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re: The last words heard

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Dear Trishamarie,


What an incredible and sad time in your life. Did you ever take any videos of your husband before he lost his voice? When my dad visited us in Maryland, we videotaped his visit and can still laugh at the silly little things we did together as well as admire the wisdom he imparted while he was with us. It´s been a great way to keep his memory alive and continue to celebrate his life.


I so totally related to you regarding your husbands illness. Don, my husband of forty years is "a cat" -- with over nine lives. He thinks he´s human. HA!  Throughout our marriage he has suffered several illnesses and surgeries. He is a cancer survivor at age 71 and lives on borrowed time -- by the grace of God!!!  I hope and pray that you will have peace in your heart about your husband and that his memory will stay alive in your mind and heart even if you cannot hear his voice. I bid you peace and love. ME


 


 


 

I did have some videos back when my grandchildren were small.  So one night I thought maybe he might be on them, so I played most of them.  He was not a man of a lot of words when he was normal, but I did hear him a couple times in the background making some comments.  On the whole, even in our earlier years, he always left things like answering machine message, and videoing up to me.  So, I'm afraid he was not usually the center stage person in most of the videos. You know how we are with grandchildren and our kids.  Yes, his memory and all the good times are now coming to the front of my mind far more often than those hard years.  We were married for 22 years, we had our ups and downs, but he was the truest love of my life. Thank you for writing, Trisha

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re: The last words heard

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Somehow you told my story.  My husband also was diagnosed with throat cancer.  We went through radiation and they put in a voice box exterminating his lovely baritone sounds.  We all need to speak but he was a professor at Notre Dame and a wonderful singer.  For him this was the worse than a death sentence.  He was also  fitted a stomach tube and we fed him three times a day through that for six years.  It was very difficult.  I miss his voice, his love and his wisdom. Love, was always part of our good nights,  but he had to sleep in a lounge chair, cause the phlegm would drain down from his sinuses and fill up and he had to spit it out or drown, cause he couldnt swallow.  His exhausted last words were "you'll be alright'  He was worried about me, not himself.  His death, two years ago, was one more cross to bear, and I carry it without complaint because I was lucky to have had 25 yrs with him.


We have a lot in common Trish.  We are stronger for what we have been through.  Who could have known that would happen and we would have to do things we never imagined? 


marie


 


 

Yes, we most certainly have the same story.  We were married for 22 years before his passing just 3 days before his 69th birthday.  Was your husband ever in a nursing home?  When he started having too many feeding problems and too much phelm he had to go back to the hospital.  That was Feb of 2006, he never got to come back home. He was in and out of the hospital and nursing home for a variety of problems until June when he started having seizures.  That is when I knew he would never get to come home.  I don't know if you found this, but I really think if Drs. would tell you all the possibilites with strokes and feeding tubes, there might have been different decisions made.  I never knew that most often when a person has had a severe stroke, the seizures will usually follow in a year or so.  Well, I hope things are better for you now, as they are somewhat for me too.  I do believe he is his old self now, walking and talking, probably in charge of some big bus.  He is with his parents and that he loved so, he was a good son.  Heaven can be what ever we believe and I believe you are your very best soul when you get there, I know the Lord knows he is a good one. Thank you for sharing, Trisha

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re: The last words heard

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Have you ever wondered what you would want to hear when you knew it was the last time you would hear your loved one's voice? Of course, "I love you" is always a good stand by, and it is probably what is usually said, as it was in my case.  Now that I reflect back on that day in Nov 2004, I wish I would have heard so many things. 


I would like to tell you the story of our life and how it changed so dramatically in 2003.  It all started with my husband generally feeling under the weather, having frequent ear aches and a slight sore throat.  We went to our primary doctor, we usually went together having back to back appointments. This particular time when my husband was checked out, the doctor recommended he see a specialist.  The new doctor was an ear, nose and throat specialist.  That was in July 2003, shortly before his 65th birthday. The doctor told us he had cancer and that he could see it on his right tonsil.  I could even see the difference when he pointed it out for me.  The doctor very quickly got a CT scheduled, an appointment with a cancer doctor and radiologist. Within a couple of weeks my husband was to have the tonsil, part of his tongue, part of his uvula and some of the inside of his mouth surgically removed. Then he was to start radiation treatments for a total of 35 sessions.  He honestly thought when he was first diagnosis that he had "bought the farm", as they say.  But, after seeing other people who had been through this, and a lot of confidence on behalf of the doctor that it had been discovered early, he proceeded with a positive attitude.  The procedure went well, the doctor felt he had removed all the cancer, but he still had radiation to go through.  That was very scary in a lot of ways, the mask they made for him was like something you see in the movies.  Throughout the treatments since he could no longer taste food like he used to he continuously lost weight.  It wasn't as if he could not afford to loose some, but it did reach a more dangerous level as far as the nutricianist was concerned.  He still liked peach flavored things and I had to use my most inventive resources to come up with ways to get food in him that he could tolerate.  We got the job done, and by the spring of 2004 he was starting to eat a lot of his favorites.  The biggest problem he had now was no teeth. He had to have them all removed before the radiation treatments because of the risk of infection in the jaw and bone. I really think that upset him more than the first surgery, I remember him saying, "I wouldn't have worked so hard at keeping them if I'd known this was going to happen." 


