Monday, October 13, 2008

Love is Patient, love is...

Scripture is so convicting! You've all heard that passage at just about every wedding you've ever attended, right?
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud." 1 Corinthians 13:4

(The picture below is of Vinnie with his four grown kids. Left to front: Amy, Michael, Christine & Michelle (Shelly)

After Shelly's wedding, Vinnie and I took a little vacation in the mountains of Tennesee. We never made it to Alaska liked we talked about for years before. It was our dream to go to Alsaka for our 25th anniversary. We never got there. I joked about seeing mountains and water in Alaska and that we'd get to see the same in TN! But Vinnie was in so much pain and so exhausted from the wedding. He slept most of the time we were away. He had little energy to take walks or even take a drive through a drive-through natural park! I did all the driving there and back. It was a lonely "vacation" for me, really. And he was always struggling with pain. It didn't make much sense to me that he was suppose to be cancer free but he seemed to be more uncomfortable than ever! He was taking strong pain medicine but it never seemed to help. The pain medicine also caused him constipation which caused more pain. He asked me about every hour (I am not exaggerating!), "What should I do now, take more pain medicine or a stool softener, or a laxative?" It required SO MUCH PATIENCE! Wow...I really needed that passage - daily! Love, love, love, is what? Oh yeah...patient and kind. Talk about a need for God to take over! He has the love, He has the patience. I needed it for mine was wearing thin even though I did love him (and still do!). Such is the struggle of selfish people who wrestle with the Holy Spirit who can help us be like God & live with His heart. I have a good friend who lives by the words, "...all for our good and His glory." I cherished those words and leaned on them to help me remember that God had a purpose even in all this!

His pain worsened every week we were back home, and he seemed to sleep all the time. He would try to get up some mornings to go to work, but would often times call me an hour or two later with barely enough energy to speak. He'd tell me he could not make it through the day and was going home. One day after being home all morning sleeping (pain kept him up many nights) he attempted to go to work in the afternoon but ended up coming home around 4 p.m. He drove himself home. It was pouring rain. I suddenly heard a car horn that would not stop blowing. I looked outside and found Vinnie doubled over the steering wheel of his truck.

I ran out to see what he was doing. He told me to call 911. He felt like his stomach was about to explode where the stoma was. He was scared. He had had to pull off the road on the way home too, because he thought he was going to pass out. We went to the ER via ambulance and spent a good portion of the night there but no one could figure out what had happened. I think it was another week or two before we discovered that the cancer was back, but watching him was getting more and more scary and each day was becoming more and more unreliable.

It was a Sunday morning; Vinnie was in bad shape, barely able to walk. We went to church and left immediately after. He was going to meet his son and son-in-law at the home of a friend to show them what needed to be done to finish a ceramic tile job he'd been doing for her. With Vinnie out of work so much, we were not getting his full pay and the side job was vital for us to pay all these doctor visits and prescriptions. He was supervising this job. That afternoon, while trying to show the guys what to do, he laid on the floor curled up in a ball with pain. Once again I took him to the ER.

This time when the doctor in the ER saw how much pain Vinnie was in, he knew Vinnie's was going to have to be admitted so they could figure out how to manage his pain. He had been given several shots of morphine and it was the first time in a long time I'd seen Vinnie seem himself again - no pain! The doctor wanted to know what was causing all the pain so he was sent up to get another CT Scan. He was admitted and I went home to get a little sleep and bring back some clothes for him in the morning. We figured he'd be home in the morning. But I no sooner got home and Vinnie called me. His doctor came in around 11:30 p.m. to tell him what was going on. The cancer was back. It was in the liver, lungs, and traveling to the other kidney, as well as all over the lymph nodes in the back. I went right back to the hospital. We talked and cried for hours. The nurses let me stay in the extra bed in his room that night.

His oncologist came in in the morning to talk to us both. We were told that the cancer was aggressive and that he would get Vinnie set up for chemo but there was no question, Vinnie was going to die. The doctor knew that he would not be able to save Vinnie. It took another 5 days before the doctors were able to get the right combination of pain meds to control the pain. Shortly after he went home, we started going to the doctor to prepare for chemo but each time, there was a hitch...the kryon count in the kidney was too high to do chemo successfully. If I understand it, the kryon is a measure used to determine how well the kidney is draining.

After a few weeks of waiting for the kryon count to drop, the doctor decided should have yet another operation. This time he wanted to open the uterer with a stint to get the kidney draining better but the doctor performing the surgery realized half way through the procedure, that there was no blockage! So he woke up from surgery and was sent home! Talk about patience. We were both being asked to have so much of it! We were both becoming worn out and ready to stop. A week a later, we finally made that choice.
(The picture on the left is of Vinnie with his sister, brother, and sister-in-law.)

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