June 3rd-No Limits-Chris Ritchey-Chapter 17

Forward: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

Chapter One :https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Two:https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-

Chapter Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/no-limits-chapter-4-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/june-3rd-no-limits-chapter-5-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Eight: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/sept-3rd-no-limits-chapter-8-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Nine: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/oct-3rd-no-limits-chapter-9-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Ten: NO LIMITS- Nov 3rd- Chapter 10- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Eleven: NO LIMITS-Dec. 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 11 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Twelve: NO LIMITS-Jan 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 12 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Thirteen : NO LIMITS- FEB 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 13 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Fourteen: March 3rd, NO LIMITS, Chapter 14- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Fifteen: April 3rd- No Limits- Chapter 15- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Sixteen: May 3rd – No Limits- Chapter 16- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Houston Days and Nights- continued

I can’t begin to  put into  words how stressful it was for both of us , those days and nights. Chris and myself  “pretending everything was normal “ skirting around issues we both  knew were uppermost on our minds.  Wanting to  talk but not wanting to say  out loud our fears, maybe that way  we could hope a little longer.

Not everything was rosy , mother and son facing a terrible unknown locked together in a small apartment.  .Chris tired and in pain. I  knew it wasn’t me he wanted with  him. I  found a note that Angela had left behind in a desk drawer, Chris  was hurt and disappointed she was leaving Texas and it was me that would be with  him.

I knew my presence in Texas only confirmed that he was dying of Cancer, I was a constant reminder that he needed a care giver ( although you felt he could manage on his own to deal with side effects of a trial drug and Cancer) he would’ve preferred that it would have been his wife, not his mother to be with him.

photo Angela by Chris Ritchey

As a wife, I couldn’t have left my husband knowing that he was living under a death sentence and had been since August 29th -but that was Angela’s choice.

I could never understand Angela’s way  of thinking, but tried to  make allowances  , she too  was dealing with  a terrible situation in her young married life. I couldn’t believe that even during this awful, hopeful , chaotic time  she would still try  to  manipulate a situation and lie as she had done  with Nikki  and Chris  and the engagement ring episode.

Chapter  Three :

March 3rd – NO LIMITS- Chapt 2 – Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

October 8th:  One month  in and the façade came crashing down, we were due to  come back  to  Cleveland for a few days . I made arrangements to  still keep  the apartment  as they  were so  difficult to  find. To  me, it was worth  paying for it to  be empty  rather than going through  the hassle of  moving and or finding something else.

This one particular day  we did have that heart to  heart that horrible “truth  revealing ” argument  that shouldn’t have happened!

In  the hours before that argument came to a head Chris and I had gone to get his prescriptions- he was tired and in a lot of pain- I said maybe I could pop into Borders ( which was across the way)

I would like to buy the new Dan Brown novel-

I could see he was impatient to get back so I didn’t push it. His mood was dour and his eyes narrowed and lips ( always a sign of anger) were tight. He had been on his cell phone to his wife, Angela, as we waited for his prescriptions. He drove back to the apartment in utter silence . He immediately went out by the pool in the apartment – I could see him sitting not moving. I decided he needed space  -then Nikki called and said that Chris had hung up on her and was very angry.

“but leave him alone mum” he doesn’t want to talk.

I knew my son. I knew whatever it was would fester until he exploded – he was so much like me.

I went to the pool- he said

“I don’t want to talk”

“You don’t have to -you can listen- I need to talk to you”

I was never a crier before Hodgkin’s I was a fighter, a do-er – this blubbering fool that I have become is down to the helplessness and hopelessness that took away happiness. Chris never knew me as a “crier” before his illness – so as the tears fell he sat silently as I told him

Chris, being a mother of a son is so much harder than you can imagine – I have tried so hard to give you and Angela the space you both need in this terrible time. I KNOW Chris, that you are feeling that you have no control over what is happening to your body and your life- I know you need some control , another reason why I have tried so hard to stand aside- you didn’t need me in the mix as well -But I am going to honestly tell you now -if this had been Nikki and not you I would have handled things so much differently – just as Nikki is my child I would not have sat back and taken a back seat to decisions as I have with you and Angela.

You see when a son marries he brings into his life another woman- it is very difficult in the best of circumstances for a mother to sit back and watch decisions being made that in some cases I did not agree with in a normal situation- this terrible situation we find ourselves all thrust into makes it doubly hard. But I have deferred to you both and to her “medical expertise” with this obscenity of Hodgkin’s that has engulfed us. It has been one of the hardest things in the world for me not to interfere or to put in my two cents. There have been times Chris when I have doubted my own abilities and lost confidence in myself – I have gone against my own gut feelings and yet there is a voice that tells me to still be protective of you .

I have tried to give you both your space – to be there when needed and to shut up for your sake when I was totally against some decisions. I have tried for your sake because I love you so much I would do anything and sacrifice anything for your health and happiness.

I don’t know the reason why you are so angry with Nikki and I but you have to know neither of us would intentionally do anything to hurt you . We have tried to put you first in all our thinking – We love you always have and always will. “


With that I left the poolside and went back into the apartment. Chris followed a few minutes later and then it all came out ( as I knew it would) an argument and accusations the finding out of lies that were told

“we had excluded Angela in decision-making as to driving the truck back to Texas.”

He wanted to drive his truck back . I told Angela  in an email ( which I have ) that it wasn’t a good idea him driving, he was having difficulty due to the side effects of SGN35 and I thought she should know since obviously you had been in Ohio since Sept 10th and hadn’t see the problems he was having even driving to Target let alone 1,700 miles.

I never received any  response from Angela to  my  emails ( which  I  still have)

Chris was furious with  me and  Nikki

“You didn’t include Angela”

Me:

“What are you talking about – I included Angela”

CHRIS No you didn’t !

Me.

Would you like to see the emails?

CHRIS: “

Yes! I would”

Me.

So you are calling me a liar ?

CHRIS:

” Don’t give me that F…. shit if I want to see the email then I must be calling you a liar. There aren’t any emails Angela doesn’t lie!

I then pulled up the emails…. all of them sent to Angela

ME:

Look at the dates and times Chris … now tell me I’M the one that lied…… she says here she wants to talk to you about it did she?

CHRIS:

Well she has been busy

ME:

she talks to you 4 or 5 times a day she couldn’t mention it but she could let you believe that Nikki and I didn’t include her?

He broke down  cried….. my  wonderful strong brave son reduced to  tears not by  cancer that night but by  lies and manipulation

She, the loving wife and bride  did that to him by trying to lie by omission … not me ….I held him and he said:

“did you ever think that I want to see something of the country if I am going to be dead in two years.”

My heart broke for him – I cried and we held on tight to each other and I said

Chris none of us know when we will die, the way you are driving lately we could end up dead on the way to hospital tomorrow ….

he laughed a little and I said:

Chris, I know the SGN35 is working, the lump on your neck isn’t visible and you haven’t coughed since Sept 21st.

That  night he went and checked the lumps on his neck for the first time in weeks.  Chris called Nikki back, she and Jim had talked and Jim would take time off work and drive back to  Houston with  Chris in his truck . He told Nikki  he wasn’t really  angry  with  her, just at the hopelessness and helplessness he was feeling. Once again Chris and sister reached out beyond the miles to  each other.

