Posts filed under ‘Love’

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 6 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

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

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

Sept. 3rd – No Limits- Chapter 8- 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/

After the Wedding- Chapter 8

All during the trip  to  Europe  I  was in a state of panic . I  tried not to  show my  fear, after all Nikki  was pregnant it was a time of celebration, of being with   family  and supposedly   moving forward with   hope  and happiness.  No  matter how I  tried I could not quell the terror that would  shake me awake at night or in unguarded moments transport me to  a dark place.

I wasn’t alone in this thing called premonition, Chris as a little boy had dreams and premonitions too. They faded as he grew or maybe he just didn’t pay attention to them. The day  I brought my  son home from the hospital, I sat gazing at his little flushed faced and those  eyes , new to  the wonder of a world  experienced for the first time and my  mother admiring her new grandson , I  heard myself saying as I  looked at my  miracle and said out-loud as my  mum sat with  me – he will have a sad life! I don’t know what made me say it, I put it down to post-partum nonsense but I was always, in hindsight,  since that utterance tried  to make sure Chris’ life would not be sad. I spoiled him and loved him, laughed with him, enabled him and tried everything I could to protect him.

After Chris had completed his radiation treatments and  we were finally  over our “European Flu” , my  husband and I  were invited to  the newlyweds  apartment  for dinner.  I  hadn’t seen Chris in a couple of weeks he had been travelling out of state for Wyse  Advertising in his position as an Art Director. He had the Meineke Account and they  were shooting a new ad based on Chris’ ideas  which  would be aired on CNN and on the Meineke Bowl December 27th 2008.

 

As I walked into their apartment that evening in November 2008 my  arms full of wine and flowers , my son was sitting in “his” chair – one he had purchased after the wedding- men always have to have “their chair”. I  stopped short  as I  looked at my  son – something was wrong, his eyes, dark circles , pallor I  knew it was not good, but he had been through a lot and was back at work; logical reasoning’s  flooded into my  thought process but I knew   all the while knowing  this wasn’t good. I smiled and said:

I will just give these things to Angela, talk to your dad, I will be back in a second.

I joined Angela in the small kitchen , I  had hoped that my  wariness of her , which I  had felt from the first day  I  was introduced to  her, would have dissipated now they  were married. But no! it hadn’t, there was something that made me uncomfortable around her, something that made me try too hard with her, not be me. I remember thinking:

she is like her mother in so many ways but there has to be something I am not seeing in her that Chris does.

I knew from Chris’s  own lips, Sue Lombardi, the mother in law, was an irritant to him and didn’t gladly suffer her.  There were times my son used the cancer and fatigue as an excuse NOT to go to the Lombardi gatherings, and yet was well enough to join Jim and others at the Irish pub.

Angela, Chris does not look well to me is he OK…. is this the after effects of the treatment?

 

Oh No! she said

he caught cold on the trip  for Wyse – flying you tend to pick up stuff and his immune system is down because of the chemo and radiation. He is on antibiotics from the Dr. at South Pointe. 

I felt somewhat relieved, after all she was now a resident, the hospital staff knew Chris and his situation and so we sat down to dinner. I couldn’t take my eyes off my son, even though I was careful not to let him see I was looking and the quiet fear became a deafening roar.

Thanksgiving 2008 came, Angela was working (supposedly), I  am not sure to  this day  that I  believed that .. I  felt that she wanted to  spend  Thanksgiving with  her family  and Chris with  his, so  they  decided  to  each  go  their  own way and Chris would go  to  Lombardi’s for dessert.

Chris sat as his usual place at the dining room table. I realized I hadn’t really seen Angela but a couple of times, and then only briefly, since they had been married. Chris would come to Nikki’s every weekend but never did Angela stay, she was usually with her family.

 

I had cooked Chris all his favorite dishes that Thanksgiving Day but they largely went untouched. After he left to join Angela at her mother’s, Nikki was worried:

We have to do something, Mum, something is not right with Chris, I don’t care what Angela says he is ill.  .

 

Chris had been scheduled for a PET Scan  but he didn’t want Christmas to  be a blow out  so  he scheduled the scan after Christmas. We had a Christmas , Nikki  and I  treading on  eggshells and swallowing our fears like they  were broken glass.

Angela stayed at her parents and Chris as usual stayed with  Nikki, he had his own room. I went over Christmas morning and Nikki  was very  worried Chris looked dreadful .

