Chapter 19 - Dancing Beyond Cancer - Miracles Everywhere
Chapter 19 -------- Miracles Everywhere
The last several months were full of miracles, some beautiful and some necessary. While it wasn’t at all easy, life was always providing little reassurances. If it weren’t for those little boosts to our morale, we might have faced far more dire circumstances. I am forever grateful to all the little ways that life made the unbelievable happen. Sometimes those unbelievable things happened so that we could have another important experience.
I felt one of my biggest miracles was getting a new bed. It had taken until my dad arrived the second time to handle the situation completely. Even with everything that had prevented us from getting the bed, it had finally materialized. It was the perfect timing because that was my final solution. It was becoming far more challenging to stay strong without a proper place to sleep. Now I could get the sleep I desperately needed.
Danielle and I immediately slept far better than the tiny single bed we had used for months. Being the thoughtful husband, I gave Danielle most of the bed since her comfort had been my highest priority. Now, looking back, I should have taken a little more concern in my wellbeing, but life allowed me to learn. I had found that life was constantly challenging me emotionally to the core. For several years before meeting Danielle, I suppose I was working on mastering my emotions. Now I had the perfect opportunity to perfect my emotional weaknesses.
It felt like the universe drove fate to give me this unusual life experience. I had the chance to address the full spectrum of emotions that Danielle and I were going through. It wasn’t easy navigating some of the heavier emotions of guilt, shame, anger, or grief. However, I realized quickly that I needed to learn. I’ve always embraced the learning that comes with life experience. Life can feel full of miracles as we embrace the infinite possibilities of what can manifest.
Which also led to one of the biggest miracles that I could imagine. For months I had truly become upset with Danielle’s family. I even played nice when Danielle asked me to, even while the entire time they were undermining me. Her family actively tried to break Danielle and me up, without stepping up to fill my shoes. It didn’t matter to them what I had sacrificed for their loved one. I had redeemed my mistakes with Danielle, but they failed to see that truth.
Danielle’s family only dwelled on my past mistakes while actively continuing to make their own. I remained patient but still ever so aware of the continued problems. I was becoming increasingly upset, especially after the last visit. Every conversation just fed that anger in me. Even Danielle could see the problems with her family never changed and never improved. I could see the agitation coming to a head and her realization that things were not going to shift.
I view it as a miracle because of how it manifested and the benefits we received. I doubt Danielle’s family would agree since I believe it was the last time she ever spoke to them. Some miracles work out in our favor, while others may seem tragic from another perspective. I can’t deny the tragedy of the miracle, but it was still a miracle to me.
The miracle happened on a typical afternoon while the nurse was visiting Danielle. Danielle answered a call from her sister over speakerphone. We all could clearly hear her sister crying into the phone hysterically before Danielle turned the call to private. She was yelling into the phone about a dream that she had about Danielle. In the biggest case of irony, the dream was a nightmare about never being able to talk to Danielle again. Danielle lost it on her sister almost immediately. I was upset and reached out for the phone.
Danielle handed the phone to me after a few choice words. I immediately left the room and proceeded to reprimand her sister for the last time. I returned and apologized for the outburst, but instead, Danielle and the nurse commended me for the way I handled myself. Danielle wasn’t up for dealing with their behavior anymore. She decided to stop all further communications after that phone call. If Danielle was finally done talking with them, then I was finished too.
Danielle also decided that afternoon that she was done taking phone calls entirely. The phone calls were already causing her headaches, and we constantly had to keep electro-magnetic devices out of the room. I couldn’t have my phone in the room or the Wi-Fi on, except for brief intervals. She had already reduced her phone calls down to mostly necessary calls to hospice. Hospice would call several times a week to check on Danielle.
She would say just enough to convey what she needed as I held the phone next to her on speakerphone. Danielle would then say, “I’m finished speaking to them,” signaling to me to move the phone away to finish the conversation. Often this was because she would feel discomfort from using the electronic device. I never felt like she was rude. Her family couldn’t understand this, and she was done trying to make them.
No more family meant much less stress invading our space. However, Danielle’s family was not going to be fine with being cut off completely. My anger towards her family made me unable and unwilling to provide a healthy line of communication. Danielle and I decided to ask the ladies who were helping us to communicate on our behalf. They all agreed to help, even accepting the conditions Danielle had with sharing certain information.
At this point, Danielle told hospice to stop sharing any information with her family. Danielle was rightfully angry, but I felt she went a little far to make them suffer. It was clear that their behavior had resulted in almost a complete shutdown from Danielle. She was tired of them, and after seeing my transformation, it was eye-opening to her situation. Her family just continued their poor behavior while I had shown a great capacity to change.