After talking to Nikki he said he wanted to take a drive, we still had the hire car. He left-  I wasn’t sure where and I was worried- he was in so much pain and on so many pills –

A little while later he came back ….. he walked in patted me on the head as a I sat in the chair and handed me a book as he walked to the bedroom – The Lost Symbol by  Dan Brown…………

June 3, 2021 at 1:06 pm 5 comments

May 3rd – No Limits- Chapter 16- Chris Ritchey

 

Forward: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

Chapter One :https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Two:https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-

Chapter Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/no-limits-chapter-4-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/june-3rd-no-limits-chapter-5-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Eight: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/sept-3rd-no-limits-chapter-8-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Nine: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/oct-3rd-no-limits-chapter-9-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Ten: NO LIMITS- Nov 3rd- Chapter 10- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Eleven: NO LIMITS-Dec. 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 11 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Twelve: NO LIMITS-Jan 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 12 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Thirteen : NO LIMITS- FEB 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 13 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Fourteen: March 3rd, NO LIMITS, Chapter 14- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Fifteen: April 3rd- No Limits- Chapter 15- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Houston Days and Nights- continued

I haven’t the words to eloquently or adequately   explain the emotions that crash  in and out of your being as you  watch your child battle to  stay  alive. This enemy, came to  conquer , not with guns , bombs or knives it was insidious in its will to  win turning the very  body  of  its victim  against itself. Cells that were made large so  the pumps of the body (lymph nodes) plug  and distort. It circulated through  the life giving blood stream through  the lungs causing coughing that wracked the very  body  trying to deal with  the attacks.  Cancer in all its forms is and obscenity .

I tried so  hard to  keep  cheerful, what 29 year old wants to  be with  his mother. I  know he wanted Angela there knowing the trial was his last hope for a cure or at least remission. I know he wanted to  spend what time he had left with  her . I know I  was the best of a bad deal . I argued with  myself, stop  watching his every move, deliberately  giving him space, taking myself out to  the  pool side to  read, even though  I  was petrified of the little gecko  things running about the pergolas and tables, I  didn’t scream when  they  ran across my  foot or thought I was a roadway  across a chair.

Chris, would spend time going to  the rifle range or to Cabelas.  We tried to  see some of the area when we could and when he felt up to  it.  JD  and Karen, had been out of town for a bit. Chris, after one of the infusions  of SGN 35 could barely  speak the the next day  but when JD called he put strength into  his voice so  JD would not realize how poorly  he was feeling.

Tears welled up  in my  eyes and I  had to  go  out into  the lawn area and have a silent cry  by  myself. Only  I wasn’t by  myself one of the other residents I had noticed  sitting by  the pool, looking as I must look, was there.  She looked up  and me as I was not winning the battle of holding in the tears and noticed she too was crying. She reached up to  hold my  hand  and I  sat down and there we sat for a long time. Two  humans knowing nothing about each other, never speaking  sharing  the impact of cancer. I learned she too, was caring for her  grown daughter as the husband had to  stay  in Indiana for his job and children.  Her daughter was also  on a trial at MD Anderson and a last hope.

 

Hands – Touching- Hands – art work Christopher Ritchey

On the good days we toured Houston. He had wanted to  go  horse back riding. I hadn’t been on a horse in 20 years ( I was then  a lot thinner and in better shape)  and Chris  hadn’t ridden since he was a little one. I made arrangements for the following day. Of course,  that night poured with  rain and  a warm front came  dripping over Houston. I  wrote on my  blog at the time :

NOOOOOO!!! this isn’t a picture of the horse after I rode it. Whew! 90 degrees yesterday after a rain that could’ve floated a boat. My foray into the wild west “avec” plastic helmet. I realize that horse rentals have to protect their clients but you tend to lose heat through your head … just ask a politician 🙂 and when it is covered with plastic and foam OMG!!!! Anyway 2 hours later after riding through swamp and shrub and bush I now remember why cowboys are bowlegged. 

Chris, had become very  interested in life in Texas , so  different from Lorain , Ohio.  One of our days ( again in that heat) was spent at George Ranch Historical Park. It was fascinating seeing the 1830’s cabin and farm  the humble beginnings  to  the 1930’s house “George Cattle Complex” . Of course then there was that oil that helped

“The discovery of oil on the Ranch in the 1920s changed the fortunes of the family and the community forever. The George’s son and only child died while just a toddler and their beloved cousin and presumed heir Mary died tragically when she was a young woman. With no living heirs and a considerable estate, the Georges established The George Foundation to ensure that their wealth would continue to benefit communities across the county into the foreseeable future. This charitable Foundation still exists and gives back today and helps bring you the story of the remarkable family who loved, grieved, rejoiced and lived on this enduring stretch of Texas prairie.”

It was a good day  and Chris was enthusiastic. I  was once again feeling like I would die from the humidity  and heat at any moment but we laughed  and enjoyed a day  without the mention of Doctors or cancer . I would have put up with  heat, humidity  and wading across  the little river filled with  alligators just to  see him smile and laugh .

Mothers and Fathers who  are losing their child will do  the deal with  God, the stars , fate  whatever they  believe, ”

“take me instead  let my  son/ daughter have life and laughter and old age…………”

To  be continued………

 

May 3, 2021 at 1:53 pm 3 comments

April 3rd- No Limits- Chapter 15- Chris Ritchey


untitled

Forward: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

Chapter One :https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Two:https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-

Chapter Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/no-limits-chapter-4-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/june-3rd-no-limits-chapter-5-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Eight: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/sept-3rd-no-limits-chapter-8-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Nine: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/oct-3rd-no-limits-chapter-9-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Ten: NO LIMITS- Nov 3rd- Chapter 10- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Eleven: NO LIMITS-Dec. 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 11 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Twelve: NO LIMITS-Jan 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 12 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Thirteen : NO LIMITS- FEB 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 13 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Fourteen: March 3rd, NO LIMITS, Chapter 14- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Houston: Days and Nights continued:

Being able to  sleep at night did not last long. Although,  I  was more relaxed because I  could try  and take care of Chris, see to  his needs, cook for him I spent my  days watching every  nuance of his being, and nights listening to  his cough  and worrying. 

After the first weekend we settled into  a routine of trips to  the hospital , taking the infusions and blood test. One of the protocols of the trial of SGN 35 involved writing down  and filling in a daily  chart as to  his  physical and mental responses each  day, reactions to  the medications etc.

A Pivotal Open-Label Trial of Brentuximab Vedotin for Hodgkin Lymphoma – Full Text View – ClinicalTrials.gov

Chris, understood,  along with  tests this questionnaire and his answers would be part of the decision making as to  whether he would be able to  continue with  the drug/infusion SGN 35. And that is a problem, when you are told you  last chance for a “cure” ( there is that word used by  Dr. Brad Pohlman a couple of weeks prior basically  giving Chris the death  sentence) you  will do  anything to  stay  on the trial. Chris would duly  fill out the questionnaire every  day  and turn it in on his appointment days. The problem is  I know his pain level was NOT a three, that he was not having any  significant side effects.

After the first week I went to  the evaluation with  Dr. Younes’ PA, she was extremely  nice  but was concerned as Chris had lost 4 lbs. since she had seen he and Angela that 1st week. I wanted to tell her that he probably  had had nothing to  eat but a plate of spaghetti for days but kept my  mouth  shut.  I assured her I  would be cooking his meals at least three times a day . When we met with  Doctor Younes Chris asked him  for a prescription for Oxycodone  for pain. I watched the Doctors face 

“You shouldn’t be feeling pain on that level, why are you  on Oxycodone it isn’t in your notes….”

