Posted by: Ken Wheatley | August 16, 2009

“Sheila” is back…

Yesterday and today have been a flurry of doctor visits and surprises. The emphasis has been on getting Sheila to the point that she could function on pills and not IVs so that she could go home – something that everyone has been trying to accomplish since Wednesday.

So a good deal of time was spent talking about adjusting the dosage and combinations of drugs or whether to eliminate a drug and add another or not. Finally by late last night the right combination of drugs and timing was achieved and Sheila seemed on the track to success.

My sister, Sybie, flew in from Florida unexpectedly, and spent the day with us so that was a nice surprise. She’ll be with us until Wednesday.

Sheila was able to eat dinner last night and keep it down, so that was encouraging progress.

And she slept fairly well until the late morning hours.

We got up around 7am, and she took her first shower in 13 days (that beat the record from our 2004 Outward Bound trip to Big Bend National Park in West Texas when she went for 10 days). She was practically giddy in the shower.

After she finished getting dressed she sat down and started to eat her cereal. Within minutes she was barfing. And that happened spontaneously again two more times over the next four hours. No warning, no nausea to speak of preceding the episode. So the attending doctor was mildly concerned because that kind of barfing could be caused by a hemorrhage in the brain, so they quickly took her downstairs and got a CAT scan. The results ultimately were fine. It was nice to have a test done where there was no bad news for once.

Once that all passed, it turned into a wonderful day. She’s absolutely painfree, ate two different kinds of soup for lunch and was able to laugh and talk with groups of friends and family that stopped by.

Speaking of which, something very special happened today, and yesterday. There is a couple – Christi and Allen – who live in Ventura, and they’ve been following our blogs. Allen has also been battling lung cancer since last October and they were in town visiting with another cancer couple from Chicago.

They’ve made comments on my blog and then we started texting, so when they were coming to San Diego they asked if we could meet. And they came to Thornton to see us today. They are the nicest people and much to our surprise they brought a care package with them – yummy grapes, chocolate chip cookies, lemon cake, roasted peanuts and cinnamon rolls. How nice of them to take the time out of their mini-vacation to shop for basically total strangers and stop by to visit. They stayed for about an hour and it was really good to share experiences from both the patient and caregiver sides. I’ve added the links to their blogs on my blogroll.

And yesterday a care package of bagels, purple socks, massage mittens, calming lotion, and lots of (very) yummy pastries arrived from my NJ staff.

Our gratefulness is obviously not about the food or items. We are immensely touched by the time, the thought, the effort, and the heartfelt care that everyone is sharing with us. The flowers everyone has sent fills her room with the most beautiful scents – doctors and nurses continually comment on how nice the room smells and how much they brighten the room. The visits for hours and the effort to coordinate schedules to make sure that Sheila isn’t alone. The offers of “taxi” service for both of us to make the various appointments that are coming up. The use of people’s homes to rest or shower. The cards, the calls, the meals. The list goes on and on.

For the past 21+ years my work in the FBI and at Sony has dealt mostly with the darker underside of humanity. So, for me, it’s been refreshing and uplifting to experience the good in people. The love and affection that people feel for Sheila is so touching, and I know that it eases her burden greatly to have such an outpouring of support.

So for today, I got my Sheila back. She was back to her usual affectionate self, and we cuddled and interwined legs for hours on the bed while talking. She gently buried her face in my neck, which I love. It was so nice to not have IVs and cables separating us. We walked around the Unit holding hands or her arm draped around my neck, with her usual broad smile. It really made my heart feel good to be with her. With the way things have been the past two weeks, I really didn’t think today would happen again.

If nothing changes tonight, I’ll be taking her home tomorrow. Her oxygen level is good, so she won’t need any tanks, her heart rate is still high, but sustainable and because she’s painfree no special bed or home nursing care will be required. She’s lost 6 pounds in the last 13 days and is down to 118, so I’ll have to work on fattening her up again when I get her home. But for today, her recovery from pain hell is very, very cool….



  1. Ken,

    Allen is my brother and it was through his blog that I started following yours. Please know that my thoughts are with you and Shelia.

  2. Ken,
    Allen and Christie are good friends of mine. Ever since they both put your link on their blogs, I have been reading your blog. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Sheila.

  3. Ken,

    Marlene and I are so happy you and Sheila are able to joy some good news for a change.

  4. Thanks Eddie. As you and Marlene know all to well with what she’s going through, those good news days, or events are what we end up living for.

  5. Thanks for the note, Leah. Allen and Christie are great people, and we hope for the best for them. Thanks again for writing.

  6. Hi Heather. So sorry for what you and your family are going through with Allen. But you can see the determination in his face. And he smiles a lot too. Somehow they find the inner strength to cope, sometimes better than we do. Thanks for touching base. Take care, Ken

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