Posts tagged ‘Love’

June 3rd- No Limits- Chapter 29- 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/

Chapter Twenty Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2022/01/03/january-3rd-no-limits-chapter-24-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Twenty  Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2022/02/03/february-3rd-no-limits-chapter-25-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Twenty Six https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2022/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-chapter-26-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Twenty Seven https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2022/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapter-27-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Twenty Eight: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2022/05/03/may-3rd-no-limits-chapter-28-chris-ritchey/

A losing of function

Note: I have been dreading this chapter all month. I have put it off, shoved the memories back into  their dwelling place.  As my  self- imposed deadline of the 3rd of the month loomed, I ran emotionally  from remembering. My   conscious thought  telling me

“don’t go  there ” , you  can’t go  back to  that time, your well being is at stake. You  survived that day  because it was so  surreal and you  were protected  by   “unbelievability” as to  what was actually  happening. You were tired, emotionally  exhausted things happening were cushioned with  incredibility , the  -this is not happening syndrome.

Days passed  and the closer the 3rd of June  came  the more I ran from this writing.  I couldn’t bring myself to  do  this , but the nights were different perspective altogether, I  lay awake for hours, although  exhausted , I would watch  the moon in its phases  lighting the bedroom  causing   the tree to outside cast its  dancing shadows on the wall.

Everything in me has fought this moment, but here it is June the 2nd, 2022 and I am remembering the most painful day  of my  life and “my death” as well. You  see, and I  know those of you that have lost a son or daughter  know the very  moment that happens , you  lose who  you  are too. You  are not the same and you  never will be ………

For days I  sat by  your  side , those last three days being in the new Medical ICU unit were dreadful. Not only  did the nurses and doctors not know who  I  was, and I  was too tired to  explain, I  was falling apart emotionally  and physically. Weeks of wearing the paper medical masks ( since they  insisted you  had H1N1), because that is what Angela had told them in ER and of course why  question  the “doctor in waiting”.

The mask, the dryness of the room and the stress had caused the skin under my  nose to  blister and scab. I, apparently,  was somewhat allergic to  those particular masks. One lovely  nurse gave me ointment to  help.  There was no ointment for my  swollen, to  nearly  three time their regular size, my  legs.  In this unit , there was not  comfortable arm chair. This unit obviously  did not want visitors so  the only  chair was a metal folding chair.  Sitting on the cold hard metal , not moving holding his hand, only  getting up  to  put a cool facecloth  on his burning brow.  I was reminded every time I  did so   by  the marks left on your scalp  as they  had pulled off the  brain wave electrodes, the  skin was sore and red  and the hair gone  and slight bleeding.  Someone obviously  had no  thought for my  son as they  pulled those off, but he was dying anyway! I  noticed a lot of that sort of attitude in that unit, so  different from the previous ICU.

Photo source http://www.neurowavesystems.com/

And so  it was the night of December 2nd. I  had gone , as usual walked to  the unit with  my  husband about 10 pm. The Lombardi  clan hovering  in the corridors  talking tacos. I  had no  wish  to  see.

Nikki  was exhausted ,  having to breastfeed the baby  and dealing with  everything. Jim had brought the baby  up  to  the hotel. Nikki  hadn’t any  pajamas and had purchased a pair at the gift shop. Unlike my  lime green creation I  had purchased, the one pair  she had to  buy  was  two  piece pink, chocolate and white striped . I  remember thinking they  reminded me of Neapolitan ice cream.

I was surprised , as we headed to  the unit to  see two  of Chris’ high school friends. What were they  doing there????? , Apparently,  Angela  had been sending out texts

if they  wanted to  see Chris before he died they  should come” 

I cannot honestly  remember what I  said to  them , but I  don’t think  I  was very  pleasant. However, it  explained why  Chris’ nurse was flustered as we walked into  our son’s room

“You  know  there are visiting hours we can’t have all you  people coming in and out all night long”

I explained  who  I  was and why  I  would be sitting there all night , at least until rounds in the morning. If they  needed me to  move I  would but I  would not be leaving my  son. She explained that during her shift people had been in and out. I  told her :

she would have to  take that up  with  his wife because I certainly  was against anyone coming into  see him in this condition. He would have hated it. 

My  husband went back to  the  hotel room . I  continued to  sit in that glass bubble of a world, a young woman ( presumably  a Doctor) would look through  the glass at the monitors. I hoped Chris could hear me I  hummed the lullabies of his childhood, talked softly   as to  how much  we loved him, that Nikki  and Jim were there., anything to  try to  give him comfort, trapped as he was, encased in machines.