Danielle desperately wanted to change her relationship with her family. She was dealing with problems over and over to have a breakthrough potentially. It was always an uphill battle for Danielle. I found some people are just naturally toxic and removing them from your life is the healthiest thing that can happen. After almost five months, Danielle finally stopped trying to win favor with her mother. Including exerting energy to deal with her sister’s emotional baggage. This complete turnaround was still troubling to Danielle.
It wasn’t a miracle like most miracles, but it also removed a constant stressor from Danielle’s life. She finally had an opportunity to come to peace with the reality of her situation. Danielle realized that the peace she was looking for was not going to be found in the people she expected. Danielle acknowledged that her mother was never going to be the mother she wanted and found acceptance in issues that would never be resolved. Danielle had to come to peace that there would never be peace between her and her mother.
It was crushing for Danielle but also at the same time freeing. By no longer needing the validation or having the need to connect with this person, she was liberated. I could see that decision empowered Danielle which made me feel good too. I didn’t feel good that her family had failed her, but I did feel good to have such toxic people out of our circle of influence. Having four incredible women handle Danielle’s family issues was one of the most miraculous events that I could have imagined — topped with the irony of the dream which caused it all in the first place.
The next miracle was far more uplifting for both of us. Since the decision had been made to leave the house to Rose, she had also planned a trip back to visit Danielle before she passed. It wasn’t something she had to do, but it was something she did anyway. She planned on coming out for several weeks before heading back to Europe. Danielle and I were both surprised and impressed by the gesture. Nothing could prepare me for how impressive Rose would act.
Danielle was truly a mentor and a parental figure to so many children in the community, and Rose was no different. Rose was one of the most dedicated students and on top of that, the only girl to ever co-teach with Danielle. It was almost like meeting Danielle’s adult daughter. Rose held a special place in Danielle’s heart which was why she was so excited to see her.
As much as I felt no one could compare to our connection that Danielle and I shared, I quickly also realized that nothing compared to the relationship that Rose and Danielle had. When Rose arrived, it was a small miracle, because there had been some recent attacks at airports in Europe and Rose thankfully avoided most of the problems. We were happy she made it back safely.
The first meeting between Rose and Danielle was a bit more emotional than I think either of them expected. It was very hard to realize that they were going to be saying goodbye. Neither of them was truly prepared for the interaction. It was a bit taxing on Danielle, but nothing compared to some of the more draining visitors she had in the past. I feel the joy of seeing Rose offset any stress that occurred.
To my surprise, Rose would show herself to be even stronger emotionally than anyone I witnessed. It was amazing to see how keen this young woman was. It was also nice to have a bunch of extra help around the house. Almost immediately, Rose got to work on cleaning up Danielle’s dance studio. She was doing some serious organizing from me using it as a storage place. Anything we didn’t need we put in the Studio, which after five months created a huge mess.
I would often take Rose away from cleaning to sit with Danielle. I never wanted to leave Danielle alone, so even if I were cooking, I would get Rose. The only time I left Danielle alone was early in the morning. I still went most days to pick up her gluten-free waffle from the Vegetarian Restaurant around the corner. It was the small joys that Danielle appreciated, and having Rose visit was one of her biggest joys.
Even Danielle was super impressed at how much Rose showed true control of her emotions. Rose wasn’t coming in and dumping her obvious sadness on Danielle. She even mentioned that she would usually cry the whole drive home, which truly impressed me. Danielle had been such an amazing teacher because it showed. Truly, I couldn’t have been prouder to have married someone who helped raise such an amazing individual.
Not in all the time Danielle was sick did anyone help out to the degree that Rose did. It was a miracle to have the love from one of her students fill her house if even for a brief time. Danielle found a level of peace in the support that Rose showed her and to not worry about some of the things she couldn’t control. It was beautiful the connection they shared. Rose knew Danielle in a way that I hadn’t developed yet.
I felt that Rose’s family was on top of that, one of the biggest miracles that could have happened. With the situation that we were in, it was clear that paying the mortgage and all the other bills were going to be a problem. With a mortgage, the money we had left over would have lasted us about three to five months. Thanks to Rose’s parents, we didn’t have to worry about making mortgage payments. Considering we were leaving their daughter the house, it was a super blessing that they came forward and offered to help more. I also found out that they were picking up other miscellaneous bills, which were even more appreciated.
