Print Story Time on death row
By mmangino (Mon Dec 28, 2015 at 01:03:07 PM EST) (all tags)
I'm now married to a woman on death row. Details inside.

So a quick catch up over the last two years. Back in February of 2014, the day before a scheduled vacation to Puerto Rico, Jen went to get a colonoscopy for suspected ulcerative colitis. That diagnosis was annoying, but hey, at least it's not cancer!

Except, shit. It is. And it's bad. At this point, the best data would could find was about a 66% five year survival rate. So Jen does radiation, has surgery and then chemo and things are looking good. It takes her a while to recover from everything, but by February of 2015 she is pretty much back to normal.

Then, in May of 2015, her symptoms come back. She's back to having blood in her stool. She gets another colonoscopy and the nurse anesthetist says "Good news! It just looks like ulcers!" Only that's really bad news, since the ulcers are caused by the return of her cancer. So back to surgery again in June of 2015 and she is doing okay with a permanent colostomy and a free hysterectomy.

So now, by September of 2015, she is back to normal. About a month later, the symptoms are back. It's yet another relapse. Her oncologist and surgeon still think surgery might be an option, but it's going to be ugly. This time, they are going to have to take out the rest of the rectum and anus (apparently everybody has an opinion but not everybody has an asshole!) along with her vagina and possibly her bladder, leaving her with a permanent urostomy. 

The day of her surgery comes, and about 3 hours in I get a call from her surgeon. This is never good news. He doesn't think he can safely do the surgery. He says it probably won't kill her, but it might paralyze her. And it almost certainly won't stop the cancer. It's too aggressive and too stuck to everything. So that's it. He closes her back up after fixing up her colostomy a bit. When she wakes up, I have to tell her the news.

After a month of recovery, we go meet her oncologist to figure out what's next. At this point, there is no real chance of cure. Sure, miracles happen, but probably not this time. From now, on, Jen will be slowly dying. She has received her death sentence, but with no execution date. Going in, we didn't expect much of a plan. We normally get an idea, but things are left up in the air. Not this time. Her oncologist gives her a detailed plan. We start with chemo 1, and march through all the possible medicines until she dies or we run out of new drugs to try. Welcome to the rest of your life. It might last 7 months, and it might last 2 years.

It's hard in so many ways. From the day to day of dealing with the chemotherapy that will be part of the rest of her life. To dealing with our two five year old boys, who I will soon become a single parent for. Dealing with her family and all of their emotions. And most importantly, dealing with out feelings. How do you live with somebody who you know is dying? Somebody you've been married to for more than 15 years. Somebody who you've been with for more than 20 years. More than half of our lives have been lived together. How do you imagine life without them?

In some ways, I want these answers. In other ways, I don't. I know that when I get them, it will be because my best friend is dead. My parenting foil will no longer be around to give the snuggle to counteract my discipline. I'll be the good cop and the bad cop. 

So instead, I live with joy and dread. I'm so happy and thankful that I've been lucky enough to spend 20 years with an amazing woman. I've been lucky enough to meet and marry my soulmate. But I have to watch her die. And not the hit by a truck, instant death, but the slow and painful death that end with me withdrawing feeding while she's in a coma, or an accidental overdose of the narcotics that will be used to stop the excruciating pain.

And now, I have all of these things in my head while seeing a woman who looks reasonably healthy. Sure, if she lifts her shirt you see the scars from surgery after surgery and the colostomy bag that has been part of her life. 3 days every two weeks you see the tube that poisons her slowly to extend her life. I see the 3 days after chemo where she is tired and nauseated. But I also see the 8 days where she is Jen, the woman I married. It's hard to rationalize those two views of the same person.

And I have to, but only for a while. As one of them slips away and is replaced by the other. Until they are both gone.

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Time on death row | 21 comments (21 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Wow. by ana (4.00 / 8) #1 Mon Dec 28, 2015 at 01:36:52 PM EST
Fuck cancer, man...


Or get rabies. Also don't do that. --scrymarch

You have my number by Phil the Canuck (4.00 / 3) #2 Mon Dec 28, 2015 at 02:21:44 PM EST
Don't hesitate.

Wow by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #3 Mon Dec 28, 2015 at 03:05:21 PM EST
Cancer sucks.

well, damn. by gzt (4.00 / 1) #4 Mon Dec 28, 2015 at 05:27:16 PM EST
I'm so sorry.

Very sorry. :-( (nt) by ucblockhead (3.00 / 2) #5 Mon Dec 28, 2015 at 05:59:41 PM EST

[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
oh shit. by StackyMcRacky (4.00 / 3) #6 Mon Dec 28, 2015 at 06:37:19 PM EST
I'm so sorry.  :(

Goddamn it by yankeehack (4.00 / 3) #7 Mon Dec 28, 2015 at 06:54:29 PM EST
Just goddamn it all.
"...she dares to indulge in the secret sport. You can't be a MILF with the F, at least in part because the M is predicated upon it."-CBB
Fuck cancer by miserere (4.00 / 2) #8 Mon Dec 28, 2015 at 07:52:33 PM EST
I am so sorry for what you and your family are going through. I wish peace and grace for you all. My heart breaks for you.

Jesus. by ammoniacal (4.00 / 2) #9 Mon Dec 28, 2015 at 11:41:56 PM EST
I have yet to read anything on this topic as lucid as this. My heart breaks for you, friend.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

So sorry by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #10 Tue Dec 29, 2015 at 03:43:20 AM EST
I don't know what to say.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
I'm so sorry by clock (4.00 / 3) #11 Tue Dec 29, 2015 at 07:44:59 AM EST
I wish there were other words. I wish you peace and strength. You have friends here.

I agree with clock entirely --Kellnerin

man, by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #12 Tue Dec 29, 2015 at 09:09:18 AM EST
the last update seemed like such good news, then this. My heart goes out to you.

My heart is breaking. by me0w (4.00 / 2) #13 Tue Dec 29, 2015 at 10:52:09 AM EST
I'm so sorry ... and I know that doesn't really mean much in the face of what you are going through and will be going through. I wish for you compassion, strength and love. Be together.

So sorry. by ambrosen (4.00 / 1) #14 Tue Dec 29, 2015 at 06:58:35 PM EST
I wish this shit didn't happen. Hugs.

Holy shit by jimgon (4.00 / 1) #15 Tue Dec 29, 2015 at 07:20:08 PM EST
So sorry. 

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
What everyone else said by kwsNI (2.00 / 0) #16 Wed Dec 30, 2015 at 09:25:38 AM EST
Fuck cancer. I can't offer much but support and empathy, but you're in the thoughts of everyone here.

Fuck cancer. by hulver (2.00 / 0) #17 Fri Jan 01, 2016 at 12:51:12 PM EST
This is so shit, I'm so sorry for all of you.
Cheese is not a hat. - clock
oh shit man by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #18 Sun Jan 03, 2016 at 04:10:59 AM EST
that's awful.


fuck c ancer.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

I am so sorry by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #19 Mon Jan 04, 2016 at 11:04:48 AM EST
There are no sufficient words.   My thoughts are with you and your family.

I'm sorry by debacle (2.00 / 0) #20 Tue Jan 12, 2016 at 02:14:29 PM EST
Very sorry.


Fuck cancer by barooo (2.00 / 0) #21 Wed Jan 13, 2016 at 11:52:52 AM EST
 Is about all I can muster.  Thank you for sharing, and obviously, you know where to find me.

man, i need a beefy taco now.
Time on death row | 21 comments (21 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback