The birthday from hell was just the beginning – it turned into “the year from hell”. A few days after my birthday, with the car tire fixed, we went to the emergency department (our doctor was out of town), to get husband’s health looked after. Over the next three days, we spent many hours there, with exams, blood tests, ultrasound, etc. The diagnosis: pancreatic cancer, inoperable. So the good times ended.
We saw a specialist in Halifax, who said that a 3-6 month survival was likely. He advised that my husband should have a stent inserted into the bile duct, for the jaundice. We followed the advice, but complications during the procedure turned day surgery into a 5-day hospital stay and coming home in a much weakened condition. My husband now had a permanent external t-tube.
We had visits from family and friends, and many supportive e-mails from all over the world.
My husband did not want to go to the hospital as he got weaker, so preparations for home care nursing visits and palliative care were done. Our palliative care doctor was less optimistic about how time was left for my husband. He said it could be days to weeks, and he was right. During the first month after diagnosis my husband was still able to function somewhat, even if nausea prevented him from eating properly, and a residual infection from the procedure meant continuous antibiotic treatment. In the second month he became too weak to go upstairs, and a hospital bed was set up in the living room. It was a difficult time, watching him get weaker and being in pain. He only survived for two months after diagnosis and died at home on May 12th, 2011.
Since then, I have had to learn to live alone, after 35 years together.
Today it is one year after the “birthday from hell”. The weather is similar, if not as harsh. But now I have only a grave site to visit.