I couldn’t believe the kindness of all the people that were helping Danielle. Considering for almost four months, we were left to fend for ourselves, and now to be graced with more help than ever before. Even hospice was a blessing as their kindness and support was a reassurance to me. Their compassion towards Danielle’s sickness and medication sensitivities was extraordinary. It truly felt that even with what was occurring that the miracles were still showing up regularly in our lives.
My whole life was feeling like a miracle since Danielle, and I first met. We never really talked about it much, but it was miraculous that we met when we did, and how we did. It was a miracle that we were married right before her surgery. It was a miracle that I found a job at the end of the street with schedule flexibility. It was a miracle that I lasted four months before failing. It was a miracle that my dad showed up when he did, and it was a miracle that I found the strength to be the husband my wife needed.
It’s hard to believe that even during the toughest times, we could manifest a miracle. It seemed to work better if we asked for help. I still believe a huge miracle that just so happened to cross our paths was also when Danielle and I were at one of the lowest points in treating her symptoms. We were having huge difficulties managing the pain that was caused by her cancer. The concerns with using prescription medications were also at a record high. Danielle wanted a solution that wasn’t going to cause further problems.
It had been decided by the hospice doctor, that we should start attempting to use micro doses of the pain medications that the nurses could provide. Due to the fear of possible constipation and the still lingering fear of her insides blowing up, Danielle did not want pain meds. That changed when her pain surpassed her fear of constipation. We decided to start with the weakest medication with the fewest side effects.
We started with Tramadol in quarter doses, and we did see immediate relief. Danielle had developed a pain in her mouth and teeth that was practically unbearable. The new medication was helping as we increased the dosage. Over the following week, we continued to take advantage of the medication without any side effects. However, Tramadol was becoming less and less effective at managing the pain.
The tramadol was not handling the pain she was enduring. Danielle discontinued taking her medications completely. Danielle felt there was little point to continue if there wasn’t any relief. That ended leading us to our next problem of how we could manage the pain. The risks with stronger medications came more troubling side effects. Danielle was at a point that she had to face her fears.
The unbearable pain led to Danielle finally succumb to the doctor’s recommendations about trying the morphine. We were using the least toxic version and were told to only start with one-tenth the full dosage. Which after the first twenty-four hours, we could work up to a quarter of a dosage. We administered the first micro dose with ease. We waited a short time for the relief to kick in. At which point, the unthinkable happened, Danielle started to throw up. Thankfully Danielle was able to keep her vomiting under control.
The morphine failed us and left Danielle with twenty-four hours of misery from the side effects. We had the nurses present for much of this time because of the complications that were arising. It was incredibly traumatic for Danielle, and at that point, we were starting to get the implications that the doctors and nurses did not have any other solutions. Sadly, I was correct in my assumptions, and the head hospice doctor informed he had nothing else to help with the Pain. Hospice had truly failed my wife.
It was just another case of the toxic chemicals that our medical industry tries to pass off as safe medication. After years of studying the long-term dangers of most medications, including a sleeping pill that I used to take. I found out there are some very serious side effects from the pill’s doctors push. The pill I was taking caused memory loss and amnesia. I found that out after accidentally taking one in the morning with my vitamins. Six months after the incident, I finally recalled the day I forgot. It frightened me even though I had already stopped the medication.
Danielle had this experience over a dozen times with the different medications that doctors attempted to give us. It wasn’t a solution if the problems became worse than the condition the drugs were meant to fix. For her entire life, she had faced this dilemma, and now it was one of her biggest fears to have that nightmare come true. This broke Danielle’s remaining will to live.
Devastated and without hope, Danielle immediately became desperate for solutions. Since Hospice had said that there was nothing they could do Danielle resorted to thinking outside of the box. The conversation that ensued still gives me the creeps. Danielle had already shown signs of being suicidal but still unable to follow through. I even hid all the knives in the house as a precaution. It wasn’t easy to face the fact that she wanted her life to end, but it wasn’t much of a life considering the misery she was experiencing.
With everything that was happening, it forced the conversation of how to end her life. The first most logical option was looking into the right to die states. Several states in our country allow a pill that would end my wife’s life. The process to be approved usually takes months. Additionally, none of those states were nearby, and it would take time to get everything approved. This was not ideal because Danielle wanted to end her life immediately.
As much as Danielle was willing to end her life, I warned her of the ramifications of taking her life. First off, there would be zero chance of not having the cops involved. It would be a huge spectacle, and there would be no way to avoid rumors. The pain she would cause to her students could never be undone. Everyone’s perceptions of her would-be forever tainted, and it wasn’t something she ultimately wanted to do, which led her to bring up being smothered.
