Dear Family and Friends,
Today after a nap following his third radiation treatment, Francis seems to have begun turning a corner! For the first time since his hospitalization on 9/24, he felt like eating. The awful nausea of the last few days has receded a bit. Even the pain seems to be decreasing a bit.
For me it's still unending activity even with so much deeply appreciated help on all sides. But, -- the "Daily Care Log" I created, which Stephanie formatted for me in Excel, has greatly eased the scrambling! Now at a glance I have an accurate record of everything done and everything to do every day -- check blood glucose, administer insulin, and meds including eye drops and PT etc. etc. The VNA nurse joked -- "The key questions we ask are: "How's your pain and your bowels?" It's a balancing act adjusting the meds to make it all work. But I'm learning how, and feeling proud I can support Francis in this way.
A remarkable thing has happened since Sunday. Knowledgeable friends who speak from experience have offered us valuable information about alternative therapies. Francis told me he remembers his parents in New Brunswick Canada trying whatever new therapy the doctors offered to ease his asthma. So he's open to these therapies!
One person has offered Francis medicinal mushrooms. Two others, cancer survivors, brought Francis nourishing soups that helped them heal. One who traveled to Boston for six years to the cancer clinic has found even deeper healing through macrobiotics. After a long talk with her yesterday I made three appointments for Francis today: Dr. Fern Tsao, a Chinese Acupuncturist in Yarmouth north of Portland regularly treats people undergoing radiation. And I registered today for a class on cooking to prevent cancer taught by Lisa Silverman, an authority on macrobiotic cooking. We're so fortunate to have both of these resource people in our area.
Then this evening Dr. Jim Melloh, a geriatric, rehab and hospice physician who has dealt from all angles with many of the issues before us came to our home and gave Francis a one hour and a half treatment. He told Francis it was a 1,000 year old tradition taken from Aztec medicine (which he has been studying for five years.) I met Jim through yoga, the dances of universal peace and permaculture. Jim elevated Francis' hospital bed to facilitate "gentle hands on 'energy work,' " lit a candle, and began chanting in another language as he laid his hands on his head, his feet etc. I was lying in our own bed resting, only 15' or so away and was mesmerized by my own fatigue and the healing chanting. When I awoke from a restful sleep I watched Jim's face deep in concentration. It was prayer, really! Jim so generously offered for us to "call any time with questions ... or call to ask what to do in the middle of the night." Amazing! I am humbled by so much goodness!
Francis and I sing daily together in Aramaic the hauntingly beautiful melodies for the Lord's Prayer, and some of the Beatitudes, Jesus' sayings, sometimes while I'm massaging and oiling his legs to keep his skin healthy with so much reclining, and sometimes en route to the radiation center. They soothe us. His favorite is -- "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." The transliteration by Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz, the Aramaic scholar with whom I've been studying for many years is stirring to me: I've pieced it together from the contextual notes in his Prayers of the Cosmos: "Blessed are those whose heart has a deep sense of passionate purpose and the audacity to feel abundant inside. They shall, in a flash of insight, see God everywhere."
The floor in our bedroom is still strewn with the now organized but still unfiled business papers Stephanie sorted on Sunday, the kitchen dishes need to be washed... But Pamela helped me put away the unhung clothes on Monday, and today Winnie and Matt winterized the garden, combined the compost piles and started emptying the rain barrels while Bill got Francis some tasty varieties of organic baby food that he and Paul bought, -- something easy for him to eat after his post radiation naps. Lee our "son-in-law" in quotes, -- dear Lee -- is in process of simplifying our bill paying (I hope tomorrow I can find time to call the credit union and the bank to give him more info.) Holly is coming in the morning to help with those simultaneous morning tasks so I can give Francis a sponge bath before going to radiation, and I've already given Stephanie another "favor" to post so we won't lose the garden produce sitting in the side entrance.
Oh yes, one last thing: The Physical Therapist came yesterday. He moved into Francis' room, his most comfortable chair, a swivel padded rocker, from the living room inviting him, when he feels pain free enough, to sit in it 5, 10 -- 15 minutes a day. Then he made suggestions for the shower - detachable shower head and stool with back support to sit on in the tub. It was enrouraging to envision his rising from his bed at other times than just for trips to the radiation center or standing to pee or use the commode. The suggestion was not lost on Francis. He tried out the two chairs today, only for a few minutes. But we can visualize the time coming, -- as another good friend, a doctor, told me: "The radiation will get him back on his feet."