Chapter 14 -------- Breaking Point
After the holidays, Danielle felt like she was losing control of all aspects of her life. Her IV treatments were not showing the same improvement that they once were. Danielle felt the pain start to increase during and after each treatment. Also, she was not showing the steady signs of improvement that she had over the previous several months. The increased discomfort had her scared. She always worried the cancer was spreading and potentially where it could spread to next. Her greatest fears being cancer’s that cause horrible and terrible deaths, like liver or brain cancer. So many concerns put too much strain on her body.
I would have to say that looking back; I don’t know how I could have possibly eliminated all the stresses that confronted Danielle. Short of doing it all again with all the knowledge I have now. However, without going through what we went through, I wouldn’t have all the knowledge I have now. A conundrum that I still wrestle with to this day.
There was still so much working in our favor. I couldn’t believe the treatment funding appearing with a perfect job schedule too. While also having two perfect living situations manifest at the perfect time. Even the timing of doctor arrivals, to the perfection of our meeting, and even our wedding day was miraculous. There was honestly so much beauty amidst a sea of troubles.
The new year would bring more undesired troubles and fewer miracles. For the first several weeks of January, Danielle and I were facing truly terrible times. These few weeks would prove to be not only our greatest obstacle but a time I still am grateful to have endured. I for the last and final time reached my breaking point, a point that broke Danielle’s spirit and my strength.
It wasn’t anything specific that caused me to break again. I had reached the end of my ropes, and nothing could stop my decline. My behavior was unacceptable, according to Danielle. Despite feeling like I was doing my best. The conflict in our relationship was quickly starting to accelerate. Danielle was increasingly starting to take all her anger and frustrations out on me.
I accepted her wrath as punishment for my past behavior. I felt I deserved it apparently as much as she did. However, the constant punishment was also causing me to become unstable. We became stuck in a vicious cycle that created more instability. Danielle feared I would show my instability just when she needed me the most. She didn’t want to live in an environment where she may not have the strength to do something about it. I could not entertain the idea of losing to cancer, creating additional disagreements.
Danielle would express she was dying, which would always trigger my emotional response. I would almost forbid the conversation despite Danielle pleas that she was doing worse. The prolonged struggle finally was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I couldn’t for one instant accept that my wife was going to die. I knew that all the treatments we were doing were supposed to be curing her, there wasn’t a chance that we would fail. Entertaining the idea of losing the battle to cancer was never even a possibility for me. The topic further divided us.
Four months straight, I was holding the space that we would beat that disease. I couldn’t imagine the thought of my wife losing to Cancer, and it was a pride issue for me. I had studied curing and treating cancer alternatively for at least six years. I felt proficient in my knowledge, including my hands-on knowledge learned through the Doctors. I thought that without a doubt that I could heal my wife and make her Cancer free. We were going to beat this disease, and I didn’t want to hear otherwise.
Danielle no longer agreed with this assumption. Her health wasn’t improving. I failed to see the problems subtly worsen. My shortcomings were leaving me shortsighted. The added issues she was developing were causing her more concerns. Danielle was getting worse, and I wasn’t doing anything to make the situation better.
Almost two weeks into January, Danielle started taking a real turn for the worst. I wasn’t willing to accept her decline, and it was causing increased tension. I was still working six days a week, and the added stress of my being away was not helping the situation. Nothing Danielle or I did was making things better, and Danielle’s failing strength was making everything harder for her. The IV’s had become unbearable at this point, and the relief given was nothing compared to the healing crisis she would have those nights.
We were sometimes taking three to five showers a night to help with the pain. It would usually just be a temporary relief, and I would always reapply the meds for additional relief. I was finding the medicinal marijuana that we were using was not strong enough to manage the pain that Danielle was feeling. I tried everything and still nothing. Danielle knew her treatments weren’t working as well as they should, which was also causing Danielle to lose faith in the treatment. If it wasn’t going to make her better, why was she subjecting herself to additional pain or self-torture?
