We sorted the sheep for shearing day by breed. Churros get sheared twice a year while the Cotswold and Cheviot are only once a year. When you catch a sheep you seat it on it’s bottom and it will be docile for transport. It was a hot day and we were all wearing hats, so… you get the picture!!! Guess all the sheep needed was a red solo cup!
Hospice is a team effort. We have nurses, a social worker, a chaplain, a doctor, and many delivery people traveling to Tonopah to help Jimmie. Our front room has been transformed into a care facility featuring a hospital bed with air mattress, portable commode, assorted breathing apparatus, a walker, shower transfer and seat,and a wheel chair. Morphine around the clock keeps Jimmie comfortable. Jimmie gets a morning wake up call and and an evening tuck-in call from a hospice nurse. Nurses come twice a week to do a physical exam between doctor visits.
Jimmie’s little sister, his buddy Pat, and I take turns transporting him daily to radiation therapy to keep the tumor in control. Employees and neighbors come by to visit and to help with farm chores. Emily stayed over on Friday to finish up getting ready for market and to help load up in the morning. Jessica and Kristen come out weekly to help clean pens and do farm chores. Kerry Ann and her Grandma come out and help with milking and feeding after school. Francisco’s whole family came today and did a bunch of yard work and helped spruce up the place. Pedro and his son installed the shade shelters I purchased for the sheep and baby goat pens between thier own jobs. Kelly from the Eagle Mountain Wolf Sanctuary donated cat food to the feral cats that have taken up residance in and near the barn. Mona from the power plant brought out an intern that worked with us over the summer to process wool. Caroline and John are helping us with our shop site. Sandy brought out green house materials for a new section to plant. We are overwhelmed and often in tears over the outpour of kindness from so many people. We have the best neighbors and friends. We are not alone!
This week we learned that hospital beds do not have regular twin size sheets. Jimmie’s sis Char volunteered to find sheets since she went through hospice with her own hubby last year and knew where to find them. She asked me what kind to get and I asked for Spider Man or My Little Pony to keep us cheerful around here. She came back with Red Lobsters. One of Jimmie’s former jobs was as a lobsterman and she remembers how much he liked being at sea.
We were worried a bit about the air mattress what with the house hold critters and their claws– but so far so good. Moses, our yellow cat that instills terror in all of the dogs, perches on the bed nightly watching over Jimmie as he sleeps. Moses and I take turns to see if he is still breathing. Who says animals aren’t intuitive? Jimmie says she just sits there waiting to drink his left over hot chocolate or eat his snack crumbs when he nods off with the morphine.
The good news is that the pet scan revealed that the cancer has stayed put in it’s original spot although it has grown.
The bad news is that Jimmie’s heart and lungs will not tolerate much more due to his COPD and it is now a race against time to see which condition will end his life first.
He decided for overall “quality of life” and to keep from bleeding to death he will have the radiation. This doctor is remarkable! She is from Canada and when she entered the room we thought she was a very young receptionist or tech–not a doc! Her tone and behaviour set everyone that works with her at ease. The entire staff is very caring and upbeat despite what they see everyday.
Due to the great distance we must travel from the farm to treatments (every day for 20 days if he tolerates the treatment) the doc started that day with the tatoos that would mark where the radiation would be recieved. We are all now teasing Jimmie about having a “tramp stamp” on his tummy! Jimmie felt so much better with this doctor.
We have also brought Odyssey Hospice on board. The nurses call us each morning and in the evening Jimmie gets a “tuck in call”. We can call them at any hour of the day or night with questions and they have sent out all kinds of equipment to help us with this disease as it progresses.
We also learned that standard twin sheets do not fit on a hospital bed. Jimmie’s sister and I conspired to get “My Pink Pony” or “Spider Man Sheets” just to lighten things up around here but we settled on lobster sheets. Jimmie used to be a commercial fisherman in his earlier years and I think he was pleased.
Enya, our sheep dog, feels displaced by all of the hospital equipment but the cats are delighted. The air matress is state of the art and they revel in floating on top of it with Jimmie as he snoozes.
Pain control is excellent and he is breathing better. Both of us have slept two nights in a row! Hurray! Sleep is good:)
Some of our customers have been asking where I have been. I am out making deliveries each Saturday after setting up our crew in two locations. Jimmie, my hubby, used to do the deliveries but he has been very ill. Until two weeks ago we had no idea just how ill he was.
Two weeks ago he began to pass lots of blood. He was being treated for a urinary infection. He began having heart symptoms and refused an ambulance. I rushed him to the hospital and our lovely girls took off to the market praying for us.
After 5 transfusions and a diagnosis of urinary cancer he has come home to die (there never was an infection). This is our story.
Jimmie has had symptoms for many months. Due, I believe to his age, the medical system failed him. They threw medicines at his symptoms but never ran any tests to see what the underlying problem was. Several doctors actually patted him on the back and told him,”You are doing good for your age.” Now we know that simply wasn’t good enough.
Add to that the fact that medicine is compartamentalized into specialties and that compounds the problem. He has seen so many “ologists” that his care is segmented and no ONE doctor knows what the others are really doing. A quick glance at a file on your way into the exam room doesn’t complete the picture of an entire human being. Medicine has lost it’s humanity. “Do no harm” nearly means do nothing.
So, this week we were back on the “ologist” tour–visiting the many new doctors that will see him on his journey toward death. We began with the “PCP” or primary care doctor. Insurance requires that you see this person every time a decision is to be made about how to treat your problem/ailment. Here we found out that the awesome doctor we had in the hospital could not follow up with JImmie since he isn’t on his insurance plan. So much for continuity again.
After the PA (couldn’t get an appointment with a real doctor that day) reviewed the gravity of the hospital stay with us and the diagnosis of cancer and staging he asked if we had any quetions. We inquired about specialists to follow up with possible treatments and the testing that Dr. Benson (from the hospital) had told us should be done. The PA stated that he would have the office staff begin the referral process. We reminded the PA that on more than one occasion his staff had taken over 30 days to make arrangements with the insurance company and get back to us. In light of the aggressive nature of the cancer and the advanced staging of said cancer that would not be acceptable. He assured us that he would make STAT orders.
Then we asked him our second question. Jimmie hadn’t slept in over a week due to pain and discomfort except for the nights the hospital had given him morphine. We asked for additional pain meds or for sleeping pills. I expressed my opinion that people can not heal or fight disease if they are not well rested. I informed the PA that Jimmie slept only in 15-30 minute increments and moaned even during that time.
The PA informed us that he “didn’t believe in sleeping pills because they are addictive and make you behave like you are drunk.” After dicussing that Jimmie is facing a quick and painful death I struggled to keep civil with this PA. I told him that addiction at this point in Jimmie’s life was the lesser of evils. I asked him if I should go buy some alcohol and have him drink copious amounts instead if being “drunk” was an issue (I was playing devil’s advocate). He prescribed the sleeping pills and reminded us to follow up with a pain specialist.
Then he got his stethescope and began to listen to Jimmie’s heart. He saw the psoriasis on Jimmie’s arm and told him that this bothered him and Jimmie should see a dermatoligist soon because it might be skin cancer. Really? The man has less than a year to live and you want him to spend part of his precious time at the dermatologist? Jimmie informed the PA that he would buy wart freezing products and spray himself before he would go back to the “quack” dermagoligist he had been sent to last time.
Finally, he handed us the referral paperwork and prescription for sleeping pills and a blood test order for–cholesterol. Jimmie just had that in May. How important is a cholesterol check up in the bigger picture here? We didn’t ask him anything else. It is impossible to reason with an idiot.