Angela  duly  arrived that morning in her pajamas and coat , she called up  to  Chris to

get up  and come on she was waiting  ,

they, the Lombardi  Clan   were all going to  the cemetery  where the little cousin who  had been killed by  the falling tree branch  that September was buried in their  pajamas with  gifts for the grave , opening Christmas stockings  and decorate  a tree.

I heard my  son say

“No  that is  sick I  am not going to  be part of that ,you  go  but I am NOT! 

Angela Ritchey- In red – by Chris Ritchey

Angela’s  face darkened , you  could tell she was angry  and that Chris  had disagreed with  her in front of me and his Nana . I heard her say  as she left the  room

” things will be different next year”

I remember my  mum looking at me and saying:

you  know that girl has a coldness in her I hadn’t realized….

prophetic words indeed.

 

 

 

Dec 27th,  Chris was still at Nikki’s  where  we all tried to  help  him, Angela pretty  much  stayed away sulking   somewhat after the Christmas morning incident, Chris explained . We duly  sat around the  flat screen to  watch the Meineke Bowl  for his ad.

I was sitting on the couch and Chris slowly  started to  slump over his head  on my  lap , like he did when he was a little boy and I  knew…… time was not going to  be kind…..

 

Chris, had the PET Scan January  3rd  went back to Dr. Abraksia , the oncologist, who  originally  over saw the chemo   treatments and eventually the worst fears materialized. Less than 3 months after being pronounced cured of the curable cancer Hodgkin’s Lymphoma morphed into Refractory Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Nikki was around 6 months pregnant when Chris called me that January evening with the news the cancer was back. I knew  I had to  tell Nikki  in person – her being pregnant was something unexpected and we were treating her like crystal, as just 4 months before her pregnancy Drs. and specialists told her she would not be able to  have children. But I knew she was pregnant before she did , I  told Chris , he got angry  with  me

Mum, stop  it you  know how much  Nikki wants a baby  that is wrong of you.  

I said ,

well I  just know she is....

and when she came over with  the scan I said

Oh Nikki  I  have to  tell Chris……

there was such  excitement

I knew that Nikki  had to  be told carefully   so  got into  my  car and drove to  her home. It was snowing and icy  and I  nearly  took out a mail box .  Jim answered the door, one look at me and he knew things were bad- I told Nikki what I  knew and she crumpled  in two, just sort of folded up.

her baby  brother

she wanted to  go  to  him right away  but we convinced her otherwise- tomorrow we said .

Nikki and I  went to  Best Buy  on the way   and purchased a small flat screen for Chris’s  bedroom- knowing  he would be shut in that room whilst new treatments were tried. Chris was waiting for us, I started to  unpack the TV  whilst Nikki  and Chris went to  the bedroom- I  heard him say-

Nik- I  did everything they  told me to  do, why is it back it is supposed to  be curable?

Other self by Chris Ritchey

 

My heart was in my mouth- I stayed out in the living room giving Nikki and Chris space” to be”.  It was always the two of them against the world.

And so another medical chapter in the journey of the obscenity of Cancer began. I will write of that journey of stem cell transplants, trials the hope and the horror , the circus that is cancer . However,  this book is not about the journey of medical treatment but that of life and connection.

The Touch- Chris Ritchey

 

September 3, 2020 at 12:31 pm 1 comment

August 3rd- No Limits- Chapter7- 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/

 

After the Wedding:

I got through the wedding with a pretense of happiness, and the chemo and radiation treatments continued. We actually  didn’t see Angela for weeks , she and Chris would  come back  to  Lorain from Cleveland on weekends, Angela would stay  with  her parents but Chris  would spend the weekend at his sisters, where I  would see him. It was a bit strange but since I  got to  see him I  wasn’t bothered.

Before Chris’s diagnosis his father and I, my  mum and Nikki booked a trip  to  Europe. Mainly  to  attend a family  event in September and for Nikki  and her dad to  go  to  Scotland and Germany, a cruise up  the Rhine. It was supposed to  be celebration of retirement  and a break for us.

Unfortunately , it turned out to  be the trip  from hell. Apart from the fact none of us , after Chris diagnosis wanted to  go   and surprise, surprise   Nikki  found out she was 8 weeks pregnant, Nana was going to  be a great grandmother  at least this news was wonderful!

