|Rob at home in September, 2015. He needed oxygen after the VAT procedure--a 7 hour biopsy surgery. A week earlier he was walking around living a life with a sharp pain in his side.|
I have spent a good portion of the last 24 hours reading emails and notebooks Rob left behind from Fall 2015 and it has wrecked me. My husband had a distinct writing voice and reading his words makes the reality of the loss resurface so forcefully.
Rob was so hopeful through ordeal after ordeal. I noticed today as I was reading one of his notebooks that he mentioned the real possibility of needing spinal surgery. This was on December 21st. I don't recall knowing that was a possibility at that time. I have forgotten so much. He was terrified of the idea of spinal surgery and yet he bravely faced it, along with scores of other medical stresses. Meanwhile, unbeknown to either of us, the cancer must have been progressing. The 6 months to a year timetable we had been told Rob had to live was wrong. I wonder had he not had the spinal surgery and instead began the Opdivo (which he never got to take) if his life might not have been prolonged. I did not want the cancer treatment delayed, but Rob and the oncologist felt that being paralyzed was too great a price and that spinal surgery was the better option.
A month later, he was recovering from the neurosurgery at the Kessler Institute in NJ. That next day (January 22), Rob and I had breakfast together--knowing that a blizzard was heading our way. Later that night and all through the next day, Winter Storm Jonas dumped 20+ inches of snow on the area and a travel ban was put into effect. I talked with Rob off and on throughout that Saturday and Sunday and he was so strange on the phone that I grew concerned and brought these concerns to the nurses' attention. I learned that I needed to be forceful as so often the nurses dismissed concerns or did not want to 'bother' the doctors.
It took Devon and me hours to dig out and fortunately we did as that Sunday night, we were rushing to the hospital Rob had been transported to. Once again, Rob was spiking a very high fever and we would learn he had yet another staph infection. This would make the third one--all received at while at medical centers. My husband wouldn't be released from the hospital for nearly four more weeks. That's when he came home to die.
From the first diagnosis, tragedies began to occur--mostly medical mishaps mixed with stage 4 lung cancer. I do wonder what Rob's last six months of life might have been like had he refused all treatment. Surely he would have had more quality time. The marked difference in my husband began just 6 days after the initial diagnosis of cancer. He was unable from that point to his death to resume the activities he loved to do. The multiple staph infections and surgeries stole most of his remaining time on earth--save those first six days. I can't help but think he would have been better off letting the illness progress without medical assistance.
Of course, Rob was a fighter and he was hopeful and he did believe he would beat the odds and live.