Saturday, August 25, 2012

Off balance beauty-

Saturday August 25, 2012
by sherry

There are pictures  that describe how unraveled and off balance I feel without Terence....but they also paint a picture of mercy and grace....

I spied this photo-op of the day after Terence's celebration of lfe service.  I took my sister and my brother (visiting from Hawai'i)  to the docks of Gig Harbor.

Much like the angle of this picture, I feel somewhat off balance. Without my partner in life, things look and feel skewed.  My insides are empty even amongst loving and caring family.  My mind cannot erase the struggle and fight of Terence's last hours- the helplessness and the sorrow I felt for not being able to stop the struggle as it unfolded before my very eyes.  I could not find any beauty in those very, very grey hours.  I finally stopped praying and started to remind myself (out loud) of God's greatness -which is far above the heaviness and blackness of cancer which was present in the room. 

One thing I have learned (unfortunately at such late age) is that gratitude is a powerful spiritual tool that will bring blessing into my life.  When I take time to recognize God's presence in every circumstance with thanksgiving, it brings glory.

I am a visual and somewhat creative person so when I think of "glory" I see of an array of colors that paints a visual of God's grace, mercy and majesty.

During those very sad and dark hours- Terence fought throughout the night...the early morning sun peaked through our enormous cedars trees, and Sunday arrived... and Terence went on to meet his Savior.  I can only imagine the colors he's experiencing.

  But for me stuck here on this earthly plane I am heavy burdened by grief and sorrow.  During the next few hours, I cried out to the Lord who I know to be the Lifter of my head.  In my heart the blackness of grief was overcome by color.

If you look at our photographs, you will see black because are mourning and grieving deeply.  But you will see an intensity of color because the reality of it all is.....  Life. Love. Happiness. Grace. Mercy. Laughter. Joy. Christ.

God's desire is that we find peace in all things, but that peace does not come through disappointment or bitterness; it comes through praise.  When I exalt Him (lift Him up above the darkness of cancer), He becomes the lifter of my head.  In the days ahead of me, this is my prayer. Through the skewed angle of the lens life, there's still color.

 You bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
 (Psalm 3:3). 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Irish music was nice.

August 26, 2011

Friends were invited to write a note on his new cowboy boots.
So, upon Terence's request, we had an ole' Irish wake, to celebrate the Malone in him.
After the viewing, family and  invited friends were welcomed to our home where we celebrated with stew, deserts, wine, beer and of course, the Watson's famous Irish "cream".
Rob, signing T's boots

It was an extremely sad day for all of us. It seems that it's been a string of sad days, Terence must of know that, that's why he requested a party-  Traditional Irish music and all.
Following- are just a few pictures from today.
The sun was shining
My brother Wayne & sister Brook flew in from Hawaii
The Archibald's are here too....
Brother Wayne, me, sisters Brook and Charla
Our son Eric
What's a wake with a barefoot baby running around

12 days ago, our garden was set for our wedding. Today, it was a wake......                           
Terence's celebration of life is tomorrow, 2 PM at Haven of Rest.  Hope to see you there.

Love Sherry

Monday, August 20, 2012

I have no words today.

August 20, 1012

Yesterday at 7:13 am Terence took his last breath after a long night fighting a pulmonary embolism.

I can't seem to find words to share today. 

Although his fight was valiant and courageous (he literally fought to his last breath)- it was traumatic to my heart and I am left to pick up the pieces of my broken heart and massage the bruises of my soul.

I am vacant. Empty, and very, very sad.

I am looking to the Lord who is the Lifter of my head.

Much love and thanks for your prayers throughout our journey.  We're still learning how to live above all of this. Cancer is messy and destructive- but as a family we are still learning how to live above it's devastation.


Friday, August 17, 2012

A heart at peace

 Our youngest son Andrew spending time with Pop today.