 

 

We still  dithered about going   but Chris insisted he was on his last treatment and only  had some radiation to  get through  and we should go  an enjoy.  Enjoy  was not the word we would ever use with  that trip.

There were some good times whilst in England and Chris was only  a phone call away  from his worrying family . We checked on him daily, he probably  got  fed up  but was patient with  us.

It was when we left England the trouble started, we were the last train out of the Euro Tunnel to  France when  the tunnel caught fire  caught fire. We weren’t aware of that until we reached Strasbourg and our hotel. We had only  planned to  stay  in Strasbourg the one night  Sept 11th  . We had  called home to  tell them we would be out of phone contact  for a week on the boat up  the Rhine,  only  to  be greeted with  the news that the rail crossing  and tunnel would be closed  due to  the fire and no-one was sure when it would open.

The boat on the Rhine was not good, Nikki  was feeling queasy , no  one spoke English   and my  French was poor , although  I  managed, we still  couldn’t get any  news and I  hated every  minute.  Even the weather matched my  mood

After 4 days I  could stand it no  longer  and we left the boat early  and  travelled back to  Strasbourg  to  the little hotel by  the cathedral. Nikki  put in a call to  England whilst her dad  and I  went to  look for food. Upon our return to  the room we were greeted with  the news Angela’s  young cousin  had been riding his bike home when a storm  hit  and he was killed by  a falling tree limb.

Nikki was sitting cross legged on the bed  the open Pizza box in front of her  and no -one ate. The time difference meant we had to  wait to  try  and get hold of Chris and Angela, and we had no  idea what to  do or say.

There is nothing worse than being away from your loved ones when something like this happens, you feel totally inadequate and helpless. The next morning , although I am not a Catholic, I walked across the square to Strasbourg Cathedral to light a candle of remembrance for this child who  was of that faith.

 

My mind was not on the beautiful windows, architecture, statues and carvings

 

I watched the tourists as they quietly took in all the beauty that surrounded them, the sound of the Cathedral’s bells reverberating through the stillness.

My heart heavy, I leaned against a pillar whilst my husband took photos and noticed the stone pillar was scarred and what looked ( to me) like bullet holes, it hadn’t been fixed. Had there been a battle of some sort that had scarred the stone? Then I noticed

 

Life has a way of making you realize what is truly important “life itself”, I lit a candle for a little boy  lost in Lorain, another for those  brave men, boys really, whose mothers also wept whose young lives  were lost all the time wondering what the future would bring , would prayers be answered…. and fighting down the tears  I hoped I would not have to  shed for my  own son.

I knew Angela and her aunts were religious and fervent Catholics, but not sharing those same beliefs I wasn’t sure what we could do  to  ease or give comfort. Nikki  and I  purchased  two  rosaries from the Cathedral and had them blessed by  the priest, one for Angela and one for her aunt whose sorrow I know was crippling.

Nikki flew back earlier and my  husband and I  stayed,  he came down with  some sort of horrible flu and by  the time we traveled back  10  days later , we all had it, my mum, me and him.  Mum ended up  in hospital and I  was out for the count for 11 days. It meant that I didn’t get to  see Chris, none of us did  because we daren’t with  his compromised immune system . I didn’t get to  see him until a month  later.  He had changed in the months I  hadn’t seen him, his blonde hair had come back in dark, he had a goatee sort of beard that was tinged with red, he looked older in fact his nose had changed , I  am  not sure if the Chemo did something to  the cartilage   but  his nose was thinner, a bit more beaky . I stared at him quietly  seeing the changes in the lines of his face , his eyes , his smile was still the same though. Chris didn’t often smile  but when he did he could light up  a room  and when I saw that smile as we walked into  Nikki’s great room  he lit up  my  heart once more and I  remembered the years of smiles and love he had given to  us  always…….

To  be Continued >>>

 

 

August 3, 2020 at 9:20 pm 2 comments

July 3rd- NO LIMITS- Chapter 6 – 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/

If the night before at the Rehearsal Dinner was hot , the day  of the wedding dawned  humid and hotter. I  don’t handle heat and no  sleep at the best of times, and this definitely  wasn’t a good time. For the sake of my  children  and family  I  tried so  hard  to  act cheerful and excited, all the while with  this great lump  of concrete in my gut and a  dread of things to come. I can only  liken this feeling to  having the overwhelming feeling /intuition by  getting on to  a plane and knowing it will crash.  I knew the prognosis for Chris form of cancer Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was excellent, 95 percent cure rate, ” if  you  had to  have cancer this is the one you  would want” a few rounds of chemo  and a couple of treatments of radiation and you  will be fine.

