It’s 8.15 pm. I’m writing this from Caroline’s hospice room which is part of Modbury hospital. The hospice is on level four, and it has views looking out to a big Westfield shopping centre, in case anyone was wondering.
The process of Caroline being admitted into the palliative care ward happened much quicker than either of us thought it would. On Friday morning C had made the decision to stop taking her chemo tablets. It was a decision we’d talked about before and agreed that C would know when the time was right. When she woke up Friday, she knew it was time. She was struggling to get out of bed such was the level of her exhaustion, her spleen was still causing her pain and she said that she felt as though she wasn’t weeing or pooing properly. Like her body was starting to fail.
It was an emotional decision to make not only because of the consequences, but because a part of Caroline felt that she was giving up. I told her she wasn’t giving up, she was simply letting go of all that was holding her back from where she needed to be: that by letting go of everything she could relax. And find some peace. I think she managed to reframe her decision in that light and did seem relieved.
After this conversation I rang the registrar, Michelle, to ask how quickly the leukemia would progress. It was a moot question. The leakemia had already started to take over, and C’s blasts were at 47%. The decision to stop the chemo was also redundant, which seemed to vindicate the path C has chosen for herself.
Anyway, after a few more phone calls with doctors and the palliative care people, a bed was made available for C and she was transported from home by ambulance at 2.30pm. Seeing her strapped to a stretcher and lifted into the back of the ambulance, knowing she was never coming home, was one of the first of many meltdowns that day.
At the hospice we met the doctors and were told that Caroline’s time with us would be very short. A few days probably. The best case scenario is that C ends up sleeping 24 hours a day and then quietly slips into a coma. She is close to this now. Staying awake is a chore and she has little energy to talk. The worst case scenarios don’t need to mentioned.
As it stands now, C has stopped all her pills except her pain management. Her spleen is enormous and she could be mistaken for being pregnant. Eating is of little interest.
Her registrar paid her a social visit last night as a friend, not a doctor. Again, a huge indication of the amazing care the medical team has always given Caroline.
Yesterday I said to Caroline that maybe we had been greedy with our love. That perhaps there are only so many kisses you are allowed in your life and rather than the leakemia killing her, she had just run out of kisses. It makes, for both of us, the process of dying a more gentle one, rather than the brutal reality that Caroline’s body has betrayed her in the most brutal and cruelest of ways.