Ron and Hazel's 'Travels with Nuggie' travel blog

Several months ago, Hazel started to complain about a pain on her right side, her ribs were hurting. Several suggestions that she go to the doctor were brushed-off, and Hazel continued to lead a normal life, with our RV trips through Canada to the East Coast, then a flight to New York City to spend Christmas with our daughter Sarah.

But, it was not getting any better, and finally urging by our daughter Annie, and Hazel's sister, we got her in to see the doctor. Tests were ordered, x-rays, ultra-sounds, and CAT Scans gave us the bad news, Hazel was suffering from cancer, and it was spreading.

More tests, radiation treatments daily for a month (15 minutes Monday through Friday, at $971 a pop, thank goodness for Medicare and Humana.

Last month, we went to the Mayo Clinic for a day of testing and consultation. Hazel hadn't been able to ride in a car very long without discomfort, but the motorhome bedroom worked well, and she slept much of the trip. With Rochester motels and hotel rates, the $50 for two nights at the local KOA campground seemed like a bargain, and only a few minutes drive to the clinic.

If you ever go to Mayo, you will spend much of the day waiting for doctors to see you.

Bring along some reading material, and a way to recharge your cellphone, mine ran out of juice just after lunch and we didn't leave until nearly 6 PM. My next purchase from Amazon was a portable charging device.

Wheelchairs were everywhere at Mayo, and I noticed that most of the occupants were older women, with older husbands providing the forward motion. They all seemed to look tired.

Late in the afternoon, Hazel and I met with three doctors who had reviewed the results of the day, saying it was a bit of an unusual case of thyroid cancer, normally slow moving, which this one was not, agreeing the best next step would be the removal of the thyroid gland, or what was left of it. 30 years ago, Hazel had half of it removed, and what was left was pronounced "benign". Radioactive Iodine treatment was suggested, following the surgery.

More doctor appointments back in Minneapolis, followed by the recommended thyroid surgery, a couple of days in the hospital, and Hazel was discharged back to the lake cabin.

Hazel's condition was deteriorating, she could no longer get out of bed by herself or walk to the bathroom without help. I bought a wheelchair, and found a good home version hospital bed on Craig's List. It is about that time when a couple of our children decided to jump in and called for an ambulance. See my entry dated August 4th.

Hazel would have none it, but a few days later, my son Joe and I put her in the car and headed in to see her Oncologist. A scan revealed a new growth on her sacrum, something that wasn't showing on those $9,000 snapshots taken a month or two earlier.

Hazel was immediately checked into the hospital, and a new round of radiation treatments was scheduled. After two days, the decision was made to discontinue those, the cancer was just too fast moving, and it would be best to bring her home and into the hospice program.

By now, there was no way we could use a car for the trip back to the cabin, 45 miles away, Hazel could no longer sit-up or walk, things were moving that fast. An ambulance had to be used, and hospice staff brought in another hospital bed, feeling the mattress on ours wasn't adequate for her condition, several hundred dollars of medication obtained, all with the goal of making her a comfortable and pain-free as possible. That was on Hazel's 76th birthday.

The next day, Saturday, family members came to the cabin to help celebrate her birthday, the grandkids made home-made cards and drawings, we barbequed and everyone tried their best to let Hazel know how important she was to all of us.

Trained hospice employees are making daily contact, both in-person and by phone, and will respond 24 hours a day if I need them. In the meantime, the pain medications are of great help, and with the help of our daughter Sarah, here for another week from New York City, and the nurses who come, I am able to help keep Hazel comfortable. 150 feet of RG-6 coaxial cable brought the satellite television signal from our motorhome to the cabin's big screen a few feet from her bed, Sarah has been sleeping a few feet away, and I am just a quick cellphone call and 50 feet away in the motorhome if she needs help, as she did around 1 AM this morning.

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