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It’s been awhile…


It’s been soo long…yet I still forget she’s gone.

I still hear her voice in my head…I still see her goofy playful laugh in my mind.

Just thought I’d do an update.

I’m Nicci…Cins baby sister. Yep…I’m 32 and still the baby sister.

When Cin died…our family started to fall apart. I don’t think any of us knew what to do. So, we take it day by day.

About 6 months after we lost Cin, her daughter Jesse got into a very serious car accident. Her right side of her body was badly injured. She had a huge laceration on her head, her arm had the bone sticking out so it’s now held together with plates and screws, her pelvis broken in 2 spots and her hoot mangled and also now held together with plates and screws. To say that girl had an angel watching over her is the only way to describe it.

Cins precious baby Granddaughter is 1 now. Walking and talking and sassy as ever…lol. She’s a really sweet little girl. And definitely smart!

Other than that…the only other huge family changes are that Heath and I got married May 3rd! I really wish my beautiful sister could have been there. It broke my heart the thought of getting married without her there…so I bought a silver charm bracelet and put a pink ribbon charm to represent her and a couple others to represent our Dad. I needed to feel at least some part of her was with me. I remember crying the night before because I felt I waited too long. I wanted her there…and it really hurt she couldn’t be.

Our brother Jason also got married in August of this year!

It’s been a hectic year for the Phillips family.

All the day to day craziness and I still find time to think of her every single day.

I love you Cin…and miss you like crazy.

Nic

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Cindy’s final days…


I’m Nicci…Cindy’s (or as I call her Cin’s) little sister.

I know that over the last few months, Cindy’s posts have been getting fewer and far between. As Cin deteriorated more and more, everyone was focused on just keeping her alive. Its still such a fresh wound in my heart that this is incredibly hard for me to talk (or write) about…but I know that Cin wanted her story shared.

What a lot of people don’t know about, are her final days. I happened to be one of the lucky few who spent considerable time with her during those days. So…here’s the ending to my sisters amazing journey.

I got a call one morning. This was about a week before she passed. It was about 6am or so from Ricks cell phone. Immediately I woke right up to answer. What I heard on the other line was unbelievable. Apparently Cin woke up that morning…climbed out of her hospital bed (located in her downstairs living room, and climbed all the way up the stairs to the master bedroom and crawled in bed with Rick! Up until this point, she had little to no energy…so all this was a major accomplishment on its own! Rick was crying as he was telling me over and over “She did it Nicci! She climbed upstairs on her own!” I couldn’t help but shed some tears myself. At some point during the call, Cin ended up taking the phone from Rick and literally demanded that I bring her all sorts of body sprays and girly-girl stuff that I wasn’t using. I kinda laughed and then proceeded to gather up some nice body sprays etc. that I thought she’d love, got dressed and headed over.

Now before I go any further, let me explain what the time I saw my sister before this occasion was like.

The last time I had seen my sister, was while she was in hospice. She was constantly turning blue from lack of oxygen and was literally not herself. During the visit to the hospice that time I had my fiancé Heath with me. I literally walked into her room and once I realized how far from herself she actually was, I burst into tears and walked out. It took me almost 10 minutes to calm down enough to be able to go back in her room. So when Rick called me that morning saying that she was acting like her old self again I was both grateful for the time I’d have with her, but also terrified that we were nearing the end. I’ve seen several loved ones who were sick and twords the end get all sorts of energy and act like their old selves. As I left to go to Cin and Ricks that morning, I told my fiancé my fear. He reassured me that regardless…this was quality time with Cin. And I planned to spend every minute I could with her.

So after our “girly girl” events…Cin decided she didn’t like the meds she was on and wanted to go back to the Dilaudid. In order to do this, she’d have to go back into hospice. This was supposed to be a routine trip but turned out to be anything but. A few weeks before this time, I went in for surgery on my ankle. Since my ankle was listed as “non weight bearing”, they had me in a cast and wheelchair. Lets just say that gave my sister the most excitement and fun I had seen in QUITE a while! Since she’d been in a wheelchair for most of my life, I used to walk behind her pushing her chair which REALLY annoyed the hell out of her. Once she saw that I was now wheelchair bound…LOL…I knew I was in for it!

As the nurses, our Mom and my fiancé Heath stood bye and watched…she proceeded to push ME all over the place just laughing and laughing that “You pushed me around for YEARS! Now its MY turn!” Lemme be the first to tell you…That girl could get some speed in her chair! We had to have looked like goofballs racing all around the hospice in our wheelchairs but Cin and I were just laughing and giggling like school-girls (With Heath and my Mom off to the side laughing)! When we were done, I went and asked one of the nurses if they had a Sharpie so Cin could sign my cast (bright pink of course!) Cin laughed and said “I’ve never signed a cast before…” So even now as I write this, I have Cins signature with “Think Pink!” written on my cast. On days I’m really down, it helps to be able to have a visual reminder of the fun we had the last few days…a reminder that even at the end…Cin was still there with me. I left that evening with my last words to her being “I love you Cin…” and her response being “I love you to Nic.” I was going to come back the next day to see her, but at 130am Heaths cell phone rang…and that was it. My sister was gone.