So, we had a little bump in the road of life, we were almost back to normal.  Going camping again in our RV, visiting with friends, taking trips.  Yes sir, we were back!  Then, in August he could not even swallow water.  Back to the specialist, more tests, this time the doctor said the cancer was back and he was pretty sure it was in the voice box. His doctor did not do that particular surgery, if he wanted it even done. The doctor sent to Indianapolis to another group of specialists that dealt with Head and Neck cancers.


Again, my husband felt he had to go with this operation, he didn't consider himself a big talker anyway.  When we arrived at the medical group's office, he was examined by several doctors, and several tests were done, including a needle biopsy.  We were to wait, as this place was so sophisticated they were going to have all their results and tell him what would need to be done.  When the head doctor came in, he said that their findings agreed with the doctor in our home town. Before we could even breathe easier, he said but I am afraid there is another problem.  My husband's cancer had grown and was wrapped around his right carotid artery. If he wanted to have the surgery, he would have to go through another surgery first to block off his carotid artery and be sure his brain could tolerate the change in circulation.  It is referred to as the "halo". Also, if he had cancer in any other part of his body this presurgery could not be done.  If he chose to not have the surgery he was living on borrowed time, when the cancer caused the carotid to burst, it would be all over. 


So, here he was, between a rock and a hard spot.  We talked about it for a week, we tried to think of every question possible to help us understand what life would be like afterwards.  Would he be on the "winning" side of the 45% chance of failure. If he did nothing, he would loose eventually, we just didn't know when.  I will have to admit, I really thought he was going to choose to do nothing, he told me he did not feel healthy enough to undergo two surgeries within a week of each other. But, when it came to the last day to decide, he said he would try. I still believe he was scared into having the surgery. The thought of your carotid bursting compared to the only thing you will not be able to do is talk and go swimming (because you will be a neck breather) would make any person try for life.


There it was, he chose life over voice. There was no other cancer, so he had the first surgery the second week of November 2004.  He enjoyed a great meal on Thanksgiving with family, how was we to know he would never eat by mouth again.  The second major surgery to remove the cancer took place on November 30th.  He had a feeding tube directly into his stomach, as it would be a month or longer before he could learn to eat with the prosthesis that was going to put in his neck to replace the voice box.  The doctors felt like he did fine all during the 6 hour surgery, and he was to stay in recovery for a least a day.  On Dec 2 he had a stroke. The stroke paralized him on the left side, and basically changed the total outcome of the surgery. He did not end up on the winning side. 


Yes, our life changed after that, he was in therapy until March 2005, he never was able to walk again, never ate food by mouth again.  And our communication was now always on a dry erase board or pad of paper.  He would ring a bell to call me. I thank God he gave my husband expressing blue eyes as he continued to talk to me with them until he became completely silent in July 2007. 


When we were going through the years from 2005 to 2007 I wished so many times that I had his voice on some recording.  I missed hearing my name said, the good night, even some of the arguements.  I am afraid it is all too true that time takes away our ability to remember some things, a voice is one of them.   

Dear Trishamarie,


What an incredible and sad time in your life. Did you ever take any videos of your husband before he lost his voice? When my dad visited us in Maryland, we videotaped his visit and can still laugh at the silly little things we did together as well as admire the wisdom he imparted while he was with us. It´s been a great way to keep his memory alive and continue to celebrate his life.


I so totally related to you regarding your husbands illness. Don, my husband of forty years is "a cat" -- with over nine lives. He thinks he´s human. HA!  Throughout our marriage he has suffered several illnesses and surgeries. He is a cancer survivor at age 71 and lives on borrowed time -- by the grace of God!!!  I hope and pray that you will have peace in your heart about your husband and that his memory will stay alive in your mind and heart even if you cannot hear his voice. I bid you peace and love. ME


 


 


 

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re: The last words heard

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In Response to The last words heard:

Have you ever wondered what you would want to hear when you knew it was the last time you would hear your loved one's voice? Of course, "I love you" is always a good stand by, and it is probably what is usually said, as it was in my case.  Now that I reflect back on that day in Nov 2004, I wish I would have heard so many things. 