My inner thoughts , I did not say  outloud , I spoke them silently

” Please Chris you  have to  turn a corner soon , I just don’t know how much  longer I  can hold up, please Chris

Nurse Nicole , it was her first week in that particular ICU came in to  say  they  would be bathing him  and I  could stay  and help  if I  wished. I told her

No!  he would hate me to  be there for that and I  would go  and get something to  drink and come back.

After  a while I  went back into  the ICU , I asked whether they  had been continuing the eye drops as  his eyes were partially  open and I had been told it could cause issues if they  weren’t moisturized regulary  after he came off the vent.

She went away  to  get  an OK and came back, I said did she notice the urine bag had blood in it. No!  that wasn’t like that before, I  will check let me put the drops in.   It was 3 am  and she looked at me and said

“his pupils are fixed and dilated “

Fixed and moderately dilated pupils are seen in brain death because of the loss of both sympathetic and parasympathetic influences.

She then left to  call for the  head of the unit.  All hell broke loose as a male  Doctor , whomever he was , and the nurses  as they  came to  our room, the man in the next room decided to  have an episode  and apparently  passed.  I  waited  and then the nurse said the Doctor had ordered a scan. I called Angela and told her what the nurse had said and waited.

It was 5 am by  this time , Angela appeared at the desk with  the Doctor,  who  had glanced into  the room at that stats at least twice during the night . She and Angela chatted as if I  didn’t exist .

Angela asked what was the prognosis?

OH ! this is the first night he had held his own

– Angela

Cool Beans! we now have to feed my boy

Dr. We have to do something about a bowel movement first

As I stood there like some peripheral groupie I mentioned the scan and that

“the ICU nurse was very concerned as his pupils were fixed and dilated and had called the Neurologist for a scan”


The Elephant Run-by Chris Ritchey

Two faces and pairs of eyes ” in the know medical (Drs.?) turned and looked at me like I was some sort of “ignorant irritant”

That young woman. presumably  a Doctor,   – I don’t remember her name just her face- I had seen it through the early morning hours looking at the monitors through the glass – never once coming into the room – said:

Oh I am not worried he is on a boat load of medication

Giggles from the “Dr. to be Ritchey ( Angela)

Oh! he is on enough medication to fill up an elephant heehehehehee!

I had such  a bad feeling  but I  had to  sleep, I  left them chatting and went back to  the room . I went to  the chaise lounge by  the window where I  could see his room across the way. I fell instantly  into  a desperate sleep only  to   be woken by Nikki-

Mum you have to go back

– I said

Nikki I can’t- I can’t even stand

and she said

Mum, you have to something is wrong- I will come down as soon as Jim gets here to take Gavin

I rushed through the hallways- to this day I have no idea what clothes I had on…. I found my son’s room empty  of the usual “clan”– no one was with him I went in- a new nurse said

You are wanted in the conference room for a family  meeting

-I said

my husband is there I am not leaving my son alone I promised him-

Nurse

YOU HAVE TO GO!

I looked at this officious nurse and said

“I DON’T “HAVE” TO GO ANYWHERE OR DO ANYTHING I AM NOT LEAVING MY SON ALONE!

It was then Nikki arrived – still in  the Neapolitan pajamas purchased from the hospital gift shop- like some bizarre clown outfit. I remember thinking Chris would find it funny.

She said:

Mum you go I will stay with Chris I promise

The meeting that day was about taking Chris off the vent they the hospital and they  needed me there as they  

“didn’t want any trouble”

They needed my permission as well as his wifes- I had the night before made sure that the staff were now aware that Nikki and I were also on his paperwork.

The Doctor, who  chatted about bowel movement and holding his own  just 2 hours previously   was now saying his brainstem ( after looking at the scans) had collapsed and he was effectively  brain dead.

Brainstem death is a clinical syndrome defined by the absence of reflexes with pathways through the brainstem – the “stalk” of the brain, which connects the spinal cord to the mid-braincerebellum and cerebral hemispheres – in a deeply comatose, ventilator-dependent patient. Identification of this state carries a very grave prognosis for survival; cessation of heartbeat often occurs within a few days, although it may continue for weeks if intensive support is maintained.

The Dr. explained what would happen and our options and what each option would mean when they did this-one option being surgery  to  release the pressure on the brain.  What ever they  did they were going to have to wait until one of the medications which  paralyzed him  wore off so it would be a little while.

