The Depths of Despair
This story is based on a true situation and is not my normal style as it is the bottom of life with its effects overwhelming
and loss unpreventable.
The story starts in the autumn of 2006, my life partner, my wife developed intense pain in her lower back.
We had gone through this before in distant past, recently in the summer and had treated it as a kidney problem.
The symptoms always went away. So after the summer bout, all was well in July. We had a terrifically fun trip to Las
Vegas. We stayed in the highest tower in town and had a lot of fun. Click for Pictures.
Then, in September, the symptoms came again stronger than before. We tried the same actions to handle the pain but
they didn’t work.
My wife and I didn’t have a lot of faith in traditional medicine more that absolutely necessary. So initially, she visited a
chiropractor. When his recommendations didn’t agree with our viewpoint, she went to another and another yet. Still no
She went to our church for spiritual help and they sent her to a regular medical doctor who sent her for x-rays. The x-
rays showed a mass in the back. This was predicted by two of the chiropractors though neither had been correct in its
exact contents or structure.
From there she went to get further medical tests. By December, the medical doctors proudly had given the problem a
big serious name. They were happy for this information. More tests were done to determine the exact variety of cancer.
In January, 2007, we took her to emergency due to the unrelenting pain.
Further tests were done that night and it was determined the cancer, lymphoma (the bad type, further naming), had
pressed against the spine cracking two vertebrae and threatened her ability to ever walk again. They started immediate
treatment with steroids and radiation treatments to the lower back area.
All the while, I, my family, and my wife assumed the illness would be short lived and all would be well in short order. A
weeks vacation was planned in June in our time share in Las Vegas.
The steroids and radiation treatments brought some immediate relief of the pain.
But it produced many side effects. My wife aged visibly overnight. Where her skin had been smooth and wrinkle free,
suddenly she looked many years older. Deep wrinkles appeared where there had been none. She was dying before my
The radiation, which apparently slowed the tumor around the spine and kidney areas, damaged the body.
Intense diarrhea and nausea came about. The doctors used more drugs to treat the symptoms of the body’s cries. After
time, the body’s cries lessened and the drugs quieted the rest.
Immediately after the radiation stopped, the doctors gave her the first chemotherapy to “kill the cancer”. This is a
“therapy” which uses a combination of toxic drugs which was hoped would fully kill the cancer without killing the patient
Almost immediately, my wife developed a bad cough which got worse. She started having fevers which wouldn’t go
away entirely. So we took her back to the hospital where she was admitted. Seventeen days in the hospital with many
tests, they figured out she had developed congestive heart failure and pneumonia.
Her heart had been fully healthy before the chemotherapy was administered. Now it was damaged. But the situation
was “under control.”
They sent her home to finish the antibiotics before resuming the chemotherapy. They were going to change the
chemical mix to avoid heart damaging chemicals, drugs.
Before the antibiotics could be finished, she worsened. She had tremendous difficulty walking and was falling. She
couldn’t get up without a lot of strong help. She wasn’t able to urinate without pain. This got worse and worse. The pain
Back to the emergency room and she was readmitted again.
They continued to run tests and more tests. It was very difficult for her. The damage to her spine made it very painful to
lay flat on her back. MRI’s were terrifying to her. They were noisy and took a long time in a close space. MRI and CT
scans were both done flat on her back. When the tests were administered, morphine was administered, lots of it, and it
was still painful. They determined the kidneys were not functioning and took steps to handle this.
This period was painful to all of us. The family was in fear from the threat of loss. My wife was dying and no one was
Tubes were inserted into the kidneys to bypass the blockage caused by the pressure of the tumor. They needed to get
the kidneys working well enough to stand the stress of further chemotherapy. It was a catch 22 situation. The cancer
was causing kidney failure. Kidney failure was preventing treatment of the cancer.
They resumed the steroids which along with failed kidneys produced tremendous swelling. My wife went from about
180 pounds to an estimated 240-250 pounds.
Movement was almost impossible even with assistance.
One day, she tried to get out of bed and couldn’t do so. The hospital staff were frantically trying to get her back onto
the bed fully so she could recline. I happened to arrive at that moment and with the help of three other hospital staff, we
were successful in moving her body back into the bed.
Later that day, a doctor came in and told us that she was going home and they would resume chemotherapy next week
on an outpatient basis. This shocked both of us as there was no way I could handle my wife at home. They assured us
that help would be sent out on a daily basis.
My family was all upset at the prospect that my wife would be sent home as she was in such bad shape. Many phone
calls were made and the discharge was delayed.
The next day, another doctor, told us the same thing. My wife wanted to leave so I set about preparing the home for
wheelchair access and had a hospital bed delivered.
However, I was at the hospital the next day, and observed that my wife was dying, getting worse by the day, by the
hour. I had blindly been hoping….
I met with the doctor and told her my observations. She went and examined her again herself. She called in another
doctor on her team and he concurred with my observations. My wife was moved to critical care where she was given
However, she continued to worsen despite all efforts to slow the problem.