BUT then why  did everything in my  mind scream at me there is a  world of hurt coming  our way ……?

artwork Chris Ritchey

THE WEDDING

I knew that Chris would be putting on a brave face, he had a round of chemo on the Thursday  and it usually  caught up  with  him by  the Saturday, and here he was having to  go  through  a horrendously  busy  morning, afternoon and evening. I knew he would not let on how he was dealing and feeling with  all the poisons  coursing through  his body.  He was so  particular when it came to  Nikki’s wedding  in regard to  his tuxedo, having to  make a special trip  to the tailor to  have it adjusted  the day  before.  Nana and Chris at Nikki’s Wedding

Chris had lost weight with  the cancer and chemo  and his tux was too big, but he didn’t seem to  care, not at all like Chris, but then he had more on his plate to  worry  about.

The wedding at St. Mary’s  Catholic Church  officiated by  Father Daniel Divis , Chris had refused the usual Catholic protocol  to  get married in the church  , and he was allowed to  do  so   probably  due to  the cancer diagnosis and the  Father Divis “relationship” he had with  the Lombardis.

I  sat in that church  , not being very  enamored with  organized religion  as a bit of a hypocrite, but it was  Chris and Angela’s day , it was her faith  and she was very  in touch  with  her faith.   My  husband and mother  and I  sat there  “together but alone”  .

The ceremony  over , and I  couldn’t hear a word, but then Angela always made me feel like I was deaf, so soft spoken was she. I had spent the morning putting together a small  cooler bag  for Chris  and  the wedding party  ( mainly  for Chris)   to  take in the limo. It had  cold water ,  some snacks he could eat after chemo , and some cool cloths  as his body  temps rose after chemo  set in.

Wedding over I  came home  showered and cried until it was time to  put on the “face” again for the reception. No  matter how I  tried I  just  could not get out of this terrible feeling  like some darkness was going to  envelop me.

Oh !  this happy  day  could only  get worse heat wise when the air-conditioning at the Holiday  Inn  failed. However, as bad as that was as I  went to  the gifts table to  put our check in for the Bride and Groom  , not a “wishing well” or a cute little decorated  box but a “casket ” with  flowers on the top courtesy  of Sue Lombardi ‘WHAT WAS THE WOMAN THINKING – WAS THIS APPROPRIATE”  Was I  being overly  sensitive?  although  the comments from my  friends they  too were shocked and my  mother was furious.

” I knew as soon as I  saw that  coffin on the table it would hurt you  Loraine”

 

The  wedding although  apparently  enjoyed by  others left me flat especially  when Father Divis  reacted to  the best man’s speech, I wrote about it afterward , (at the time I  did not mention his name BUT  of course now in that blog post he is mentioned )as I  was shocked , although  this man of God would shock me later after the death  of my  son   to  my  core  !

“This was brought home over the weekend ( and I can take a joke better that a lot of people) . A speech that bordered on not only the insulting ( for me )cultural racism  by a priest  (Daniel O. Divis – Office of the Secretariat)who insulted every English person and non catholic at a function. He spoke of Ulster and Northern Ireland in a way that for those of us who lived through the bombings and were directly effected by the IRA and the terrorism  THEY inflicted upon a population both Irish and English , that was  financed  primarily   from this side of the Atlantic  was akin to making jokes about 911. Would you tolerate jokes about 911?

 

So what makes it OK for a pseudo “Irish” priest of Lorain to make the jokes and insult a group of people because they are “English”? A fellow diner said it is just ignorance of the situation– I beg to differ any Catholic Priest who claims Irish lineage KNEW exactly what he was saying, which to me makes it all the more disgraceful – am I wrong??????

You tell me when is it ok for terrorism to be lauded and applauded and when is it abhorred – is it OK to make derogatory remarks as long as it is based on culture and then only one certain segment of the population’s culture – Is it Ok to do this based on culture and not colour???

Although I did have a “word” with the man- I am sure it fell on deaf ears…… So when is it OK – tell me???? because I find this grey area very confusing ?