NOTE: I  cannot write anymore as the dying time took all day and horrors of heartbreak and ignorance continued to pummel me and my  family.  There was no  kindness in this dying … I will have to  continue on the next 3rd

to  be continued……..

June 3, 2022 at 11:17 am 3 comments

March 3rd- No Limits- Chapter 26- 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/

Chapter Twenty Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2022/01/03/january-3rd-no-limits-chapter-24-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Twenty  Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2022/02/03/february-3rd-no-limits-chapter-25-chris-ritchey/

THE WINTER OF WEEPING that never ends………… 

NOTE: It is said that time heals and spring and new life replaces  the dark dreary days of winter. Those of the sisterhood of grief , especially  those who  have lost a soul and child of their body  and heart, winter never ends. You  are still lost in those days , you see glimpses of life  and happiness, but you  are never again whole. You  see when you  lose your child  you  and the person you  were – leaves with  themwhen they  draw their last breath. 

You  don’t even look the same, you  may be thinner, put on weight  , age more quickly, your eyes smart with too many  tears, lines appear around your eyes and mouth , not the lines of age but of pain. You  are wary , looking out for those moments that assault you  as you  go  about your daily  routine. Oh  you  smile at the correct moments, you  try  to  join in with  life , but no  matter the days, months even years  the only  thing that gets better is you  can hide  the heart break just a bit better. You  have learned who  you  can reach out , who  doesn’t flinch  when you  want to  talk about you  child. Those who  are patient and those who  are understanding because they  too are members of the Sisterhood of Grief. 

 

I wrote the following  five months after Christopher passed from this world. And  all these years later nothing has changed……  Photo Credit – Virginia Mak

The Sisterhood

It was Thanksgiving. I was alone with  Chris, everyone was with  family . I sat by  his bedside , he couldn’t talk a lot due to  the oxygen mask , I  read, although  I  had no  idea what I  was reading . I would, when he closed his eyes, drink in every   part of my  son, the contours of his face , his hands on the the sheet, his arms strong still listened to  every  breath he took , movement, sound  he made.  That day,  the sun shone in the window, and the beard  he had been growing had become  more pronounced.

He grew the facial hair after he lost all of his hair due to the horrendous chemo sessions  and stem cell transplants. I think  he did so  because it was a sign  his body  was trying to get back to  normalcy.  The last time he and his Nana were together at Nikki’s she stroked his face and the beginnings of his beard and said :

Chris you  are truly  my Viking and that is how I will think of you , brave and golden.

I was filling my  memory of my  son,  every feature , nuance and aspect of  my  son that  morning of Thanksgiving.  The  sunlight caught his face  and the golden red of his beard .  My  Viking.

I didn’t want him to  see me lose it  so  I  excused myself and went to  the waiting room.  Thankfully  there was no  one there  and I wept with  the pain of “WHY”?????????????

When I  finally  pulled myself together and returned to  the room he was sleeping . I sat quietly,  hardly  daring to  breathe, I  had always been told  that sleep is how the body  heals. I was clutching at anything I  could find to  give me hope, willing whatever strength  I  had to  somehow  be miraculously  given to  him by some  magical umbilical chord of life.

He woke , pulled down his oxygen mask and asked for a sip  of water. Those were the last words he spoke to  to  me , not his last words, but the last thing he ever asked of me . I  held the bottle of water with the hospital straw , he took a small sip and immediately  started choking….

All Hell broke loose nurses cand people came rushing into  the room and someone grabbed hold of my  arm and ushered me out into  the still empty  waiting room.  I  didn’t know what was happening, I  knew it wasn’t good…..  The “code blue ” over the pa system. Drs.,  interns , nurses came rushing along the corridor and then two  technicians  with  a ventilator .

I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think  I was frozen , everything was falling away  from me , no-one to hold me up, no  where to  go  , what  should I    do ?,

WHY?????????? for God’s sake why……… NOOOOOOO this can’t happen…… . I was shaking with  cold and tears.

After what seemed an eternity , one of Chris nurses came out to  the waiting room with  a cup  of hot chocolate,  she said

“it is OK he has been put on the vent to  help  him breathe, he has been sedated , the Dr. will be out in a moment  drink  this “

But you  see, I knew from that first day  of diagnosis  all through

  the  best cancer to  have, just 6 rounds of Chemo, 95 percent cure rate ,

because I had always known  that damned cancer  was winning. I had fought down my knowing and fears, I had embraced hope, prayers ,  medicines, trials , anything to  fight the obscenity  of death that was coming for my  son.  I  had seen the fear on his face as they all came rushing in, the silent tears that fell from his eyes, and I heard his last words he ever spoke……....

