Posts tagged ‘grief’

January 3rd -No Limits- Chapter 24- Chris Ritchey

 

 

NO LIMITS

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)

Chapter Seventeen: June 3rd-No Limits-Chris Ritchey-Chapter 17 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Eighteen: July 3rd – NO LIMITS- Chapter 18-Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Nineteen: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2021/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter-19-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Twenty: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2021/09/03/september-3rd-no-limits-chapter20-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Twenty One:  https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2021/10/03/october-3rd-no-limits-chapter-21-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Twenty Two : https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2021/11/03/nov-3rd-no-limits-chapter-22-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Twenty Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2021/12/03/dec-3rd-no-limits-chapt-23-chris-ritchey/

Cleveland – The Dying Time

 NOTE: Two  years ago  today  I started writing  Chris’ story  of his life and time on this poor planet  . I cannot begin to  tell you  the toll these last few chapters have taken upon my  very  being.

I have to  write at night when all is quiet and I  am alone with  my  tears and gutting pain, trying to  swallow back the emotions that erupt out of  the very  depths of me. It is painful and torturous but I promised and I will keep  that promise to  my  son.

despair. by Chris Ritchey

Chris spent a few days being tested after returning to Cleveland , getting fluids. It was the Friday  before Thanksgiving . I had spoken to  Chris on the phone the night before , he wanted to  come home  for a few days but could he come to  our house as  he didn’t want to  add to Nikki’s work, as she had the baby.

I said that was fine, have Angela drive him here if he was a bit wobbly  to  drive  and I  would get a room ready  and  etc.

On that Friday  I was in K Mart getting  new bedding and towels, groceries  that I knew he would eat etc. for him and anything thing else I could think  of to  make him comfortable for when he came home. I knew that his dog Misty would help  , they  so  loved each  other and Misty  missed him terribly.

My  mother and I  were just  getting ready to  go  through the checkout when Angela called on my  cell phone . I became  a little confused as she said:

“Chris, said that you  were going to  come to the apartment and stay  the night with  him as I  have to  be on duty”

This was the first I  had heard of it , but I didn’t say  anything, maybe Chris had not told her he had wanted to come home . I  would ask him when I  saw him.    I  went along with  her and said

Yes I  can come , what time 

she said  she needed me there by  6.

Ok I will bring him supper  and will be there at 6. 

I went home made arrangements  and took the food up  with  me. When I  arrived, just before 6, Angela had already  left . Chris was lying on the couch  looking dreadful. He hadn’t eaten so  I  thought maybe he needed some nourishment . He ate in silence and then said :

 Mum, you  will have to  go  down and let this guy  in he is coming to  bring an oxygen tank

Why?  what is going on, what happened I thought you  were coming home, I  don’t understand. 

Well it seems he never told Angela about wanting to  come home because he had started having difficulty  breathing  they  went to  South Pointe again.  They  prescribed oxygen to  help  with  the breathing, they  though  he might have the flu.

Oh  that damned flu  shot , I didn’t think  it was the flu  I thought that shot is giving a false reading

but then I thought

it can’t be that bad they  would have kept him in.

The man with  the oxygen tank arrived, hooked  up  this cylinder type tank and Chris looked a little better.  After he left Chris wanted to  watch  a movie . I remember his words so  clearly , he was trying to  put on a movie and the exertion of going across the room  took everything he had.

“This is like drowning must be, not being able to  breathe is so  dibilitating , it is worse than the cancer. Mum what ever don’t let me be pathetic because I  am pathetic now” 

Oh Chris you  aren’t pathetic, you  are wonderful I  love you  and this is  the flu.

 

In my  heart of heart  I knew this was not the flu. I didn’t know what to  say  or do  I  just sat an watched the tv screen, I couldn’t even tell you  what the movie was. I just sat in the chair wanting to  scream out loud to  the gods, to  fate, to  whomever and  desperatly  trying not let my son see I was petrified for him.

He would dose off for a few minutes and then wake fitfully. About 11 pm  Angela called:

She said that she had been speaking to  her father and mother and they  decided they  needed to  get Chris back  to  Houston.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing

Angela,  and her  parents were making arrangements to put Chris  on a damned train to Texas.   They  had made arrangements  for Chris to  leave at three ( four hours from now) she would be home to  help  get him packed  and help  to  get to  the Amtrack station  and take a train to  Chicago , change trains to  Austin and then it was ONLY  a three hour drive to  Houston!