I immediately  realized Chris had committed a grave sin in asking. I knew Angela had a prescription filled for him from the Clinic. I hurriedly  stated. 

Oh! he was given a few after the lumpectomy when they  did the biopsy on his neck  a few days ago  and he was in a lot of pain after that surgery  and  that is why as the prescription  was only  for a few of them. 

That seemed to  satisfy  the doctor. When Angela called that evening I  explained what happened and that the Dr. had prescribed Darvon . I  mentioned the Doctor was not happy  with  Chris being on the Oxycodone  . She just  giggled and said

don’t worry  I  will get Chris a prescription….. Darvon  is nothing more than Tylenol and does nothing” . 

Darvon

Well I wasn’t going to argue after all she was the 3rd year Resident. Apparently  by  this time Chris had developed a tolerance to  pain killers. He told Angela the Darvon wasn’t doing anything  and she said just double the dosage, until I  come down next week . Keeping my  mouth  shut was getting more and more difficult. 

Hurricane Ike had left its mark on many areas even a year later. We decided to take a drive to Galveston, I had been there with Nikki for dance competitions a few years previously and it was very interesting. Unfortunately, Ike had done a lot of damage and it was depressing . On the way Chris got a phone call from the Cleveland Clinic. The results of the compatibility test for his sister being a donor for the stem cell transplant were in. They asked if Nikki was his twin because the results were extremely good , very high and they usually don’t get those type of results except with identical twins

Breathing a sigh of relief as we now had another option in our arsenal we stopped for lunch. Our view of the sea front was dismal

.

The Flagship Hotel remains after Hurricane Ike destroyed most other businesses on the coastline in Galveston, Texas, Sept. 19, 2008. U.S. Sailors assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4) are providing defense support to the city?s civil authorities. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Chris Hoffpauir/Released)

 

There was one seafood restaurant open and we sat in the balcony over looking what was once the USS Flagship Hotel.

I deserved and needed  a drink, something I don’t often do . The pier on which the Hotel was located obviously had been pretty hard hit . The waiter told us a lot of the business along the sea wall had not survived. Chris walked down along the beach and called Angela with the results from the Clinic and I sat on the bench and called Nikki. Once again HOPE!!!!!

To be continued

April 3, 2021 at 12:04 pm 1 comment

March 3rd, NO LIMITS, Chapter 14- Chris Ritchey

No  Limits – The Book

Forward: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

Chapter One :https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Two:https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-

Chapter Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/no-limits-chapter-4-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/june-3rd-no-limits-chapter-5-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Eight: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/sept-3rd-no-limits-chapter-8-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Nine: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/oct-3rd-no-limits-chapter-9-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Ten: NO LIMITS- Nov 3rd- Chapter 10- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Eleven: NO LIMITS-Dec. 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 11 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Twelve: NO LIMITS-Jan 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 12 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Thirteen : NO LIMITS- FEB 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 13 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Houston Days and Nights / CONTINUED

The flight  from Cleveland to  Houston Airport was filled with  angst and anticipation  at the same time.  I  certainly  didn’t know what to  expect , either with  the living accommodations or what was going  happen with  the “infusions of SGN35. Since it was a “trial drug”  the  side effects and how Chris would react with  just me supporting him in Houston. I am not in the medical field, obviously,  and  my  trusted support team were 1,400 miles away.

Houston. I left Cleveland on a sunny  crisp September morning and landed into  heat, humidity  and strangeness.

I don’t handle heat well and humidity that is torture for me . I sucked up  my  discomfort  and headed toward the baggage claim. Chris had had his first infusion the previous afternoon and since I  was worried about  any  side effects. I  told him I  would grab a taxi from the airport, he shouldn’t worry  about picking me up.  JD and Karen, the Houston couple, who took Chris and Angela  under their  wing the previous weekend  had lent Chris the  ranch  truck to  use for a few days.

I hadn’t realized how far the airport was to  Houston proper. The taxi fair was 59 dollars plus tip.  I thought thank heavens  I  had put a hundred dollars in Chris shirt pocket as  he and Angela left Cleveland. The younger generation is all about “the plastic” and I tried to  drum into  them

always have at least a hundred in cash  for emergencies. You  never know when cash is the only  option  

I am sure I  could have  hired a taxi  on my  plastic but the first one in the rank only  took cash. I had no  clue where this chap was taking me and we seemed to  be driving for ever. I was so  apprehensive about the apartment complex because when the Lombardis ( Tim and Sue)  had shown up the night before with  the suitcase  Sue, kept on about  how Angela was very  concerned about the accommodations, the neighborhood.

What had I  done ? I had tried my  best in a limited housing situation  in a limited time frame . I thought well I  am here now and can  change the location  and find something else.

I was relieved when we finally  arrived at the apartment complex, it certainly  was not  this terrible place I had now pictured in my head after Sue Lombardi’s visit.  I called Chris who came to  the entrance  to  meet me .

Chris was very  white and had dark circles and not looking at all well. I said look you  go  back  to  bed  and I  will unpack.

The apartment consisted on a galley  type kitchen, complete with  dishes and all items needed  except food.  open to  a small dining area and living room with  desk  . The sofa was a pull out Queen , large tv and looked out onto  the pool area.  Off the living room was a bedroom and ensuite. The bed was a king sized and  the  bedroom with  2nd TV also   looked out onto  the pool area. The bathroom was very  large and also  contained  stackable washer and dryer and large walk in closet. All linens and towels etc were supplied

As I  walked around to  get my  bearings I wondered  whatever Angela was talking about?  There were many amenities, media room, computer room, gym and workout room, coffee bar , barbeque areas, designated parking  with  secure entrances,   all available to  us as no  extra charge. There was even a dog park and I thought maybe if Chris has to  spend weeks down here Misty  might be an option for a visit.

I checked the refrigerator , as I  desperately  needed some sustenance. Apart from a bottle of water and left over spaghetti  there was nothing, the cupboards held microwavable mac and cheese, just add water. Not at all appetizing in my  opinion.  So much  for Angela’s  thoughts on the matter

photo Angela by Chris Ritchey

Angela said:“He will be fine…. there is a kitchen and he can order in pizza and JD and Karen had lent him a truck……he has to  take ownership  of his illness”

First things first when Chris woke up  I said “time to  get some  food and items , washing up soap , and detergent, garbage bags etc. Are you  up to  driving me to  the store?

 

There was a large grocery  store  about a mile and a half away  and I loaded up. The only issue was the distance from the covered parking garage to  the apartment with  groceries. We had bags  and bags and I watched as my  beautiful strong son , now a shadow of what he once was ,  wearying  under the weight of carrying and fetching the shopping . I  wanted to  scream and cry  at what this bloody  disease was doing to  him. But we managed, he went back to  bed and I  unpacked and made him  dinner. His favourite,  stewed  beef, mashed potatoes and carrots.

 

 

I had learned over the months of cooking  for him with  this disease and treatments to “hide” calories. The mashed potatoes which are easier to  eat when your mouth  is sore,  whipped with extra butter and an  egg hidden and cream instead of milk. The beef slow cooked so  it is really  tender  and the gravy  laden with  richness and calories. Always a vegetable or two not cooked to death  but more than “al dente” . Of course ice cream and calorie laden desserts such  as orange whip. This could be made with  any canned or fresh  fruit, in this case mandarin oranges, orange Jell-O  and heavy  whipping cream.

