Saturday, October 25, 2014

Full Frontal

So, in case you hadn't noticed, HikingForHope is anonymous.

In the beginning, you could never see HfH's face. She was careful in her editing, and if you never noticed, go back and look. The biggest reason for this is private, but there was a particular point in time when it changed. The first time I noticed I jummped up and down. “Honey! I see your face!”

I shall leave it as an excercise for the reader to puzzel out when that happened.

But anyhow, since that cat is out of the bag, here is a wonderful photo of her that her dad is fond of. This is from four days on the trail above Red's Meadow in the Sierras with her Dear Brother and her DH. Horseshoe Lake in the background.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Last Post

“It has now been More than 7 years since I've been fighting 4th stage cancer. I have survived LM with no remission for more than 4 years. We have now done all we can to treat a tumor that has been eating up my spinal cord and has left me nearly quadriplegic. I haven't been able to walk for a year and a half now; hiking is out of the question. I am unable to move my own body, even a simple shift in weight. I require 24/7/365 care and attendance. I am nearly blind and mostly deaf now. The love by which I have been surrounded has kept me alive and joyful despite my circumstances.”

--DH here.

HikingForHope's crumbling body could no longer contain her indomitable and beautiful spirit on August 11th, 2014, 20 days shy of her 53rd birthday. She slipped gently from my arms to blaze trails that I will not likely be able to reach for some time. I'm in no hurry; she parented both her children to adulthood (by a month in the case of our youngest). Now it is my job to watch over them.

In these last weeks she spoke of wanting to dictate her last post for this blog, but since words were precious as it became harder for her to speak, and we simply never did. Two days after her graduation I found a tablet with the quoted text above written in her shaky handwriting (her handwriting, when her body still worked, was beautiful). It had to have been written within the last couple of months. I am sure she had more to say, but it certainly stands alone, so I am publishing it.

Her intellect was intact to her end in this world, and joyful she was. Never did she complain, or become bitter. Her path was not of her choosing, but she walked it all the way out, with love enough to share.

I have not yet decided what to do about this blog. I am sure that this is not THE last post, only HER last post. There is much that I would tell you about HikingForHope, and, as her condition degraded these last years, we adventured faster then she could blog, so there is a bit of a backlog of her work for me to curate. She barely touched on our adventures to and from Colorado in 2012, and there were a few after that. I do not have a Master's degree in English like her, and I could never hope to write as she did, but I was there, and she did leave me a great deal of pictures and notes. Also, I suspect I might have some observations about riding the Cancer Bus to the last stop that somebody out there may benefit from. I will do my best to resist the urge to turn this blog into a monument of adoration, though I will tell you here and now, that woman was like no other, and I will miss her all of my mortal days. I will endeavor to honor her intent serve those who find themselves on the Cancer Bus, and offer them both hope as well as actionable intel, since, as we discovered, there is just so much that was not on the brochure.

I will close with a fun bit.

It was HikingForHope's wish that she be cremated, and that her ashes be scattered far and wide, in the places she loved. DS and I will be retracing the path to the summit of Mount Whitney and scattering a bit of her mortal remains there. Oh, wait, strike that. I think that is illegal. Forget I said it. But here is a picture.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Summer 2013, Part 2

So June found me in the hospital, fighting unknown bacteria in my cerebrospinal fluid (CSR) at the same time I was septicemic from---not just one but---two different types of bacteria.

At the same time, I lost the left side of my body (neuromotor-wise) and found my vocal chords were becoming paralyzed. So in July, I was hospitalized for surgery to place a plastic piece in my throat to help me.

In August, we decided we had to take out my Omaya reservoir in order for the IV antibiotics I’d been on 24/7 since June to kill all the bacteria in my CSF. After waiting the requisite period of time, we went to do my interthecal treatment. The doctor pricked my reservoir with the needle and - all I heard was a sucking sound in my head. It was akin to being in a Sci Fi story. All that resulted was blood, not CSF.

So we went back to my neurosurgeon the next day. He tried to access my Omaya reservoir, and once again I heard a sound like someone was sucking my brains out. “It worked at the hospital.” Well, it clearly wasn’t working now! So it was back into surgery for the 4th consecutive month that summer.

This time, we got a better style of Omaya reservoir, one without any bend in the catheter tube. And finally, in Oct, we were able to resume treating me.

Although I’d missed out on the whole summer, we were blessed with beautiful warm weather, so I went to the beach - twice- in October. I even swam in the pool to see if I could keep my head above water. I did.

Typed by GSC