I was incredulous  what were these people thinking ? This young man dragging around an oxygen tank, had to  have help  getting to  the bathroom. He couldn’t even make it downstairs.

For Christ sake those parents might be intellectually  challenged, in my  opinion,  but Angela was a  resident  soon to  be physician, she had to know that would kill him a journey  like that !

Was I supposed to  go with  him him in 4 hours with  just an overnight bag. I really  couldn’t credit what I  was hearing , surely  they  did not expect  Chris to  drag around on his own.

I said there was no  way  that would be possible.

Chris overhearing the conversation was desperate to  get back to  Houston, he thought they  were his only  hope  and he would fight to  get there .

I knew it would be disasterous  to  even attempt that journey  and for ONCE  in this whole fisaco  of Lombardi-ism I put my  foot down and said NO! that was not going to  happen.

I told Chris,

“Look there is no  way  either of us could make that journey and I  WILL be going with  you , trust me on that . I will start calling around for options in the morning , if I have to  charter a plane or hire an ambulance or drive a damned RV to  Texas myself  I will.”

He said

you can’t drive to Texas

I will do  what ever needs to be done I  will call Dr. Younes in the morning and see what HE suggests.

He then slept for a little and I sat up with him all that night watching every  rise and fall of his chest, every  whince, every  sound………

That was the first night  of two weeks of not sleeping for more than three hours at a time………………………….

 

January 3, 2022 at 2:12 pm 1 comment

Dec 3rd – NO LIMITS- Chapt 23- Chris Ritchey

NO  LIMITS

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)

Chapter Seventeen: June 3rd-No Limits-Chris Ritchey-Chapter 17 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Eighteen: July 3rd – NO LIMITS- Chapter 18-Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Nineteen: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2021/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter-19-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Twenty: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2021/09/03/september-3rd-no-limits-chapter20-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Twenty One:  https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2021/10/03/october-3rd-no-limits-chapter-21-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Twenty Two : https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2021/11/03/nov-3rd-no-limits-chapter-22-chris-ritchey/

OHIO

I was emotionally  exhausted after the flight home from Houston  although, I  was  thrilled the news was good but  terrified at what I  was seeing with  my own eyes as to  how Chris “looked”.  to  these mother’s eyes.

The “plan” was Chris and Angela would drive  back stopping at various sights  along the way and  be back for a few days in Ohio  and then the  return drive to  Houston for ongoing treatment.

I drew Angela aside  and  begged Angela:

‘Please , please leave the truck here and fly  back  here, the Doctor at MD Anderson didn’t think  it wise for Chris to  do  that journey, can’t you  talk with  him he will listen to  you if YOU say you  want to  fly  back! 

Angela’s  quiet reply:  because Angela never spoke loudly

 

Chris, will be just fine driving back to Ohio.” We will take it easy

photo Angela by Chris Ritchey

It was going to  be a lot of driving  but I  hoped that once Chris was home  home Nikki  and I  could persuade Chris to  fly  back and we would rent him a vehicle.

He was taking so  many  drugs, not eating and to  counter the effects  I found he was taking  exlax  like candy.  It was just 36 hours later after I  left Houston I  received a call from Angela saying they  were stopping for the night  in  Jackson Mississippi

It was later the next day  I  received another call, she had had to  take  Chris to  the local ER for fluids, he had collapsed! The Doctors there   wanted to  admit him but they  declined saying they  wanted to  get back to  the Clinic.  I said

“Angela you  can’t  continue driving if he is that ill, book a flight, you  have the money  from the fundraiser that will will cover that cost , can you  drive  the truck to  the airport  and park it? I will have  his dad and uncle fly  down and drive the truck back, that will put Chris’ mind at rest re the truck  .

 

 Angela “What about the keys we can’t leave them , can you  pick up  the spare set  from my  mother at the bank?

I said I  would .

Arrangements were made . I  went that afternoon to  the bank where Sue Lombardi  worked to  pick up  the keys.  She walked acrosse the lobby   with  a silly  grin on her face

“Tim and I  will pick up  Chris and Angela and take them back to  their apartment “

I was fuming underneath  knowing  I  should have pushed more to  stop  that drive back.  I was barely  able to  speak more than two  or three words incase  I said something that couldn’t be taken back.