"And I will give you an heart of flesh." — (Ezekiel 36:26)  A heart of flesh is known by its tenderness. The heart of flesh is tender to God's will.  The natural will of man is cold, hard iron, which cannot even be hammered into form; but the renewed will, like molten metal, is soon moulded by the hand of grace.  In the fleshy heart there is a tenderness of the affections, there is peace,

Terence and our grand son, Ethan
Both Terence and our youngest son Andrew have very tender hearts.  Gentle and tender towards their fellow mankind, family, friends even strangers especially ones in need. God's will is that we be our brother's keeper, bear one another's burden,  lay down our life for a friend and in humility, think others better than the onset of Terence's relationship with the Lord, he sought this out. He asked for a tender and gentle heart towards others-and the Lord answered that prayer and turned the once heart of stone (Selfishness, selfish ambition, stubbornness) into a heart of flesh.

Having been married to him for 23 years I have been privileged to witness this transformation as he matured in his walk with God; I saw the mistakes he made but I was privy to the aftermath. He wept when he realized the hurt he had caused and begged to have a heart that pleases God.  This is one of the reasons I respect Terence as a man.  He made mistakes; plenty of them. But his mistakes not only  grieve him, it motivates him to change.  What separates the boys from men (of God) is that he always seeks forgiveness and changes his ways.

Terence officiating our daughter Nadine's wedding
During our 23 years, there was a time I was pretty bossy and Terence reacted to me like I was a nag, which made me react accordingly. This was a cycle that was only broken by humility.  All it takes is one person to walk in humility and you have unity.  Any ways- this was our cycle- and I was not the humble one.  He later told me that he had to pray because he was becoming so frustrated with me.  His epiphany was that I was God's daughter- and he was speaking to me disrespectfully and consequently disrespecting the Lord.  Terence's heart, being tender towards the things of God, became tender towards meThis was a lesson he stuck to for life. He always saw me as God's daughter first.  He began to truly cherish me as the bible describes.  I don't know how many wives out there that can say that. Terence truly cherishes me, and I love him for it (not for the obvious selfish reasons) but because he was a man that seeks the Lord for an answer for his his behavior and character.  Terence never once in 23 years  did he ask me or insinuated that I needed to change- he just kept treating me like God's daughter, and I responded to that.

That's a tender heart. Tender towards the things of God which results a heart at peace.  What more is there in life when you come down to it? Is there more?


Terence's Aunt Shirley from Colorado to visit yesterday.
Medical update-
This is day three that Terence has been bed bound- unable to exert the energy to get out of bed to his chair even with help.  He remains  between a semi-comatose state and sleep. I can tell the difference, most people can't.  He responds to my voice nicely- he either opens his eyes (partially) or lifts his eyebrows or he usually just puckers his lips for a kiss (eyes closed).
His heart rate is high- between 104 and 124. His temperature remains high. His kidney out put is almost nil- his kidney has lost it's ability to filter, so mostly blood and sediments fill his nephrostomy bag.

He's drinking little and eating almost nothing. Today, I struggled with that.  I cried. I still cry.

Spiritual update-
With every last breath of mine  I will continue to hope for a miracle.  Terence himself never stopped hoping- and now that he cannot pray or speak for himself I pray for him, I hope for him, I will never stop hoping for his miracle.  I will defend Terence and his promise of 86 years. AMEN.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tomorrow would be a great day for a miracle.

Reading "When someone I love is sick" with my Annie bug.
by sherry

Today was very long and heart breaking day; many tears- some from sadness and some from gratefulness for the moment. Terence was in and out of consciousness and completely unable to do things for himself (swallow, eat, drink for starters)- it's taking a small village (our family) to keep up with the needs on this one household dealing with end stage cancer.

Teaching three sisters how to use a morphine pump.
My sisters, Brook and Charla. I don't have the words. Both are here 24/7 waiting on Terence hand and foot- guessing- "does he want water? do you think he wants ice cream?" (he is losing his ability to speak) they feed him once they figure it out wha he wants. That's not even the messy side of care giving, but they're there for that too.

My brothers in-laws.... John and Dave. They spent the past few days here fixing stuff and making stuff easier for Terence. even though hospice said Terence wouldn't be up and about (bed bound) they re-vamped the shower and bathroom to make it easier for me to help him take a shower.  They fixed electrical outlets, my doors, installed dimmers...they've been busy helping to make life a little easier around here. Dave reset all my clocks and figured out the remote control for me.