I tried to call someone, anyone but I couldn’t make my  fingers work or my  brain, I don’t remember breathing , I  stood there  thinking this must be what shock is.

Finally  the Dr. came in , I will call her Dr. RA, hers is the only  name  I remember from that day. The first thing she said was

“Would you  like a priest ?” 

No!  I  don’t want a damned priest , what good is he, to  give me comfort! blessings !NO I want someone to  stop  my  son dying….. not religious platitudes that don’t mean a thing. 

I didn’t say that out loud , all I  could manage was

No, is Chris critical.

She looked at me and said:

Oh! he has been critical since he came in , has no-one mentioned that to you , he is dying. 

Then she left. The nurse came back to check on me and helped me call Angela, my husband and my son in law.

Angela was the first to arrive, with her sister,

Is he dead? 

I shook my  head  and she went into the ICU , Her sister chatted on about how she broke the speed limit to get there. And then the  clan of Lombardi  arrived  with  cold mashed potatoes, congealed gravy, turkey  and pumpkin pie, chatting about  leftovers would be good in the microwave if this was going to  be a long night ……..  and I  thought.. who  are these awful  people  chatting and laughing whilst my  son is dying about leftovers and time.

Time no  longer existed in my  world it had stopped…………

THIS  be HELL …. I must have died……………………………. could have been the only explanation 

 

To  be continued………………..

March 3, 2022 at 1:06 pm 3 comments

February 3rd- NO LIMITS- Chapter 25-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/

Chapter Twenty Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2022/01/03/january-3rd-no-limits-chapter-24-chris-ritchey/

The Circus from Hell

The next morning ,after the fiasco of   the Lombardi’s clever ideas as to  how to  get a young man who  couldn’t breathe or walk  more than two  feet without aid  and my  outrage as to  what they  were planning, Angela came in from her shift at the hospital.

Angela ritchey DO photo Chris Ritchey

I  found out later she wasn’t scheduled for that shift but asked to  change. I never did find out why . Chris , was not doing well and it was decided to  tell Chris he was going to  have to  go  back into  the Clinic.  He didn’t take it well a plastic water bottle flew across the room and hit the wall. I was pleased , believe it or not, it showed he still had strength  and fight left in him.

Then it began, the rescue squad having to  get him down the apartment stairs , Angela riding in the ambulance, me following the ambulance as I  had no  clue where I  was going.  Nine hours in the ER as there was no  room in the Medical ICU. Phone calls back and forth. Angela telling the attending physician he had been diagnosed with  H1NI. I  was perplexed this was the first I  heard of it .  I kept thinking

that isn’t right why  is she saying that , was I  being kept in the dark again? I believed that damned flu shot was causing issues. If he had HINI why  were they trying to  send him back  to  Houston, none of this was making sense..

well not then anyway.

Clowns – artwork Chris Ritchey

Chris was finally  sent to  the Neurological ICU as there was no  room in the Medical ICU.

And we waited , Sue and Tim arrived and my  husband  and the days turned into  one long nightmare.  Chris was admitted on the Saturday  before Thanksgiving .  I would fall asleep  in the chair . I  promised Chris he would never be alone and at first it worked reasonably  well I would trade off with  Angela during the day  but the nurses let me stay  in the room in a chair at night.

Then since they  couldn’t figure out what was going on it was decided he must have H1N1. This meant  we were fully  masked and gowned when we went into  his room. I watched my  son’s every  movement, every  heart beat , every  drop or rise in oxygen levels.

I sat there hour after hour trying to  find away  to  give him strength , doing the deals with  whomever ran the universe, all the time remembering my  premonitions and fighting them back down into  my  sub conscience.

Finally  exhaustion got the better of me, I  could no  longer see straight or sit in that waiting room . Nikki  arranged to  get me a room at the Intercontinental Hotel attached to  the Clinic so  I  could walk back and forth.   I had some clothes with  me from the Friday  but they  were in the trunk  of my  car and I  hadn’t a clue where it was.  My  mum had packed a small carrier bag with change of underwear and blouse and sweater sending it up  with  my  husband.

I needed a few things  so  I  bought a pair of pajamas in the Clinic Gift shop. The only  ones in my  size were bright   lime green, terribly  unflattering but then again no-one would be seeing me in in them, a toothbrush, deodorant etc. I  made my  way  to  the lobby  of the hotel  through  the hospital  feeling terribly  afraid and alone. There was some funny  looks when my  only  luggage was an Aldi’s carrier bag.  Still the credit card was good.

