Pedal Another Mile

Bicycling, death, life after death.

A Tale of Two Billy Jos

I'm going to be honest - this was not going to be a good update at all. The past 24 hours have not been good, to say the least. It began with Billy Jo taking one bite of her favorite pizza that friends brought over yesterday afternoon. One bite. We usually kill a large between the two of us. One bite. Later on after everyone left she decided to have a piece of chocolate cake. One bite of that, too. I was overcome with concern, because if there's two things she should be eating, it's Villa Nova pizza and chocolate cake.

She went to bed and everything seemed 'ok'... no better or worse than usual. Then 5:30am came around and I woke her up to take her scheduled methadone. She responded by dry heaving and puking it back up. She took another one and laid down. She remained there all day, waking only for more dilaudid every three hours. The last pill I even had to put in her mouth for her.

This was bad. Wasn't it? When I asked her if I should call hospice, she said no, and I honored her wish. But this wasn't normal? Or was it? I wouldn't know, since I hadn't opened Pandora's Box the booklet...

I laid in bed with her all morning (I'm still sick) but had to get up and do something.  That something was read the booklet.  Finally.  Oddly, what I read didn't clear much up for me, at least not yet.  Was this just a bad day?  Or was this "the turn" towards the end?  I read on. When the end is near, the dying person might have a burst of energy or act completely normal for a time. OK, so if tomorrow she's up and wanting to vacuum or change the oil on the car or something, does that mean we are indeed near the end, or does it just mean she felt like shit today?

The strange thing about today - I didn't freak out.  I didn't take a Xanax. I didn't go against her wishes and call hospice. I was concerned, sure, but not overly so.  I just made sure that every time she was due for another painkiller, I made sure she got it.  (Thanks to my team of misfits across the nation that make sure I'm awake at the scheduled times by calling or sending a text.)  But I didn't freak out. I think today gave me a boost (an exhausting one at that, though) that my strength in dealing with this whole awful thing is indeed growing.

So the afternoon went on, and Billy Jo slept on.  I got some work done remotely, froze some of the leftovers from the wonderful meal train we've been fortunate to receive, showered, and sat on the patio for a bit.  The next meal train volunteer, Laura, came over and grilled her famous sliders on our grill. I chatted with her and Lena, who had stopped by after work to see how things were going. And Billy Jo slept.  Laura understood it was a bad day.  We brought the food in and began to eat. Laura asked if she could at least go give her a hug.  I told her that I had to wake her in 10 minutes for pain medication anyway, so she could come up with me.  A few minutes later, Billy Jo walked into the kitchen. She stayed down for an hour or so, and seemed ok - just tired.  The lymphedema in her leg had gone down considerably.  The leg no longer was porcelain-like (shiny and hard).  There was definition to the calf again.  It felt like a leg again.

She only had one bite of a burger and a bit of Gatorade.  She simply cannot eat the past few days. It makes her nauseous and causes pain. But she was very happy she was able to visit with friends, and so was I.

I also had to literally drag Wrigley out of bed today to go outside, and Shadow spent HOURS right on Billy Jo's other side, something he usually does for minutes... She was surrounded by her furkids :)