Monday, January 19, 2009

How Shin Is Now.

Hi, it's Michelle here. Shin has asked me to update you on how she is feeling. Bare with me as I stumble through my thoughts.

Shin's condition has worsened over the past few days. Her breathing is getting more difficult and she has been very sleepy. She is rarely in pain.

Her days are spent preparing herself to be awake and lucid enough to see Josie and Toby for a few minutes before and after each school day.

She mentioned anxiety and panic attacks in her last blog. These continue. In fact, her breathlessness now has turned in to a feeling of suffocation. This in turn creates anxiety, adding further to the suffocation. She feels claustrophobic when this circle begins.

We are treating these symptoms with medication but as with everything there is a pay off. To reduce the feeling of suffocation and pain she needs medication. The same medication that makes her feel drowsy and sometimes delirious. We are working hard to find a balance so that she may be lucid enough to spend some moments with the kids without this feeling of suffocation and claustrophobia.

Yesterday we met with Shin's palliative care doctor and nurse. They were very frank with us about Shin's condition and what we should expect going forward. The drowsiness is not just being caused by the medication. It is a combination of a the underlying disease itself, a lack of oxygen and the medication. We can expect that Shin's condition will continue to worsen and probably more quickly now than it has so far. But they are confident that we can manage the pain and breathlessness so that Shin is comfortable for the time she has left.

Tony has always been a very strong and loving husband and Dad. But this strength and love has just increased exponentially. I am constantly amazed at his strength and calm in dealing with all that he faces. Toby and Josie are handling the news with as much strength as their parents. Chips off the old block, both of them.

Shin is not up for visitors at this stage. She is saving her energy for her kids while she still can. She is sure you will understand.

Her spirits are high as she faces this tough transition. She is not scared. When I asked Shin how she was feeling yesterday morning while she was in and out of sleep, she said "euphoric". That shouldn't surprise any of us.


Anonymous said...

Words are very hard, Michelle, but thank you from the bottom of my heart for being there for this wonderful family at this difficult time. Mel Boot xxxxxxxxxxxxx.

karen said...

Hi Michelle,
we have not met before. I am Angela's sister, Karen, from Scotland. I have always dipped in and out of Shins blog in the last year or so and obviously i find out how Shin is doing through speaking with Angela.
Hello and all i can say is i wish i was there to do anything, run to shops, make a pot of soup, anything. I have only met Shin on a number of times but in that time felt the warmth, love, creativity and strength from her. I felt compelled to write now and say what?... i dont know... its horrible..its are in my familys thoughts every day...or simply try and send strength to all of you Shin, Tony, Josie, Toby and Michelle. love Karen, Stephen and Oscar Johnxxx

ALI KATI said...

Thank you, Michelle, for the update. It must have been difficult to write. If there's any appropriate opportunity, please do convey to Shin we're all thinking of her.

Elaine said...

Thank you Michelle for your update on Shin. I will visit this blog daily. Shin is a wonderwoman.

Francis Chew said...

If I have an army, I would appoint Shin as my general cos she is a true fighter.

Vivian said...


At this time, I can only say that both you and your family have the strength that I will ever possess in this entire life... because as a complete stranger I am crying buckets just knowing that your condition is deteriorating fast.

You are constantly in my thoughts for the past one week since the day you chose to stop treatment. I sincerely wish that your days will be as painless as it can possibly get so that you can enjoy every minute of being a mummy to Josie and Toby.

Lastly, I must let you know that you have my respect for being such a strong person despite what you are going through. I will always remember you.

Larry & Roxana Sopala, said...

Please send our love to Shin and her family, from two old friends from Columbia and Paris.

Scott Musgrove said...

Michelle, if the opportunity arises, please tell Shin that I am thinking of her often... far more often than I write to her. She's has been a great friend to me over the years although it's been well over 10 years since I actually saw her last. Her writing here has been such a great expression of the person I've always known her to be.
And thank you for being there with her.
-Scott Musgrove

Anonymous said...

Dear Shin, thank you for your honesty and openness in sharing your experience and emotions in this blog. I am a healthcare worker who journeys very closely with patients and their families at the end of life.

As I read your entries, I find myself embarking on a road of rediscovery - with new perspectives of living with cancer, that helps me to be more aware of the journey of my patients before I meet them at the last chapter of their lives. I am both amazed and inspired by your journey of hope, discovery & perseverance.

In response to your earlier entry on 14th Jan on "how to talk to the kids", I'll like to comment that your openness and efforts in communicating with them about your condition, and the more controversial issues on dying & the afterlife, has already been a remarkable way of preparing them for the possibility of losing their mother. This blog that you have penned down, would also serve as a heart-warming reminiscene for Josie and Toby in time to come - a journey that demands much faith, strength, perseverance and most importantly, from the heart - love.

Dear Michelle,
Thank you for allowing this journey of love to go on. It is a courageous role that you have taken on, as a caregiver to Shin & support to her family. Do remember to get ample rest, and that the home hospice team is only a phone call away.

Warmest wishes,

Alison Lester said...

Thank you, wonderful Michelle. I'm sure we all completely understand that Shin is saving all her resources for Josie and Toby, and I'm sure we all nonetheless want to be with her as well. So I'm sending part of myself into your body, into your eyes, and into your hands. I am so deeply moved by your presence there with Shin, and I hope that you know that I console myself by thinking that you are my representative, the representative not only of the love that you have for Shin, but also for the love that we all have for her. Can you tell her that? Can you tell her that we're in you, so that we can be with her?