Tuesday, March 12, 2013
We are all dying. Every day of our lives, we are one day closer to our own deaths. We don't like to think that way, but when the thing that is going to kill you is already growing inside of you, the reality of death is all too real.
Our doctor appointment went just about like I expected. There is no cure. We can only slow the growth of the prostate cancer that is already is his bones. I knew this pretty much, of course hearing the doctor say it, gives it authenticity. Hubby didn't know. He still was hopeful they could cut out the prostate and he would be cured of cancer. So I think the appointment was harder on him. He is still at least pretending to be upbeat, but I'm fearing the day when the reality all crashes down on him and he quits being so positive. I think right now he's keeping up the cheerful front for me. But when he lets go of that facade, we are both in trouble, because I'm not sure I'm in that place yet where I can be strong for him. Maybe I can do it. I hope I can. I heard him get out of bed sometime in the middle of the night. Towards morning, about 5 a.m., I woke up again and thought to myself, "He shouldn't be alone downstairs." I remember those lonely nights when I used to wake up with pain in my chest, terrified that I was having a heart attack, and even though hubby was in the bedroom with me, I was all alone in my fear--nobody who is married--should have to be terrified alone! So I headed downstairs. Son was in the kitchen, preparing to go to work, while hubby was stretched out in the recliner in the family room, fast asleep. So I went back to bed. Sometime later hubby came back upstairs and got ready for work, I didn't even wake up. Like I said, sleep is my one escape.
He had two hormone shots after the doctor consultation yesterday. The brain (the pituitary gland) makes 95% of a man's testosterone, while the adrenal gland is responsible for 5% of it. The hormone shots will fool the brain into thinking it already has made the testosterone (I believe that's how the doctor explained it), and hubby will take a pill to limit the adrenal gland's production of it. The goal is to get rid of that testosterone which feeds the prostate cancer.
I remember blogs I wrote about how lucky I was that my problem was something I could fix, and compared it with people who have cancer or other life-threatening diseases, and how they got these diseases through no fault of their own, and could not just FIX them, like I could, simply by eating a little less. Now I realize by first-hand experience how true that is. We ARE the lucky ones--we can fix our health problems.
Doctor suggested hubby pursue getting healthier. He said he could walk and it would be even better if he started running, since his knees are okay. That gave me hope that hubby will be able to continue working, since our health insurance depends upon that. I worried too much activity on his weakened bones would cause them to fracture, as my dad's did, but that isn't the case, at least not yet. The doctor told him to eat healthy and try to lose weight, because the hormone pills will cause weight gain, lethargy, and hot flashes. He told hubby to lift weights, because he will lose strength. Hubby has always been very strong. I depend upon his strength more than I realize. When I need something, he takes care of it. We have a traditional relationship--I take care of the inside of the house, he does the outside: yard and cars, and that is a lot since we live on 3 acres and have 3 vehicles. Right now, he doesn't have to do much outside of course, with snow on the ground. And 27-year old son lives at home, we depend upon him for a lot. I texted all 3 of the boys last night and told them my focus would now have to be exclusively on their dad, and that I would probably be asking them for help and knew I could count on them to help.
My two oldest sons questioned the doctor's diagnosis. I wish they would have gone with us to the doctor, because they both think the goal should be a CURE of the cancer. I told him this is no longer possible. My middle son, with no medical knowledge whatsoever, said why don't they take the prostate out and cut the cancer out of his hip. "NOT POSSIBLE," I texted him. I went with my dad the day he had his initial consultation with his urologist after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I wish my sons would have come with us. I can't explain it all--I'm NOT a doctor. But once that cancer has spread beyond the prostate, treatment options are pretty limited, and are geared exclusively to slowing the growth, since it is then incurable.
The doctor said hubby could bowl again, if his pubic catheter doesn't bleed. Hubby's not sure about that yet. They will get the catheter out eventually, hopefully. As the prostate shrinks from the hormone pills, hopefully his ability to urinate normally will return. I think that as soon as he returns to normal activity, life will be better. Right now it's hard not to obsess over the "sickness" in his body.
I told hubby on the way home last night that once we got over this initial shock, that we really really need to start enjoying life. We are now on a time budget. And when I say "enjoy," I mean to just appreciate the normal aspects of life, and appreciate each other more. I know he is so precious to me, he always has been, but this makes my appreciation for him and my love even more intense.
I have written often about how wonderful it is to be normal at last. That's all I ever wanted. I hated being morbidly obese and how it limited me from looking normal and participating in normal life activities. This return to normalcy during these last two years has been wonderful, and now it feels like "Normal" has once again been ripped from my life.
My weight loss was instigated by my fear of being immobile or even dying as I was getting close to 60 years old. Today, I feel like all that work I did was....useless. If I have to live my retirement years alone, what was the point? Those years I bought myself are meaningless without him.
The doctor said sometimes the hormone pills will work to suppress the cancer's growth for as long as 10 years. But with hubby's very aggressive cancer, I doubt we will get 10 years. He also said there are cutting edge treatments being developed every day to use when the shots quit working. I will have to do some more reading. Sometimes reading scares me. Like I said, because I bought two books the doctor recommended and read most of them before our appointment yesterday, I was aware of what the doctor would probably be telling us. Hubby's philosophy has always been to ignore things. He had a normal PSA a year ago. Then somehow in a year, he got cancer and it spread outside his prostate--this is rare, the doctor said, it is shocking for it to grow so quickly. I know hubby complained about his urinary problems all during the last year, and I wish he'd have gone to the doctor then. He hates going to the doctor, and the urologist is the WORST place, as far as he is concerned. He always puts off going as long as he possibly can. Even yesterday he complained about being there and talked about how much he hated shots. I told him those shots were going to keep him alive and his fear of them were the least of our worries. I held his hand while she gave him two shots in his belly. He squeezed tight. Later he told me he hardly felt them. Since he will have to have shots monthly, at least at first, he better get used to being poked. For some reason, the blood tests don't bother him. For me the blood tests are much worse, but that is probably because they used to struggle so to find a vein through all my fat. Blood tests for me always involved multiple pokes, while shots were over quickly.
Sometimes I fleetingly think, "Oh screw it all. Hubby's sick, will probably die younger than we had hoped, I might as well eat and get fat again." And then immediately I realize it is more important now than ever before to keep this weight off. I need to be strong so that I can be a good caregiver. And since the doctor has suggested that hubby would be smart to drop a few pounds and start exercising to combat his treatment's side effects, I have a good excuse to make healthier meals. Lots of fruit, salad, fish and chicken! I have kind of gotten away from that lately. And maybe hubby will join me on my walks, when the roads dry up again after this latest snow. I'm thinking we can go on bike rides together this summer too. That would be fun.
If anyone has read this whole rambling blog, thank you. When I woke up this morning, I thought about blogging about all of this and it didn't sound like something I wanted to do. But just like my earlier blogs about this latest health development of hubby's, when I came downstairs, I sat down to the computer and starting writing. I think getting it all out helps. And your comments help me more than you know.