Posted by: Ken Wheatley | August 29, 2009

Halo of Hair

I took vacation this past week to spend time with my daughter, Tammy, and her boyfriend, Ron who flew into town last Sunday and left today. It was great seeing them.

Unfortunately we didn’t get to spend as much time doing things together as we would have hoped. The three of us went deep sea fishing on Tuesday with Frank, Jeanie, and Jim, and caught ling cod – made for an excellent dinner.

Sheila spent the day with Karen, her sister. They ended up at the hospital to get blood tests because Sheila had been feeling poorly since the weekend, and Dr. B wanted to run some tests.

The test results showed a problem – infection of some sort – so we had to go to UCSD in Hillcrest at 8am on Wednesday for a CAT scan.

It was a very difficult morning getting her there. She was so sick I didn’t think we’d be able to leave the house. We were late getting there, but still in time for the scan.

She took along her 8am meds to take while we were waiting, but within 30 seconds of taking all the pills she was bent over the sink in the CAT scan trailer heaving. I had to help her to the table and ease her back onto the pillow.

We covered her with two warm blankets, and I stayed with her until the nurse came to inject the contrast into her port. I nuzzled her face in my neck and rubbed her head. When I stood up I noticed that the fallen small hairs had formed a faint halo around her head on the pillow. She looked so vulnerable and weak. She opened her eyes and gave me a little smile. I couldn’t help but start crying. I hate seeing her like this.

Dr. B’s office called that afternoon to tell us that Sheila has an infection in her chest and another small PE in her lower right lung. So they increased her Lovenox (blood thinner) to 100ml twice a day. She had started out several months ago at 60ml a day. They keep increasing it with the hope that it’ll thin her blood enough to prevent the clots, but I’m wondering when it’s going to start working.

She was in a lot of pain all day Wednesday and spent most of the time in bed or the bathroom. She’s been barfing three or four times a day since Monday – even when using two types of anti-nausea medication – so it’s very difficult to keep food in her, even liquids. She’s down to 111 pounds.

By Thursday she was feeling pretty good and wanted to get out of the house. So we took Tammy and Ron to Carlsbad along with our bikes, and they rode along the coast for a few hours while Sheila and I found a shade tree not too far from the beach and sat and read.

We picked them up in Leucadia, had lunch, and then headed to the Torrey Pines Reserve where they hiked along trails overlooking the beach while Sheila and I sat on a bench under some pine trees and talked, and read. And hugged and kissed. A lot. 🙂 A very nice day.

On Friday we got very ambitious, probably too ambitious, and went to the Wild Animal Park for about 5 hours. Sheila’s left ankle and foot swelled-up pretty bad, but she was smiling and quite happy to be out in the 105 degree heat. We stopped often under any water mister we came across, and Sheila would take off her ball cap to cool her bald head. It was a sight. Two weeks ago I would have never thought we’d be there.

But I think it was too much exertion, too soon. I can understand her desire to escape on the days she’s feeling “good.” Being cooped-up all the time is a bummer. But she pays the price. She’s been quite ill all day today. Barfing a lot again, when she’s not sleeping. I got her broccoli-cheddar soup (she’s really developed a taste for it), and a chocolate shake. She only had half of each and so far she’s been able to keep  them down.

But she’s an incredible fighter. I don’t know how she does it on a daily basis. She’s my hero! And I love her so much.


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