New normal

21 December, 2017
Rat Fink

Hello everyone, and Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Blessed Kwanzaa to all. And for those who don’t celebrate any holiday, I hope it’s a beautiful Thursday wherever you are.

I will tell you today about our new normal, which started basically over the last five days. The Thriller is on some heavy duty medications, which, combined with the disease progressing through his brain, have affected some major changes in his cognitive functions. He doesn’t speak in complete sentences anymore, and what he does say often does not make sense. He struggles to finish a thought.

He spends most of his days alternating between snoozing and sitting up in his bed or office chair, attempting to make sense of the thoughts that are obviously crowding inside his head, but for which there seems to be no descriptive words. He’s lost interest in his video games, the newspaper, and in most TV. Leaving the house stresses him out to no end. He fights against the rest the morphine wants to give him, which leads him down the dark path of sleep deprivation. He fixates on imagined problems that never existed, or real issues that have been solved already.

We can no longer leave him alone in the house for any length of time at all, as he took a pretty serious fall trying to maneuver around the bathroom the other day. Gave himself a super-sized egg on his temple, a gash on his forehead, and tore up the skin on his arms. The bathroom floor looked like a crime scene (you know how head wounds bleed). After that, no more sleeping upstairs with a call button; I’m back on the couch in the living room.

I desperately want him to be able to tell me what he’s thinking. I can see the frustration on his face and in his body language when he knows what he wants to say, but can’t articulate it. What comes out is jumbled fragments that I can’t fully understand. We’re both pretty much exhausted from the constant interrupted sleep, although he did nap for five straight hours last night — huzzah!

In spite of all this sad news…once in a while, Mavis and I will see the old Thriller coming through. A sly smile when he’s giving one of us a hard time, or eye contact and a grin when he “gets” an old private joke between the two of us. I believe the light is definitely still on to a degree. The other day, when I wanted to give him a diversion, I grabbed the TV widget and wondered out loud what channel his favorite news program was on, and I heard a whisper from behind me: “202.” ;-) The old man still has some of it.

At all other times, he’s in a place I can’t go, speaking a language I can’t learn. I guess I’m OK with that, as every time I tell him I love him, he responds in kind. He’s always up for a long hug, and rarely is anything but agreeable (except when it comes to lying down for a nap). We continue to look for the joy in each day, even though it’s a new kind of joy. A quieter one.

Much love,



  1. My thoughts and prayers are with you both.


  2. One day at a time is all you can do now. Wake up every day with a smile and progress on.
    My heart goes out to you both. I know exactly what you are going thru. I won’t say it gets easier but be with him at all times. Always tell him you love him even if you think he doesn’t hear you.
    If you need anything, I am here for you. I would even drive there if you want me to
    Hang in there. Love you both

    • “One day at a time” was always a tired cliché to me. Now? Not at all. It’s truly a daily renewal, Deb — everything starts new the next day — or at least we need to treat it that way.

      Love you and the other Crazy Aunts. You’re the best. Thank you for the advice; I know you’ve been there. We will get together soon!

  3. I love you both. I wish love could make this go away because, if it could, this disease would have long ago taken flight.

    I love you both so much.

    • We love you too, Jar. And I’m with you on wishing we could love this thing away. It’s the cruelest, most unfair horror that anyone can endure. Thanks for loving us.

  4. I love your attitude and composure as you travel this difficult terrain. I can identify somewhat, but to a far lesser degree. Bonnie and I love both of you and our prayers for you continue. Bundles of hugs headed to you. #teamthtiller

  5. My heart is breaking for you both…and yet it is bursting to witness the love you have for each other. Thank you for sharing these days with us. I hope that writing helps you to shed some of the weight from your shoulders. You are both thought of and held in hour hearts daily.

    Here’s to a Christmas season full of light and peace…and just enough mischief to keep it interesting. Biggest of hugs, Darice <3

    • Darice, you’re right on the money with your hope that writing helps ease the burden. That’s why I write about this most personal, painful subject. It’s therapeutic for me, and if someone does a search on caregiving for lung cancer and ends up here, I hope he or she finds some solace, humor and hope from the posts as well as the wonderful messages of support in the comments. So glad you are with me on this journey.

  6. Oh my sweet friends. I feel the love, the heartache, the frustration in your words. You two are very special and I am glad you are able to help each other through this. Keep hugging and smiling at each other.

    I love you both.

    • I love you too, Suzy. And HH as well! Thank you for always being there, all these many years. We will hug and keep hope alive.

  7. Hugs and prayers sent your way sweet lady. Enjoy each moment together. Just know that you are surrounded with love. God is good.

    • Thank you, Deb! We are greeting each day with hope, and living in the moment as much as we can. I know you know that feeling. Prayers that you’re on the upswing with your cancer as well; love is definitely a tremendous medicine, and I know you are loved very much.

  8. Awwww my friend, I just want to grab you both and run away from this nasty disease. If only it were that easy. I’m still in awe of your strength and moxie! I applaud both of you for finding hope and joy in each day while dealing with your “new normal”. Love, hugs and prayers for #teamthriller.

    • Thanks, longtime friend — it’s been a tough road, but I know Michael would want me to carry on as best I could, so that’s what I’m going to do. The new “new normal.” Looking forward to some better days ahead, when the time is right.

  9. Everything within me wants to take the weight and enormity of this all from you and run away with. I have found nearly all “why” questions can never be answered to where they satisfy. Why you, dear friends? Why now, good Lord? I know, I know “His ways are not our ways.” That doesn’t cut the butter for me right now!
    Thank you for sharing your heart, your love, your normal! Loved seeing the pics, am humbled to be allowed in!
    Prayers always for you both! You are constantly on my mind and in my heart!
    Love you Team Thriller!

    • And Team Thriller has always loved you! I have asked “why” several times over the last couple of weeks, but I’ll just have to be content with “because I said so.” Thanks for your wonderful words and deeds over the last six months — onward we go to a new year with new challenges. I’m looking forward to the healing process.

  10. I’m sorry that you are both having to go through this Linda. For someone who is a “fixer” and used to finding ways to take care of things, this has to be very difficult. Humbling for all of us to know that there are just some things that we have no control over – but that doesn’t mean we have to like it! Lifting your family up in prayer constantly for strength and that your faith will be your rock!

    • Thank you for the constant prayer and friendship on this journey, Lynette. I appreciate you and your family! Now that there’s a new “new normal,” I hope to still keep in contact with you over at the other building. I’ll start taking more exercise walks over there during my prep. :-)

  11. prayers for you Linda :-(

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