I would like to tell you the story of our life and how it changed so dramatically in 2003.  It all started with my husband generally feeling under the weather, having frequent ear aches and a slight sore throat.  We went to our primary doctor, we usually went together having back to back appointments. This particular time when my husband was checked out, the doctor recommended he see a specialist.  The new doctor was an ear, nose and throat specialist.  That was in July 2003, shortly before his 65th birthday. The doctor told us he had cancer and that he could see it on his right tonsil.  I could even see the difference when he pointed it out for me.  The doctor very quickly got a CT scheduled, an appointment with a cancer doctor and radiologist. Within a couple of weeks my husband was to have the tonsil, part of his tongue, part of his uvula and some of the inside of his mouth surgically removed. Then he was to start radiation treatments for a total of 35 sessions.  He honestly thought when he was first diagnosis that he had "bought the farm", as they say.  But, after seeing other people who had been through this, and a lot of confidence on behalf of the doctor that it had been discovered early, he proceeded with a positive attitude.  The procedure went well, the doctor felt he had removed all the cancer, but he still had radiation to go through.  That was very scary in a lot of ways, the mask they made for him was like something you see in the movies.  Throughout the treatments since he could no longer taste food like he used to he continuously lost weight.  It wasn't as if he could not afford to loose some, but it did reach a more dangerous level as far as the nutricianist was concerned.  He still liked peach flavored things and I had to use my most inventive resources to come up with ways to get food in him that he could tolerate.  We got the job done, and by the spring of 2004 he was starting to eat a lot of his favorites.  The biggest problem he had now was no teeth. He had to have them all removed before the radiation treatments because of the risk of infection in the jaw and bone. I really think that upset him more than the first surgery, I remember him saying, "I wouldn't have worked so hard at keeping them if I'd known this was going to happen." 


So, we had a little bump in the road of life, we were almost back to normal.  Going camping again in our RV, visiting with friends, taking trips.  Yes sir, we were back!  Then, in August he could not even swallow water.  Back to the specialist, more tests, this time the doctor said the cancer was back and he was pretty sure it was in the voice box. His doctor did not do that particular surgery, if he wanted it even done. The doctor sent to Indianapolis to another group of specialists that dealt with Head and Neck cancers.


Again, my husband felt he had to go with this operation, he didn't consider himself a big talker anyway.  When we arrived at the medical group's office, he was examined by several doctors, and several tests were done, including a needle biopsy.  We were to wait, as this place was so sophisticated they were going to have all their results and tell him what would need to be done.  When the head doctor came in, he said that their findings agreed with the doctor in our home town. Before we could even breathe easier, he said but I am afraid there is another problem.  My husband's cancer had grown and was wrapped around his right carotid artery. If he wanted to have the surgery, he would have to go through another surgery first to block off his carotid artery and be sure his brain could tolerate the change in circulation.  It is referred to as the "halo". Also, if he had cancer in any other part of his body this presurgery could not be done.  If he chose to not have the surgery he was living on borrowed time, when the cancer caused the carotid to burst, it would be all over. 


So, here he was, between a rock and a hard spot.  We talked about it for a week, we tried to think of every question possible to help us understand what life would be like afterwards.  Would he be on the "winning" side of the 45% chance of failure. If he did nothing, he would loose eventually, we just didn't know when.  I will have to admit, I really thought he was going to choose to do nothing, he told me he did not feel healthy enough to undergo two surgeries within a week of each other. But, when it came to the last day to decide, he said he would try. I still believe he was scared into having the surgery. The thought of your carotid bursting compared to the only thing you will not be able to do is talk and go swimming (because you will be a neck breather) would make any person try for life.


There it was, he chose life over voice. There was no other cancer, so he had the first surgery the second week of November 2004.  He enjoyed a great meal on Thanksgiving with family, how was we to know he would never eat by mouth again.  The second major surgery to remove the cancer took place on November 30th.  He had a feeding tube directly into his stomach, as it would be a month or longer before he could learn to eat with the prosthesis that was going to put in his neck to replace the voice box.  The doctors felt like he did fine all during the 6 hour surgery, and he was to stay in recovery for a least a day.  On Dec 2 he had a stroke. The stroke paralized him on the left side, and basically changed the total outcome of the surgery. He did not end up on the winning side. 