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2008/06/08/when-is-it-ok/

AND THIS SPEECH  WAS AT A “wedding” 

We got through  the wedding and reception,. The Mother/ Son dance was one of the toughest things  I  knew I had very  little control left  and as  we danced ( and I  told Chris  ( who  was always my  confidant)   I may  need Nikki and his dad to  help  me through. He understood , he knew me so  well and we were always upfront with  one another. So  when I was becoming “emotionally  incontinent”  halfway through  the dance he signaled to  Nikki  and his dad to  join us on the floor  as a group. ( that did not go  down too well with  the Lombardi  clan)  .

My  husband , mother and I   left at a reasonable time  just after the first guests were leaving. I  told Chris Nana was tired but he knew and he by  this time was physically  showing the effects of a very  long day  and the poisonous chemo. I wanted to  gather my  child  up  and  make him  well , but all this was now out of my  hands , he was a married man now!

The next day  was “come over ( to  the Lombardis) and look at the presents” day , we had company  so  I stayed with  them . The next thing I  remember was Chris coming round the corner with  the casket under his arm with  his Best Man. I  said

what are you  doing here?

He said:

Sue Lombardi  and her mother were anxious to  open up  the “box” to  see how much  money  they  received

and he said

No! he and Angela would do  that later ..  I  don’t want them knowing our business and who  gave what so  I  have brought it here  to  stop  their prying . . Turns out there was no  check from the Lombardis in that casket,

Angela said : ” they  paid for the wedding”

HA! thanks to  their “bar arrangements”  we paid more to  the Holiday Inn for the drinks etc. than they  paid for the wedding, and I  know that how ? The wedding planner lady  was so   frustrated with them and their way  of ordering her about  she  told me and actually  gave me a  discount on the total bar bill. 

And so  the next  weeks  came and went all too quickly.

To  be continued …..

 

 

July 3, 2020 at 12:41 pm 6 comments

June 3rd- No Limits- Chapter 5- 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/

The wedding plans went on. I  excused myself from most  of them by feigning migraines leaving my  mother, daughter and husband to  do  the duty.

I was stretched thin on patience and discretion and retreat was for the me the better part of valor.  I  know my  limits  and I knew I  could not  deal  with  the Lombardi  women (  at least not quietly).

The kick off  came re the bridesmaid dresses , the drama- because my  daughter (  who  was, in my  opinion, added to  the group because of Chris’ insistence) DARED to  have her dress altered to  better fit. The phone call from the irate Sue Lombardi after they  saw Nikki’s dress hanging at the seamstress ( without their permission) . I  was curious as to  WHY they  apparently  were at that same  seamstress with  their garments  was never explained.

It was then after the ensuing  chastising phone call from Sue,   Chris who  was irate, as he listened, as I  dealt with  his future mother in law , not angry   with  me but with  Angela and Sue and the upset such  a pettiness caused  – I  decided to politely    back  away  from all things concerning the wedding, apart from paying. Truth  be known they  really  didn’t want my  input and obviously  Chris was becoming caught in the middle of the women of his life at the same time as dealing with  cancer.

 

We managed to  get through  the wedding shower all smiles and  faking  for the guests.

There was no  way  I  could go  to  the “hen night”, aptly  named in my opinion, so  the dreaded migraine reappeared although  I  know I didn’t fool Chris , but he understood, he understood me better than anyone.That duty was left to  Nikki  and my  mother .

My  mother , bless her, got a bit inebriated   ( thanks to  Nikki) and since they  were not made the most welcome by  the “clan”, barely  speaking to  them I  am told. My  mother joined people at another table , after a few of the beverages my  daughter ordered for her  became the  hit of the night with  the other tables.

A dear friend, Mark, was eating at the same venue , he took some photos  called me  and said

” Your mum is such  a character, she is entertaining the whole restaurant  by  grabbing a blow up  man from another  hen night group and dancing around the place, cheered on by  the onlookers.

Not bad for a 90  year old woman.

Chris, who  turned up  with  his friends to  drive people home, laughed and said

Mum , Nana is just wonderful

I don’t think  she went down too well with  the Lombardi’s though.

 a smile from Sue would have cracked her face in two

said Chris.

 

The Friday, of the rehearsal dinner on the 6th  dawned so very hot and airless, totally out of keeping for early June. The wedding date  was based on Angela wanting 06.07.08  numerical sequence. The dinner was planned at a facility overlooking Lake Erie in Lakeview Park. I had booked the place before it was even finished being built.

