Pedal Another Mile

Bicycling, death, life after death.


This morning before I left, I told Billy Jo's mom I was going home after the doctor came in. Five minutes later I said "fuck it - I'm going now - tell me what he says" and headed out the door. I ran into him in the hallway. He told me that every morning he gets a note if any of the patients died overnight. He was shocked Billy Jo wasn't on that list. He told me he'd be in to see her in five minutes, so I waited.

He came in and told mom and I that he was amazed at her ability to survive. This is day 19 with no water. Day 19 with no food, and if you take out the bite of brownie on Thanksgiving and small sliver of turkey and single piece of stuffing on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, it's day 25.

When they give her a bath every few days, I watch as they roll her away from where I sit. Her shoulder blades are poking through her skin she's so skinny. The front, however, has become an absolute nightmare the past few days. The tumors are growing so big and everywhere that she is quite literally disfigured throughout the abdomen.


When I was home about an hour, Debbie called me and told me the nurses wanted to inform me that her breathing had become labored again and her fingers and the top half of her palms were gray due to no blood reaching them. They asked if they could give her oxygen. Debbie said no and called me. I asked if she looked in any more discomfort than she had all week. The answer was no. I told her she made the right decision.

Anyway, I didn't rush right back over. Actually I waited about three hours before packing another bag of clothes and heading back. By the time I got there her breathing corrected and her hands were back to normal.

At home I only slept about 30 minutes or so but laid in bed for another hour listening to music. I didn't have any emotional breakdown being there, which is a good sign. Having all the hospital equipment out and the house cleaned (thanks again to Lena & Tracy) was quite likely the reason for that. 


Billy Jo is still in her vegetative state. Her number of breaths has decreased to about 15 per minute from 30 or so yesterday. The apnea (time between breaths) is increasing, but is still nothing like it was the final week at home, where it was reaching 30 seconds at times. Of course at that point she could still take deep breaths - the tumors have stopped that now.

So the five or six hours away from here at spending time at home was good for me. Recharged me  enough to deal with another night here, and maybe even another one after that.