Sunday, September 6, 2009

The spirit cannot endure the body when overfed, but, if underfed, the body cannot endure the spirit. ~St Frances de Sales

One more entry from Angela. Hopefully, this is the last blog post I will have to make on Olaf's behalf. Not only has he lacked internet access the last few days, but even more so the energy/desire to write or read his blog - it makes him too sad. While Olaf is a guy with many emotions and generally not afraid to express them, he usually has them under reasonable control. Not so last night.

The PEG was not usable for the first 48 hours, but he needed to stay in hospital for IV antibiotics. After 4 days in hospital, he was feeling very trapped, so with much cajoling we convinced them to let him go home for the night on Saturday. As a physician, I would be able to administer his IV medications myself, so armed with a bucket of filled syringes, we left the hospital on a night pass.

All afternoon he had been shivering uncontrollably - possibly from hunger, or possibly from going stir-crazy on the ward. I dropped him off at home with his mother, and met up with friends for Dim Sum (dining out has become a rarity for me and I was quite excited). Near the end of dinner I got a call from Olaf asking me to come home right away, with little explanation. I found him in the throws of a panic attack, complete with shaking, uncontrollable crying, and hyperventilating. This was something I'd never seen him do. He's mentioned frequently how happy he is NOT to have phobias of small spaces, needles, etc. Yet the last couple of days, he had become increasingly anxious about getting put into the mask, and had even asked his doctor for some sedatives before his most recent radiation treatment. Fortunately, we still had some on hand last night. I gave him one, and together with some reassurance and slow breathing, he settled down. But he was a beaten man, with no physical or emotional reserve with which to cope.

In the morning things seemed brighter (as they so often do) and we went back to then hospital to finally begin tube feeds. While we waited for the pump to arrive, they squirted an ounce of liquid food into the tube. That was vomited up shortly thereafter (apparently a little too much for his stomach to handle). However, once the pump was set up, he tolerated the rather meager 2 tablespoons per hour it feeds him, with minimal vomiting. Whether it's the 300 or so calories he received today, or just the psychological impact of knowing he was getting nutrition, he looked and felt much better today.

The current plan is to stay in hospital at the Health Sciences Centre until Tuesday so they can monitor any electrolyte changes from refeeding. He'll try to get passes for a few hours out once in a while just to maintain his sanity, and hopefully go home on Tuesday morning. Keep your fingers crossed for a new blog update then from a happier and less hungry Olaf!

12 comments:

kevin aichele said...

Thanks for the update Ange. I can't begin to imagine how difficult this has to be for you. I just want you to know that I think you are an incredibly strong, courageous, and loving woman. Olaf is so lucky to have someone like you by his side through this. Just know that I think about you and pray for your strength to get this as much as I do for Olaf. You guys are an amazing couple! Stay strong! I love you both!

kevin aichele said...

... pray for your strength to get THROUGH this ...

That's what I get for not reading it over before hitting "publish".

Astrid said...

I love you to pieces but I'm starting to have difficulties reading/knowing this. I can only imagine what it must be like for you, Ang and of course Olaf himself. Thanks for staying strong.

<3

Sandi said...

I knew Ange many years ago, and for some reason, she kept coming to mind over the past week. Now I know why. In my quest to find her, I stumbled across your blog, and read it in its entirety last night. Your story has touched me deeply, and I find myself cheering you both on towards victory in the race you now run. Even in your weakness, your strength is magnified, and it is an inspiration to me, and so many others. Know that you are in my prayers, and I am fighting with you and for you--even if from a distance.

~Sandi Redekop Reimer

Laura said...

I keep recalling things Olaf has said over the past few months as he was dealing with the anticipation of this time. (about needles, his lack of claustrophobia, etc) This thing seems to be trying to mess with his confidence - like a macabre game. I know full well Olaf's competitive spirit, desire to win and relentless character. It looks like he's going to need all those things and I know he will conquer!! You WILL win this one Olaf.

Thanks Angela for the update.

Richard said...

Still here, still reading, still keeping good thoughts and still amazed by BOTH your spirits. Wish I was closer!! But you're both in my thoughts - again, always!
Love
Richard

Wendy Broadfoot said...

Everytime I read a new note, I ache even more for the struggles you are having to endure. You have been so strong, more than I would ever be in your shoes, so hearing that you are so down, makes me even sadder. This too shall pass, so please hang in there and take care. Thanks to your wonderful wife for keeping us up to date!

Nolan said...

I am at a loss for anything to say. Empathy is impossible as I have never been through anything close to what you both are dealing with and sympathy feels so trite sometimes.

You're always close to the surface of my thoughts no matter where I am during the day.

I miss and love you.

James said...

Leanne and I are thinking of you. Just reading what you are going through is daunting enough for me (James). I truly can't imagine all the feelings you are going through. I think it's great that you've kept up the blog. It's a testament to your love. No matter how far down you feel Olaf and Angela, it will never match the depth of the love you have for each other. Thank you so much. Stay strong. You both wil overcome this.

Kim said...

We spent the weekend at the cottage and you were in our every thought, it seems. The kids are very into STAR WARS these days, as were the four of us, as we first connected over dinners, movies, etc. May the force be with you. Love, Kim and Dave.

Anonymous said...

I was so happy to see you and Olaf last week, and have thought of you everyday. A lesser man would not learn to suffer as well as Olaf. His spirit will be that much more radiant when he returns from...well....hell, is the only word I can think of. You are remarkable, Ange, in witnessing his horrors and for guiding him through this terrible stage in the process. Know that we love you and are there with you and his mother, as well as Olaf. Love, Vern

Jon Buller said...

Angela, you are amazing. Thank you for the update. Thoughts and prayers are always with you of course.

You are also an inspiration to me. I am anticipating positive days coming and checking the blog regularly for new reports of small victories which will grow into great triumphs in the days to come.

Jon