I went to  the room, had a shower put on my  lime green pj’s and called room service.  Well of course I  had no  robe and hadn’t thought , the waiter brought in the food on a trolley , whatever he thought of the vision in green he saw before him  he didn’t show a change in face as this little fat woman in lime green pj’s ( that were a little tight) and red hair signed the  chit.

 

I ate my  first decent meal in days and fell into  the bed and passed out.  I slept till the evening and  was going back through  the corridors to  the hospital when I saw two  nurses helping a woman walk .  I realized from the conversation as I  went passed  she was Carla Nash , the lady  who  had been attacked by  a  chimpanzee and was at the clinic  after having a face transplant. I thought they  seem to  be able to  work miracles , will there be one for my  son and a little hope crept back into  my  being. I  saw the trio on more than one occasion  and my  heart went out to  her.

There were other stories during those hours and days as we waited and hoped.

An elderly  man,  some thing of a musician  from what I  gathered from a conversation in the waiting room of hell ,   was dying in the next room. His wife sat by  his bed all day. Later that evening Chris’s nurse asked if it would bother us if his daughter, who  was in one of the symphony  orchestras.  could play  for her father.

As I  sat there masked and gowned and closed off in our glassed in room, the faint sound of a violin  drifted through  the air . It was so surreal , this beautiful piece of music like some heavenly  message easing her fathers passing and reminding me how much  love and pain was happening on the other side of the wall , but beautiful at the same time . The music stopped and so  apparently  had the life of one more human being and their story.

 

 

 

There were of course other stories

The mum who  had been brought in with  a brain aneurism , her family  gathered in the the small ICU waiting room, the tears, the worry , the hope. I don’t know what happened to  her . Others whose lives  crashed into  ours  in that room and then left some in tears and some transferred out of ICU with  smiles. .

After three  days  of no  sleep and actually  pretty  much  on my  own  as far as my  family  I was ready  to  drop .

Once the diagnosis of H1N1 was decided upon  Nikki  and the new baby  couldn’t be put at risk, my  mum  90 , couldn’t take a chance  with  her  and my  husband could only  come for an hour or so. He hated hospitals, Chris knew that  and we knew if he was there holding vigil with me  Chris would KNOW how much  danger he was in , so it had to be…

” Oh  Dad is coming in for a visit”  

There I  was alone in that waiting room from hell. The Lombardis, as Sue stated “will  circle around Angela” , I  definitely  was excluded from that circle. And they  did  numbers of them all chatting and laughing and living. It was so  hard .

Do  you  pray  Loraine? You  aren’t Catholic are you , what plans are you  making ? Do  you  like Tacos? 

However, when Sue was present  it was doubly  hard, she used to  do  and say  the most inane things and it took everything I  had to  keep  my  mouth  shut.

One particular day I got summoned by the nurse in ICU.

Is Chris’s mother in law  attached to  a medical practice? 

No  , why  would you  ask that ?

You  will have to  talk to  your daughter in law , please.  We know SHE is a resident and the nurses don’t want to  make a big deal, but her mother is making a nuisance of herself, going to  talk to  the nurses and looking it at the other patients and giving advice. 

Also,   your daughter in law’s friend has come in and changed the setting  the oxygen machine ( she was also  a resident) and we have had to  reset it, that can’t happen. 

That day I  had to  mention to  one of the sisters that

“Sue was  being Sue and causing concern in the ICU and could someone please tell her not to  continue in that vein”

THAT  did not go  down very  well. They  shot the messenger! Talk went to  a minimum but actually  that was a blessing in disguise.

Even the Clinic security made the “Mother of my Hell “ prove she wasn’t a homeless person camping out in the waiting room with sleeping bags , pillows and food . Why  they  didn’t get themselves a room if they were going to  continue to  “circle Angela” I broached the subject: ,

Sue said Oh no!  far too  expensive!!!!!!”

Well there is plenty  in the account from the fundraiser   isn’t there  at least 35 thousand, you  could use that , after all that is why we had that fundraiser . Oh and by  the way  can I  have the list of donors for Thank Yous. I  have Nikkis list and mine but I know there were so  many  others!

I couldn’t credit her answer  and I  was perplexed :

Sue Lombardi –
“We don’t want people to know the full amount – we aren’t publicizing that. I have opened a safe deposit box for the cash – Angela has access” How do you  know the amounts ?

