Paul started chemotherapy on Tuesday and so far it has been a disaster. Tonight is his second night in hospital, where we ended up yesterday afternoon with him in very awful pain with stomach cramps. Paul doesn't really register pain in normal times. We started the night with an intern Paul knew from his surgical rotation on the wards from his last hospital visit. I told this young man that Paul was pretty stoic and that if he says he is in unbearable pain, it really is unbearable. The young intern nodded. "Oh, yes," he said, "We all remember Paul, he's a legend." So then they gave him lovely drugs, and Paul perked up again. Some tests later he was diagnosed with colitis, an inflamed bowel lining.

"That is a very angry bowel," said the doctor, looking at the scan results.

So Paul sits in his hospital bed with a very angry bowel, although it is much less angry than it was, mostly due to the fact he hasn't eaten in over a day. I have never actually seen Paul angry, but now he has an invisible angry body part. I'm not quite sure where things will go from here, because the poor man can't survive if the chemo does this to him every fortnight. We see the oncologist on Friday for advice. Meanwhile, we are beginning to know the hospital quite well, important information like there is always a warming cupboard where the warm blankets are.


Today they let Paul out and he is home again, snug in his cabin on the mountain, with lots of drugs and some soothing soup that I sent home with him. Poor poppet. He is so tired. He hasn't slept enough for days, weeks actually. Well, there may have been several days of good sleep between having all his belly drains removed and starting chemo. Not enough, though.

I am feeling pretty wrung out today. I always think I am doing pretty well when Paul is having a crisis, then I fall in a tiny heap when he gets better. I have been doing a lot of housework today, and I thought I was just being very accomplished until Red pointed out that I was stress cleaning. 

"You know you only get the vacuum cleaner out when you are stressed, Mum." 

It's true, I'd forgotten. On normal weeks the floors get a lick and a promise with the broom, but on stress days nothing less than the full dust and vacuum routine will soothe the ragged nerves. I have also developed two patches of psoriasis, one on each middle finger. I am thinking there must be some deep meaning behind this, but cannot summon the energy to research it. 

There were going to be some soothing photos, but that is one step too far. Tell me stories about what you are all up to, with links if you have blogs. I love to hear about your lives xxx


Anonymous said…
My friend, how I think of you, and Paul. I hope the oncologist will provide some answers and help.
I had a much more productive tomato harvest this time.Nothing impressive but I am feeling quite accomplished (the fact that many of my tomatoes are the size of a walnut does not dampen these feelings). Same for the pepper harvest!
After a 15 month separation, I got to spend a glorious week with my wondrous grandson ( all adults are vaccinated). We stayed at the beach, watched him run, play, and laugh. Laughter how soothing to the soul that sound is.
I hope you get some rest. Sending you much love and grace.
Jo said…
Patricia, ah, I can hear the joy in your words as you delighted in the company of your grandson and your family. What a wondrous reunion that must have been:)
I hope you have mightily enjoyed your miniature but prolific harvest. It made up in quantity for the size of its fruits! Here in Tasmania we are marginal for tomatoes and peppers in a cool summer, so it is always exciting to see what the weather does. It's the roll of the wheel of fortune, and we must seize the day!
simplelife said…
I too, stress clean. I believe it's my quest for control when other areas are beyond my control, that and having a clean and tidy space seems to help with calming my overactive thinking, not much but a little.
It seems to me that most people suffer terribly through chemo and often wonder if the cure isn't worse than the disease. It's not a time for stoicism, speak up and ask for all the help. Both you and Paul.
My son is leaving in the boat in 10 days for his delayed trip around the mainland in his van. He's been home with us since graduating at the end 2019 and while I'm excited for him to be finally off, I've gotten very comfy with his company and am a tiny bit heartbroken. This is the beginning of empty nesting for us and that's scary.
Hope sleep and calm comes to you Jo and the house still looks spick and span in the morning.
Cheers Kate.
Jo said…
Kate, I think you are right, cleaning on these days gives me a little pleasing illusion of control. I think it is also a good way to work off some of the adrenalin. As coping strategies go, it is very useful, but i think my children associate a clean house with a stressed mother, which may be not such a positive outcome!
Oh, my goodness, I get that feeling, so happy for your son, so proud of his courage and joyful adventuresomeness, but having most of your favourite people being somewhere else.. yeah, i feel that tiny little heartbreak of yours. I hope you can sit with that comfortably and nourish yourself with all the good times you have had in his growing up years. And wow, what an adventure for you, the Crone Years! (I am so excited about being a crone, that i am writing a novel about it!!)
Treaders said…
Oh poor Paul. It's awful to see anyone in pain but especially, as you say, someone who is usually so stoic. I hope they can get his treatment sorted out. I don't know your set-up but would it be possible for him to move in with you while he's not well (or would that be a defintie no/no)? And don't forget to take care of yourself too! Sending you both huge hugs!
Linda said…
Dear Jo
So sorry to read your blog post. Paul sounds amazing in how he copes with his severe pain. Glad his medical team realise his " bad" is everyone else's "off the scale". I can understand cleaning helps with stress. For me it's quilting. So, take care. Lots of love and positive thoughts from the UK. Xx
Kathy said…
Oh the chemo is so tough, my Mum had bowel cancer and she sat on the couch for 6 months through that chemo only getting up to basically go to the toilet or doctors appointments. It's rough but she's 3 years on now. Very worrying for you both that's for sure. Take care. Kathy
Deborah said…
I have been waiting to hear news about Paul's progress. So, currently not so good, but fingers crossed the oncologist has some options. At least his team seem to be listening. Not always the case.

Totally understand stress cleaning. When the stress eases off a bit you'll find yourself with tidied cupboards, clean floors and ironed washing. Sounds crazy but a good session ironing everything can be quiet soothing.