Her daughter the Doctor,   had she no  common sense?  Side  trips  to  Memphsis indeed when her husband  was downing pain pills for which she was getting the prescriptions . She had to  see how his driving  was terrible and anger flare ups in traffice in Texas. More than once   seeing his “road rage” I  would remind him

Chris, these guys have guns on their trucks  and you  calling them  “dick head” and driving like you  are  , you  are going to  get me shot…

I dropped off my  husband and brother in law at the airport , drove home  and waited .

Finally  Chris called me from the Lombardi’s car and said they  had been picked up  and would call me  the next day.

He did call me the next day  but not from the apartment , he was back in hospital at South Pointe, where Angela was a resident and getting those prescriptions filled  that  I was worried about. 

It was  an I  am OK mum and getting fluids  sort of call. I  told him his truck was nearly  back in Ohio  , his dad and uncle   had driven straight through and they   would leave his truck at  it at Nikkis,as it was safer there will all the items they  had had to  leave.

I was surprised a half an hour later when Chris called back, the inlaws  and Angela had left  and he said  he was alone and wanted to  talk to  me .

“Mum, I am appreciative of everything you did in Texas

 

I said:

I know that Chris you don’t have to thank me

 

He continued :

But I was so mean to you

referring to  the altercation we had  when Angela had lied to  him  and  he thought Nikki  and I  were excluding her .

SEE Chapter 17 of No  Limits 

I responded :

Chris I am your mother , you are allowed to be mean to me , I understand what you are going through , the lack of control over your own life , the anger – it is OK I love you !

 

He said :

You were right I should have stayed in Houston, I shouldn’t have come back to the apartment….. there are so many bad memories – I should’ve stayed in Houston  and I love you mum I should’ve listened

 

I said

Chris, it is no good dwelling in   hindsight….. we will get through this I will see you Friday . I love you

As always he said

I love you too”

I hung up  and burst into  tears…..

I can still hear his voice in my  head , I can  bring those words  to  the fore of my  memory  as if he were speaking them to  me in the present time and day.

That is probably  because  it was the last time  I ever heard him say  those words out loud…… a mother  clings to  every  bit of her child and his life and voice that she can.

 

Note as I  sit  and type this day  of December 3rd 2021-  it is the anniversary  of his passing and so  I am defeated I have to  leave the keyboard and the desk and release  the pain and heartache.. I can write no  more today  the emotional incontinence  that overwhelms on this day cripples  and crushes my  very  core.  … until the next chapter……. and Chris I still love you  with  all my  being……

 

December 3, 2021 at 2:14 pm 5 comments

Nov 3rd-No LIMITS-Chapter 22-Chris Ritchey

Author’s Note.. It wasn’t planned this way  but as I  reach  the 1st ending of this documentation of my  son before he passed . the  times of publication these chapters   are coinciding with times of his  ending.  I have said before this is  absolutely  crushing and painful to  write as I  have to  relive those moments and memories.  but to  get to  the “after” I  have to  document the “before” . As I  get closer to ” loss of all hope  memories ” I  have to  step  away  for hours  and sometimes days  as it is gutting to  go  through  again  and   a drain  on my  physical and mental being.. 

NO  LIMITS

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)

Chapter Seventeen: June 3rd-No Limits-Chris Ritchey-Chapter 17 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Eighteen: July 3rd – NO LIMITS- Chapter 18-Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Nineteen: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2021/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter-19-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Twenty: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2021/09/03/september-3rd-no-limits-chapter20-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Twenty One:  https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2021/10/03/october-3rd-no-limits-chapter-21-chris-ritchey/

Houston Nights and days – a blur

The days after the fundraiser back in Ohio  were tinged with  gratitude to  those who  were so  generous  and writing thank you’s to  those I  knew had donated.  Chris and I  duly  went about the routine of tests , bloodwork and infusion.  One such  visit brought out the Physicans Assistant , she was concerned that Chris was scheduled for the HINI flu shot.   I hadn’t realized that Angela had set that up   via Cleveland. Chris had never had a  flu shot  of any kind and I was unsure of his reaction to  it. Apparently  the PA was concerned as well, but Chris said :

“My  wife has arranged it so  I will take it”

I  sat without saying a word in a fake leather  vomit coloured chair holding my  breath. I was being pummeled with  thoughts

” don’t let him get this shot , it is not a good thing , something will happen”

all the while arguing  with  myself .

“If you  say  something and he doesn’t get the shot and he gets HINI with  his system so  compromised  then you , who  are not medically  qualified in anyway,  you  could cause him worse issues” 

So  I  said nothing , how I  wish  I  had had the guts  to  tell him no!   Hindsight is 20/20

Chris was always so  tired after the infusion which  he also  had that day .  We came home he ate a little, went to  the bedroom , called Angela  and  then  filled the hot water bottles , took pills and slept.

