On February 20, 2022, I lost the most important person in my life, my husband, after a four-year battle with Multiple Myeloma. Since his passing, I have had many ups and down’s; it is unpredictable. As part of my journey to work through my grief and sadness I have decided that I will start sharing my personal experiences, something I have never done before.
03/18/2021 Where do I go from here? When it started to become obvious that he/we were not going to win this battle I knew I had to have a plan. By this point, I had already taken on the things Jim used to do like managing our financing, the majority of the cooking, and other household tasks we shared. In addition, I cared for him the best I could, helping him use the restroom, going upstairs to shower, changing clothes, and trying to provide what emotional comfort I could. There were also the simple things he could not do as a result of advanced cataracts; controlling the TV remote, using his phone, responding to texts, turning on and off the electric blanket.
Thinking about these things makes me sad and is bringing tears to my eyes, it is making me cry.
I am really struggling and have to stop.
03/13/2022 Back in early 2019 Jim, my husband began having issues urinating and at one point could not go at all, so we went to our shared primary care physician who sent us to a urologist. The urologist thought the problem was likely his prostrate, which would not have been uncommon for someone who was about to turn sixty-nine. The doctor put in a catheter to provide relief and sent us home telling us to come back in a week.
A week later, we returned to the urologist who removed the catheter, talked about possible fixes, provided some medication, and sent us home. At first, there were no problems, but by the end of the week, Jim was again unable to go so we went back to the urologist who did an optical scope of the bladder which did not reveal anything, took some urine for testing, placed a new catheter and sent us home.
Less than an hour after returning home the doctor called and said that we needed to go to the emergency room right away as his kidneys were failing. After being admitted, they ran a series of tests and it was through those tests, they discovered Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells. It is assumed that the inability to urinate was the result of the cancer and the body’s attempt to flush the overproduction of white blood cells which caused a build-up of creatinine which in turn was causing his kidneys to fail. While they initially thought they would have to start dialysis a nephrologist (kidney doctor) wanted to try to flush his kidneys and system to see if the function could be restored which ultimately she was able to do avoiding dialysis. And that is how our four-year journey began.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. Healthy plasma cells help you fight infections by making antibodies that recognize and attack germs. In multiple myeloma, cancerous plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow and crowd out healthy blood cells. Rather than produce helpful antibodies, the cancer cells produce abnormal proteins that can cause complications. It’s not clear what causes myeloma. Doctors know that myeloma begins with one abnormal plasma cell in your bone marrow — the soft, blood-producing tissue that fills in the center of most of your bones. The abnormal cell multiplies rapidly. Because cancer cells don’t mature and then die as normal cells do, they accumulate, eventually overwhelming the production of healthy cells. In the bone marrow, myeloma cells crowd out healthy blood cells, leading to fatigue and an inability to fight infections. The myeloma cells continue trying to produce antibodies, as healthy plasma cells do, but the myeloma cells produce abnormal antibodies that the body can’t use. Instead, the abnormal antibodies (monoclonal proteins, or M proteins) build up in the body and cause problems such as damage to the kidneys. Cancer cells can also cause damage to the bones that increases the risk of broken bones. (Source: Mayo Clinic)
I will share more about our journey but also want to share more about what I have gone through and what I am going through since his passing twenty-one days ago.
Multiple Myeloma is incurable and we knew what the outcome could be if we could not get it either in remission or under control. Despite that and the many close calls we had, nothing could have prepared me for what was to come or how to handle it. I can only describe the intense emotions like sudden waves crashing over me. A welling up inside and a pain that I am unable to describe; even writing this brings tears so for now I will stop and come back later.