Our daughter Nadine laying with Pop
 The past few days have been gruesome.  Watching Terence try to accomplish some of the simpler things like swallowing his pills, or even water. He breaks down and weeps sometimes because  he knows and he gets mad or really sad.  When he cries my heart breaks into a bajillion pieces.  By the end of two or three weeping sessions of his, I usually go someplace he can't see me and I cry. Really hard.  If he sees me crying, he tries to console me. He whispers, "shhhhh" and tries to reach for my face.  My heart actually hurts.

 The hospice nurse had to come today since Terence can't swallow his pills- so the  morphine pump was introduced.
We three sisters were schooled on the pump. His massage therapist came by and massaged him.  Then she went out to her car and brought her table in, set it up next to Terence's bed and gave me massage. I couldn't stop crying.

The biggest heartbreak of all is the fact that his kidney by-pass is blocked (again)- after 4 procedures (3 last week) a 5th is not really an option.  It would be really difficult for his body to take another insult to it.  I had to decide not to take Terence (via) ambulance back to the hospital for another procedure.   This has to be the third or forth decision I've made this week regarding his medical care and life. I don't have the words to describe to you how hurtful this is to my heart, how lonely it is to make such a big decision without Terence being a part of it.There is no way to describe this feeling.

I speak to him- and tell him I am fighting for him. I tell him I am not giving up. I read scriptures to him and remind him that together he and I invited Jesus into our marriage and  I let him know that he is not fighting by himself, he is not alone, I am always by his side and better yet, I remind him that Jesus will never leave him or forsake him.  He finds comfort in this and so do I.  He constantly looks for me. I lay by his side and he sleeps more soundly. he furrows in his brow disappears when he knows I am near. When I am not there, I ask one of our children to lay next to him.

After such a heart-rending day- I ended the evening by helping him up and giving him a shower; though he has a bath aide I know that as long as he can do this with my help he feels better and has a sense of accomplishment.   A shower took tremendous effort on his part- but he still insisted on brushing his teeth  (standing at the sink) and then combing his hair. Wow!   I put his glasses on (first time in a week) I smiled and said "wow, you look really handsome!" He gave me that  grin of his and winked at me, Wow.  My heart skipped a beat- just as it did on our first date.

We renewed our vows 2 days ago....
As I tucked him into bed Brook turned the on the TV and then for the first time in weeks he tuned into what was happening on TV (Shark week).  He whispered to me, "look at the 18 foot shark" He hasn't been able to focus, read, write or be overstimulated by the noise of the TV so what a surprise when he commented on it.  Even though the window was a brief one,  it filled my heart with hope.

Soon after (about 10 minutes) he was sound asleep.  Comfortable and cool.  I pray each night (all night long) that tomorrow will be a stronger day.

Tomorrow would be a great day for a miracle.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Terry the Nice Guy

The accommodations for family has been good! Tacoma General Hospital
by sherry's sister brook
august 9,2012

Terry the Nice Guy

Terence lives up to his name. When Terence was a little kid his mom called him “Terry the Nice Guy” because he was just the nicest kid around.

Terry’s mom, she had it right.

Terrence, as he likes to be called today, is my brother in law. My sister Sherry’s husband of 23 years. For 23 years a huge part of our family. The “Pop” to their 3 kids- Nadine, Eric and Andrew; “Poppie” to their grand kids- beautiful Bella, energetic Ethan and always amazing Annie, and Uncle T to all the nieces and nephews.

In those 23 years Terrence has never NOT been nice. I’m not kidding. Even when he was delirious a couple months ago in the hospital (I mean Delirious with a capital D) not one negative word passed his lips. He talked a lot about everything, lots of it not making sense because of the drugs but not one word was negative. Not one.

We laugh because some of the things he did say while on big time pain pills were funny. For some reason he insisted during one episode that my name was Corn Bread. Not just “Corn Bread,” but “Korn Breat.” Accent on the word Breat (rhymes with Bread).  He was very specific about this, had a whole rationale even. I have no idea why I’m known as Corn Bread but that’s cool.

