It was before his feeding tube was put in and all he was able to get down was soup broth and Ensure. A few weeks later he had the feeding tube put in and although that is a trial in itself, it was a relief to have it in so that getting nutrients wasn't such a burden.
I remember the day the oncologist talked about the high probability that Tim would have to have a feeding tube before he finished the radiation and I remember her saying that by the time you get the tube put in it is actually a relief. That was hard to understand in the pre-feeding tube days but it was completely understandable when that point came for Tim.
Tim has been a champion through the whole thing. He's adapted his life around the cumbersome tube. The packing and carrying all his "supplies" that he needed was an art form he perfected over time. The IV pole became his guest of honor in many places from General Conference to basketball games, from church meetings to riding in the car. He's been doing it for nearly 7 months now. He's become a pro, if there is such a thing.
Over the past weeks Tim has been trying to eat more regular foods. It's tough to find things that swallow well. He's been successful for the most part although, as odd as it sounds, his throat tires easily when he eats and then the muscles don't work as well to swallow his food. But, he keeps trying. It's that fighter in him and I know he's going to "win this round"!
A few weeks ago Tim was able to get to the point where he was able to eat enough food to stop his tube feedings during the day and only do the overnight feeding which is a continuous feeding by pump. Little by little, all night long, it pumps his liquid food into him. So during the day life is much more "normal" but at nighttime he would hook up to the pump.
That was life until 3 days ago. On September 1st Tim decided that he would try to go all night long without the pump. It was quite a milestone to go from an all night long pump to nothing! I think it surprised us both the first night that he slept all night long, only waking at 5 am to drink an Ensure as his hunger began to set in.
For the first time in nearly 7 months Tim was free to sleep on his side without the worry of getting the long section of tubing tangled or feeling the uncomfortable tugging that happens where the tube enters into his stomach if there is any tension on the tube. He didn't have to unplug the pump if he need to get up in during the night and there was no warning beep from the pump announcing the tube is kinked. It was a happy day! One more milestone on the cancer road.
In the wee hours of this morning as I had difficulty sleeping, I saw the silhouette of Tim's IV pole and pump by the open window in our darkened room. I wondered how much longer before we can make the phone call to inform Lincare that we no longer need the pump and the IV pole that has literally been Tim's lifeline for all these months. What a thrilling day that will be. It will be a declaration of Tim's stamina and strength to endure.
2 Nephi 31:20
"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."