It was about this time that she started having more problems with her bathroom breaks too. Just after the first two weeks of January, Danielle was showing problems in her urinary tract. She was having discomfort mixed with having to pee almost on the hour. It had her very concerned.
To add to concerns, I was expecting my dad for a visit. It was the first time I had seen my Dad since my Birthday in August when he first met my wife. I had known for a couple of days that he was coming up, and Danielle was fine with him visiting for the weekend. We weren’t expecting the whole weekend to blow up the way it did, but the timing in a way couldn’t have been better.
After one of the hardest treatments that she ever endured and a mess of additional health concerns, Danielle decided that night she needed to go to the hospital. It wasn’t an emergency, but it was dire. We decided to have it checked out, during a healing crisis in the middle of the night. I finally admitted that the situation was getting worse. However, I also had to work at seven in the morning.
I couldn’t screw over my work, but I also knew I had to take Danielle to a hospital to check on what was happening. Since the situation had been building over time, it wasn’t an urgent emergency. However, it was hard to deny the signs. Danielle had taken huge steps backward over the previous several weeks. I was finally starting to accept that things weren’t improving, and things were not looking good overall.
I was heartbroken as I went into work that day. I probably cried at least four times, just getting the food together for my early morning delivery. I also had a talk with my manager that brought us both to tears. I knew that there wasn’t any way that I was going to be able to work anymore with Danielle’s health deteriorating. Thankfully Danielle’s friend, who had been helping us out, had also given Danielle another check to pay for further expenses.
I was able to tell my manager that I was done working after that shift. I felt bad having to give such short notice to them, but I also knew that my wife’s health was more important. Truthfully, I didn’t feel as guilty because I had worked so many extra shifts for the restaurant. I was the one who picked up shifts left and right when other people were unable to work, and now it was my turn to have someone pick up the slack for me. I felt I had earned the right to do what I did, so I did it without looking back.
I tried to contain my emotions at work. Thankfully, it was a delivery, and I didn’t have to talk to many people. I fell into a deep state of depression, seeing very little hope on the horizon. I was finally coming to terms that my wife might not win this fight. She had told me for the past week that things weren’t looking good, but I didn’t listen. I tried to be the positive reassurance in the relationship, but my emotional problems were making that impossible. So now I was left with a blinding realization.
We both needed help, so I made sure that I let my dad know what was going on before he left Tucson. The dire circumstances and our decision to go to the hospital in Flagstaff had inspired both of my parents to make the journey. We were even going to be meeting up with Danielle’s close friend and gracious benefactor. She lived in Flagstaff, so it was an easy drive over for a visit. I was relieved to have the additional support, I so desperately needed it. To say it was a bit of a tense ride to Flagstaff would be an understatement.
Being in the hospital, Danielle was relieved to start getting more answers. I was relieved to have additional support. Danielle’s friend was the first to arrive, which allowed me to step outside for a quick smoke break. I had to navigate the massive snowbanks, but thankfully, the roads and parking lots were mostly clear for walking and driving. Flagstaff was located high in the mountains, having far more extreme winters compared to Sedona. It was refreshing to step out and also check on my parent’s progress.
My parents texted me that they were still several hours away. Their journey was about four hours from start to finish, so I wasn’t expecting them to meet us there. I enjoyed a discreet smoke out the side of my car. I needed to be at my best for Danielle, and I finally had an opportunity to reset. Danielle needed me to be calm for the report on her condition.
I wasn’t having an easy time, either with all the emotions flying around. I was at my Breaking point, and it seemed Danielle was too. All of my emotional instability aside, we were both still concerned with Danielle’s growing health problems. The hospital had to run tests to figure out the source of the issues. We were accustomed to waiting for results.
Danielle’s first concern was a possible vaginal infection from the tube that was dislodged. A urinary infection would be horrible for Danielle. Danielle knew her body, and she knew that her body did not react well to antibiotics. She knew it was going to be even worse with how sick she was. The fears were growing exponentially. The main concern still always being the possibility of constipation with any medications.
