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To close the book on the Case of the Mysterious Septic Attack


Below: Kara at a restaurant last October



Cancer journey co-pilot's log star date 6.29.23. Six days after Kara's discharge from the hospital amidst the turmoil of a nurse's strike, we are settling into something that feels like a rhythm, albeit an exhausting one, at home. Confession: I did not expect the transition to be so overwhelming at times.


Thanks to our friend, a nurse practitioner, I have received a crash course in caregiving. Along with my bullet journal and daily planner, I now keep a multi-tabbed notebook that allows me to administer medications, monitor input and output (fluid intake versus urine), ensure physical activity (walking, timed sitting periods, passive limb movement, occupational therapy), resume wound care, and serve up a dietary regimen of animal protein on a consistent schedule.


At the same time, I must adjust to the patient's needs, which at times work against my duties in the interest of the fastest recovery. I have to remind myself that sepsis, never mind cancer, is the sort of event that some people never come back from, or, if they do, they may have lost something of themselves in the struggle...something beyond the power of Western medicine to helpfully articulate. And I have to acknowledge that I walk a fine line between vigilance and inability to trust in the patient, the process, and myself.


Along with household management, Airbnb management, a bare minimum of self-care, and a fraction of time given to projects I'm excited about, the pressures of spousal home healthcare, even in such a short period, begin to overtake me. And yet...for all the anguish of watching my wife endure through laborious, painstaking recovery, I find moments of the most lucid beauty in our shared experience. What some people would see as horror, I see as a prism of partnership through which the light of suffering paints dazzling patterns of accelerated co-development. This is pupation for us, wherever it takes us next.


I have come to really enjoy spending nights in Kara's massage office, set up with a bed now, the lights off, meditation music playing, no television, no noise, even though the quiet can make the sounds of post-sepsis difficult to hear beside me. Of course, as much as I find some comfort in it, neither of us wants this ritual to continue for long. Our goal is to build Kara back up, get her back in the house, autonomous again, feeling better, ready for action, and to close my multi-tabbed notebook on the Case of the Mysterious Septic Attack. A home health nurse told me I didn't really need to do all of this tracking anyway, but I disagree. These methods are my best chance at helping Kara to recover on the home front with an amateur in charge.


Really, we have been doing all this for four years now, just at an even more intense level in the journey.


I am about to finish the night's medication schedule. Tired fingers crossed that this blog will go back to the other pilot next week.


Until next time.


--Her husband, Charles







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Dick Young
Dick Young
Jun 30, 2023

You keep up with your tracking. I figure it's one of the things helping you cope with, and stay on top of, this experience. You and Kara are superhuman.

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