By Margaret Nyman
October 30, 2009
Today in our little cottage we had a wild ride. Nate’s pain has been escalating steadily over the last 10 days, frequently requiring the breakthrough pain medication to override it. So the head nurse spent an hour sorting through his current meds, rearranging doses, subtracting some items and adding others. After she’d gone, Nate’s pain gradually rose to new heights as his body began the adjustment away from the pills he can no longer swallow easily and toward two pain patches.
He stuck close to me all day and wanted, at one point, to nap on a double bed on the other side of the living room from his hospital bed. It was a tender time to whisper things to each other, but suddenly he said, “Don’t lean on me. Don’t press on me. Don’t cover me. It hurts too much.”
These words were whispered in high, raspy tones, the only voice he’s got left, and I had to ask for three repetitions of some of the words to understand. Assuring him I wouldn’t touch anyplace he was hurting, I asked him to tell me where it hurt the worst. He palmed back and forth on his abdomen, the first time he hadn’t answered that question by reaching around to touch his back.
When the nurse visited before, she’d measured his mid-section, just like a pregnant woman’s belly is measured for baby growth. When I’d asked what she was doing, she said, “His abdomen is beginning to fill with fluid now, as the organs fail to function right, because of the cancer.” All I could think of was the pain that would most likely accompany the pressure of that extra fluid.
“How do we solve that problem?” I’d asked. She said the team would be sure he didn’t have to suffer but that draining the fluid, a surgical procedure, was hurtful, invasive, and something to be avoided if possible. Continue reading