I was upset by this request because I first off didn’t want to take another person’s life. Second, it was my wife, and that was even more difficult to imagine. Danielle even informed me that it could take between five and ten minutes to complete the act. The ordeal would be filled with struggle, followed by a lot of grief and trauma. I couldn’t imagine going through something so horrific.
It was a terrible idea in every possibility. Truthfully, I wouldn’t consider it as long as it sounded worse than what we were going through. I told Danielle I wouldn’t discuss it further. I was worn out from such talk and needed to take a break. There was no possible way I was going to allow Danielle to commit suicide. That night I prayed for a miracle.
I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I asked the universe to provide us another answer. I didn’t know if there was another answer, but all I knew is that I wasn’t willing to participate in anything we had just discussed. I didn’t want Danielle to end her own life, and I didn’t want to end it either. I wanted an answer that didn’t involve such a horrific end to Danielle’s life, and we needed a miracle.
The next day we were scheduled to have a new nurse come in to help Danielle. The universe must have heard my call because the wisdom she had to share was invaluable. First off, Danielle and the nurse connected fast. Danielle brought up that she was doing miserable and was wishing she could end all the pain. To my surprise, off the record, the nurse told us that she had wished her mother stopped eating the last couple of months of her life.
We were both a bit dumbfounded at the response, and it wasn’t something we had ever considered. The nurse proceeded to tell us that her mother’s passing would have been far easier if she had stopped eating. However, the nurse also recommended that Danielle continue drinking so that she didn’t get backed up. Danielle was almost on board right away, and before the nurse even left had sworn off food.
The next visit that day was a couple of hours later and wasn’t a typical visit either. Due to the recent complications with Danielle, hospice had sent out the director of training who we had met when we signed up. Danielle liked this woman and was glad to see her again. It wasn’t very long into the visit that Danielle brought up the idea of not eating. I was a bit surprised that Danielle brought it up considering the audience, but it ended up being the best thing she could have done.
The director proceeded to tell us that if Danielle was going to decide to stop eating that she should also stop drinking too. We were even more shocked by that response, and a bit confused. She told us that in Arizona, choosing to stop eating and drinking was the only legal way for someone to end their life. It was their choice, and if she made that choice, then no one could force her to eat. The director told us that she taught a class about it over the weekend. It was mind-blowing to have this information fall into our lap.
The Director explained to us that the reason she should also stop drinking is that her body could potentially linger for several months on just water. The lack of movement had put her body into something more like a coma state versus a healthy body that needs lots of energy. The lack of metabolism could mean that she could linger for months on just water. If she stopped drinking water too, she would only last about one or two weeks. Considering how much pain she had to endure, two weeks was far more appealing than two months.
Before the Director even left, Danielle had sworn off both food and water. The decision put the power back in her hands. She no longer had to fear a horrible, long, painful, and traumatic death from cancer. She had control of her life, and it was empowering to Danielle. She had the will power to do it, and I supported her in whichever decision would bring the best outcome. Little did I know just how much of a better choice it was.
Considering that most days only had one or two visitors per day, it was rather unusual to have a third visitor. However, the third visit would complete a holy trinity of messages. We were destined to have a third person come in to give us one more vital piece of information. The third visitor just happened to be one of the incredible volunteers. She wasn’t a doctor or a nurse, but she did have one amazing father. According to her father, in a study that he performed, he found that choosing to stop eating and drinking was the most humane way for a person to die.
She stated that compared to all the different ways that people die, that choosing to stop eating and drinking was the least traumatic. He even compared it to the medical industry’s morphine-induced coma death. It even reassured Danielle because it was even more humane than the pill from the states that have the right to die program. The most interesting aspect I discovered was that most people that receive the right to die pill, never actually use it. The peace of mind gained often allows people to approach death without fear.
Danielle was going to be the ultimate test because as much as it was a far more peaceful death, it also involved having a strong will. The nurses told us that they had never actually witnessed someone successfully making it more than several days before the desire to eat and drink would kick in. Danielle was going to prove that it wasn’t going to be a problem. Her desire to end the pain was far stronger than her desire to live in pain. She still had a desire to live, but only if the disease could go away too.
As if the answer we received wasn’t already a huge miracle, the results would be even more miraculous. A perfect trifecta of people arrived to provide an answer that gave Danielle hope. That hope would not be lost as we would see profound changes. The pain that Danielle was feeling in her mouth almost disappeared within the first twenty-four hours of her decision to stop eating and drinking. A total shift happened, and for the last two weeks, we were in for one of the most amazing yet difficult experiences of my life.
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