Yes, our life changed after that, he was in therapy until March 2005, he never was able to walk again, never ate food by mouth again.  And our communication was now always on a dry erase board or pad of paper.  He would ring a bell to call me. I thank God he gave my husband expressing blue eyes as he continued to talk to me with them until he became completely silent in July 2007. 


When we were going through the years from 2005 to 2007 I wished so many times that I had his voice on some recording.  I missed hearing my name said, the good night, even some of the arguements.  I am afraid it is all too true that time takes away our ability to remember some things, a voice is one of them.   

Somehow you told my story.  My husband also was diagnosed with throat cancer.  We went through radiation and they put in a voice box exterminating his lovely baritone sounds.  We all need to speak but he was a professor at Notre Dame and a wonderful singer.  For him this was the worse than a death sentence.  He was also  fitted a stomach tube and we fed him three times a day through that for six years.  It was very difficult.  I miss his voice, his love and his wisdom. Love, was always part of our good nights,  but he had to sleep in a lounge chair, cause the phlegm would drain down from his sinuses and fill up and he had to spit it out or drown, cause he couldnt swallow.  His exhausted last words were "you'll be alright'  He was worried about me, not himself.  His death, two years ago, was one more cross to bear, and I carry it without complaint because I was lucky to have had 25 yrs with him.


We have a lot in common Trish.  We are stronger for what we have been through.  Who could have known that would happen and we would have to do things we never imagined? 


marie


 


 

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re: The last words heard

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In Response to The last words heard:

Have you ever wondered what you would want to hear when you knew it was the last time you would hear your loved one's voice? Of course, "I love you" is always a good stand by, and it is probably what is usually said, as it was in my case.  Now that I reflect back on that day in Nov 2004, I wish I would have heard so many things. 


I would like to tell you the story of our life and how it changed so dramatically in 2003.  It all started with my husband generally feeling under the weather, having frequent ear aches and a slight sore throat.  We went to our primary doctor, we usually went together having back to back appointments. This particular time when my husband was checked out, the doctor recommended he see a specialist.  The new doctor was an ear, nose and throat specialist.  That was in July 2003, shortly before his 65th birthday. The doctor told us he had cancer and that he could see it on his right tonsil.  I could even see the difference when he pointed it out for me.  The doctor very quickly got a CT scheduled, an appointment with a cancer doctor and radiologist. Within a couple of weeks my husband was to have the tonsil, part of his tongue, part of his uvula and some of the inside of his mouth surgically removed. Then he was to start radiation treatments for a total of 35 sessions.  He honestly thought when he was first diagnosis that he had "bought the farm", as they say.  But, after seeing other people who had been through this, and a lot of confidence on behalf of the doctor that it had been discovered early, he proceeded with a positive attitude.  The procedure went well, the doctor felt he had removed all the cancer, but he still had radiation to go through.  That was very scary in a lot of ways, the mask they made for him was like something you see in the movies.  Throughout the treatments since he could no longer taste food like he used to he continuously lost weight.  It wasn't as if he could not afford to loose some, but it did reach a more dangerous level as far as the nutricianist was concerned.  He still liked peach flavored things and I had to use my most inventive resources to come up with ways to get food in him that he could tolerate.  We got the job done, and by the spring of 2004 he was starting to eat a lot of his favorites.  The biggest problem he had now was no teeth. He had to have them all removed before the radiation treatments because of the risk of infection in the jaw and bone. I really think that upset him more than the first surgery, I remember him saying, "I wouldn't have worked so hard at keeping them if I'd known this was going to happen." 


So, we had a little bump in the road of life, we were almost back to normal.  Going camping again in our RV, visiting with friends, taking trips.  Yes sir, we were back!  Then, in August he could not even swallow water.  Back to the specialist, more tests, this time the doctor said the cancer was back and he was pretty sure it was in the voice box. His doctor did not do that particular surgery, if he wanted it even done. The doctor sent to Indianapolis to another group of specialists that dealt with Head and Neck cancers.


Again, my husband felt he had to go with this operation, he didn't consider himself a big talker anyway.  When we arrived at the medical group's office, he was examined by several doctors, and several tests were done, including a needle biopsy.  We were to wait, as this place was so sophisticated they were going to have all their results and tell him what would need to be done.  When the head doctor came in, he said that their findings agreed with the doctor in our home town. Before we could even breathe easier, he said but I am afraid there is another problem.  My husband's cancer had grown and was wrapped around his right carotid artery. If he wanted to have the surgery, he would have to go through another surgery first to block off his carotid artery and be sure his brain could tolerate the change in circulation.  It is referred to as the "halo". Also, if he had cancer in any other part of his body this presurgery could not be done.  If he chose to not have the surgery he was living on borrowed time, when the cancer caused the carotid to burst, it would be all over. 