This time around in the hospital (yes we’re here again and he is very loopy because of pain and pain pills, and in and out of consciousness) the worst thing he’s done was spit a piece of cold broccoli out and say “this is disgusting” and look over and ask us if, by the way, we had any food over on our side of the room (we did and he must’ve smelled the ribs and burgers). Oh yeah, he also refused to swallow his pills this morning and insisted on chewing them (not good). But it was more like he was teasing his nurse and Sherry because after all was said and done he tossed his head back and downed the pills with a smoothie, no problem. And said “I’m doing it my way” then plopped himself back and went to sleep.

Terence looks for the good in everything. Even with this stupid cancer. He’s said one of the good things about the cancer he has is that he gets to remarry Sherry. They were supposed to renew their vows Sunday, then Monday, then Tuesday and now hopefully Thursday or Friday…  and he’s looking forward to it- telling us from his hospital bed he doesn’t want to miss his “appointment” with Sherry.

Terence has been a role model for our two sons, their cousins too. Adam and Douglas spent lots of quality time with Uncle Terence and Aunty Sherry traveling to Wyoming to fish, hunt, worship even (they got baptized there in the river) for lots of summers as they were growing up.  They will never forget those times. They respect and love “Uncle T” and I don’t think they’ve ever seen or heard Uncle T do or say anything Not Nice.

How could someone this nice be in this situation? I don’t understand it but I have to trust that there’s a bigger arena than the one we’re in- one that could use Terrence’s brand of Niceness.

He’s in the hospital this time because his one remaining kidney is failing in part due to the advanced stage of his cancer. We came in Saturday night around 9 pm and haven’t left (see the pillows in the pic? We’ve used them all).

Hopefully we’ll be leaving the hospital tomorrow, nothing cured or fixed, his kidney worsening by the day.

Terence is only 49-years-old and should a miracle occur he’ll be here on Earth spreading niceness around for another 49 years. And the world would be better for it.

The medical world has nothing left to offer Terence though Terence and Sherry’s faith in God runs deep. We know too that God has a plan for Terry the Nice Guy and whether it’s here in this physical world or not, Terence will be busy sharing his brand of Nice forever after.

Thank you Terence. We love you. 

Brook, Dave, Adam, Douglas & Amanda

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Join us in singing: How great is our God

August 7, 2012

Join us in singing:
How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God !

Our eldest son Eric, was flown home from his Naval duties in Cambodia by Red Cross: here is he is, worshipping at his Pop’s bedside.  Though Terence may not be coherent we believe his sprit was strengthened and up lifted.

Terence has been fighting stage 4 prostate cancer since July 2009.  According to doctors, he is now fighting through his last days. We still have hope in our Great God- because He’s good and merciful toward us. either way- Regardless of what happens, God is great and he carries us through the toughest times in our lives. Yes, yes, He does.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Renal failure-what the heck?

 by sherry

We had a week-long getaway- with the intention of a spending family time with our kids and grand kids.  Well, it was a long week.  Though it was nice to be in the same vicinity with our family, unbeknownst to us Terence had been in renal failure all week long.....

Of course we wouldn't know that because he is on hospice care.
He  grew weaker by the day, to the point where we barely made it home- it was looking like he wasn't going to make it through (this) week-end.  By Wednesday he was losing his ability to speak and by Thursday had become so weak and confused he was not able to function in any manner on his own.

Last night, after a full day of watching his (lack of) urine output- and having difficulty flushing his nephrostomy tube, I decided to call the nurse and take him into the emergency room.... sure enough- he had a raging kidney infection and was also in renal failure.  Poor guy. All week long he kept saying "I feel sick".  But all hospice can do is make him comfortable= the morphine pump was scheduled for Monday, August 6th.

Okay, so after a full night in the E.R. and only 6 hours of IV antibiotics he's already gaining lucidity and strength. He's still somewhat confused but nowhere near what he had been just 24 hours ago.  Yesterday in his weakened and physically unstable state I  turned my back for one moment and found him trying to climb up on the toilet "to take a shower" (each day as he worsened, I had spent the entire week in moment by moment nursing care).  By Friday, I found it so difficult and exhausting I finally  took hospice up on their "Bath Aide" for Terence. She was a godsend- it ave me a much needed break and she even shaved him.  Up until then he had dismissed the offer of a bath aide (for obvious reasons) but by Friday, he was so sick, he didn't even realize someone other than myself was bathing him.

