Archive for May, 2020

No LIMITS – Chapter 4- 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/

I watched out the window as my son’s car drew up outside and he walked slowly to the house. He no longer had that bounce of youth, he walked like an old man with the weight of the world crashing down on him. He had started out that day on a journey of hope, love and a wedding and returned with a diagnosis of obscenity.

He just reached the living room when Nikki flew in the door, her face full of confusion and pain, mirroring her brothers. Jim, her husband standing there not knowing what to say or do, my husband sitting in the chair in shock. Chris trying to reassure us that it could be wrong

“they said his blood counts were all in the normal range so maybe it wasn’t as bad as we were told- they were going to have to do more tests”.

 

Angela was on her way to the house. I put my faith in the fact she was a going to be a doctor, maybe she could make sense out of what we were being told. Maybe she could find out more than we could.

Angela and Chris went into the den, not to discuss a bright wedding and future but “cancer”. I sat on the couch Nikki and my husband looking to me to sort this out” because that is what I do – I fix things , I have a plan, I see a way through only this time my brain was numb , I was at a loss. Chris came out of the den and sat on the bottom landing of the stairs, Angela beside him. No one said anything, no way forward, no plans just this terrible pall that enveloped us.

Then some small talk which ensued about Chris’ dog, Misty, those that loved Chris trying to erase the obscenity with normalcy. I just couldn’t be “brave” any longer pretending this was just another afternoon sitting there in this surreal world. I knew I would crumble and I had to leave the living room and escape from the “living” room of horror it had become.

I lay on my bed, the silence from below deafening, trying to sort through all the fear, the uncertainty , trying to figure out what I needed to do. Nothing was penetrating except the word CANCER in my brain. Cancer became my world in that moment, it threw up its own walls around me. Then , Chris was there – he put his hand on my shoulder and said

“Mum it will be OK”

I remember saying Oh Chris I am so scared. As soon as I said it I realized I was being selfish. This was not about me , this was about my beautiful son, who just had the worst news in the world and he was , as he had done so many times before, putting his family before himself. I

felt guilty because whatever I was feeling he was the one who would have to fight this obscenity. I must put aside and cover my own terror , to be there no matter what for my son, he needed to be first and foremost , I couldn’t do anything about what treatments were needed and what he would have to go through but I would do whatever was needed to see he got whatever it was he needed to survive. I could be his mother and put my son first. I felt relief, his bride- to- be seemed as if she would be supportive and with her knowledge of the medical options. He had his sister, who would move heaven and earth for him, he would have a support group of love to see him through. I would wait for the results of the tests and once more my brain started to function.

The tests, the diagnosis, doctors’ visits and the treatment began as did the days of hope and horror as the “curable cancer Hodgkin’s Lymphoma invaded my son’s body and our world. Initially the obscenity was treated as “Oh if you have to have cancer this is the one you want” 4 to 6 chemo treatment spot radiation and you will be fine – 95% cure rate. The prognosis was excellent, just a small bump in the road of life.

I walked into the “chemo “ room that first day- March 13th 2008 , I had driven Chris and Angela to South Pointe Hospital ( an hour’s drive from home) to start his treatment after meeting with Dr.Abraksia who was chosen by his bride- to -be , Angela.

The decision made sense at the time, Angela would be doing her residency at South Pointe, and the hospital was in the Cleveland Clinic System. When Chis and Angela married in a couple of months’ time they would be living in the vicinity. I convinced myself this was a good idea. I, at the time, admired this young woman, Angela, she would be supportive and seemed to take the diagnosis in stride, she seemed calm and cool whereas I was being consumed by fear, panic and doubt. Perhaps it was her faith, as well as her medical knowledge, that enabled her to be so cool. I know that was one of things my son admired in her was her “coolness” and quiet voice.

Close up of Intravenous drip

As I crossed the room, where half a dozen “elderly people” were hooked up to IV’s ,I saw my son- poison’s flowing into his body to kill the invader. I wanted to pull the needles from him, gather him up and run away from this place, he shouldn’t be here my mind screamed at me. Instead I sat with him for a little time. The first chemo was going to take all afternoon, I couldn’t bear watching the slow drip of poisons, so I drove the hour home, had Angela call me when they were about an hour from finishing and drove back to pick them up to drive home again. I had to do something I just couldn’t sit by watching destruction being pumped into my son, for chemo destroys the bad and the good.

That night, as I worried about my son, listening for his every move as he tried to sleep in the room across the landing from me. I remembered how many nights I had spent when he was a baby, getting up three or four times just to make sure he was breathing , alert even in sleep to hear the faint whimper or cry of your new born. Yet not daring to disturb him, I had had to be a positive for his sake. Finally sleep came.

Angela , Sue and Tim Lombardi

I did not know Angela’s family well, although Chris and Angela had dated for a few years, both were in college, and living away from home. We, as families, did not have much of an occasion to socialize. However, at the engagement celebration I realized the mother, Sue Lombardi , was not a person that I would embrace and that my son would have a “mother in law” who controlled and was self-promoting . Well his problem I thought, little did I know she would end up my problem.

I awoke in the early morning hours of that first night after chemo, shaking, gasping for breath. I had a dream; it was so real.

I was in a room, in the middle of the room was an open casket in which lay my son and around this casket was Angela, her mother and father and family. I was drenched in sweat and tears, the realization it was a nightmare slowly came to the front of my mind.

I crept, as quietly as I could, into my son’s room to check on him – he was awake.

“You alright mum?”

I said:

yes just wondering if I can get you anything?

Some cold water would be nice, this stuff is warm

a smile and the beginning of a pretense way of dealing- I would check on his “water needs” I would be reassured he was alright and the game of pretending began, both of us knowing “ I was awake – do you need some water/ juice?” was not the real reason for my “checking in”.

The next day , I opened up my terror to my good friend Barb, I broke down when she called to check on how we were, Christopher was her godson I tried the small talk but blurted out

“ Barb I am going to watch my son die”
A very definite Barbara firmly stated:

Pull yourself together, the prognosis is great, don’t be silly, you have to put those thoughts from you for Chris’s sake – he will be fine.

And so I tried, all through those weeks of chemo, to push aside the negative thoughts that would creep into my head; but still the dream came back to haunt of Angela and her family standing around the casket.

E. Munch- 1895

The wedding plans continued and I tried to be normal, but the doubt and dream tore at m. I wear my heart on my sleeve, always have done, I am not good at hiding my emotions and thoughts…..

To be continued

May 3, 2020 at 5:00 pm 3 comments


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