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End of the Road

July 4, 2003, was the beginning of our journey “on the road” in our motorhome. The end of the road came on June 28, 2013 when my love of 54 years passed away.

We had decided to take a break from the routine of doctor appointments and treatments to travel in our little CRV to Illinois via Montana and South Dakota. Daughter Laura and son-in-law Steve live in Montana and we were anxious to see the additions to their home. We spent a couple of lovely days with them and then headed to South Dakota to renew our drivers’ licenses. After a successful 30 minutes at the DMV we celebrated with dinner and wine then returned to enjoy our jacuzzi suite.

Next stop Illinois where we were meeting up with our kids to help my Mom and Dad celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. We arrived a week early and discovered that their TV was on the fritz so we all decided to buy them a flat screen TV as a gift. Jim spent a couple of days rearranging their stereo system and installing the TV.

All along the way on the trip Jim was not feeling very well. Stomach upsets, abdominal pain, very tired. On about June 18th he got hiccups that came and went and lasted a long time.They lasted for hours and were so bad he could not talk.  Abdominal pain became worse. On Thursday the 20th he was in more pain and when I asked how bad it was he said an 8 out of 10. OK…we are going to the urgent care.

Urgent care could not identify the problem but it was obvious that he needed help so we went to the ER. He was admitted to the hospital in the early hours of the morning with potential gall bladder problems.  After several hours of CT, Ultrasound, MRI pictures a radiologist said it looked like he had a blood clot in his liver. And the only cancer that showed up was what we knew about in his lungs (which was being treated and was decreasing in size).

While he was in a lot of pain at this time he was started on drugs to dissolve the clot and of course pain meds. So for a couple of days we thought he was in for a long haul of treatments but the clot would dissolve and we would fly home and he’d be better. But the heparin and other drugs to dissolve the clot did not work! And the pain got worse and there was no solution. On Thursday the doctors told us that the situation was very bad. No surgical options and no meds working.

A staff doctor from ICU came by to determine if Jim should be moved to ICU. He took me in the hallway and was very blunt. They could continue to try to prolong his life but what would the quality of that life be.   The doctors advised that we put Jim on hospice care. This meant that all blood tests, antibiotics and meds would be stopped. Pain med levels could be increased so he could be somewhat comfortable.

With the kids around us I explained the situation to Jim and he said he did not want to be kept on life support. He did not want to live like that.

Jim passed away at 8:35 on Friday night, June 28. There’s so much more to this story…like how our son played Jim’s favorite music on his phone all day to comfort us…like how wonderful the doctors and nurses were to us…how our daughters stood strong beside me and gave me the strength to be strong for Jim, and how our son Jim cared for his Dad putting chapstick on his lips, giving him sips of water….and son-in-law Tom provided all kinds of physical and logistic and emotional support,,,and how the grandkids all called on Skype to talk to Grandpa for what we knew was the last time and sweet Evan called to tell Jim to get better soon and that he loved Grandpa.

Nothing I write can convey the agony of that week. After 8 years of battling cancer the suddenness of his passing was unbelievable.

As I held Jim’s hand and his breathing slowed to nothing the baby lullaby played on the PA system. A new baby was born as Jim left this world. Maybe there is a  little boy growing up surprising his parents with an old soul. I choose to believe that Jim’s soul flew off into the stars going where no man has gone before.




9 Responses to End of the Road

  1. Mom, I’m so glad you were able to finish your journey here. Many hugs to you as you step forward into your new life path.

  2. Elaine says:

    Joan, what a touching post. I am so sorry Jim has left us yet consoled by the fact that he went with the loves of his life surrounding him, just as he would want. You are love and bravery in action; keep taking one moment, one day, at a time. Much love to you :)

  3. Lynn Feichtner says:

    As difficult as it is to write this with tears streaming down my face, I must tell you how proud I am of you….you are to be admired, not only for your compassion and strength over the past 8 years as you cared for Jim, but also for the strength you found deep within you to write this final chapter of your lives together. You are my hero! Now, as you begin a whole new journey, know that you have “weathered” the worst, and that starting today, a world filled with amazing joy is on the horizon. Accept new challenges as they come your way. Live them….breathe them….learn from them! You’ll be glad you did! Love you, my dear friend. Hang on tight, and remember to grab that Brass Ring when it comes your way….its there for the taking!!!

  4. Beth says:

    Joan, I’m so touched by your story and your love. Thank you for sharing this chapter of your life with us. Love and hugs!!!

  5. Roxanne says:

    My dear friend, your story brought tears to my eyes. BUT I celebrate the years you and Jim had together, the love and joy you shared, the wonderful children and grandchildren who will carry on. I wish you peace as you begin this new chapter in your life.

  6. Pam says:

    Joan, your blog was one of the first I found when I started RVing. I enjoyed your updates through the years and I want to thank you for your last update. It must have been extremely painful but was beautifully written. May you find peace and happiness in your future endeavors.

  7. Joan – I’ve followed your blog for many years, and the past year I only stopped by every now and then, since you no longer posted very often.

    I pray for God’s mercy for you and your family, and am so sorry I never got to meet Jim. Hopefully some time in the future I will be able to meet you.

    Please continue to blog about your life and where you are.

  8. Jean says:

    I just finished reading your post. My thoughts and prayers are with you.It sounds as though you and Jim had a great life together.
    As you know, I had my own “end of an era” in July. It was not a gentle passing.I went to a counselor several times to try to find a way to deal with the event of Oran’s abrupt departure. I know he did not expect me to be there to hear him take his final breath. I had a difficult time sleeping for some time. I would just go to sleep and then have a re-run of it all.
    Things are better now. I have been in Texas with Andy and Brenda since Dec. 26th. Tomorrow I am going to Arizona for a week and a half. Then I’ll come back to Texas until the first of April.

  9. Grandma Kc says:

    Your post touched my heart. I can’t imagine the hurt you went through and I hope by now the pain has eased a little bit. You are very lucky to have had so many wonderful years with someone you cared so much about — I do wish you could have had more. Renee mentioned your blog and I had to stop by. Glad I did.

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