So. Here we are. Sunday morning- in the hospital, dealing with renal failure. Not treating it, but treating a kidney infection.  Last night in the E.R. the doctor had to ask me that question I never wanted to be asked.  "Do you want to admit him into the hospital and put him on fluids and antibiotics to help his kidney, or do you want to take him home, receive oral antibiotics and keep him comfortable until his time comes?"  Terence was not cognizant, we have a POLST (Physicians Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) in place which directs the physicians care  but somehow we were still in a grey area requiring me to make the decision. If I took him home, he would surely die relatively quickly of kidney failure and sepsis.  Admitting him meant getting him to where he would feel better, deal with the kidney infection but still have a failing kidney.
 Their mission:" to treat the infection and get him home in his own environment as soon as possible".

 I was somewhat dumbfounded and speechless. I asked the doctor if I could take a minute to speak to my family (I was alone in the room).  I needed to pray first.  Then I called my son in-law Mike. And then I went and got my sisters in the waiting room. We all talked and decided he needed to be admitted.  When the doctor came back, he told me that he had spoken with Terence's hospice doctor and they both thought it would be good to admit him and get him on IV antibiotics and just stay a little ahead of everything.  He's been on IV antibiotics for 6 hours and is already stronger.  During breakfast this morning he had difficulty swallowing and speaking- the doctor here checked hm out and realized he had thrush from several other medications he has been on during his hospice care.  So now he can swallow and eat.  Those are already four good things; lucidity, feeling stronger (he can move himself on and off the bed with little assistance), swallowing and eating. BIG BONUS.  I'll take what modern medicine can offer.

He is however, still in need for a miracle for that darn cancer and renal failure.

The doctor just made her rounds while he slept this morning. She spoke somewhat candidly with me. She said  kidney failure and a raging infection makes one sleepy and weak and to expect him sleep even more often.  She said we could probably begin to lower his pain medicine dosages because  as his body starts to shut down, he'll feel less and less.  She asked me about Terences wishes on his POLST (to be resuscitated).  She told me in no uncertain terms that his kidney is weak and failing and as his orders stand right now he is in FULL CODE while he is here in the hospital.  She felt that resuscitation would be  painful and unnecessary because he is still in renal failure and doesn't have much time left.  It scared me a little because if he isn't cognizant, that call is mine to make, and I don't want to ever take away his opportunity to live.  It's a weird thing to think about, really.

Any ways she asked me to talk to him about changing it and if he wasn't able to comprehend the question then she wanted to know what my decision was. She said she would be back later to change it (she assumed he would).

He woke up for breakfast about an hour later this conversation. He was confused and questioning me (sternly) as to why he was here in the hospital because according to him, "no one dies from thrush", and when he saw "Multi- Healthcare System- Tacoma, Washington" printed on his bed sheets he was wondering how we got to Washington state ("don't we live in Wyoming?").  He was obviously not lucid, but I decided to gingerly ask him if he wants his POLST orders to remain the same. His reply was astounding: " Sherry; do you know how much someone can hear even when they are asleep? ......NO. I DO NOT want to change my POLST,  I'll tell doctor Wong or Wang or whatever her name is...I didn't catch her name- (how could he, he was alseep when she made her rounds!)".

 Silence (on my part).  Evidently he heard the entire conversation. (A side note here for any visitors- he has always hated to be 'talked over' in the hospital bed. He feels that if we want to talk about "the game" or "Opra's book club"kindly please leave his room- and definitely don't talk over him  from one side of the bed to another).

My sister Charla read today's bible verse:  "But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast" (Hebrews 3:6).  I've been thinking about that scripture all day.....the members of that house are the people who trust God’s promise. They have hope, and they are confident about it. When we trust God, we are confident. We boldly speak about things that we have not seen yet. We are sure about things that have not happened yet (Hebrews 11:1-3). That is what ‘faith’ means.