I  heard him during the night running the hot baths  that almost scalded his skin to  ease the pain  he was in.  I lay  awake  wishing there was more I  could do.

He finally  slept and in the morning I went into  the  bathroom to  collect the wet towels  to  wash  and on the floor were soaking wet T’ shirts. I  flashed back  to  when he was first diagnosed with  Hodgkin’s and the  “night sweats” that soaked his T shirts, pillows and bedding . Something was  wrong , so  very  wrong  and it was  so  sudden.

I wanted Chris to  call the Dr. but he wouldn’t as he was scared they  would take him off the trial . I  wondered  could it be a reaction to the H1N1 shot, it came on so  quickly . The next couple of days saw him getting worse. The lethargy  the pain, not wanting to  eat and running a temperature.

 

Angela (Lomabrdi) ritchey ( Murphy)  ( red) by Chris Ritchey

I  had  already  booked Angela a flight for Nov 3rd  as Chris was meeting with  the “team” to  see how the SGN 35 was working for him on November 5th.

I  was so  worried  and out of my  depth , I called Angela and said Chris is not looking at all well and I  am very  worried , barely  eating  and he won’t go  to  the Doctor or call.  Angela rebooked her flight and came down the day before Hallowe’en.

Chris was naturally  pleased to  see her. She never mentioned to  me if she thought he looked worse but in those few days I  noticed it so  she had to have noticed not seeing him for a couple of weeks .  His eyes seemed sore and red rimmed  , his skin  a strange pallor  tinged with  grey. .

Hallowe’en, we were invited to  JD’s and Karen’s for supper and to  hand out candy. Chris laughed and joined in the conversation, Angela would jump  up  and hand out the candy  and whilst everyone’s focus was on the kids and costumes I would watch  as Chris quietly  would reach  into  his top shirt pocket and pop  another pill. I knew my  son’s strength  but I  also  knew he was dealing with  a lot of pain . Angela had brought down some more medication from Cleveland and I  worried  about the amount and “what”  Chris was taking but once again I  said nothing.

Chris barely  ate in the next few days. He took Angela and I  to  the British  shop  ( he had his truck in Houston now). She and I  went in to  buy  Christening gifts for Gavin , Nikki’s new little baby  . Chris couldn’t get out of the truck, said he  just didn’t want to  shop , although  previously  when he had taken me he loved going in there . Again, I  worried.

On November  4th, the night before meeting with  the team of SGN 35  we went back  to  the “Black Labrador Pub” to  meet JD and Karen  . Chris had wanted to  thank them for all their hospitality  and friendship  whilst we had been in Texas. He loved the Ranch   and lost himself in normalcy  on those excursions to  that ranch.

He told me that when he was well he was going to  buy  some land and get Gavin a horse ...

Chris nibbled at a salad , not at all like him and JD chastised me because  Chris and Angela were going to  drive back to  Cleveland stopping on the way,  if the news was good.  How my  son who  was having a hard time  driving  30  minutes to  the Black Labrador Pub , how the hell was he going to  drive 1,300 miles to  Cleveland. JD, said

He will be fine “let go  of the apron strings  mom” … 

November 5th :

We waited in a little office, Chris once again behind his sunglasses , Angela went to  the restroom  I  sat once again near the door  scared to  breather. The Physician’s Assistant came in , and if  there is one thing I  know it is body  language and  she was happy. The Doctors came in and gave the good news … the SGN 35 was working  all was good.

I  breathed for the first time in  days. And then the tag line  ” the only thing was there was a slight “crackling” of the bottom half of the lungs  that they  were concerned about . Angela spoke up  Oh  she would have the Dr. at the Clinic check  it out, he had had the flu shot . That seemed to  satisfy  them  and they  gave Chris a strength test  and Ok’d him for another infusion before he left for Cleveland.

The first thing Chris did was to  phone JD, whilst I  called Nikki , who  was sick with  worry  and told her the results were good. But she said

can’t he leave the truck there with  JD and Karen  and fly home

No   Angela wanted  to  go  to  Nashville  and  make a vacation of it going home. They  had to  be back  in 10 days . I  flew home that afternoon  .

 

 

To be continued…………….

 

 

November 3, 2021 at 6:17 pm 1 comment

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

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

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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