In this post I reflect back to what occured exactly 1 year ago today.
It was this very day last year that Terry officially decided to enroll into hospice. Terry realized that since his treatments for cancer via chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy were not providing any tangible benefit and since Terry’s health status and quality of life were rapidly diminishing, he felt that to put himself thru any more evasive medical care would be just too trying on his body. Also it was becomming near to impossible for Terry to move about on his own anymore as he had become too weak and frail. Any care that Moffitt could provide from this point forward (per candid consultation with his physician) revealed that it might only extend his life for a short while but would not result in stopping the spread of his cancer. The cancer had spread so rapidly and aggressively throughout Terry entire body. At this point Terry just wanted to live out the remaining time that he had by receiving supportative care and comfort through hospice and to be as comfortable as he could while in the privacy of our little home (our RV) on MacDill Airforce Base until his final day.
On this very day last year Terry was discharged from Moffitt Hospital after a 12 day stay while they tried to get his bowel obstruction (his latest medical challenge) under control. After being transported via ambulance back to our RV, the hospice team simultaneously arrived bringing all necessary medical equipment and from that day forward they would provide daily visits to our RV.
At that point Terry still had his urostomy bag in place because of his previous bladder removal. He also had a pain pump and IV line attached to his upper right clavical thru his port. A G-tube was also in place directly thru his stomach so that his gastric fluid buildup could be manually drained because of his inoperable bowel obstruction. In addition, an IV line had been placed in his left arm so that he could get total parenteral nutrition as he could no longer eat anything by mouth, except for ice chips and clear juices. He also had a respirator so that he could breath pure oxygen and I could give him nebulizer treatments as needed.
Terry was now totally confined to his recliner, except when I had to lift him on to the portable toilet (as required) and when I needed to move him to give him a sponge bath and to change his linens on a daily basis.
For the next 17 days until Terry took his last breath on September 1, I would drive out the main gate of the air base each day at around 6 PM and wait in an adjacent parking lot for the hospice courier to arrive with replacement IV’s and other supplies needed so that I could adjust Terry’s pain pump and to replace the IV bag and tubing for his 24 hour continuous total parenteral nutrition. Luckily (due to my former medical background) I was able to do these procedures.
Each day from that point foward, after getting the medical supplies, while on the way back to the RV, I would stop by the shopette on base and purchase a large slurpee. This was really the only treat that Terry could have by mouth and something he could look forward to each evening. The slurpee as Terry would eat it, would just drain right thru his G-tube and go directly into his drainage bag. Although the slurpee really didn’t provide Terry any beneficial nutrition at least it provided Terry with something to look forward to each evening.
Terry actually had the chance to consume 16 of these slurpees over the last days of his life, except for the very last day when Terry was fading in and out of conciousness.
Now one year later, I still make it a point to stop by that same shopette each evening at around 6 PM on my way home from my daily bike ride. I go there now to treat myself to a daily slurpee and to keep hydrated after my long bike ride home. Just like Terry did in the past, I look forward to this daily evening treat!
The shopette recently started a promotion on these slurpees. They cost only 69 cents from July 15 through Sept 16. To date, since the start of thispromotion, I have already enjoyed 23 of these slurpees on each afternoon that I have gone biking (see my Slurpee Pyramid photo)
I know that I will be leaving MacDill AFB O/A August 29th and will put my RV in storage for one month and go visit my mother and brothers before returning back here in late September. I will have a chance to enjoy just a few more slurpees after my bike rides before I leave.
I wonder just how many slurpees I will get to enjoy during the rest of my lifetime?
Each day at the tail end of my bike ride. as I enjoy my slurpee, I often think about Terry’s final days and how such a simple thing as a slurpee (which most of us take for granted) was just one of a very few things that Terry was able to look forward to and to enjoy in some way in his last days.