Yesterday we paid what will probably be our final visit to my oncologist, Dr Stancliffe. That, in itself, isn’t quite as final as it sounds, since she is handing me over to an excellent team at St Nicholas Hospice. They can call on an amazing range of resources, quickly and efficiently.
However, we weren’t left in much doubt that I’m on the last lap. And – as you can see – I intend to fight on to the end.
At an earlier meeting we’d discussed the possibility of a final course of chemo, delivered orally. This time we agreed that the impact on my remaining quality of life probably ruled that out.
In the meantime, also, the muscle spasms around my midriff are getting noticeably worse. Getting up this morning was agony – so I phoned the team at St Nicholas for help. I soon had a callback from a delightful Canadian doctor, Annie Cook. We discussed my general health and my specific issues with muscle spasm, and she very kindly offered to come and visit me to get a proper feel for what was going on.
When she arrived I wasn’t wearing my glasses and stupidly mistook her for another visitor I was expecting – while on the phone to a third, who wasn’t going to be able to make it. (Sorry, Annie!) Despite that we had a useful conversation and Annie suggested we try diazepam. I’m happy to say that our GP responded immediately and the prescription was made up the same afternoon. Meanwhile my discussion with Annie moved on to thoughts about how I wanted to deal with this final phase. In particular we looked at whether I wanted resuscitation – or not – should that issue arise.
My feeling now is that we’re on the cusp. Given that I’ve turned down another round of chemo it makes sense to go for ‘do not resuscitate’ given that I don’t want to spend my last days in hospital, and a hospital bed could be brought here within a few hours if needed. The room we have in mind for it needs some work but nothing that couldn’t be done pretty quickly by a team of capable volunteers. I’d want to have family and friends around me rather than machines and harassed staff, so the choice is clear.
Annie also pointed out the range of resources the Hospice can bring to bear – very reassuring. She’s even been reading my blog – and as a fantasy fan was keen to read my novels. I suggested she started with ‘Spell’ – the lightest and most fun. I hope she enjoys it as much as I enjoyed and valued her visit.
And ‘the end’? It’ll come when it comes. I hope I’m very nearly ready for it…