Danielle was scheduled for a full-body scan to find out if the cancer was spreading too. Spreading was probably the greatest fear of all but still wasn’t the main issue that we were there to address. All of these possibilities and unknowns were stressful on Danielle and me. There wasn’t anything that I could do to make her feel better, and her bitterness towards me just made things worse. Danielle was constantly testing me at this point, pushing my triggers in a way to vent her anger on me. I did everything in my power to handle that with grace and ease.
It wasn’t easy and thanks to her friend arriving things became much more peaceful. It was such a blessing to have someone there to help us through that day. God knows we needed the support. I was grateful for the miracles that occurred. It certainly was a lucky chance that my dad was already planning a visit that day. Now we were going to have both of my parents to assist us.
My parents arrived in the evening, and after a few introductions and some catching up, my mom decided to take me out to dinner. They could all see the tension between the two of us. We were both having our issues, and thankfully, my dad was there to help Danielle. It was a blessing, and it also allowed me to take a real break.
Danielle and my father had a special connection that I still can’t explain. Danielle told me she always had a connection with those in the military because of a past that she still says I’m not allowed to discuss. That part of her life was long behind her by the time we met, but it was still part of who she was. So my dad, being a former Air Force Academy graduate and fighter pilot, was the ideal person to enter Danielle’s life.
It was amazing to see my dad step up and immediately start showing Danielle the support she needed. He didn’t have a problem throwing me under the bus either, and after about fifteen minutes of everyone reprimanding me for my behavior, I had to excuse myself. I was too tired, too upset, too angry, and too guilty about everything which meant I was ready to break again. I know that I was in the wrong when it came to my behavior, but it was hard having everyone team up against me. My family had plenty of reasons to throw me under the bus.
Due to my mother’s excessive drinking, I would, in the past, get very upset with her. I started to have very little tolerance for her behavior. My mother was a grown adult who behaves more like a child while under the influence. Most times we interacted in the past while she was intoxicated, it would end with me blowing up on her. I have, on numerous occasions, had to yell at my mother to “Shut Up,” because asking nicely always seemed to go unnoticed. Other family members used my reaction, to my mother’s behavior, to crucify me. My anger had dug me into a deep hole.
My family used this past behavior to attack me while confirming to Danielle that I had a problem. This did not help me one bit, but it did bring Danielle some Peace. She finally had some validation, and it wasn’t just her saying it. So far, these were the only other people in my life that had ever been hurt by me showing my anger. Now they were all united, and it seemed I was the bad guy.
After all of that my mom took me to dinner, my parents could see I needed a break. That was exactly what I wanted. Truthfully, I hadn’t done much in the way of real rest or relaxation in almost two months. Many of the activities, like hiking, biking, or yoga, were on hold while I assisted Danielle. I hadn’t done much of anything for myself except reading. Reading was the only escape that I had, and it worked most of the time. Now I had a break without worrying about Danielle’s needs, and this would be a first.
My mom and I took a cab since we were both planning on drinking. She wasn’t drunk yet, so it was still safe to be around her. If she had already started drinking, it would have been a lot harder for me to tolerate her behavior. After a couple of beers and a bunch of food, I was ready to head back and see my wife. We grabbed some dinner to go for my dad before heading back to the Hospital. My dad had helped Danielle come to some peace about a lot of what was happening. He offered that logical male perspective in a way that I couldn’t. Plus he had spent the past several years helping his mother pass, so he was rather well equipped for the situation.
Our marriage issues were definitely at the forefront of many of the discussions while my parents were present. I knew that because I was still at fault, there wasn’t an excuse, I do believe in no excuses. Excuses prevent us from taking proper action, and I was not afraid of taking the proper steps. I believe that in life, it is necessary to make appropriate adjustments, and I was willing to make them. I was committed to not making the same mistakes again, but I was aware I needed help to do this.
The biggest issue that the family helped me address would be the results from the rest of the tests. We had some results come back that day, and it wasn’t looking good. The first issue of vaginal infection was confirmed, which sent Danielle into almost a panic attack. First off, she knew she was going to need to do a round of antibiotic treatments, and her health was already taking a quick nosedive. The scans showed an even graver picture.
