle mass. I now look like a late term pregnant skeleton, standing on two elephant legs. While fascinated at how quickly the body was deteriorating, I have also been amazed that I am still here. One week I was skating as well as doing my 1 km walk (1-2x/day) with Bauer at the farm. The next week, I couldn't muster the strength or energy to skate or do my walks.
While remaining independent with self-care, dressing became more challenging. Donning and doffing pants one leg at a time, often from a sitting position. Socks as needed. My attire now consists of pajamas or sweats. I purchased a couple of fall coloured track pants for when I get dressed up to venture out in public. Getting in and out of bed require the side roll, legs off the bed and push with the arm technique. If I squat down, I need help getting back up into standing. My exercise now is getting up and down a set of stairs, using a hand rail. I am up and down them at least 10 times a day.
The difficult decision to have Bauer go into care was made as I no longer felt I could care for him. I know I made the correct decision when Bauer pulled me off my feet and I landed hard on my left hip as I walked him from the car. Shane at Island Canine Care is truly a blessing in my life. It really has been Bauer's second home for the past 7 years, and I know Bauer is in good hands.
The thought of death does not frighten me. Watching the body deteriorate, while the pain increases would have me welcome death. There is grief when I think about all that I will no longer get to experience. The losses that I speak of are the connections with family and friends; being able to give or receive a great big huge hug; laughing while sharing good food and beverage; being out in nature; attending a special occasions such as a graduation, wedding, or the birth of a baby. Who is to say that I won't be able to watch over these events?
Life is strung together as a series of moments. Each moment is unique. On Friday October 15th, I went into the hospital for a scheduled Paracentisis. This is where a tube is put in through the abdomen to drain the abdominal fluid. After giving up 3 litres of fluid, I felt much lighter. The scale suggested I was in fact immediately 3.5 lbs lighter.
Resting throughout the day is a necessity. It is actually quite shocking how much a simple visit with a friend can be exhausting. There was a steady flow of people coming by from the Saturday after the drainage to Tuesday. By Wednesday, I had to say no to visitors again in an attempt to help me recover. Sleep through the night continues to elude me. I wake hourly to change position, walk around, heat my hot pack, and settle into a new location. The rotation, couch, bed, recliner, bed, recliner, bed....Day time napping is a must.
Messages from friends are still very much welcomed, and do help lift my spirits. I have been surrounded with so much love and support, that it warms my heart and soul.
I feel you near
A glance over my shoulders
No where to be seen
You are hovering
Waiting... for what?
Is there more to do?
So much of my physical self is no longer
My essence is strong
How much longer?
How much to endure?
Grant me the Grace of Fortitude
May each remaining moment be filled with light and love.
May the final transition be one of peace.