So, here he was, between a rock and a hard spot.  We talked about it for a week, we tried to think of every question possible to help us understand what life would be like afterwards.  Would he be on the "winning" side of the 45% chance of failure. If he did nothing, he would loose eventually, we just didn't know when.  I will have to admit, I really thought he was going to choose to do nothing, he told me he did not feel healthy enough to undergo two surgeries within a week of each other. But, when it came to the last day to decide, he said he would try. I still believe he was scared into having the surgery. The thought of your carotid bursting compared to the only thing you will not be able to do is talk and go swimming (because you will be a neck breather) would make any person try for life.


There it was, he chose life over voice. There was no other cancer, so he had the first surgery the second week of November 2004.  He enjoyed a great meal on Thanksgiving with family, how was we to know he would never eat by mouth again.  The second major surgery to remove the cancer took place on November 30th.  He had a feeding tube directly into his stomach, as it would be a month or longer before he could learn to eat with the prosthesis that was going to put in his neck to replace the voice box.  The doctors felt like he did fine all during the 6 hour surgery, and he was to stay in recovery for a least a day.  On Dec 2 he had a stroke. The stroke paralized him on the left side, and basically changed the total outcome of the surgery. He did not end up on the winning side. 


Yes, our life changed after that, he was in therapy until March 2005, he never was able to walk again, never ate food by mouth again.  And our communication was now always on a dry erase board or pad of paper.  He would ring a bell to call me. I thank God he gave my husband expressing blue eyes as he continued to talk to me with them until he became completely silent in July 2007. 


When we were going through the years from 2005 to 2007 I wished so many times that I had his voice on some recording.  I missed hearing my name said, the good night, even some of the arguements.  I am afraid it is all too true that time takes away our ability to remember some things, a voice is one of them.   

Your story was a difficult read, but your writing was wonderful.  Your story moved me to tears for all that you and your husband have been through, not only for the overwhelming difficulties his illness posed to both you and him, but for the strength of your unconditional love for each other.  You're an amazing woman.

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re: The last words heard

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Message 6 of 8
In Response to The last words heard:

Have you ever wondered what you would want to hear when you knew it was the last time you would hear your loved one's voice? Of course, "I love you" is always a good stand by, and it is probably what is usually said, as it was in my case.  Now that I reflect back on that day in Nov 2004, I wish I would have heard so many things. 


I would like to tell you the story of our life and how it changed so dramatically in 2003.  It all started with my husband generally feeling under the weather, having frequent ear aches and a slight sore throat.  We went to our primary doctor, we usually went together having back to back appointments. This particular time when my husband was checked out, the doctor recommended he see a specialist.  The new doctor was an ear, nose and throat specialist.  That was in July 2003, shortly before his 65th birthday. The doctor told us he had cancer and that he could see it on his right tonsil.  I could even see the difference when he pointed it out for me.  The doctor very quickly got a CT scheduled, an appointment with a cancer doctor and radiologist. Within a couple of weeks my husband was to have the tonsil, part of his tongue, part of his uvula and some of the inside of his mouth surgically removed. Then he was to start radiation treatments for a total of 35 sessions.  He honestly thought when he was first diagnosis that he had "bought the farm", as they say.  But, after seeing other people who had been through this, and a lot of confidence on behalf of the doctor that it had been discovered early, he proceeded with a positive attitude.  The procedure went well, the doctor felt he had removed all the cancer, but he still had radiation to go through.  That was very scary in a lot of ways, the mask they made for him was like something you see in the movies.  Throughout the treatments since he could no longer taste food like he used to he continuously lost weight.  It wasn't as if he could not afford to loose some, but it did reach a more dangerous level as far as the nutricianist was concerned.  He still liked peach flavored things and I had to use my most inventive resources to come up with ways to get food in him that he could tolerate.  We got the job done, and by the spring of 2004 he was starting to eat a lot of his favorites.  The biggest problem he had now was no teeth. He had to have them all removed before the radiation treatments because of the risk of infection in the jaw and bone. I really think that upset him more than the first surgery, I remember him saying, "I wouldn't have worked so hard at keeping them if I'd known this was going to happen." 


So, we had a little bump in the road of life, we were almost back to normal.  Going camping again in our RV, visiting with friends, taking trips.  Yes sir, we were back!  Then, in August he could not even swallow water.  Back to the specialist, more tests, this time the doctor said the cancer was back and he was pretty sure it was in the voice box. His doctor did not do that particular surgery, if he wanted it even done. The doctor sent to Indianapolis to another group of specialists that dealt with Head and Neck cancers.