Thankfully by the time the imaging came back, my parents were present. It was hard to hear the news that the doctor had to share with us. We were devastated to find out that other masses were developing. The scan had found a mass that was starting to develop near the liver. Including other indications that possible tumors may be developing other places. Danielle had truly lost all hope with this news.
The knowledge that Danielle had gained was going to lead to many new decisions she was going to make with her life. I didn’t have much say in the matter other than providing her the support she needed. I wasn’t just a yes man to Danielle because I was someone who was there to support her best interests in the best ways that I knew how. So to say it wasn’t easy to agree with some of her decisions, I knew I still needed to support them. Even the hardest realizations as Danielle started to prepare for death.
Almost immediately, she decided to stop doing the curcumin IV treatment. Treatment was unbearable, and since the treatment hadn’t stopped the spread of the disease, there wasn’t much point to continuing. Danielle had decided to accept her fate. It was hard on everyone present, and no one was taking it lightly. I could tell her friend was probably the most upset about the decision. Immediately she tried to work with Danielle on solutions. Possibly seeing other doctors or trying other treatments. Danielle wasn’t interested in continuing the struggle.
I knew better than to try and get Danielle to change her mind. I learned that lesson long before this day. Supporting her decisions went further than challenging them. Exercising patience would also allow me to question those choices too. Patience was imperative if I had a problem with a choice she was making. It isn’t what we want to say but how we say it that is most important. If I gave her a choice versus trying to push my opinion on her, I found far better results. Sometimes she didn’t want my opinion or didn’t want to do things my way, but sometimes she did. I had to be fine with either outcome. I wish more people acted in this manner.
We were all sharing a moment of emotional turmoil, which brought everyone closer together. The amount of compassion that filled the room was miraculous. The support that we were all showed was invaluable in helping Danielle through such a horrible experience. The Cancer no longer appeared to be something we could beat. We were forced to take a different look at planning the remainder of her life.
After more bad news than we had since our wedding day, it was time for some needed rest. I as usual spent the night at my wife’s side. We pulled up a recliner, and I had one of the most comfortable night's sleep, in a hospital chair. I didn’t sleep particularly well, but at least I was comfortable. It was the one thing I remember about going to bed that night. Well, that and a beautiful video that my sister had put together.
Even though my sister was over a thousand miles away in Thailand, she still contributed. Her gift was touching in so many ways. My sister found a time that day to put together a beautiful video for Danielle and me. When my mom shared it with us earlier that day, it brought us all to tears. I had completely forgotten that my sister took a bunch of amazing pictures of Danielle and me when they visited for my birthday. It was amazing to see some pictures of how happy we were before all this happened. It was hard to believe that we even had a life like that because it was such a short time, five weeks to be exact. Now life was much different, and a night in the hospital wasn’t out of the ordinary.
The next day we woke up to hospice. It was the first time I had ever met with someone regarding the end of life. It scared me a little. The only reason for hospice was to help Danielle make the transition from life to death. Danielle had so many questions for them, and I too had many concerns to go along with her questions. Hospice was going to be another undertaking.
Thanks to Danielle’s insurance, we were not limited in any way to the available options. We actually had three companies that worked in the Sedona area to choose. I knew that wasn’t going to be an easy choice. Danielle and I would have to vet them thoroughly. It was the same thing we did to every practitioner that came into the picture.
The presence of friends and family made everything a little easier. It helped so I could get more breaks so that I could be the person that Danielle needed. I started to see a positive difference, a little rest and extra medication were having. My emotional health was improving exponentially. I knew after some talking with my dad that I could manage my problems. Eventually, showing Danielle that I can be the better person she needed.
I needed to find a better way to behave under stress, and the answers were manifesting. However, those solutions would be far easier to arrive at back home. We knew it was time to get out of there. Hospitals made Danielle so uneasy and nervous, so the less time she was exposed, the better. We were preparing for a new chapter in our marriage that I could never have foreseen.
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