A better day.
A morphine day.
Dad made it through last night. Like a professional marathon runner, he controlled the pace of his breathing, adjusted his cadence with each change of the digits of the monitor and kept himself awake; he fought off the darkness. The sunrise was the finish line and he made it.
Daylight vs Darkness. Hope vs Despair. Life vs Death.
As Newt once said in James Cameron’s “Aliens”, “They [Monsters] mostly come out at night…….mostly”.
It’s been a whole new day, with hope, optimism and the increasing undercurrent of time escaping. After last night’s struggle, the damaging effects were clear. Utterly exhausted, Dad had nothing more to give. It was down to the oxygen and drugs to work their magic and sustain him while he slept. As a wide, extended family, we have laughed, poked, prodded, wondered and caught up in the background. We are all so close, having grown up as friends despite the distance.
Dad’s mum has seen enough though and you can’t blame her. Noone should see their child degrade like this. Fucking Cancer, how dare you?!
They’re all heading back to Wales tomorrow, there’s no need to be here any longer and, without being harsh, life goes on everywhere else.
I want life to be put on hold everywhere for my dad…but it ticks on.
It’s easy to become optimistic during the day, with the sun streaming through the window once again. “He’s ok, look at him sleeping”, I found myself saying over and over again. We forget pain so easily, we naturally look for the positive, clinging on to hope and pushing back despair.
But pragmatically, his numbers have been out of whack for so long. Sure, he ran a marathon last night. But he ran a marathon the night before, and the night before that. He’s not an athlete, he does Cancer not CrossFit. A heart rate of 145+ for 8+ hours, blood-oxygen saturation levels of less than 70 throughout (around 80-90 for months) and pounding blood pressure take their toll on the brain and organs. Pain wracking the body, nerves tingling, itching, joint aches, headaches, irritability, frustration……His body is suffering.
But…….but……ahha…He sits there discussing next week….talking about getting over this and his new goals. ……enthusing about his new angle grinder. He’s got weeks left.
And…..AND…..yeah, and he ate a slice of Domino’s pizza, slurped down some ice cream and has a Gin & Tonic can waiting for him, at his request.
(Yeah, we ate this….*coff* paleo. ..honest, guv)
“That’s the morphine”, explains the duty overnight doc.
During the afternoon, the Paliative care team came in to make some adjustments. Called in to ensure high quality end of life care, they’ve removed all unnecessary or invasive monitoring, added a syringe driver of dimorphine / medazalam (?), and have changed his bed to suit his limited movement. It creates a “less urgent” environment but delivers a false sense of security for all of us.
The drug combo relaxes him, allows easier breathing and slows the heart rate. It obviously makes him feel high, improves appetite and bursts of joviality between desperate gulps of piped oxygen.
His “sats” are slowly decreasing though as he gets the best night of sleep in weeks.
The same doc was honest with me after a blunt question.
“48hrs”, he said.
“But…but….. and…AND……”, I begged.
“That’s the morphine”, he said.