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on November 4th, 2017 by Rebeccca

When I was a kid, I remember waking up at night in the forest clutching my sleeping bag. It was dark. I had no idea where I was. Then I remembered that I was at camp, staying in a cabin with a bunch of girls. But where was the cabin? Everything was pitch black. Somehow I found my way back to the cabin and into my bunk. Looking back on it now, I’m not sure if I was dreaming that I was sleepwalking or if I was actually out there in the woods.

Right now it feels like I am sleepwalking. That I will wake up and the last three months will just be a dream. Galen will text me to see if I need anything from the farm and that he is just leaving now. In just over an hour he will pull up beside the house in Rosthern and unload his dirty laundry, the cooler to take more food back and the latest project that he is working on. He will go to see his Hague blacksmith buddies on Thursday evening, then in to Saskatoon to have coffee on Friday morning with the model engineering club. We’ll hang out together for the weekend. He’ll buy the groceries that he needs for the next week, do his laundry. And then Monday morning he will head back to Shell Lake and when he arrives there he will text me to say that he has arrived safely.

If only.

Last night, as I was writing in my journal, I had to look back through my journals and blogs for the past three months to remember what happened and when. I’m trying to make sense of it all and figure out where I am. Here is what I came up with. . .

July 1: blacksmith for Canada Day at Seager Wheeler
July 10: hernia operation
July 16: spent the night in hospital to control the pain
July 17-28: he thought he had giardia; then went on a FODMAP diet, thinking he had irritable bowel syndrome.
July 28: admitted to hospital for pain control. We were told that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.
August 10: he was home from the hospital for 1 hour, then back to the comfortable bed of the hospital and more drugs.
August 11: drained almost 4 litres of fluid from his abdomen.
August 12: Galen was out of the hospital on a day pass to go to Osler for the blacksmith meet.
August 13: Galen came home for the night. We went for a short walk together. I set my alarm to give him his drugs at midnight, 6:00 AM. . .
August 14: Back in the hospital at 8:00 to see the doctor and get the drugs for the day, then home. August15: Decided to go to our place at Shell Lake as Galen was feeling pretty good. Got his drugs at 8:00 and headed north. I picked raspberries while Galen chatted with Don, then had a nap. Coming back we stopped at Petrofka Bridge for ice cream.
August 16: Into the hospital at 8 to pick up drugs. The doctor decided that since Galen was doing so well, he could be discharged. In the afternoon he started vomiting and in the evening I took him back to emergency to get him stabilized. They kept him in emergency for overnight.
August 17: Readmitted. The cramping pain is gone, but now he is nauseated.
August 18: Vomiting.
August 19: Vomiting.
August 20: I insisted that Galen be transferred to Saskatoon so that his vomiting could be stabilized before the scheduled endoscopy on Tuesday. By 6:00 in the evening he was in the emergency consulting area of Royal University Hospital.
August 22: The scope of the esophagus, stomach and upper bowel didn’t reveal any cancer. They planned to put in a drain for the fluid in his stomach, but the scan of his stomach showed inflammation, but no pockets of fluid.
August 23: Meeting with the oncologist. No treatment recommended. The doctor suggested that he might have a couple months.
August 25: Meet with palliative care nurse and doctor and prescribed meds specific to cancer.
August 26: Very nauseated in the morning, but managed to be wheeled down to the main level to chat with family, then to Tim Horton’s for coffee and juice. He’s very bloated, but feeling better.
August 29: Meeting with second oncologist. Marijuana prescription.
September 1: Transfer to Rosthern Hospital.
September 2-6: Home most of the time with trips back to the hospital for injections.
September 7-8: Galen was so weak and ended up in emergency getting sodium IV. Still vomiting. Can’t lift right arm.
September 9: Homecare is now providing the drugs and they trained me to do the injections through the sub-qs. No more trips back to the hospital!
September 11: Very weak. Needs help to stand and walk.
September 12: Moved into the respite room at the nursing home. . .
September 19: He died.

Whew. It’s no wonder that it feels like I am wandering around in the dark, trying to find my way back to my normal life. I guess that it is a good thing that my friends and family whisk me away to do fun things: dinner and music; trips to Edmonton and Jasper; meals with family and friends. They help me find joy in my life and warm my heart with their love and concern.

But once in a while I have to shake my head and go back over the details to remind myself of where Galen is and how I got here. Remind myself that he is pain-free and that this is my life now. That I won’t wake up and find that I am dreaming.

| Posted in Grieving

6 Responses to “Sleepwalking”

  1. Ann
    November 4th, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Hang in there kiddo. Think of you lots.

  2. Luana
    November 5th, 2017 at 7:31 am

    You are so very brave to share so openly. It must be difficult for you to bare your soul, but it is valuable if it starts a discussion. Til our next visit.

  3. Vaughn
    November 5th, 2017 at 8:05 am

    Becky- you are more awake and engaged than many who have never walked this path. I appreciate your reflections.

  4. M. Craig Campbell
    November 5th, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Oh, Rebecca, my heart is breaking for you. I have followed this story, mostly in silence. I have no frame of reference for such a loss. I have lost friends to cancer and suicide that still leaves me wondering and angry but never anyone so close. And, I think you and Galen were closer than most couples. I think about you and Galen often and about the wonderful times we shared together.

  5. Tracy
    November 7th, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    I found this meditation the other day. I’m not sure if the link will work, I may email it to you as well…

    In my third listen through it I thought of you. My dad passed away from cancer just a few days after Galen. He and my mom celebrated 51 years of marriage this past summer. I truly appreciate your writings of this journey.


  6. leigh kennel
    November 11th, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    Love you and your amazing ability to put the loss of Galen’s physical presence into meaningful words. Pretty sure he’s there,or at least I hope so, in spirit.

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