Again, my husband felt he had to go with this operation, he didn't consider himself a big talker anyway.  When we arrived at the medical group's office, he was examined by several doctors, and several tests were done, including a needle biopsy.  We were to wait, as this place was so sophisticated they were going to have all their results and tell him what would need to be done.  When the head doctor came in, he said that their findings agreed with the doctor in our home town. Before we could even breathe easier, he said but I am afraid there is another problem.  My husband's cancer had grown and was wrapped around his right carotid artery. If he wanted to have the surgery, he would have to go through another surgery first to block off his carotid artery and be sure his brain could tolerate the change in circulation.  It is referred to as the "halo". Also, if he had cancer in any other part of his body this presurgery could not be done.  If he chose to not have the surgery he was living on borrowed time, when the cancer caused the carotid to burst, it would be all over. 


So, here he was, between a rock and a hard spot.  We talked about it for a week, we tried to think of every question possible to help us understand what life would be like afterwards.  Would he be on the "winning" side of the 45% chance of failure. If he did nothing, he would loose eventually, we just didn't know when.  I will have to admit, I really thought he was going to choose to do nothing, he told me he did not feel healthy enough to undergo two surgeries within a week of each other. But, when it came to the last day to decide, he said he would try. I still believe he was scared into having the surgery. The thought of your carotid bursting compared to the only thing you will not be able to do is talk and go swimming (because you will be a neck breather) would make any person try for life.


There it was, he chose life over voice. There was no other cancer, so he had the first surgery the second week of November 2004.  He enjoyed a great meal on Thanksgiving with family, how was we to know he would never eat by mouth again.  The second major surgery to remove the cancer took place on November 30th.  He had a feeding tube directly into his stomach, as it would be a month or longer before he could learn to eat with the prosthesis that was going to put in his neck to replace the voice box.  The doctors felt like he did fine all during the 6 hour surgery, and he was to stay in recovery for a least a day.  On Dec 2 he had a stroke. The stroke paralized him on the left side, and basically changed the total outcome of the surgery. He did not end up on the winning side. 


Yes, our life changed after that, he was in therapy until March 2005, he never was able to walk again, never ate food by mouth again.  And our communication was now always on a dry erase board or pad of paper.  He would ring a bell to call me. I thank God he gave my husband expressing blue eyes as he continued to talk to me with them until he became completely silent in July 2007. 


When we were going through the years from 2005 to 2007 I wished so many times that I had his voice on some recording.  I missed hearing my name said, the good night, even some of the arguements.  I am afraid it is all too true that time takes away our ability to remember some things, a voice is one of them.   

 Thank you for sharing.  It is hard to respond to something so well written that you can feel your loss, the loss of hearing him too.  With us who have lost someone, we think and try to hold on to what they sounded like, what they smelled like, the sound of their laughter and the feel of their hands and even the wonderful hugs.  In the end, their spirit lives in our hearts, thinking of them can make us laugh, cry or even find amazement in what we had shared.  I remember the last words my sister spoke to me, but you know with time her voice is fading, but not her words, not the memories and definitely not the love we shared.  Our shared tears and our laughing until we had tears, they will stay with me.  I know the sound of your husband's voice may be lost, but not him, not what he stood for and all that you shared.  But you have put me and anyone who reads your story to thinking ~ what of those last words, what would you choose, what would you want to hear?  Lots of things, but to me Telling me I was loved and my love was well received is at the top of my list.  Your friend with hugs....RaeDi

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The last words heard

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Have you ever wondered what you would want to hear when you knew it was the last time you would hear your loved one's voice? Of course, "I love you" is always a good stand by, and it is probably what is usually said, as it was in my case.  Now that I reflect back on that day in Nov 2004, I wish I would have heard so many things. 