There was (of course)  issues as to  my  choice of  menu, I had decided on heavy, hot and cold  hors d’oeuvres. I  worked with  a local  caterer, who  actually  had been a family  friend, well respected for his establishment and catering abilities. He told me that when the Lombardi  women  came to his establishment to  check out its viability  for the reception, they  left him feeling insulted  by  their attitude . He was quite annoyed, and went above and beyond in  all I  asked from him.

The menu  included  mini  Beef Wellingtons, meatballs, pasta, mini  quiches,   a carvery ( turkey, beef  and ham)  for sandwiches, salads of all kinds, crab claws  and shrimp in ice, underneath an ice vase sculpture topped with  flowers. Beer and wine (  no hard liquor  allowed at that time) . cakes , cookies and deserts, strawberries and fresh  fruit.  The table fared groaned with  food. However, when Angela  was shown the menu, prior to the  dinner ( as a courtesy  I  might add) , she went into  the den with  Chris and sent him out  and he said to  me….

Angela feels this needs to  be adjusted , people will be coming in from out of town ( the event was set of 50) they  will be hungry  and she doesn’t think hors d’oeuvres will be appropriate  , she suggests chicken , red skin  potatoes ,  green beans and cheese and macaroni.

I said:

NO! Chris –  this is my  contribution to your wedding .  I  have put a great deal of thought, along with  Nikki, and Nana  on this  from entertainment  , decor  and giving you  something from me!

I realized Angela had not been at any  of my  “party  planning” previously but I  looked at Chris and said

when have I  ever not had enough  food at anything I  have planned?

I called my  caterer and told him what had been said  and I  asked him to   add something  along the line of chicken wings  and a macaroni dish. He sighed and said  “Typical”

The morning of the rehersal  dinner  I drove to  Lakeview Park  to  check on final arrangement the food, tables ,  decorations etc. I looked out as I got into my car over to the lighthouse where Chris and Angela had become engaged.

Lorain Lighthouse – Lorain 365 ( L. Miller)

Nikki and I had helped Chris plan that July day of engagement, 11 months prior, the “asking Angela to marry me “place”. Christopher saying:

“You helped Jim to make Nikki’s engagement special you have to help me make this special too mum!

And Nikki and I did help- organizing champagne, roses, a table holding silver goblets and a boat trip to the Lorain Lighthouse on a beautiful day. Anticipating celebration Nikki and I, dad and others sat on the patio of the Jacalope restaurant looking out at the lighthouse happy for the young couple on this very special day.

So why, as I sat in the car looking out at the same scene- the same lighthouse shimmering in the heat of the day the afternoon before the wedding, albeit from a different perspective – why did, I feel such panic and the “knowing” this wedding should not take place?

I looked out on a shining blue lake, sunshine kissing the waves and argued with myself:

“What the hell is wrong with you, why aren’t you happy you should be happy –
Yes, Chris has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s but the prognosis is good, why aren’t you wanting to celebrate?

Angela has stood by him through this diagnosis, she has helped him – she has stuck by him- this has to be such a difficult time for her – (I admired her and was grateful to her for that)

He is getting married, starting a life so what is it with you? Why are you sitting here at Lakeview looking out at the lighthouse and feeling such a dreadful feeling?

I went home in a mood so dark, I couldn’t shake the feeling this wedding should not take place. My husband called my daughter I was in such a foul temper!

“you  had better come talk to  your mother she is having a melt down”

It was as if every fiber of my being was pulling at me NO! this wedding must not happen it will bring pain and sorrow to those I love. What was making me think this way? I  have always trusted my  “gut feelings” and this time I  couldn’t and wouldn’t.

My daughter duly arrived and told me off in such a fashion as to make my own guilt and selfishness of feeling take place of the dreadful fear or premonition I was experiencing – Nikki did not hold back  in her telling me like it was:

This is Chris’ wedding- the happiest day of his life- You have to stop this you have to think of Chris, he will be fine he will come out the other side of this, you can’t let him see you like this.

Of course , I thought she is right, once again I  was being selfish, Chris has to come first and so you have to suck it up.

The rehearsal  dinner for which  I  was responsible was lovely   and everything  went well I  thought. I put on a brave face and tried to  be a good hostess , but that feeling of dread  did not leave – it was there with  every  smile every  word uttered.

Chapter 6 the Wedding…….

 

June 3, 2020 at 11:19 am 2 comments

Older Posts


Categories

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 231 other followers

October 2021
M T W T F S S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031