Two days later, the woman they were trying to send home, my wife, was moved to intensive care.
Observation and treatment, antibiotics and pain medications, were increased.
Still she worsened. She was put on dialysis as the kidneys were barely working. Still she worsened. She was given
Discussion about a breathing tube being used to support her as her heart was not working well and was not getting
enough oxygen into the body. She was laboring to stay alive.
Unfortunately, to aspirate her, they would have to sedate her into unconsciousness.
By this time, I pretty well knew that if she went unconscious that it would all be over. I did know that without her
conscious willpower she would die.
During the second night in intensive care, the tube was inserted at about two in the morning. Around 5:30, my wife left
She woke me at about this time and I got up and hurried to the hospital. I was not yet fully aware that she had left the
When I arrived about 6:50 in the morning, I went in to see her. I couldn’t get any response from the body. Always in the
past, regardless of how drugged she was, she would give me some recognition that she knew I was there. We had
been together for 33 years and had a tremendously strong communication line between us.
I knew at this point she had left her body.
I went to the waiting area to get into communication with her. I knew that she needed to decide to fix her body very fast
or drop it and get another.
I helped her look at her choices and the decision was made. At that point, I told her she would have to stop the heart as
they had the body pumping with machines. Within seconds, the doctor, on call, located me in the waiting area and
wanted to talk to me.
He stated that her heartbeat had become erratic and he needed to know what to do if it stopped. “Should he try to
restart it or let her life end?” He didn’t know it was already over.
I started to tell him but realized that I couldn’t do this without consulting our five children. I called them.
These were dark hours. I was being very emotional and thinking insanely. I knew that the family would feel I was
responsible for her death. That I had caused it and that I was to blame. These dark thoughts echoed through my mind
sending me to tears.
I knew that none of my family would ever talk to me again or love me. I had it down to everyone but my eight month old
grandson. I figured he wouldn’t know what had happened and he loved everyone anyway.
The loss of my wife; we were together 33 years, married for 32 years. My life was basically over. Without her, I didn’t
know what to do.
Family arrived over the next few hours: my children, sister-in-law, nephews and still more. By 2:00, a decision was
reached to not try to restart the heart if it failed.
I knew it was over. I wanted to stop the machines and just let it end. My family didn’t want to confront this and there was
a doctor there who was opposed to this. He said that it was too soon to give up.
As a mind reader, I could see another couple days in intensive care, with all the life support, special nurse for the
dialysis machine, was big money for the hospital.
His interest was not in the outside chance she would survive but on the cash income from the continued life support
would bring into the hospital.
The day dragged on and the death watch was on. I left early as the body was simply not alive beyond the support of
the machines. The family stayed until the middle of the night.
The next day, I went back to the hospital even though I had vowed never to return to that place again. My family was
there and I went to support them.
The doctors told us that they had reduced the medication to see if she would respond and there was no response. The
brain was swelling and pressing against the eyes causing bulging. The doctors wanted to do tests to find out why.
We decided not to allow further tests.
Even if they found something, what would they do? She was too ill to operate and too close to death even by their
inaccurate standards to treat with drugs or radiation.
It was clear that further testing would be of no help, only more cost to add to the bill.
I expressed to my children that I was in favor of disconnecting all the machines that my wife was not there, only a dead
body. I left early.
Later that day, they agreed to disconnect the machines, to stop the various medications. Later that night, the body
stopped and she was pronounced dead.
I was feeling tremendous loss. I had no one to talk too. No one to turn too. No one…
My mother called. She said she was coming out for the memorial service. I was happy but I had no one to tell. I cried
and cried. I still do, reliving that moment.
Always in the past, I would tell my wife. She would handle things. That was her job. Now, there was no one to tell.
I would look into the closet and cry. All her things were there. The pictures would make me cry. Decades of memories
were all that was left of a life fully lived with a wonderful woman.
As I write this, tears fill my eyes.
Even though I have acted very fast to get my life moving forward, too fast in many instances for the comfort of others, I
still feel the loss, the void.
My new wife, not yet recognized by the culture around me as such, brings me much relief and has helped put
happiness back into the depth of despair.
I will never be the same but I intend to be even better and fill the depths with a new future and happy life.
So the depth of despair has a happy ending as today is a new day and tomorrow will be as I create it. With the help of
my new partner, my new wife, happiness and hope abounds.
The end and a New Beginning!
March 4, 2012 update.
Proof reading this still threatens to bring tears, but I am in control.
I am very happy with Mary Watts. We've been married since September 7, 2007. Picture here.
Life is grand and I look for an even better future for myself, my wife, friends and all of mankind!
Let me know if I can assist you!
Related Article: New Civilization.
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Page created 11/8/08
This story was written 6/16/07. It's a true story from my perspective.
Even with my certainty on life and livingness, I don't wish this on anyone. But as homo sapiens, this story will repeat itself.
The bright side is life goes on and I know my wife of 32 years is doing fine. I'm doing great and the future is very bright for all of us.
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