2007 — 30 October: cold bright Tuesday

Time now (08:29) and I've just spoken very briefly to Christa. She tells me She "survived" the night but continues in much the same uncomfortable state as yesterday evening. It's being suggested that the installation of this pressure relief valve in her tum may have poked a small hole, so She now faces another batch of X-rays to check this, and (I presume) some repair work if that's what turns out to be the situation. My poor, poorly Christa. This is all so far beyond wretched. But, again, if it's a simple mechanical fix: please let's go for it!

Night thoughts

Time now (09:50) and today's Guardian suggests (without once mentioning NLP) that happiness is a state of mind into which one can think oneself... I wonder about that. I can't really remember what I was doing last night after my return from a delicious late supper over the road (one large glass of red wine, Lis) but I do know some thinking was involved, along with some restless pacing about, and my own night didn't really start until nearly 2 a.m. and ended around five hours later. I also tackled a crossword, no doubt said a fair number of cross words to myself, and handled emails in and out.

A common wish, kindly meant and suggested by many of the people writing to me, is that I keep up my strength. I wonder about that, too. I have told some of you this in personal notes. It seems to me that I draw such strength as I possess from the certain knowledge that Christa loves me every bit as much as I love Her. As for happiness(!) I take comfort from the fact that She has often told me no-one could do more1 for Her or care more lovingly for Her than She sees I have been trying to do throughout this foul and uniquely cruel disease. It seems my internal reserves of strength have been filled all unknowingly for the last 33 years, but I have no way of assessing their current level.

I admitted to my GP yesterday that I don't know what kind of crash or meltdown2 I may face after Christa has died. I have already observed from bitter personal experience with my mother that life does indeed go on, albeit bleakly in her case, for some considerable time. I have promised Christa that my friends, and the magnificent new experience of driving,3 will help me survive and get back onto my feet. I know my son, and my brother, will be there for me. Christa insists I must, absolutely must think of Her death simply as the relief and the end to Her suffering that She knows it will be. And I know this intellectually in my brain. I've observed it for myself in friends, colleagues, and relatives who have all lost loved ones. My difficulty is getting this message from my brain down into my heart. Writer: right thyself!

Afternoon visit

I drove to the General via a soul-soothing route (56.9 miles) through the New Forest and past Beaulieu, then back up into some fairly major city traffic, up through Shirley High Street, and arriving to find the place rather like Bedlam with car parks only admitting one car when another left. Having circled the site twice to try for our usual slot in the "Blue Badge" park, I ended up on the top bit of the main car park, quite straight (only three attempts) and centred in the box. Now, perhaps, you can see how driving distracts me from other woes?

Sadly, my Best Girl is not doing well. She was (still) waiting for an X-ray to assess what, if anything, can be done about this pressure relief valve in her tum. If it can be persuaded to work, her pain (and the miserable vomiting) should be back under control. But She also has an infection, and they have stopped treating it with antibiotics since that was adding to her misery. Pain control4 is being stepped up. The consultant (though still wanting the valve in Her tum to be fixed) admits this is basically the last of the medical options open to him. I'm very sorry to report that She may not even survive long enough to be transferred to the hospice, though She is on the list for admission there, of course.

We said our farewells today amid an attempt to aspirate Her tum yet again. This cannot go on. She doesn't want it to, and nor do I. She's a born fighter and (as She has told me before) a "tough old boot". I'm happy to confirm that. But there is a time to go and to let go. That time is very near, it seems to me.



1  I know only too well I am doing nothing for Her that She wouldn't do for me, of course.
2  Many years ago, I remember reading Stuart Sutherland's book "Breakdown" in which this psychology professor chronicled his own mental illness. I didn't keep the book on my shelves, though I do still have his later "Irrationality" — a much more entertaining work.
3  I more nearly understand now than ever before how helpful it must have been for Her through some of Her early adulthood in Germany before we met and both our lives changed forever.
4  Is it just me? Or does anyone else agree that to ask Her to confirm verbally Her date of birth every time before they give Her morphine to relieve breakthrough pain is (to put it as mildly as I possibly can) absolutely insane, and a perfect example of a Nanny State gone barking mad? This woman is on Her deathbed, to all intents and purposes, and what are they worried about? That She becomes mildly addicted to a not particularly addictive opiate?