Chris spent the rest of the evening watching TV in the bedroom and  sleeping on and off.

Sunday  , Chris looked much  better in his color  and less tired.  I don’t believe he had eaten anything but a half a plate of spaghetti and drank water for at least three  days.

Chris came out of the bedroom  said JD and Karen had called and would I like to go with  him and join them for dinner. Chris had had the use of the truck for over a week and I was going to  rent a car , so I could drive if need be, and we then could return JD’s truck to  him after dinner. We went to  Enterprise, which  was around the corner, and rented a car.

Chris had already formed a sort of bond with  JD , who  was older  of course, and I was looking forward to  meeting the people who  were being so  lovely  to  my  son and Angela.

I saw immediately  why  Chris had taken an instant liking to  JD apart form the fact he was younger and taller  , his hair, he general appearance was so  reminiscent of my  father and Chris grandfather who  had died when Chris was 8. Chris had spent a few weeks with his grandfather  that year when my  dad came to  visit us.

JD was humorous, kind and interested. Karen his wife was tall and elegant and as my  dad would say  “had legs that went on forever”.  Karen  too was very  kind and knew what I  was going through as her son had been diagnosed with  cancer when he was very young. Luckily  , her son, was cured but she knew  the heartbreak and the terror that I  was feeling.  I was so  relieved  to  have these lovely  people in our lives at that time. JD assured me  the apartment was one of the better ones and we could call for anything anytime.

That night as I  got into  the “sofa bed” trying to  see the stars, my  husband said were so  prevalent in Texas, I realized that Sunday night was the first time in many  months I  did not go  to  bed with  a raging  headache. Being able to  take care of my  son, and being met with  kindness and support had done that.

To  be continued………..

March 3, 2021 at 12:41 pm 4 comments

Announcing a New Political Page and Blog

Interrupting this….  That WOMAN  blog with  news.

I have another blog OH HER AGAIN!

The OH Her Again Blog is going to  be and is in addition to  a Facebook page  which  is City  of Lorain Politics concentric . The face book page is private and you  have to  be a member to  see and or post of comment. This is to  enable the administrators to  have an easier job of “administrating”

(1) City of Lorain Politics | Facebook

The page deals only  with  the “Politics of the city  of Lorain”. The page has only  been in existence for  the past week  but already  so  much  individual research has been added. Therefore,  the informational pages all checked and verified with  City  and County  officials has been up loaded to  the blog. and more are coming.

The Oh  Her Again blog is open and shareable by  anyone. It was decided the information should be archived in one place.  So  far the informational pages have compromised of How things work  re legislation in City  council  and responses .

The administrators of the City  of Lorain Politics page hope to  have intelligent, open and factual dialogue as to  how things work, and possible solutions.

You  will find on the side bar of OH HER AGAIN  a widget as to  how to  follow the blog when it is up dated .

OH Her Again! | Just another WordPress.com site

February 26, 2021 at 6:39 pm Leave a comment

NO LIMITS- FEB 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 13

ED NOTE: These next chapters are among the most difficult to  write.  I  have to  “emotionally” pace myself so  I  can get through  the memories both mentally  and physically.  . Those who have lost a son or daughter  know that for the rest of your life you  are locked into  the “time of loss”. The days, week, months and years  go  by  but you  are held  within the  grasp  of those last moments and times of your child’s leaving.   You  see,   the part of you  that was theirs dies too, you  are not the same person you  were and you  never will be again.  Your body  adjusts, the brain tells you don’t go there, you  learn to  dodge the known triggers , the brain tries to  protect, to  stop  the gutting grief from destroying what is left of you . Your mind goes into  “protect mode” however, when revisiting  those times intentionally  in order to  tell the story  you  are a raw  and and the wounds open  as the days of death once again are relived..   

No  Limits – The Book

Forward: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

Chapter One :https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Two:https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-

Chapter Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/no-limits-chapter-4-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/june-3rd-no-limits-chapter-5-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Eight: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/sept-3rd-no-limits-chapter-8-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Nine: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/oct-3rd-no-limits-chapter-9-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Ten: NO LIMITS- Nov 3rd- Chapter 10- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Eleven: NO LIMITS-Dec. 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 11 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Twelve: NO LIMITS-Jan 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 12 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Houston Days and Nights

I  watched as Chris and Angela went through  “security” at the Cleveland Airport. I hoped he would be able to  get on the plane. H1NI ( swine flu) had reared its head and the airlines were on the lookout for anyone displaying symptoms . Since the Hodgkin’s tumors were making their presence known once more in his body  he developed a cough  as the lungs tried to  expel the foreign body.

“Try  not to  cough  Chris , that would be all we needed to  be banned from the flight”

It had been a whirlwind of action since the phone call that morning  and now I stood in the lobby  of the airport drained, hopeful once again and yet wondering WHY?

Why  was life being so  cruel?

I had booked  Angela and Chris into  the Marriot Hotel near  MD Anderson Cancer Center  for  three nights. I wasn’t sure how long the tests and interviews would take . I got a phone call from Chris that night to  say  they  had arrived and were having room service  ( was that OK? ) I told him:

I didn’t care they  had my  credit card information whatever makes life easier for you  darling

We aren’t wealthy  but I would have sold my soul for him and I would worry  about the debts later.

The next day  I did not leave the phone, finally  Angela rang to  say  that although  MD Anderson had also  closed the trials for SGN 35  they  were going to make a place for Chris on that trial as he fit the profile  and he was going through  a barrage of tests.

Cancer Clinical Trials | MD Anderson Cancer Center

Relief flooded back filling the void of fear once again. Then more good news, trials aren’t typically  paid for by Health  Insurance , again I would have sold my  house if need be, but Angela  being an employee of the Cleveland Clinic  insurance did cover the trial even though  Chris was not at their facility  because he had been denied a place in the Cleveland Clinic Trial.  I truly  felt things  may be falling our way.

After the tests they  concurred Chris was right for the trial. By  now we were at the start of the Labor Day  weekend . Chris was set for more tests the following week  and all being well the first infusion of SGN 35 on September 11th. I  had contacted the family  services people at MD Anderson  to  see about long term lodging. The hotel would be  far to  expensive  over $230 per night  at that time.  I needed to  get them somewhere comfortable and close.

The offices  emailed me a list of about 50 hotels and apartments all of varying quality  and prices.  I had no  clue about where anything was in relationship  to  the Cancer Center , nor did I  know anything at all about Houston.  I gave a short list to  Angela to  see if she could find out any  more information.

Chris called that evening , the tests went well and acquaintances of both  the Lombardi’s and actually   of mine had interceded by  phoning  friends  with  whom they  had been college roommates  who  lived in Houston.  JD and Karen , these people were wonderful they  took Chris and Angela under their protective wing  and invited them to  their ranch  for the long weekend.  I was thrilled , some normalcy  for once. Chris was so  happy  I could have cried.

I found out that  MD Anderson was huge bringing in patients from all over the world  and the places available for short stay/ long stay  accommodation  were few and far between. I reserved a couple and asked Angela to check up on them for suitability . I lost two   because “they  were going to  look after the weekend”

I couldn’t seem to make Angela  understand  this was probably  NOT going to  be an option. I received a call from the one Houston Apartment  Corporate Housing. I had reserved a one bedroom apartment but they  had someone else wanting it so  I  took it sight unseen. It was the Esplanade.

