The roller coaster ride begins

My heart races each time he calls my name.  His needs are so immediate.  I sit on pins and needles, waiting, watching, wondering what I can do for him, what will he need next?  Sometimes, when he sleeps, I go into the bedroom just to listen to him breathing.

Raymond, my partner of 2 years was diagnosed, on the winter solstice, with stage 4 lung cancer that has metastasized into his brain and liver.  When we heard the diagnosis, we both sat there in shock.  We were expecting to hear that he had an infection or pneumonia, at the worst… but lung cancer?  Stage 4?  Oh my God!

Since that December morning, nothing has been the same.  We have had weekly and sometimes bi-weekly doctor appointments at the cancer institute one hour from our home.  Some of these appointments include CAT scans, PET scans, MRI’s, chemo therapy, gamma knife radiation on his brain, trips to the emergency room when his fever  spiked to over 100.5 (a sign of infection for chemo patients).

Raymond was a life long, two pack a day, smoker and also worked for the Dupont paint company.  He was exposed to chemicals his whole life.  When I met Raymond, he was going in to have his second carotid artery cleaned out, the second month we were together.  Having an estranged relationship with his sister, I spent the night in the hospital with him.  A year later, he had a stent in his leg worked on.  The smoking had caused many complications with his health.

The last complication happened on March 12, two weeks after a chemo treatment.  Raymond’s legs and feet were really bothering him, we thought he had neuropathy as a result of chemo.  What the vascular surgeon found (through doppler tests and ultra sound) was that there was no blood getting to his feet.  None.  The surgeon even came into the ultra sound room to ask the tech to check a few areas.  We knew this was serious (Ray could loose his feet) and surgery was scheduled for the following Friday, March 23.  This wasn’t cancer related, but it was smoking related.

I was a wreck.  I knew that we were taking a risk, with Ray being in a weakened state from the chemo, to have major surgery.  He was in the OR for 6 hours.  I had to wait 8 hours before seeing him in the ICU and I was shocked when I saw that the doctors cut him from his right groin to his heel and harvested a new vein to properly get blood to his feet.  He had a total of 126 staples and his leg looked like he had zippers running the length of it.  They also cleared a stent in his left groin with angioplasty which was 95% blocked.  The first words he said to me in the ICU that evening were, “Honey, I can feel my toes!”

After 6 days in the hospital he was released, only to have to go next door to Karmano’s cancer institute to have labs done and see his oncologist.  I called and told them he was  recovering from major surgery and couldn’t this wait, but they said “No, he has to come in.”  His oncologist found that the last CAT scan showed signs of growth in the lymph nodes in his lungs, his liver and there was a small spot now on his spine.  His labs that day showed he was dangerously low on potassium so he needed three bags administered through IV that same day.  We both lay on the bed in the infusion room trying to rest as the infusion took hours.  He was released at 8:00 a.m. from the hospital and we didn’t get home until 7:00 p.m.  Again, pins and needles.  I was so worried that this was all too much for my love.

I am writing this blog as an attempt to vent my feelings as a caregiver, share our story (if only to help people understand the dangers of smoking), and convey the spiritual lessons I have learned through this process.   Please feel free to comment or post similar stories.  I believe in the power of prayer, and Raymond needs a miracle here, please pray for him.

Spiritual lessons to come on my next post.

About 1lisaa

I've been on a spiritual quest my whole adult life. As a 59 year old retired school teacher and a long time observer of people, life, nature and miracles, I have decided to start a blog. As I began my blog I was a caregiver for my soul mate Raymond who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2011 and it has been quite a journey. Now, I continue this blog with memoirs, insights, and stories about this journey, called life. In this blog, I hope to find clarity and share spiritual lessons along the way. All comments and insights would be appreciated.
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13 Responses to The roller coaster ride begins

  1. natalie sikora says:

    oh my sweet sister, how much do i love you? let me count the ways….your heart is so bright that is shines through even the scariest experiences, your love for another is so profound it takes you into places you would never go, yet you go willingly, your spirit is so strong you continue to travel on ahead not knowing where it will lead, only knowing you are moving along the path in front of you, and your insight is so vast you touch everyone you speak to. i love you my friend, let me know if i can be there for you in any way. xoxo

  2. Hi Lisa – I wish you all the best with this and everything else. And guess what? I’m now a follower!
    Oh yeah, I’m in New York with my mom – see my previous 2 posts. Love You! Give Ray a fist bump for me.

  3. Debbie Graham says:

    Dearest Lisa and Ray, I pray for you both daily. Know that I am with you-emotionally if not physically. I love you and am visualizing a miracle. This blog is so profound. Thank you. Debbie

  4. Rose Hollandsworth says:

    Lisa, I pray for you both daily. You are a very strong person. I admire you so much. I’m glad that Ray decided to go ahead with all the medications and Chemotherepy that his ongologist has recommended to him. As you know I also had lung cancer. The anniversary of the discovery will be six years in July. Dr Gadgeel was also my ongologist and I am so happy that Ray decided to go to him. He is truly a wonderful, caring doctor. I have never met a doctor that is so determined to heal his patients. If anyone could help Ray, he is THE ONE.

    • 1lisaa says:

      Dear Rose,
      Dr. G is the best! We just love him and trust that he is the one that can help Ray. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We are truly grateful to you for having recommended him to us.
      Love, Lisa

  5. Laurie & Bruce Anderson says:

    Dear Lisa, this is such a beautiful and wonderful way to express all that you both are going through. As Debbie says, it is truly profound, and I hope it helps to share your thoughts, feelings, and worries with all those who love you and Raymond dearly. Please know that you both are in our thoughts and prayers daily and we are always here for you. We greatly admire your strength, courage, and faith and are praying for miracles each and every day. Love you.

  6. Dear Lisa & Ray,
    We read your blog and had much difficulty, because of the tears filling our eyes and running down our checks. The both of you are enduring so much physical & mental pain. Our thoughts and prayers are with you both.
    Love, Uncle Rod and Aunt Barb

  7. Holly Teetzel says:

    Lisa & Ray,
    I love your blog,it was beautiful but left me heartbroken. You and Ray are in my prayers. I too am praying for a miracle.

    Love, Holly

  8. Shirley and Jim Frost says:

    Lisa and Ray, my heart is so heavy for both of you, I wish you all the miracles God will give, you are both in my prayers love you much… #2 MOM

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