This could make unpleasant reading
Died: Sunday 17, Sept 2006, 12.00 mid-day
The Final Leg of the Marathon
to be completed...
before the spinal implant
The perspiration, nightmares shifting into the waking day, increasing muscle twitches (couldn't drink without spilling), confusion, grogginess, slurred speech, etc were getting worse.
Priorities were now:
1 keep pain to bearable levels
2 keep mind clear
3 world peace, and other easily obtainable goals
(up until the previous week, while working as a teacher, priority 1 and 2 were reversed)
After the original cancer operation and treatment, she lost a lot of weight, but in the last few months or weeks, she was looking even thinner. Fluid retention was keeping her weight reasonably constant, but she was losing condition rapidly. Her eye sockets had become so hollow that she couldn't close her eyes anymore. At first, she slept with one eye open, then both. For months she had slept sitting upright, with her mouth open. Now her sleep involved interactive conversations, arm-waving, lots of writhing and continuous muscle movement.
Some teeth had fallen apart.
Spinal tap operation (intrathecal morphine) Tues 12
To reduce the side effects from the huge levels of oral Morphine, it was decided to use a spinal morphine pump implant. This should feed tiny amounts directly to the nerves.
..intrathecal pump FAQ's
The pump feeds painkiller and morphine continuously into her spine at a set rate, and also allows a bolus (extra 'large dose' top-up) to control peak pain. (The bolus has a15-minute time-out to stop excessive or dangerous overuse)
It was hoped that this would give her a clear mind, ease her speech, and remove all pain.
The operation goes ahead at about 11.45... She is released from recovery near 3 pm.
A tube is fed into her spine then looped around (under the skin to the front of her belly)
She appeared to be quite groggy most of the day from the anesthetic on top of the previous day's morphine use.
On average over the last few weeks, she appeared to have a clearer mind in the evenings, especially when she had visitors. We are hoping she will be better tomorrow.
The incisions from the operation are leaking a little... probably from the fluid retention under the skin.
No sleep Wed 13
She is not better. She is getting good pain relief, and eating. However, she didn't sleep, and is less clear-headed and slurring her words. We are expecting her to be discharged on Friday.
Bad news Thurs 14
Still no sleep, and today even worse than yesterday.
It has been suggested to me today that she is unlikely to recover sufficiently to leave the hospital. She asked for the last rites to be read...
The surgeon was worried about the leaking from the incisions, because of the risk of infection causing meningitis. He appeared to believe that the leaking was from a split in the tube.
She is eating less.
In preparation for tomorrows operation, she has nil by mouth from midnight on.
Repeat Spinal tap operation (a day from Hell ) Fri 15
No sleep, no food, no water, but her mind seemed a little clearer this morning.
The upcoming operation seemed to scare her a little.
The operation was at about 11.30am. We were expecting this operation to be quicker and easier than the previous one.
The operation results can be read in more detail here.
After the operation, she was struggling to breathe and increasingly anxious. The priest arrived to administer the last rites.
We discussed the use of a sedative, and it was agreed that tomorrow she would be able to sleep.
Sleep at last Sat 16
Still no sleep, no food or water...
Finding herself transformed into a shrunken old lady, she was now running a marathon just trying to get enough air to breathe. Breaths were getting smaller and faster.
That morning, I asked her if she was feeling any pain. She put her hand to her chest.
I asked if her chest hurt. She tried to reply, but couldn't.
I got her a pen and paper. She tried to write a reply, but the squiggly letters didn't seem to spell much.
Eventually, I realised, that the word she was trying to spell to me, in reply to my question of what sort of pain was she feeling, was 'E m o t i o n a l'.
Everyone there said their last goodbyes, and a terminal sedative was given to her late in the morning. (A terminal sedative means it will allow her to sleep stress-free until her death. It does not in any way hasten her death).
As the sedative was given to her, (by injection) she relaxed, her breathing eased, and she smiled. The fighting and fear were over for her. At last, she could rest.
When her heart stopped, the Cathedral Bells chimed mid-day, and a very weird thing happened.
A white pigeon feather floated in through the window and landed on her chest.
For years now, I had always finished the day by saying "night night Anne".
So, as she went to sleep this last time, My last words to her were:
"We will all be fine, Thank you for a wonderful life, You can rest now."
Then I said to her for the last time, "Night night Anne"
and her final words back to me were... "night night" and she smiled, relaxed and went to sleep.
Death Notice Sun 17 Sept 06
The Dragon's wife died in hospital on Sunday 17 Sept at 12.00 mid-day.
Funeral at the Catholic Cathedral on Wed 20 Sept at 1.30pm
"night night Anne"
The priest Wed 20 Sept 06
On the day of the funeral, we were surprised to hear that the priest that read her last rights had just died that day.