Angela  was not very  happy  I  had done that but I  said

“you  have to  have somewhere to stay and Chris needs to be where he can rest. I  have taken care of all the finances, all you  have to  do  is bring your cases  and get some food shopping  “

It had been decided  that Angela would stay  until the night before his first infusion on the 11th   but she  would return to  Cleveland on the 10th.  I didn’t know what to  say , I realized Angela would need to  come back  to  sort out work and necessary  details but I  thought she would take time off to  be be with  Chris. After all this was a “trial” he was weaker than ever with  the cancer coursing through  his body, surely  she didn’t intend for him to  stay  there by  himself.

Angela said:“He will be fine…. there is a kitchen and he can order in pizza and JD and Karen had lent him a truck……he has to  take ownership  of his illness”

I was incredulous, like it or not my  son was facing death  and an unknown treatment. Nikki  said upon hearing this :

“mum you  have to  go  and be with  Chris, he can’t handle doing this on his own” ” Who  will see to  it that he eats, that he is OK  , you  know how hard it was on him with  the chemo….call an ambulance….”

I could see Nikki  was also so worried so I left for Houston on September 12th, as Chris  refused to  let me fly  on September 11th.  I told him I would find my  own way  from the airport as he needed to  rest after the infusion of the day  before.

The night before I  left Sue Lombardi  and Tim arrived at my  front door with  a suitcase of clothes and essentials  that Chris had asked  Angela to  get to  me as he went to  Houston with just a small bag .

Chris’s dog, Misty, was a loopy  friendly   bundle of happy, she loved everyone, we always joked if an intruder came to  the house  she would lick them to  death

So  I was shocked when Sue walked into  the living room and Misty went mental, growling, teeth  barred and barking  definitely  in a protective mode. Neither  my  husband  or I  had ever seen her demonstrate such  behavior , she would not stop  and it was very  embarrassing. Finally  realizing this was not stopping, my  husband put her outside where she continued to  bark as if the devils from hell were threatening us.

Looking back it may  be because underneath  all the smiles and nicety, nicety syrupy talk Sue was giving off vibes the dog could understand and saw her as a threat . I don’t know but Misty never behaved that way  before or since  or maybe she knew the true character of the woman who  would cause us so  much  pain

To  be continued……

February 3, 2021 at 1:12 pm 3 comments

NO LIMITS-Jan 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 12

ED NOTE: It has been one year since I  started this journey  of serialization of my   book/posts on my  son’s, Christopher Ritchey, journey.  I had thought, initially,  to  intersperse  the posts as usual with  other posts, pertaining to  life, Lorain, crime and politics. I  have found I  just do not have the energy  and the apathy is all consuming . I have come to  the sad realization what I  think  and my  passions on those subjects just don’t matter and don’t make a bit of difference in the real world.  However, my  journey  with  NO LIMITS continues, as hard as these chapters are to  write  and reliving the journey  of hope and no  hope there is a light at the end of this journey . I  will continue to  tell of our journey with  transparency  and truths.

 

No  Limits – The Book

Forward: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

Chapter One :https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Two:https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-

Chapter Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/no-limits-chapter-4-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/june-3rd-no-limits-chapter-5-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Eight: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/sept-3rd-no-limits-chapter-8-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Nine: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/oct-3rd-no-limits-chapter-9-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Ten: NO LIMITS- Nov 3rd- Chapter 10- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Eleven: NO LIMITS-Dec. 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 11 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

 Chapter 12 : The Trial and Tribulations

The days following  the biopsy  found me sitting by  the phone. I  knew in my  heart of hearts the news was awful but I  clung to  the hope they  could be wrong, it had been known. I  knew it was a foolish  hope but you  grab anything you  can to  hold onto.

Chris came to  stay  with  Nikki that last weekend in August . He was so  pale and quiet. I went over bearing his favourite food . Nikki  told me he had been out in the woods for hours on his four wheeler , alone and not wanting to   talk to  anyone.

We waited, and when he came in I saw my  son trying to  put on a brave face. We all tried to  act normally  I  sat with  him at the kitchen counter , trying to   eat . He was , for my  sake, trying to  force the food down. A friend of my  son-in-law, oblivious to  the situation, came in  talking about the hunting season to  come  and new equipment he was planning to  purchase. It was so  normal and so  damned surreal. Chris left the kitchen , I  knew he was thinking

I  probably  won’t be here for that  season.

I  waited, trying to  swallow my  scream. Nikki  came into  the kitchen  and said ”

Mum, Chris is not good, you  had better come upstairs   

I followed her up  to  the guest room, also  now known as Chris’ room. He was laying on top  of the bed and had broken down, the fear, the hope, the fact he would die crashing down on him and he could no  longer  put on a brave face that day .

I didn’t know what to  say  or do . I felt totally  helpless.  I sat on the bed next to  him and Nikki  was on the other side and we  huddled and cried together. After a while I said , not knowing really  what I  was saying

“The three of us like this, Chris , is probably  Angela’s worst nightmare”

Finally  a weak smile and I said  to  my  son , almost believing it myself

Chris , I  will move heaven and earth  to  find another way  another treatment, even if it means going  to  Germany  or Europe

( I  had heard they  were making strides in Germany with  Refractory Hodgkin’s)

Chris went back out into  the woods riding and I  went home to   get on the computer and research.

I went home worried beyond reason for my  beautiful son. The phone rang it was Angela’s mother Sue Lombardi  wanting to know something inconsequential.

I said Sue:

I can’t even think about that know ( I  can’t even remember what it was ) I have just left Chris and he is in a terrible state.

WELL! she said NOW YOU  KNOW WHAT ANGELA HAS BEEN PUTTING UP WITH . 

I couldn’t believe the sanctimonious,  cold hearted cow!

PUTTING UP WITH , he is dying and scared and turning to  his wife.. don’t talk to  me .. putting up  with ????

she said :

maybe putting up  with  wasn’t the right choice of words .

No!  it wasn’t  I am going now. I  have things to  of more importance to  deal with  

Finally Tuesday   came  when we once again sat in the offices of Dr. Pohlman. Chris sat alone on the side of the room, he had on his aviator glasses and cap was pulled down, as I  looked at my  son , knowing these glasses were his defense  against the emotions he was feeling  being  shown  to us. Nikki  and I  sat together and Angela  drew up  a chair on the opposite wall.

No-one said a word, and Dr. Pohlman of the diamond earing , white framed glasses , starched white coat and Italian leather  shoes entered the room.

I was never keen on him , his bed side manner was decidedly  lacking  , but Chris liked him, why? I  don’t know .  As he sat down he looked at us , looked at the report and said coldly:

“This is bad, very  bad. Your immune system, ( looking at Chris who had not moved but sat like stone) does not recognize the cancer. As your body deals with the good cells it is also  helping the cancer cells .  Another stem cell transplant  , this would be a donor  transplant in the hopes that their immune system  would take over (allogeneic) is a remote possibility , but the insurance probably  would not   OK  it.

Nikki , spoke  ” well  why  can’t we try? “

Pohlman  looked as if he had noticed her for the first time,

“and  you  are  his sister? Well we could test you  as a donor, are you  willing “

“Of course I  am willing I  will do  anything “

Polhman  then continued.

Chris your only  hope for a “cure” ( and yes he said the word “cure” )is to  get on a trial for the drug SGN35 .

