Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Blast to the Recent Past

Check out this 5 foot 3 inches hunk of a man.  Meet my husband Rob Klanott.  He is with our 165 pound Newfie.  Okay so back then it was 60 pounds of pup.  We had good times and bad times.  Three children all grown and moved away now.  This picture was taken 3 years before our illness.

Robert, who has always been the strongest healthiest man I know, began suffering from odd bruising.  Being stubborn he refused to go to the doctor.  Not but two weeks later, he brought one small bag of groceries into the house, collapsed in his chair and didn't wake up til the next afternoon.  He also complained of a headache and no energy.  ZAP he said, its gone.

He was flown to a specialist who gave the diagnosis of Leukemia type 7.  This was on September 30, 2006.

I stayed by his side everyday.  I resigned from my job because he was going to have to go through a stem cell transplant.  This meant a great deal of time away.  An uncertain amount of time. I was working at the Elks Lodge as a bartender.  They were actually very supportive to my situation.  In no way could they hold a position open for a year, and in no way would I go back to a job and tell the person who had to take my place that long, "See, ya I'm back"

 We had an apartment. We  had a young lady staying here in our home to take care of our babies (pets)  Even though we had an apartment, when he was in the hospital I stayed in the hospital with him.   It was a very stressful situation.  We were in Seattle a very long time in and out of the hospitals.   I am often told I was strong to do this.  Don't know if that's true,  I was scared, the prognosis was not good, and I wanted him to know I loved him and will be there for him.

Staying in a hospital is often humorous and frustrating.  I'll never forget the time a young nurse came in.  We were in his tiny hospital bed while he was receiving chemo drips.  He wanted me close and to be held.  We'd pray as that poison went in.  We were going to do this together.  Poor man was so sick and weak.  But it really lifted our spirits that a nurse 1/2 our age needed to talk about sexual conduct policies of the hospital.  Bless her heart.  That was the last thing on our mind. As weak as he was he laughed so hard.  What a wonderful sense of humor he had! At first I was insulted then found it pretty humorous too.

 Jan 3, 2007 was the day we began the long journey of stem cell transplant.  Many many complications. He fought so hard.

June of 2007 a doctor we did not really know just walked in and said, "Your tests are back.  You've become refractory and there is nothing more to do.  Your going to die."

God to this day those heartless words of "your going to die" echo in my mind.

This was it.  Just like that.

We were asked if we wanted to know how long he had.  Rob looked at me, and I looked at him and said, "It's up to you.  My opinion is that know he doesn't have the right to tell you when you will die.  How could he know"   Rob declined and said "Just let me go home.  Now."  Unfortunately I was cornered outside his room and the doctor really wanted to tell me how long.  I literally had to say, "Get out of my face, it is out of our hands now.  Leave me alone"  Hence it was reported in the medical notes to the doctors up here that "his wife is in an aggressive stage."  I laughed when I read that and so did Rob.  Deep inside that really pissed me off.  What right do they have?

So he wanted to come home and see what he could while he could.  He did not want to be hospitalized.  He didn't want any other nurses coming into the home.  He trusted me, and he was scared to death of the germs.  This was challenging to say the least and ended up with me having to retain a lawyer to help me gain his rights while he was still coherent. It was quite a stressful fight.

 We had no insurance except his Native health care.  The situation went too fast for SSI and Medicaid to kick in.  I had to retain a lawyer to help me with that, accounts etc.  We had to liquidate everything.  Had it down to the only thing we had was our home.  Hey!  At least we have a home.  Basically it was a bureaucratic struggle where everyone was trying to do what they believed was right for him, yet he wanted certain things.  We finally found a happy medium he could feel good about.

We enjoyed life as best as we could.  He would go in and out of dementia, but that is part of the disease.

In November of 2007 it was obvious he was close.  He told me he wanted to at least make it to his birthday.  He made it to November 16.  We had a small party for him.  After that it continued to get worse and worse.
He didn't want any visitors as he didn't want anyone to remember him in his weakened,  highly bruised and just bones condition.

On November 30th, he reached up and touched the chimes his granddaughter gave him.  He loved those chimes.  He said "angels" and yelled out all the kids names.  I went to him and with one look knew he wanted to go.  It was time.  Oh gosh.  What do I do? I gotta be strong for him.  I cannot even write this without weeping.  Instinctively, I held him in my arms.  "Water" he said, he wanted water but was too weak to drink it.  I started crying and held him and I said, "Rob I love you, if its time for you to go, you need to go.  I'll be fine. You know me.  I'll miss you because I love you more than I can say.  I understand though.  Thank-you for being strong for me.  I love you."  He smiled and whispered,  "I love you" and died in my arms. He was pronounced dead at 3:00 in the afternoon.

The whirlwind right after this was traumatizing not to mention my husband had just died in my arms. I went into autopilot.  I told him I'd be strong.  A friend came by and asked me if I needed anything.  I asked for a bottle of Chianti.  I am not a drinker.  But just wanted a bottle right then.  I was asked if I wanted to go stay at a friends house, but no, I knew he wanted me here.  Neither of us had any family here besides our children, whom I told do what you need to do for your grief, don't feel obligated to sit here with me.

They left and stayed elsewhere.  Where they were with friends and thank-god comforted.

This is not an easy experience to talk about.  SO much happened so quick.  I had one friend sat with me off and on.  Another of his friends came by and gave me some support.  My friend took us down the next day to say goodbye before they flew him out to be cremated.

This was the beginning of my "widowhood"

I knew life would change, I had no funds, I was alone, and god I was scared.  So very very frightened.

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