Yesterday I mastered Instagram. I know, years after everyone else was clicking and posting, but I'm obviously a late adopter. Only a few posts but surprised to find people had liked things this morning! Aren't people online quite wonderfully encouraging? ( makecookgrow)

Thinking of you and wishing you both steady and good outcomes.

Jo said…
Anna, Paul has a standing invitation to move into my house, but he is a dedicated mountain hermit. He would, of course, if he needed daily care, which he doesn't, as yet, and he is hoping to remain in his mountain cabin through the process. I pop up to visit him periodically, and his mum cooks lots of meals for him.

Linda, it's funny, but i don't realise I'm doing stress cleaning till I'm done doing it, usually! I do comfort reading like you do comfort quilting, but the cleaning definitely gets rid of more stress. A couple of hours in the garden is also very therapeutic..

Kathy, yes, it seems it is a very rough road for some. So glad your mum got through it. It takes a lot of determination to continue.

Deborah, glad you find ironing soothing. I cannot remember the last time I used an iron. I was glad to give that up..
Congratulations on your foray into new technology. I always find that terrifying, so here's to courage and trying new things:) xx
Mary said…
My commiserations on such a trying time for you and Paul. I totally understand about stress cleaning, a way of claiming control where you can when things around you are beyond your control.

Here in Georgia it's full blown summertime, sunny, hot, humid frequently with afternoon thunderstorms. Everything is growing with abandon in these longest days of the year. The garden is abundant except where the deer have pruned back the black berries, blueberries, and dwarf peach tree! But there will be a bumper crop of figs, as usual. And the tomatoes, beans and sweet peppers are bountiful. Some squash, onions, and cucumbers currently round out the menu, with hopes for corn, watermelons and pumpkins in the near future.
Mary said…
Oh, I forgot to say the heady scents of mimosa, gardenia and magnolia blossoms perfectly accompany morning walks and evening lightning bug- watching!
gretchenjoanna said…
A friend of mine used to say that her prayers for her adult children were not in words but in a sort of leaning in to God on their behalf. I thought of that image as I read this morning about you and Paul, because that is what I’m trying to do. ❤️
Anonymous said…
I have thought of you and Paul often, and I'm sorry to hear that the last week or so has been so challenging for you both. I hope this new week brings better luck, less pain for Paul, and a new approach to his treatment. The so-called "battle with cancer" is often pure slog, but he'll get through it, with continued care and support.

Nothing exciting happening here, but plenty of everyday rewards. I have to say, I'm with Deborah on the ironing! It seems that it gets a bad rap, but I find it soothing too. Seems to me it satisfies most of the senses and provides almost instant gratification.

Keep your spirits up, Jo.

Linda in NZ
Anonymous said…
Hi Jo,

You are both stoic and I take my hat off to both of you, and especially wish Paul an easier time of it.

To take your mind off things. Getting the garden beds ready for the next growing season. Making lots of - dare I say it - 'neat' paths. My granddad way back in the day when dinosaurs used to walk the land, actually converted an asphalt tennis court in his backyard to - dare I say it - 'neat' rows of vegetables. Regrets are a tough thing and I really wish I'd listened more about what he was going on about when I was a young bloke. But I recall the 'neat' paths, and you understand I just wanted to use the word 'neat' as many times as possible and can only hope you enjoy a laugh at my silliness. Mind you, your stress vacuuming sounds a bit 'neat' for this blog! :-)

Seriously, I really wish you two the best and am sending positive thoughts your way.


Chris at Fernglade
Penelope P. said…
I’ve been thinking of you both this week, and really hoping that Paul’s treatment is improving, and that his pain is decreasing. I’m so sorry you both have to go through this suffering.

I’m back at work off and on as a primary supply teacher. I had an incident that made me smile yesterday afternoon. In this particular class only one boy and one girl are allowed to go to the toilet at the same time because of previous silly incidents. A little boy asked to go and there was already someone there. I could see from his body language! that this wasn’t going to end well, so I said he could go if he promised not to be silly. He rushed up to me ,grabbed my hand and wrapped his little finger around mine and said with an intent look on his face “I pinky promise to be a good boy” and hurried off!!

Lots of love PennyL xx
Jo said…
Mary, thank you, I can smell the Georgia summer from here:)

Gretchen Joanna, that is a beautiful image, and I do thank you for taking time to send kindness our way.

Linda, Paul has done really well this last week as he had an extra week's break from the chemo, although he was back in the chair today. Hoping for a good week this week.
I do hope, re the ironing, that you have lots of clothes that require it, for your sake.. if I enjoyed ironing I would be hard put to find anything that actually needed. Maybe a couple of summer dresses. Not that I iron them, I hand and wear:)

Chris, your granddad was so ahead of his time, turning a tennis court into a food garden. He would have made it onto Gardening Australia these days for sure. Maybe you inherited your love of gardening and neat paths from him. I bet he would have been proud of what you have achieved in your mountain garden.
Yes, Paul and I are being as stoic as we can. I bought a copy of Epictetus a couple of weeks ago - Our suffering is all in our minds.
Well, mine is all in my mind, Paul also has some physical twinges to deal with. Still, pain of the body is much less painful when the mind is calm.. I watch and learn..

Penny, my 16yo still pinky promises when it really counts!

Thank you all for your stories, they lift me up and make me smile:)
Judy said…
Hang in there Jo. Directing all your energy into willfully trying to heal of the one you love, feels like the right thing to do. However you need to look after you first and then your boundless energy and love will flow to everyone else. Take some time to give yourself some soup for the soul. Time in your garden or a quiet walk will nourish you. x

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