Friday, January 20, 2006

Tears for Fears

Things got a bit teary-eyed around here last night. After the kids had said their good-nights and gone off to their caves, and I was preparing to settle in for my nightly read, C stated in a tremulous voice that she did not want to do another transplant. She was thinking “end-game.”

We had been to the clinic that afternoon and saw her transplant doc, who went down the list of things that were of current concern. Amongst them was the deteriorating function of her kidneys. Multiple myeloma patients have problems in this area because the disease populates the blood stream with tons of excess proteins which then eventually hit the kidneys and slowly overwhelm them. It would be like starting to use the garbage disposal in your sink as your primary waste receptacle. It might do OK with the left over toast, but the tin cans would give it some problems. As it begins to clog up, so does the sink, and sooner or later, you are dealing with an overflow. Same with the kidneys. Many MM patients wind up on dialysis before playing the final card.

It’s hard to have these discussions. How does one approach the impending death of a lover? I don’t know. I do know that we need to talk about it, but it’s hard. In one way, it is like giving up – admitting that the game is over even though you don’t really know when the end will come.

C is worried that the kids will think that she didn’t fight hard enough – that they will grow up with bitter memories of how their mother gave in too easily. How do you explain to someone that sometimes the treatment is just too hard to endure? How do you teach a child that sometimes it is more important to approach death with dignity rather than scratch and scrabble for every last moment on this earth no matter what the cost? I don’t know that either.

Last night, I felt like I didn’t know anything as C rolled over into my arms and lay there gently crying.


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