I would like to tell you the story of our life and how it changed so dramatically in 2003.  It all started with my husband generally feeling under the weather, having frequent ear aches and a slight sore throat.  We went to our primary doctor, we usually went together having back to back appointments. This particular time when my husband was checked out, the doctor recommended he see a specialist.  The new doctor was an ear, nose and throat specialist.  That was in July 2003, shortly before his 65th birthday. The doctor told us he had cancer and that he could see it on his right tonsil.  I could even see the difference when he pointed it out for me.  The doctor very quickly got a CT scheduled, an appointment with a cancer doctor and radiologist. Within a couple of weeks my husband was to have the tonsil, part of his tongue, part of his uvula and some of the inside of his mouth surgically removed. Then he was to start radiation treatments for a total of 35 sessions.  He honestly thought when he was first diagnosis that he had "bought the farm", as they say.  But, after seeing other people who had been through this, and a lot of confidence on behalf of the doctor that it had been discovered early, he proceeded with a positive attitude.  The procedure went well, the doctor felt he had removed all the cancer, but he still had radiation to go through.  That was very scary in a lot of ways, the mask they made for him was like something you see in the movies.  Throughout the treatments since he could no longer taste food like he used to he continuously lost weight.  It wasn't as if he could not afford to loose some, but it did reach a more dangerous level as far as the nutricianist was concerned.  He still liked peach flavored things and I had to use my most inventive resources to come up with ways to get food in him that he could tolerate.  We got the job done, and by the spring of 2004 he was starting to eat a lot of his favorites.  The biggest problem he had now was no teeth. He had to have them all removed before the radiation treatments because of the risk of infection in the jaw and bone. I really think that upset him more than the first surgery, I remember him saying, "I wouldn't have worked so hard at keeping them if I'd known this was going to happen." 


So, we had a little bump in the road of life, we were almost back to normal.  Going camping again in our RV, visiting with friends, taking trips.  Yes sir, we were back!  Then, in August he could not even swallow water.  Back to the specialist, more tests, this time the doctor said the cancer was back and he was pretty sure it was in the voice box. His doctor did not do that particular surgery, if he wanted it even done. The doctor sent to Indianapolis to another group of specialists that dealt with Head and Neck cancers.


Again, my husband felt he had to go with this operation, he didn't consider himself a big talker anyway.  When we arrived at the medical group's office, he was examined by several doctors, and several tests were done, including a needle biopsy.  We were to wait, as this place was so sophisticated they were going to have all their results and tell him what would need to be done.  When the head doctor came in, he said that their findings agreed with the doctor in our home town. Before we could even breathe easier, he said but I am afraid there is another problem.  My husband's cancer had grown and was wrapped around his right carotid artery. If he wanted to have the surgery, he would have to go through another surgery first to block off his carotid artery and be sure his brain could tolerate the change in circulation.  It is referred to as the "halo". Also, if he had cancer in any other part of his body this presurgery could not be done.  If he chose to not have the surgery he was living on borrowed time, when the cancer caused the carotid to burst, it would be all over. 


So, here he was, between a rock and a hard spot.  We talked about it for a week, we tried to think of every question possible to help us understand what life would be like afterwards.  Would he be on the "winning" side of the 45% chance of failure. If he did nothing, he would loose eventually, we just didn't know when.  I will have to admit, I really thought he was going to choose to do nothing, he told me he did not feel healthy enough to undergo two surgeries within a week of each other. But, when it came to the last day to decide, he said he would try. I still believe he was scared into having the surgery. The thought of your carotid bursting compared to the only thing you will not be able to do is talk and go swimming (because you will be a neck breather) would make any person try for life.


There it was, he chose life over voice. There was no other cancer, so he had the first surgery the second week of November 2004.  He enjoyed a great meal on Thanksgiving with family, how was we to know he would never eat by mouth again.  The second major surgery to remove the cancer took place on November 30th.  He had a feeding tube directly into his stomach, as it would be a month or longer before he could learn to eat with the prosthesis that was going to put in his neck to replace the voice box.  The doctors felt like he did fine all during the 6 hour surgery, and he was to stay in recovery for a least a day.  On Dec 2 he had a stroke. The stroke paralized him on the left side, and basically changed the total outcome of the surgery. He did not end up on the winning side. 


Yes, our life changed after that, he was in therapy until March 2005, he never was able to walk again, never ate food by mouth again.  And our communication was now always on a dry erase board or pad of paper.  He would ring a bell to call me. I thank God he gave my husband expressing blue eyes as he continued to talk to me with them until he became completely silent in July 2007. 


When we were going through the years from 2005 to 2007 I wished so many times that I had his voice on some recording.  I missed hearing my name said, the good night, even some of the arguements.  I am afraid it is all too true that time takes away our ability to remember some things, a voice is one of them.   

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The last words heard

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Message 7 of 8

Have you ever wondered what you would want to hear when you knew it was the last time you would hear your loved one's voice? Of course, "I love you" is always a good stand by, and it is probably what is usually said, as it was in my case.  Now that I reflect back on that day in Nov 2004, I wish I would have heard so many things. 


