I’m straying from my usual random banter and posting style for the next few days.
If you choose to read on, you will understand why. But beware that what follows is a recounting of the last days of my late wife’s life. Someday I will tell her whole story, but I am not yet strong enough to do so all at once. This is my way of managing the telling of a heart breaking story.
It had been two weeks since our disappointing visit to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary for a “second opinion”. Because Shelley was in no condition to travel back to Mexico*, I had looked around and found an alternative medicine clinic in Alberta.
In reading “The Moss Report” we had purchased for Melanoma, I found the name of a Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Susan Janssen, who specialized in cancer and was then resident at the Integrative Medicine Institute in Calgary. I printed off some literature from their web site and convinced Shelley that, since Mexico was out of our reach now, we should try this place in Calgary. They offered a similar protocol to that of IMAQ, the Mexican clinic.
I managed to secure an appointment at IMI in Calgary for a consultation with Dr. Susan Janssen. The appointment was for after lunch on Tuesday, August 15th, 2008.
I was loading the truck to make the 3 hour or so drive to Calgary. Our two girls were coming with us on this trip, but we were meeting up with them south of Edmonton. While I was loading the truck our doorbell rang.
There, unannounced, stood Shelley’s two best friends, Terry and Bev. They had stood up for her at our wedding and they had kept in touch on and off over the years.
In retrospect, I do not believe it was a coincidence that they had made the five hour drive from northwest Alberta. Because it would turn out to be the last time they would see their friend alive. If they had come an hour later, they would have missed us.
On a whim they had driven five hours to see their friend. I’m really glad that they did that.
The three of them visited for a little while, but then we had to get going in order to avoid getting in to Calgary too late. Terry and Bev helped me get the last of the stuff into the truck (stuff = wheelchair, walker, commode chair, O2 machine,…..). Then they helped me get Shelley out to the truck and settled as comfortably as possible in the back set. And she and I headed out.
I understood later, but I didn’t at the time, why Shelley fought me** the way that she did during this trip. I think she knew. I think she didn’t want to go and learn what we would learn.
It was a rough and tough trip and a long night for all of us. We stayed in a motel. It was too hot. Shelley really didn’t sleep at all night. She had trouble breathing. All the pillows and blankets and foam mattresses and other props that we brought along to make her as comfortable as we could just didn’t work. She had trouble ingesting the pain meds. And even with the pain meds she couldn’t sleep.
She had too many meds – I think – because she was hallucinating in the morning.
* We had a follow up appointment to start the second round of treatments on August 21, 2006. We had already ruled out flying down because of edema issues and had resigned ourselves to making the trip by road. By this day two years ago, Shelley was in no condition to make the 30 or so hour drive to San Diego, no matter how many days we spread the trip over.
** She was generally uncooperative which, quite frankly, was very unusual for her.