Obviously  Chris  told me , why  wouldn’t he? He was very  grateful to  everyone that donated. 

 

I said to Chris after one particularly stressful evening

Oh ! Chris you owe me lunch for this, being in that holding area with  them.

 

( having to put up with them and trying to keep my mouth shut – not an easy thing for me, . We certainly  had nothing in common except what I  supposed was the love of our children.  and Chris knew how hard it was 🙂 )

and a lobster lunch at that.

 

He smiled and moved his oxygen mask and said :

” keep them out of here and I will buy you dinner too !”

Most days and nights bled into  one another . I  had no  clue as to  the time of day  of day  of the week. I  would surface for a bit  and memory  comes in fragments of those days of crisis. It is only  as I  write  some flash  of a forgotten memory  of those days in no  particular sequence  come back. ……. and my  gut tightens , a sick feeling comes into  my  soul, an ache for my  child overwhelms me once more .

 

To  be continued……..

February 3, 2022 at 2:29 am 3 comments

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

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

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

No LIMITS – Chapter 4- Chris Ritchey

No Limits- The book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

“Mum it will be OK”

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

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

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

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

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

Close up of Intravenous drip

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

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

Angela , Sue and Tim Lombardi

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

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

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

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

“You alright mum?”

I said:

yes just wondering if I can get you anything?

Some cold water would be nice, this stuff is warm

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

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

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

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

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

E. Munch- 1895

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

To be continued

May 3, 2020 at 5:00 pm 3 comments

Nana’s MY BOOK- memories of another time

 

ED NOTE: My  mother, Violet Janet Gabbey  1919-2018

My  mum  had a long and amazing life. Mum was 99 when she passed  and was loved by  all her friends and family. However, 40  years ago  she was going through  a very  trying and emotional time in her life.  Her only  child, me,  was three thousand miles away  in the United States at the time and was unable to  do  much  of anything.

Mum had nights of not sleeping  I  suggested she use that time to  start writing down her memories of being young for her  granddaughter , Nikki . I have always found writing things down cathartic and still find that to  be the case. Mum scribbled notes on scraps of paper every  time she couldn’t sleep .( I  still have those notes)

A few years ago  we sat in the den and she and I put them in some sort of order. Mum then sent a copy  of what she named “MY  BOOK”  to  the oldest grandchild of each  of her brothers and sisters and to  some special people .

Please remember when reading her words and memories  it was a very  different time , especially  in her young years, what was  pretty  much  the norm then probably  wouldn’t be acceptable today.

Cover Design Chris Ritchey

So , where is the beginning of it all? Upon reflection and trying to  summon up  the very  first picture, there is a faint imprint in my  mind. Can  a child of three really  retain, retell the event so many years on? Could I  really  see six or seven human forms lying on a mattress of black and white ticking strung between wooden frames? The box like shapes, the harsh  sounds of human retching , the pungent smell of oil and vomit, that unpleasant fragrance still is in my  nostrils. Some photo of that time with  its sights and smells must have embedded itself forever in my  mind

I can still feel still the roll and steady beat of a noise below. I  was huddled, warmed and comforted  by  another little body  next to  mine. I can see my  mother lying stretched out a short distance away from us; her long dark hair was damp and lying untidily on the pillow. I knew somehow she was ill too. My  Father was on his feet , I see his arms with dark shapes and lines on them holding a cup  to  my  mouth. He was telling me

“Drink  this, you  will feel better” 

then oblivion and I  remember no  more .

Many  years afterwards I made the discovery  that my  first recollection was of being in a cabin of a troop ship  travelling home to  England. The ship  was bringing soldiers and their families, who  had been serving in southern Ireland  ( where the Anglo  – Irish War – [1919-1921]  had broken out after the Great War.(1914-1918)

My  father was a soldier and a very  good one.  I fear, however he always drank  too much  and was forever shouting . He had scores of wonderful stories in him. He had a moustache which  tickled and scratched  when he would kiss you.

The dark shapes and lines were tattoos which he had subjected himself to  in a far away  land. When I  was very little and  asked about them he said the one said ” I love Betty”  I used to  wonder how could my  mother  bear to  see that day after day , as her name was Charlotte! However,  the “I love Betty” was just my  fathers peculiar sense of humour . When I  was older  and could read and looked  more closely I found there was only  two  hearts entwined  with  a lover’s knot  and there was no  wording there at all……

To  be continued:

April 22, 2020 at 12:48 pm 3 comments

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