Monday, December 2, 2013

A final thought

It is with a heavy heart that I write this last blog post in honor of Greg. He has bravely battled Ewing’s Sarcoma since February. This past Friday, November 29, his breathing became labored and he finally realized we needed to go to the ER. We called the paramedics and Greg was transported to the hospital and was switched from his nasal oxygen to a full mask. After X-rays, the doctors determined there was quite a bit of fluid in his lungs and he underwent a risky procedure to drain some of the fluid. To our dismay, after 1.5 liters of fluid were removed his lungs refilled. At this point it became clear he needed to be admitted to the hospital. As always, his doctor Brian Van Tine pulled some strings and made sure we got a good room with the best nurses to help us through this time and keep Greg as comfortable as possible. 

Once admitted, Greg was put on a CPAP to ensure his blood oxygen levels were sufficient. However, the mask was cumbersome and claustrophobic. It gave Greg a dry mouth which could be remedied with sips of cold water. However, taking a drink was quite an anxiety inducing process since it required removal of the CPAP mask. As his condition worsened, Greg got increasingly anxious with the mask. There were several scary incidents where Greg speedily removed the mask and was left gasping for air. 

On Saturday, mountains were moved and after a stressful, anxiety and pain filled morning, a catheter was put in to remove the fluid. This provided some relief, but not to the extent we were hoping. In the early hours of Sunday morning, Greg made it clear he was ready to be switched to a comfort care plan. All antibiotics and blood products were stopped. Instead, the focus is now on keeping Greg as comfortable as possible in these last few days. Brian spent quite a bit of time making sure he was comfortable and calm and helped switch him from the CPAP to a much more comfortable oxygen mask. 

We have been blessed to have wonderful support and company from Greg’s family and friends. All of Greg’s sisters and their families were here for the holiday. His aunts and uncles Julie, Clayton, Barb and Gary all came down as well. Barb and Gary’s children also joined them.  Additionally, the nurses we have had helping us out have been phenomenal – in particular Lisa and Kathy. Day and night they have been hard at work making Greg and all of use comfortable. 

I feel honored to be a part of his life. He changed every person’s life who he met. His attitude about everything was truly awe-inspiring. Never one to complain, many people didn’t realize the severity of his cancer or the intensity of his pain. Even as he suffered, he continued to help all of us deal with the feelings we had. He was a constant source of calm which spread to everyone in his presence. He was loved by many, a true testament to his amazing personality. I will miss him forever; he has a special place in my heart and in my soul. I know I am a better person having known him.