Friday, March 09, 2018

Robert Frost poems

Ebony is out of surgery, back in her room and recovering nicely, thanks to Dilaudid. She is now fitted with a Gastric Tube and as soon as tomorrow will begin receiving nutrients through the valve. The nurse was just here demonstrating the valve with Ebony’s meds.

My heart was in my mouth the entire time because the surgical team showed up before they brought her up to the OR “to say Hi!” And what better time to meet the the sociopathic Anesthesiologist? He wanted to let me know all the bad things that can happen during surgery and what that might mean. Like a tracheotomy or need for a breathing tube. And what better time to tell me than right before you take her in, huh? Thanks, Doc. I’m coming to your house for Halloween, I bet you thought “The Verdict” was a depressing movie where the bad guys won.

I walked up to the OR ahead of Ebony and before they took her in, I asked for a moment with her. I held her hand and leaned in and started tearing up, telling her how much I love her and that I will be there when she gets out and I’ll play her the new Judas Priest album which came out today. Ebony released her hand from mine and put it on my cheek, which is kinda our thing since this all began. It only made me cry harder but let me know she’s still in there, she’ll still fighting.

When she got out, her mother and I went to recovery to see her. Ebony came through just fine but was maybe in a little pain so they have some Fentanyl. Her mother said she would meet us in the room and I played some of the new Priest album — “Firepower” — for her. She seemed to really enjoy it, but the painkillers kicked in and she was out after three songs.

So after a great deal of anxiety and stress, Ebony is stable and will be getting Astronaut meals in what will become our new normal.

We have managed to get through this but we are not out of the woods yet: we will eventually be at that point where two roads will diverge. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

Hope, memories and distraction

The last two days have been the hardest days of my life. Looking back, I can recall the worst of times: getting mugged was pretty bad. Getting hit by a van wasn’t great, either; but Ebony’s Cancer diagnosis was the worst.

I have been comparatively fortunate otherwise. Lucky? Blessed? Privileged? Honored? All of those things at times. What’s a typical bad day for me? The escalator is out at ABC and I have to take the stairs to the mezzanine to get the elevator to the newsroom? “What the Fuck, man? This place sucks!”

(I am joking, of course, Ha,ha. Kidding! I have to be careful of what I say: I don’t want to piss of the wrong people or in seven days Kerry Washington will crawl out of my television and kill me.)

Ebony has surgery today. The doctors are implanting a valve called a Gastric Tube into her stomach. As she can no longer swallow properly, and a Nasogastric feeding tube, inserted through her nose, is only meant to be temporary — and causes her pain and discomfort. — the doctors say that this is the best way for her to ingest nutrients. The device can be removed should she regain her ability to swallow.

Last night one of the members of the surgical team stopped by to explain the procedure to me and have me sign the release form.

The process of placing a Gastric tube involves inserting a camera with a light at the tip through the mouth into the stomach. They use this device to press the stomach against the abdomen and make the incision where they will insert the valve and after doing so, sew her up.

The valve is secured internally and externally, essentially, by washers. During the healing process, collagen forms naturally, adhering the stomach against the interior of the abdomen.

Because Ebony has been on steroids for over six months, her procedure will be different. Steroids inhibit collagen from forming so they will need to attach Ebony’s stomach to the inside of her abdomen with stitches in order to prevent Septic Peritonitis, which would occur if the valve separates from the stomach and the contents leak into her body, causing infection and abdominal pain.

The recovery from surgery will take two to four weeks depending how quickly the surgical wound heals. Because she has been having her Cancer treated with infusions of Avastin, they have to watch her closely as one of the side-effects of Avastin is that it inhibits wounds from healing.

When she pulls through this, and I am confident that she will, what we must face is that she may not be able to swallow conventional food again. Ebony was hardly a “foodie,” but she loves great wine and chocolate; cheese, olives and cherry peppers stuffed with prosciutto and provolone. She loves sushi, seafood, particularly shellfish; pizza amd pasta and more than anything, potato chips. She also loves burgers from White Castle (“It’s a Queens thing,” she would tell me.), McDonald’s French fries and Popeye’s fried chicken (spicy), which she introduced me to. Over the ten years we have been together, I unknowingly turned her into a Chowdah Monstah, and watched her indulge in clam chowder everywhere we went in Newport and Eastern New England. She loves the chowder at The Black Pearl but was also quite fond of the chowder at Flo’s. Oh, and she loves chocolate. Did I mention?

Unfortunately, those days are over, at least for now.

Wednesday afternoon, when all this was laid out by her primary MD, we were also presented with the grim question of whether we wanted to sign a DNR/DNI. This is a form which stipulates that in the event of arrest, the doctors will not resuscitate and neither will they intubate or hook her up to a ventilator.

As her Health Care Proxy and Power of Attorney, her fiancĂ©, lover and partner of 10 years, I went to honor Ebony’s wishes. I know what she wants, what she has expressed to me in thee past before this happened, but I am horribly conflicted. Ebony is the Love of my Life and I would trade places with her in a second. She doesn’t deserve what has befallen her and it is agonizing to watch. I have called out of work the past two nights because I am overwhelmed and a crying mess.

I know where this is going. At this point, we all do. How long it takes and how we get there is how we honor Ebony and celebrate her life.

For six months I have lived on hope, memories and distraction. Yesterday, they moved Ebony from a quad to a double and she got a window with a view of the front entrance of the hospital. I think it’s important, to keep looking out, looking forward.

I just hope I can face whatever lies ahead with courage, for Ebony.