I finally  found my  voice,

how  do  we do  that?

Unfortunately, 

he said ( and this was the Tuesday  morning after waiting for days for the results of the biopsy)

We.at the Clinic closed down the admittance to  the trial of SGN 35  we have here on Friday  and there are no  more spaces available. I am not sure there are any  openings  around the country.

I was incredulous , this young man had been treated by  them from the very  beginning they  KNEW the cancer had returned , they  knew he would need options , they  held out the hope again to  only  withdraw it coldly  and clinically. I was so  angry  I  couldn’t  speak. Angela sat there ,

 

For god’s sake I  thought Angela say  something, you  are a resident going to  be a Dr.  a member of the Cleveland Clinic yourself  say  something!!!!!This is your husband  fight for him.

Angela said nothing,  it was Nikki  who  spoke :

You  are the Cleveland Clinic  , the best in the nation, and you  are telling me that Chris has been your patient all this time and you  come in here offering nothing,  just that a trial has closed, why  didn’t you  reserve him a space. You  KNEW what those results were . and all you  can say  is “this is bad , very  bad ” and there is a hope for a cure but not here . Then Where????? Don’t kick him to  the curb, he is not a lab rat……

Chris’ face book page

I am not sure Polhman  was expecting that , I know Angela  looked shocked.  Polhman was the big shot specialist, I  am sure she wasn’t happy  with  Nikki  questioning him.  Polhman turned his hands  outward in a gesture  of  “oh well” said that he would send his assistant to  set up a test for Nikki  and he would have them see if there were any  openings for SGN 35 in other states , but the trials had all closed on the Friday . He had other patients he had to  see.

As they  all walked out I asked what about Europe, Germany , he looked perplexed. He didn’t know  and was that an option. I  said:

anything is an option to  save my  son’s life and walked out.

The rest of the day  found Angela looking into  options, contacting people she had been  in medical school with. Nikki  on the computer  and I called family  in the medical community , who  dealt with  Cancer research . They  put me in touch  with  Chicago  and Columbus trials, talking to  Doctors,   setting up  appointments.

Angela had the best options with  MD  Anderson   Houston Texas . She sent Chris records through   to  a friend who  said they  would get them to  Dr. Younes who  was doing the trial.

Wednesday  morning , Nikki  and I  picked up  Chris from his apartment and we went to  the Clinic for them to  be matched for a allogeneic  transplant. This done we went back to  his apartment, not really  speaking . We stayed for a little while, I  was so  worried about Chris , he had lost hope. I left Nikki  and Chris in the living room and went to  busy  myself making the bed incase he needed to  rest. Nikki  came flying into  the room. Dr. Younes’ PA from MD Anderson  was on the phone and they  had an opening for an appointment  the next day  in Houston.

The next afternoon at two o’clock . OMG!!! the thoughts tumbled and whirled through  my  mind. Take the appointment , call the airlines, Chris call Angela , where is my  credit card , get them on a flight, book a hotel near the hospital , get some money . By  eight o’clock they  were boarding a flight to  Houston….

 

the roller coaster  ride was starting up  again

 

to  be continued……..

 

January 3, 2021 at 2:27 pm 5 comments

NO LIMITS-Dec. 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 11

No Limits- The book

Forward: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

Chapter One :https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Two:https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-

Chapter Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/no-limits-chapter-4-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/june-3rd-no-limits-chapter-5-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Eight: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/sept-3rd-no-limits-chapter-8-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Nine: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/oct-3rd-no-limits-chapter-9-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Ten: NO LIMITS- Nov 3rd- Chapter 10- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

 THE HOPING TIME- CHAPTER 11

I was never one for organized religion. My brain always questioning as to the logic of faith. The stories written by men with agendas put in the form of a bible, or a book, tablets, writings, of whatever faith was in vogue, translations based on the politics of the day.  But I prayed to an all-powerful, all knowing being commonly known in my society as God!  I prayed every waking minute silently, and every night alone I prayed out loud. Please God take me not him, let him have his life and happiness. I did the deals parents do when they believe someone magical being   can overturn a fate. I would have sacrificed myself on any alter “He” deemed needed to save my son.

 Almost every church in Lorain had him on their prayer chain. Churches both Catholic and Protestant in England, Scotland, New Zealand Australia and Canada reached out to the heavens in my son’s name. Synagogues, Buddhists and Native Americans joined in with their prayers . I was sent so  many  little bottles of Holy  Water  from Lourdes,   from pilgrimages made on behalf of Chris that I could have opened a market stall.

The thoughts kept going through my  head.

“If there is a God as most seem to  believe and he has no  use for me  and no  reason to  answer my  prayers surely  He can’t ignore the hundreds of people who  are praying for Chris, and especially  his wife  and family  a pillar of the Catholic Church. What about their prayers does my  lack of faith tip  the scale against hundreds of believers?

What about Chris what did he ever do in his young life to  deserve this ? His sister what had she ever done, his father his Nana?  The believers told me God has a plan? Well I don’t like his plan  when the drug dealer who  has raped and caused hell to  his parents  is walking around  procreating  and causing such turmoil why  not him I asked  why  Chris? I did not get an answer and ten years on nothing has changed for the drug dealer except his vehicles.

June turned into  July , I watched as my  son started to  look better from his chemical death. He grew stronger  and I started to  breathe a little  better.  Late July  found him going on a 4 wheeler trip  with the guys.

 

Normalcy  and fun , so  I  thought. Dr. Pohlman  had told him in June he wasn’t  going to  have to  see him until November and he had no  restrictions  as such,  just to  stay  away from people who may be ill  etc.  When Chris came back from that trip  he was obviously  tired  but there was something else going on . I prayed it wasn’t the cancer coming back again.

Chris opened up  to  Nikki  that he thought the lump was coming  back on his neck a compromised lymph node . My  understanding is the cancer cells in the blood are larger than normal cells and so can’t get through and block the system causing the lumps ( tumors) . That of course is the very simplest of explanations , there is so  much  more .

Chris finally having   shared his fears with  Nikki and they  called the staff member in Pohlman’s office  he had been given as a contact. They  basically  said to  keep an eye on it  and he had an appointment moved up until August.

The Doctors decided to  do  a biopsy on August 21st , Chris’ birthday.  I will never be able to  think of his birthday  in the same way  again.

I drove to  the downtown Cleveland Clinic  wanting to  throw up  all the way. I was so  scared I  couldn’t even  think straight.  Chris and Angela were already  there. Nikki  having fed the baby,( she was breast feeding)  was on her way. We sat in silence in the waiting room , Chris, Angela and I  , I  had no  words. Nikki  arrived  looked at her brother and said “Birthday” he smiled . He was taken back to  pre-op  Nikki  and Angela went with  him . I  sat along in a corridor trying not to  fall apart, everything within me  was screaming.

Chris was taken down and we went to  the waiting room only  to  find Angela’s support team. One of them her  grandmother , they  wanted to  get something to  eat so I duly  followed on.  The grandmother who  was nice enough  in her way but in my  opinion  sadly  lacking in forethought  said:

“What a shame, on his birthday  too. Oh isn’t it your birthday  in a couple of days, are you  having a party to  celebrate”

and on she “clacked”. I thought has this woman any idea of what Nikki  and I  are going through. I  sat quietly  through the “meal”, whilst they  ate and  rattled on about this and that, we then went back to  the waiting room.