I would like to tell you the story of our life and how it changed so dramatically in 2003.  It all started with my husband generally feeling under the weather, having frequent ear aches and a slight sore throat.  We went to our primary doctor, we usually went together having back to back appointments. This particular time when my husband was checked out, the doctor recommended he see a specialist.  The new doctor was an ear, nose and throat specialist.  That was in July 2003, shortly before his 65th birthday. The doctor told us he had cancer and that he could see it on his right tonsil.  I could even see the difference when he pointed it out for me.  The doctor very quickly got a CT scheduled, an appointment with a cancer doctor and radiologist. Within a couple of weeks my husband was to have the tonsil, part of his tongue, part of his uvula and some of the inside of his mouth surgically removed. Then he was to start radiation treatments for a total of 35 sessions.  He honestly thought when he was first diagnosis that he had "bought the farm", as they say.  But, after seeing other people who had been through this, and a lot of confidence on behalf of the doctor that it had been discovered early, he proceeded with a positive attitude.  The procedure went well, the doctor felt he had removed all the cancer, but he still had radiation to go through.  That was very scary in a lot of ways, the mask they made for him was like something you see in the movies.  Throughout the treatments since he could no longer taste food like he used to he continuously lost weight.  It wasn't as if he could not afford to loose some, but it did reach a more dangerous level as far as the nutricianist was concerned.  He still liked peach flavored things and I had to use my most inventive resources to come up with ways to get food in him that he could tolerate.  We got the job done, and by the spring of 2004 he was starting to eat a lot of his favorites.  The biggest problem he had now was no teeth. He had to have them all removed before the radiation treatments because of the risk of infection in the jaw and bone. I really think that upset him more than the first surgery, I remember him saying, "I wouldn't have worked so hard at keeping them if I'd known this was going to happen." 


So, we had a little bump in the road of life, we were almost back to normal.  Going camping again in our RV, visiting with friends, taking trips.  Yes sir, we were back!  Then, in August he could not even swallow water.  Back to the specialist, more tests, this time the doctor said the cancer was back and he was pretty sure it was in the voice box. His doctor did not do that particular surgery, if he wanted it even done. The doctor sent to Indianapolis to another group of specialists that dealt with Head and Neck cancers.


Again, my husband felt he had to go with this operation, he didn't consider himself a big talker anyway.  When we arrived at the medical group's office, he was examined by several doctors, and several tests were done, including a needle biopsy.  We were to wait, as this place was so sophisticated they were going to have all their results and tell him what would need to be done.  When the head doctor came in, he said that their findings agreed with the doctor in our home town. Before we could even breathe easier, he said but I am afraid there is another problem.  My husband's cancer had grown and was wrapped around his right carotid artery. If he wanted to have the surgery, he would have to go through another surgery first to block off his carotid artery and be sure his brain could tolerate the change in circulation.  It is referred to as the "halo". Also, if he had cancer in any other part of his body this presurgery could not be done.  If he chose to not have the surgery he was living on borrowed time, when the cancer caused the carotid to burst, it would be all over. 


So, here he was, between a rock and a hard spot.  We talked about it for a week, we tried to think of every question possible to help us understand what life would be like afterwards.  Would he be on the "winning" side of the 45% chance of failure. If he did nothing, he would loose eventually, we just didn't know when.  I will have to admit, I really thought he was going to choose to do nothing, he told me he did not feel healthy enough to undergo two surgeries within a week of each other. But, when it came to the last day to decide, he said he would try. I still believe he was scared into having the surgery. The thought of your carotid bursting compared to the only thing you will not be able to do is talk and go swimming (because you will be a neck breather) would make any person try for life.


There it was, he chose life over voice. There was no other cancer, so he had the first surgery the second week of November 2004.  He enjoyed a great meal on Thanksgiving with family, how was we to know he would never eat by mouth again.  The second major surgery to remove the cancer took place on November 30th.  He had a feeding tube directly into his stomach, as it would be a month or longer before he could learn to eat with the prosthesis that was going to put in his neck to replace the voice box.  The doctors felt like he did fine all during the 6 hour surgery, and he was to stay in recovery for a least a day.  On Dec 2 he had a stroke. The stroke paralized him on the left side, and basically changed the total outcome of the surgery. He did not end up on the winning side. 


Yes, our life changed after that, he was in therapy until March 2005, he never was able to walk again, never ate food by mouth again.  And our communication was now always on a dry erase board or pad of paper.  He would ring a bell to call me. I thank God he gave my husband expressing blue eyes as he continued to talk to me with them until he became completely silent in July 2007. 


When we were going through the years from 2005 to 2007 I wished so many times that I had his voice on some recording.  I missed hearing my name said, the good night, even some of the arguements.  I am afraid it is all too true that time takes away our ability to remember some things, a voice is one of them.   

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