One thing I am very grateful for is that we bought the house that we did. I think we only looked at 5 houses when we moved here and as soon as we walked in the foyer, I said to Brad, "I think this is it!" The owners had put an addition on the house on the main floor (a wheelchair accessible bedroom and bath). The couple who lived here, had at one point, his parents in the bedroom and his in-laws in the family room. Feeling terrible at the time, making Rachel change high schools in the middle of her freshman year, it was a no-brainer that the large main floor bedroom would be hers.
Brad and I both love our home. We would always say that one day when we can't do the stairs any longer, we would move down into Rachel's bedroom. Unfortunately, that time came much sooner than either of us had anticipated. Now, it is our bedroom. Brad's hospital bed overlooks the nature of the backyard and "his" maple tree. I gave in several years ago to where he wanted to plant the tree and it is in the most perfect spot right outside the bedroom window. Each morning when I open the blinds I give him the update on his tree that he can lay and look at all day long. It turned red much later than our other maple trees, but when it did, it was the most beautiful bright red. Brad says, "I told you that was the right spot" and I completely agree. After a very windy day last week, all the leaves had fallen from the tree. It happened overnight. For several days we could look at the bright red contrast of the leaves against the very green grass, but with the rain and winds of this week, the leaves have all blown away. I hope for the day when I can open the blinds for Brad to see white snow on the red branches of his tree.
Brad has been really struggling with his appetite. This has been a constant battle ever since his intestinal surgery May 31st, but the last 10 days have been a real struggle. He is trying so hard to eat his "weight gainer" smoothies, but I can see every bite takes all of his determination. Yet, he still had the energy to go to the grocery store with me and Kathy last week. He sat in his wheelchair and pushed the cart for us. He also has been to church the last two Sundays. He was also insistent on handing out Halloween candy. When I pulled in the driveway on Halloween, I was so happy to see him sitting in the driveway ready for the trick-or-treaters. As it got cooler, he came inside and sat at the front door for nearly 2 hours to give candy to the twelve trick-or-treaters. Before Brad got sick 2 years ago, he would always get the fire pit going in the driveway and sit and pass out candy while the kids and/or parents would warm up for a few minutes. Most shocking was that Brad went to work on Friday for several hours. He has not driven since June, but Dean had the day off school and therefore drove him to work. Brad wanted to see how things were going at the plant, see his co-workers, and have Dean get a tour of the plant. Dean thought they would never come back home, but Brad said the day flew by for him. He couldn't believe it when Dean said they had already been there for 3 hours. Dean said that the minute they got to the car in the parking lot, Brad vomited. Even though he was nauseous, he had made it the whole day at the plant without vomiting. Brad and Dean recapped their day on the drive home and the minute Brad got in the house, he was in bed, happy, and falling asleep.
I think I have mentioned in a previous post about Brad's boss' at Chrysler. They truly are amazing men (two in Detroit and one in Belvidere). Believe me, there is not a day that goes by that we both aren't so thankful for these men. When Brad went through his cancer the first time, his boss literally did not have a heart. I don't know how anyone could treat a person the way that he treated Brad. Brad would miss work every other Thursday because he would go for 5 hours of chemo. He would come home with a purse that gave a steady stream of more chemo for the next 23 hours. He would come home Thursday and fall into bed and usually sleep the entire night away, yet he would get up Friday morning in tears and take the train downtown Chicago battling his nausea and fatigue. A side effect of the chemo was cold sensitivity, so when Brad got off the train he would walk as fast as he could the couple of blocks to his office building since it was winter. He would have to hold the railings because he could not feel his feet on the steps as his neuropathy got worse. Brad would go to his boss' office in the morning who would act like Brad had been out partying Thursday and never even mentioned his chemo or asked him how he was feeling. I have no idea how he made it through a full day of work. He would walk in the door nauseous, headache, pain and extreme fatigue and I would help him to bed. He would sleep until disconnect Sat. around noon and then the worst days of his treatments were the weekend so he would be home sick and in bed all day Sat. and Sunday. Then, Monday morning somehow, he would will himself out of bed and head back downtown Chicago. As the number of treatments increased, the side effects became worse. Eventually, near the end of his 12 treatments, he was unable to work on Monday's post-chemo because he was just too sick. There were many days I had no idea how he was going to make it to work and I don't think he did either, but he said he wouldn't give his boss the satisfaction of him not arriving to work. This is why we are both so grateful for the good-hearted boss's that he has now. When Brad told me that his boss was going to hold his job for him to give him the motivation to keep fighting, we both sat and cried. There is nothing that Brad wants more than to go back to work. He is trying to plan to try to go back over Christmas break so that we can drive him to/from work. Many things break my heart about this disease, but one big one is every time I think about his career. Brad loves his work and has worked so hard for all of his company's. He is so smart and so talented at what he does and it makes me so sad that his skills aren't being utilized and that he isn't able to help others with his ideas. I have so enjoyed watching him grow in his career and could not be more proud of all that he has accomplished.
All of us at home are willing to support Brad with his goal of trying to go back to work however we can, but the reality is that he has to gain back a lot of strength through exercise, eating and staying hydrated, so we just keep focusing on the baby steps of getting there.