The big board with  all the operations and who was in surgery and who  was in recovery kept changing. The grandmother true to  form had not finished. Nikki had left me to  go  and express  her milk. As I  sat there visualizing what was happening to  my  son  Grandmother pipes up:

Let’s have a contest , everyone pick a time as to  when Chris goes to  recovery, how much  longer do  you  think  it will be. Angela you  are the Dr. so   you  start.

and they  did . I was by  this time  bringing up  bile in my  mouth, I  could no  longer sit there , was not one of Angela’s support team going to  shut this stupid woman up. Did they  not see how inappropriate this was and how painful?

I got up  and left and went outside crying. Nikki found me  as they  had no  idea where I  had gone. Chris had come through  the surgery  and was in recovery. The  surgeon came out and said it went well and they  were sending the sample for tests. Angela left to  share the news. Nikki  looked at the surgeon and said:

is the cancer back?

He was very  nice and said

 we have to  wait for the results.

Nikki looked at him and said :

You  have done hundreds of these and you  can tell, I know , is the cancer back

He looked at her and just nodded.

Mum, you  can’t go back into  the recovery  room . Chris will take one look at you  and know . You  have to  leave.

and so  I  did . I don’t remember driving home . I was numb , perplexed desperate.

Chris missed my  birthday  but came two  days after with  my  “candles” he always bought me candles since he was a little boy.

April 3rd- The Candle Connection- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

 

As soon as Chris was  old enough and earning money, he would  buy me special candles – the trouble was they were always artistic and expensive and I couldn’t bring myself to light them. After one more such gift of candles I couldn’t bear to burn , I told you:

“Chris, these are far too nice to burn – just buy me ones I can feel OK with lighting” .

The next birthday came the “Daisy Candles” and once again I didn’t have the heart to burn them I supposed you had forgotten the request .

I noticed the cellophane around the “Daisy Candles” was definitely yellowing and becoming brittle. My thought was to bring them into the living room where my mum, who loves daisies might get some cheer from them as a symbol of “spring will eventually arrive and with it daisies”

I brought the candles downstairs , took off the wrapper and then saw the instructions-

I realized as I read those words you had listened to me– because the candles were special- the wick would burn for 29-30 hours and when it was done the outside of the candle would still be intact and I could insert tea light candle that would illuminate the outer shell.

 

the thought struck me the candle was yet another symbol- how your life burned with beauty and strength for as many years as those candles had hours (29) and what was left was a mere glimmer of memories that would only burn as long as I lighted the “memory of you” . The “tea light” of the 3rd of every month where once again your life is lived!

The candles , the last he bought me, are still waiting  to  give a light that has been lost to  us.

To be continued………

December 3, 2020 at 3:48 pm 2 comments

NO LIMITS- Nov 3rd- Chapter 10- Chris Ritchey

No Limits- The book

Forward: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

Chapter One :https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Two:https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-

Chapter Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/no-limits-chapter-4-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/june-3rd-no-limits-chapter-5-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Eight: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/sept-3rd-no-limits-chapter-8-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Nine: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/oct-3rd-no-limits-chapter-9-chris-ritchey/

The Time Between and the 2nd Stem Cell Transplant- Chapter 10

After leaving the Cleveland Clinic on that 1st week of April , our hopes were high. Although  Chris looked dreadful the doctors were very  pleased with how he rebounded and his body  was recovering. The next stem cell transplant would take his level down ( chemically) even farther than the first one. They  hoped that this would eradicate any  of the cancer cells left in his blood.

The weeks of recovery were rough, he obviously  had very  little appetite . I would go to  his and Angela’s apartment every  morning  in Cleveland Heights  whilst she went to  work at South Pointe Hospital . I would stay  until she  would come home in the afternoon. The rest of my  family  were having to  fend for themselves, I  felt very  guilty  I  couldn’t help  my  daughter more with  her new baby. My  90  year old mother was  looking after my  husband and cooking for everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would take Chris his food or cook for him during the day. I knew more about where things were in my  daughter- in- law’s kitchen than I  did in my  daughter’s.

 

 

 

 

I hated all the poisons that were supposedly  killing the cancer because I  knew they  also  killed  healthy  cells and I was scared of the damage that was being done. However, you  take the chance that being young your son can overcome  and heal. I had said to  :

 

Brad Pohlman, MD, is Vice Chair of Operations at Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute. DrPohlman is a member of the American Society of Hematology, American Society of Clinical Oncology, and American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation.  when we had  met with  him about the double stem cell transplant”

“What are the side effects or dangers in this and would you  recommend this if Chris was your son?”

He smiled and said:

” Obviously  I  would recommend this procedure  and the main issues with  the stem cell transplants is that  it can cause problems in the lungs, but we can fix that with  steroids “

I thought at the time I hoped the risk was minimum  as he  didn’t seem concerned and we were ready  to  try anything to  get rid of this damned cancer. Still as he mentioned the lungs my  chest tightened and warning bells went off again in my  brain, but what was the alternative?

The days went into  weeks and Chris progressed really  well, he got the color back  in his face his eyes no  longer circled with  darkness, he was of course completely  bald .  He came to  Nikki’s one day had his black jacket turned backwards and declared as he came into  the room:

Uncle Festus has arrived!

 

 

 

 

He still had an irreverent sense of humour and could laugh  at himself  and a temper and that calmed me  because I  knew how he would fight. And so  the 2nd stem cell transplant began.

This time they  took his levels down to  almost zero , it was horrible. He never complained but the pain was excruciating, they  pumped him full of drugs and the creamed corn radiated cells, His vision was effected  and basically  his nails stopped growing for those two  days leaving a line where they  “died” and then were” resurrected”. His mouth  was full of ulcers  and his throat.  He could only manage water  and milk with  ice cubes. I  had my  mother make him his favorite orange whip, with  orange jello, double cream and mandarin oranges whipped together.

 

When he could manage whipped potatoes I  whipped them with  butter and an egg and cream.  Funnily  enough  he got a craving for Corn Dogs of all things , maybe it was the smell of the creamed corn but much  to  the annoyance of the “nutrition specialist” I would get him whatever he desired and so  corn dogs it was. Eventually  , having brought in an electric kettle  I  could make him tea, the cup  that cheers as my  mum always said and we would share a cup or two  in the afternoon with  a few of his favourite English  biscuits (  cookies) I am not sure what the staff thought of me but I  didn’t care, I  knew what he liked and how to  make my  son comfortable .

I would once again, change the bed, read whilst he slept. and leave about 5 . I  rarely  bumped into  Angela I  thought she was working. Apparently, I  learned later,   she was not   most of that time. Yet my  son thought she was and felt badly  she  was working all day  and having to  come and visit him at night. I am grateful he didn’t know what we now know. Came the day  he was released once again !

He had decided after weeks of being in isolation he wanted nothing more than the get out into  the outside and breathe the air.  He bought a 4 wheeler which  he kept at his sister’s , Nikki. They  have woods behind their house  and every  moment he could he would be  riding the four wheeler for hours . He loved it and being alone in those woods, free…… !

I  had also  given Chris  my  Pontiac Trans Am and he was able to  use it as a down payment on a Ford F150 black truck, his father and I  made the payments  . Chris   he was still getting pay from his job and Angela was working but I felt the young couple had enough  on their plate so  we paid the truck payments and insurance. Fortunately  ALL the medical costs were covered under Angela’s Cleveland Clinic Insurance ( all but the parking fees) 100%of all medical costs were covered. The Clinic has some great perks!

