An Artist's Rendering
WE HAVE NOT GIVEN UP. I have been asked many times the past few days whether Bryce has given up, purely based on the fact that we have decided to involve hospice in Bryce’s healthcare. Hospice has connotations involving imminent death or surrendering to disease. Not true. Home health care nurses have been coming to our home each week to change Bryce’s dressings and take vitals, and this is no different. The hospice nurse will do the same thing, only monitor Bryce’s pain better (he’s in a lot of pain and has lost feeling in his leg) and assist our family with other aspects of this disease process. He is still on chemo, he is still fighting, and we still have hope. Dr. Isotope is still involved, Dr. Voldemort is on standby for lung-related issues, and I am spending the night shift searching for new treatments. While hoping for a miracle, we are also realists who understand the need for care beyond what I can give. I repeat—WE HAVE NOT GIVEN UP!
Most of you haven’t seen Bryce since this began, nor even met him. You also haven’t seen our home. Let me paint a picture Bryce is a tall, big guy. He’s 6’4 and just BIG. Somebody from his work calls him “Doorway”, because he fills one. He’s happy, friendly, chatty (there are no uncomfortable silences with Bryce—he’ll talk your ear off), he makes friends instantly, has great teeth, truly cares about others, and has gotten angry with me once. He is hot all the time and keeps our home at a balmy 60 degrees (until Dani was born. Now it’s 70.). He LOVES Dani, and does the “Daddy Dance” where he holds her in front of him and lunges from side to side saying, “The Daddy Dance The Daddy Dance The DADDY. DANCE.” She giggles and smiles and loves her daddy. Bryce binges on things. His addictive personality leads him to focus solely on one thing, until something else completely replaces it. For instance, he binged on his car—he bought a street car and turned it into an autocross car. At the peak of his autocrossing, he fell in love with golf and sold his car. Golfgolfgolfgolf. We went to a movie, and during the climax of the film he leaned over and asked me whether he should get his clubs regripped. He has binged on reading, me, strawberry shortcake, and now Dani. He loves to be in the middle of the action. He loves fantasy novels, bottled water and dogs. He hates mowing the lawn (thanks, Nic!!!), mushrooms and vegetables. He adores me and treats me like his queen.
Bryce’s friends came over last night and shared some hilarious stories, and Bryce just sat there and smiled. He called it a night early and fell asleep instantly. This is the new Bryce. He is weak, tired, gaunt and quiet. He can’t pick up his baby. He gets out of bed to walk to the bathroom, and that’s about it. He is too tired to read, he can’t concentrate on the TV, and he doesn’t have the strength to do anything else. He sleeps. And sleeps. There are two oxygen concentrators in our bedroom floor that are the size of window AC units, and just as loud. The concentrators have 60 feet of tubing attached, which is snaked through our house and ends up on Bryce’s face. He carries a pack with him which contains IV fluids, which travel up his arm into his PICC line. I take care of the lines daily by flushing them with saline and heparin. A green bucket is next to the bed, which is full of medications. Next to that is the snack bin. A shower chair sits at the foot of the bed for visitors (I know, it’s pretty ghetto.). At the bottom of the stairs in the front room stand two R2D2 units, or what look like R2. They are huge liquid oxygen tanks, about 3 ½ feet high. They leak water all over the wood floor. Tubing is attached to these units and travels up the stairs, along with the other tubes. A face mask is at the other end, which Bryce wears at night. It delivers pure oxygen. Half a dozen green oxygen tanks (they look like SCUBA tanks) line the wall of the living room, some in carts, waiting for excursions to the doctor. When we do leave the house, it is a major project. We have to unhook Bryce’s IV lines to change his clothes, slowly walk downstairs, rest for a few minutes, change his oxygen from the concentrators to the green tanks, load the wheelchair and extra tanks into the car, and slowly walk Bryce, his IV pack, and oxygen tank to the car. This doesn’t include getting a baby ready. The trek is exhausting for Bryce. I’m not complaining, I’m illustrating.
The best part of the day is when we snuggle together during Dani’s morning nap and watch The Price is Right. Before and after that, I’m busy with the baby (she has been extremely clingy, wanting to be held ALL THE TIME—I wonder whether she senses something???), the house, calls for work, the visitors, and aspects of life that cannot be ignored. Bryce sleeps. Another highlight is at night after I put Dani to bed, when I read the comments from this website to him. He loves hearing the messages, and he loves hearing the names of the readers. Lately, the posts have dwindled—Bryce hears the few messages and says, “Is that it??” I implore each of you to keep sending messages to Bryce! Send him encouragement, send him jokes, send him memories, send him gossip, send him prayers! He doesn’t care whether you have Spellcheck or have something earth-shatteringly poignant to relay. He just needs to feel like he is still part of life, and he needs to feel like Bryce.
It hurts so much to see my big, strong, protective love of my life victimized so harshly by this disease. The role reversal from protected to protector has been hard, because I can see that Bryce wants so badly to scoop me into his arms and make the hurt go away. Guilt trips are normal, as I constantly remind myself to quit feeling sad and afraid because Bryce is suffering the most. I am also honored to be his caregiver, wife, and mother of his daughter. Please keep praying for Bryce! We need the prayers more than ever. Thanks to everyone who has decided to golf for Bryce this Friday, especially Bryce's friends who set up the tournament and the donations. We are humbled by this unsolicited act of friendship, support and love.
WEAR SUNBLOCK. GET YOUR ANNUAL PHYSICALS. ESCHEW TANNING BEDS. HELP US FIGHT THIS BATTLE AGAINST CANCER!!!