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Sunday, October 18, 2009

On A More Personal Note

I’ve been a little apprehensive about putting this one out.This blog entry is aimed at the regular readers of my blog who don’t personally know me.

As you regular readers,(the ones who leave nice comments)probably noticed that I’m some old guy who RV’s alone, and on past blogs mentioned travel with wife Marlene,but not any current travels.

july 04 pics 016 taken 5 years ago.

Well,she is still around,living in a nursing home over in Chilliwack,a 35 minute drive from here.

Her problems all started in the fall of 2002 when after years and years of migraine headaches,and then seizures, which by the way happened on our first snowbird trip back in 98.The doctor finally found a brain tumor that wasn’t operable.The medical system worked fast and they got her in to VGH in Vancouver, and a well respected doctor performed a biopsy to find what kind of a tumor it was.This procedure was supposed to be an easy in and out in one day thing…But it didn’t go as planned and during the procedure the doctor called me in to be with her to help calm her down, as she was fighting their efforts(I think they didn’t get it right putting her out).

Then they kept her overnight for observation and I return the next day to pick her up and I found myself taking home a different person.Her personality was different and she was confused about things and now walked very slow, lightly dragging her left toe.

All of this I figured was just a temporary condition that would work itself out in a few days or weeks and went on being more focused with getting her radiation treatments set up.

We spent that winter camped in our travel trailer near Surrey Memorial while she had her treatments.The radiation treatments caused further decline in her mental condition and she found herself forgetting how to do things,so it was then that I started my 5 years of looking after her and giving myself a crash course on how to cook and do housework and generally wash her and help her get dressed.

During the 5 years of this I was at least able to take her with me on trips south.She was a handful,but at least I was able to get away RVing for my own sanity and not be couped up at home.

They say it takes about 2 years of this before you burn out.The public health nurses came to check regularly and I think they were mostly there checking on my condition, to see if I was burning out under the load.They would never come out and say she should be committed ,but when I said I don’t think I can do this any longer,they sprang into action and she was placed within a week. They knew she had other medical problems that were causing me extra grief.

So in April of 2007,2 days after our 50th anniversary,she was placed where she is today.I had a guilty feeling that lasted a long time,along with many a shed tear,but was bolstered by all who knew us,telling me it was the right thing to do.Many said that I needed to get on with my life as she was being looked after.

They do a pretty good job of looking after her,but not like I did,because in the first 6 months there,she fell and broke her right wrist and a few months later fell again and broke her hip.Now she’s in a wheelchair,only has the use of the left hand and cant speak.The speech part is due to the location of the tumor which by the way is in remission but the damage is done.This was a steadily declining thing which made it difficult for me to communicate with her over those 5 years.

She still recognizes all of us and our whole family does live in Chilliwack,but she has no personality and I have no idea what she’s thinking.There is still a bit of a sense of humor there,when I tell a funny.

So now you know a little more of the personal life of that old guy,Wandering Willy,who likes to travel.


  1. Willy, thank you so much for sharing Marlene's story with us. My heart goes out to you and your family. What a loving husband you are, you cared for her a lot longer than most would have been able to do. I have been following your blog for some time and did wonder about Marlene.. now I understand.

    I am enjoying your blog very much and tried to post a couple of times but wasn't able to submit it.. (same problem some others were having but I will try again).

    I'm looking forward to reading about your travels south soon.

  2. You did the right thing in posting about Marlene WW because I'm sure it will be of comfort to others in similar situations. I have always felt these blogs are much more than simple little Point A to Point B travel blurbs. I always look for the human side of a blog & reading yours to-day draws me closer to knowing you as a person. Your situation is one that I'm sure all the rest of us have thought & worried about. It is always so sad when something like that happens. Thanks for sharing your story with your fellow bloggers to-day........

  3. You're a wonderful man. I hope that you find joy in your travels.

  4. You have my full respect and I am sorry it had to happen that way. I cannot imagine the shock you had when it first happened. It must have been very hard to write about it. I wish both of you well. Hope you have a good winter.

  5. Willy, thanks for sharing your story with us, I really appreciate your honesty. I hope my wife and I never have to experience what you and Marlene have had to, but if we ever do, I would hope we could do it with the courage and devotion that you have shown to your wonderful wife, Marlene. Best wishes to you both and enjoy your travels.

  6. Willy this was a vwery personal thing to share with all of us and it took great courage... I am so sorry to hear about your wife and what you did taking care of her so long was wonderful... You are indeed a very special man and we all know how great you are. Thanks for this post!

    Travel Safe

  7. That is a beautiful picture of grandma
    reading all these comments brough tears to my eyes its wonderful to see the compassion complete strangers have for other. Papa you did a wonderful job taking care of grandma.
    Love you papa and grandma