Sue Lombardi  made a great deal of fuss to   people of my  acquaintance saying how much  everything was costing. One of my  friends  asked , after having a discussion with  Sue, if they  could help  in anyway with  the medical bills. I said what bill? Chris is covered under the Cleveland Clinic  they  are paying for everything under their insurance. The answer came

” Sue, led me to  believe the cough  medicine alone  was $350.00 you  mean they  aren’t paying that, why  would she lead me to  believe they  were going in debt” 

I said

” Well  she is right the cough  medicine is $350.00 a bottle but she and her family  aren’t suffering any  out of pocket expenses for Chris’ treatment, I  don’t know why  she is telling people that”

 

 

A year after his first diagnosis of the Refractory  Hodgkin’s  – June 2009 – finishing up the tandem stem cell transplants – found Chris given the all clear once again. We celebrated with steaks and good wishes, Chris hosting the barbeque at Nikki’s house inviting the “Lombardi in- laws”.

Luckily  for me , my  new little grandson   Gavin, was fussy  so  I  was able to  excuse myself with  the baby and spent a great deal of the time trying to  get him off to  sleep.

You  see, I  did not have the strength  to  maintain a façade, I  could not look at the Lombardi  family  without the picture of them in my  dream  standing  around my  son’s casket , warning bells  kept going off in my  brain. Illogical though it was, I could not get over looking at them and seeing the death of my son.

My body  and soul were torn between hope, happiness and dread………

 

To  be continued………..

 

 

November 3, 2020 at 1:43 pm 2 comments

Oct. 3rd No Limits Chapter 9 – Chris Ritchey

 

No Limits- The book

Forward: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

Chapter One :https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Two:https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-

Chapter Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/no-limits-chapter-4-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/june-3rd-no-limits-chapter-5-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Eight: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/sept-3rd-no-limits-chapter-8-chris-ritchey/

Double Cell Transplant:

We went to  see  Dr. Brad Pohlman  who  had been involved through  South Pointe with Chris’ initial treatment.

:Brad Pohlman, MD, is Vice Chair of Operations at Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute. DrPohlman is a member of the American Society of Hematology, American Society of Clinical Oncology, and American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sngT_dShxsw

 

So  much  for the 95% cure rate  re Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Chris was  now diagnosed with   Refractory  Hodgkin’s Lymphoma , the cancer came back very  quickly https://www.webmd.com/cancer/lymphoma/qa/what-is-refractory-or-recurrent-hodgkins-lymphoma

The day, Chris and Angela and I  went to   we went to the Cleveland Clinic and saw the Lymphoma specialist Dr. Brad Pohlman, once again we rode the rails of hope. My son wanted to  do  whatever it took to

get this “crap” out of me, cut it, burn it, kill it, I want to  reach  the age of 50″.

I looked at his face as he said those words and my heart ached for him.

It was suggested that Chris undergo  a Double Stem Cell transplant ,  good results had been seen in a study  out of California . A tandem (double autologous) transplant is a process in which you have two stem cell transplants with your own cells — done about three to six months apart — to increase chances of success.

Basically  this involved removing stem cells  from Chris  through  his blood. The need a certain amount and they  did manage to  get all they  needed in one  removal

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stem-cell-transplant/what-happens/

The most common way to harvest stem cells involves temporarily removing blood from the body, separating out the stem cells, and then returning the blood to the body.

To boost the number of stem cells in the blood, medication that stimulates their production will be given for about 4 days beforehand. On the fifth day, a blood test will be carried out to check there are enough circulating stem cells.

If there are enough cells, veins in each arm will be connected by tubes to a cell-separator machine. Blood is removed from one arm and passed through a filter, before being returned to the body through the other arm.

This procedure isn’t painful and is done while you’re awake. It takes around 3 hours and may need to be repeated the next day if not enough cells are removed the first time.”

He then, after harvesting, went through more Chemo therapy  and  in one year from his first chemo  was back in the Cleveland Clinic isolation  etc. to be chemically  killed . There is no  other word for it. We prepared as best we could because of the high risk of infection he was initially  behind a glass window. The side effects of the first transplant  were given to  us :

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores or ulcers
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Infertility or sterility
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Cataracts
  • Organ complications, such as heart, liver or lung failure

As he went through the  first of the stem cell transplants I would go to the hospital every day, he hated the food, refused to eat it. Apparently  the smell of the plastic covers covering the food  and the steam coming off of them  nauseated him. I would cook him lunch and supper, trying to devise a menu which would appeal to the lack of appetite, high calorie content that slipped down easily, dishes he liked from childhood. Then I  would take the dishes to  him. The nutritionist had to  OK what I  cooked, but they  were more nutritious than what they  were trying to  give him so  I was allowed.

Finally  the glass screen came down, he was supposed to  be the hospital that first time around for at least 4 weeks. He experienced most of the side effects.  I still suffer from that place and  that transplant. The nurse warned me they  would be putting his own irradiated and treated cells back into  his body  and the preservative  used would smell like creamed corn and it did. The smell permeated the very  air  for hours. I can no longer smell  creamed corn cooking  or dished out  without being violently  ill both  in mind and body.

I would arrived at 11:30 am, most of the time he would be in the chair by the time I arrived, hooked up to poisons and fluids. I would get clean sheets from the nurse every day and make up his bed.  This was my only way of trying to make him comfortable, with clean sheets and freshly made bed. I would stay whilst he slept, or watched TV. Most of the time I read. I can’t remember one book or title of any book during that time.

I would stay with him in that “cell” because that is what it became for both of us a cancerous prison but with hope the door would be unlocked to a future.  I would heat his supper in the hospital’s “family room” microwave – clean up and come home at 7 to get dishes etc. for the next day and start all over again.

My daughter was at the end of her pregnancy, when Chris was admitted for the first stem cell procedure.  She wasn’t due until at least two  weeks after Chris was due to  be released from the first stem cell transplant ( Autologous) , but once again, somehow I  KNEW  (yet another premonition) , I was going to  be torn would   between hospitals –  I would be travelling between hospitals and the needs of my  two  children.   I was right, Chris was at the end of the first procedure when Nikki went into labor two  weeks early .

I had just crawled, exhausted,  into  bed when my  son in law called to  say  Nikki’s water had broken and to  meet them at the hospital as Nikki  wanted me  with  her when she gave birth.  Even though Chris had been in one hospital being chemically killed he was on the phone to Nikki the whole time talking her through the pain of birth, making her laugh, easing her mind. They were miles apart and yet Chris was there for her as I knew he would be. Chris talked to  her through  the hours of labor, making her laugh, getting her through. They  were always there for each  other

Chris and his sister, Nikki – on the happiest night of her life

Chris said:

hey  at least you  will get out of there in a couple of days  even when I  get out I  will have to  come back….. hang in there … you  can do  this….

 

 

He said to  Nikki  after he heard  it was a baby  boy. let me tell Nana and Dad and he did .  I didn’t see him for 4 days after the birth  as I  was with  Nikki, but his counts came back quickly , quicker than expected and he was released/

Chris came home on April 3rd and met his nephew for the first time, he was amazed at how tiny  Gavin was. Nikki’s house was the first place he came straight from the hospital . Nikki, with  Gavin in her arms   and Chris and held onto  each  other that afternoon ….

To be continued

October 3, 2020 at 12:00 pm 1 comment

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