Those last few days we had a lot of time to talk. About life, about love, old boyfriends, our kids, about fears and regrets. We shared a lot of tears the last day I saw her.  She was heartbroken that she wouldn’t see her new grand daughter Aleeyah grow up. I promised her that I’d check up on her kids and make sure I told her grandbaby all about Cin. I promised her I wouldn’t let her grandbaby not know who she was. That conversation is where we left off the last time I saw her before she passed.

After I got to the hospice the night she passed, I went into her room just her and I to say my goodbyes. I wont go into too much detail because it was such a personal moment, but I told her I loved her like crazy and I hoped her pain and suffering was finally over. I also promised that I’d make sure that Aleeyah heard all about Grandma and all the crazy things she did…but mostly I promised that I’d make sure that baby always knew how much she was loved.

So…this would be the end of Cindys journey. I hope that in some way her journey has helped you with your own.

In loving memory of:


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Cindy Rose Phillips

July 1, 1971-October 4, 2013

No More Pain


Dear Readers,

On Friday, October 4, 2013, we marked the end of Cindy’s pain. She died early Friday morning while in her Hospice facility with our Mom by her side.

Elaine

#148 The Best Friend & My Husband


Being someone’s best friend means a whole lot of responsibility. I have other friends but my #1 top of the list best friend has been proving herself to me in ways that I never dreamed would come into play in our relationship.

When I found out that I did have breast cancer for sure and had started making all the appointments for all the other Dr’s.  I kept trying to call Diane in between all the phone calls…but she never did answer the phone for that whole week. We do live less than a 1/2 mile from each other, and if I didn’t tell her about my diagnosis soon I was going to have a huge melt down. I was trying so hard to keep it together so I didn’t make everyone else lose it while I gave them my awful news. I couldn’t wait anymore so I got into my wheel chair and pushed myself on over to her house a few streets away. She was on the phone when I went into her kitchen to find her and as soon as she hung up with whoever she was talking to she looked at me and said “you have cancer don’t you.”, I shook my head yes and we sat down to drink coffee and talk for a while. She told me that she had purposefully been ignoring my calls because she couldn’t take hearing if for sure.

 

All the time we’ve had to deal with me being sick there was a never-ending flow of friends, family and many gifts, some of paintings, some flowers were sent to me and some people sent me money when I really needed it the most. Let’s not forger the pounds and pounds of M&Ms that I couldn’t help eating…I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings ya know.

Anyway, we have had some people offer to help out around the house or just sit and read with me because my eyes don’t focus very well anymore. But for every ten people who offered to help us out only one or two actually came to help at all. I know people mean well when they offer help but that’s not something that anyone should take lightly. I really did need the help that was offered but we ended up going without or just doing the best we could to keep the house looking at least partially clean. Especially now when I have a 24 hr cough that never goes away. I couldn’t handle getting any more health problems. Here where I live we’ve been getting a lot of dust in the air (even inside through the filters).

 

When my sister Elaine decided to come to visit and stay with me, literally at my side, she did everything she could do to take care of me. She was amazing at remembering when all of my meds were due and she jumped awake every time I had a coughing fit in the middle of the night. Again I’ll never remember everything that she did but I could never thank her enough.

 

When Elaine went back home last month my bff Diane literally moved into my guest room so that she and Rick could take turns taking care of me when I needed someone to help me . Between the two of them I’m well looked after. I  had trouble all along with letting anyone help me take a bath but I’ve been told to only move when I absolutely have to. I broke down and with the help of a shower chair Diane has now seen all the scars from all the missing body parts and procedure scars. She’s been my friend for about 27 years now and I’ve never let her see all old my scars so I thought she might be a little shocked, she wasn’t and I now have baths more often that I could before. That’s not all she does. I won’t give you a list but she and Rich are taking turns with doing everything in the house, except when Jesse’s friend Danny stays over night to listen for my cough (Jesse works nights) and Rick and Diane are running on empty. I wish that I could do more than say thank you to them all the time but I think that I make it very clear how appreciative that Diane left her own family at her house and came here to care for me.

 

For those of you who understand bc lingo, it’s 6x9cm now and counting. My lungs are giving me a problem, but only when I want to breath so I’m working on holding my breath as long as I can at a time. I have to get back into bed now . I can’t believe that writing takes all my energy right out of me. My one and only thing left that I really love to do and it’s slowly fading away…just like everything else it seems. I’m trying to stay in a good mood and since I’ve needed him home all the time I decided that Rick should accept an invitation to go our for crab legs. He loves that kind of food but I never did so he’s probably missed out on a whole lot of having it for dinner. I promised him I would still be alive when he came home and scooted him out the door. He really deserves a night with a friend right now.

 

#147 Thank God my nurse works night shifts


Yesterday I wasn’t doing very well and I was in a terrible amount of pain. Normally I would be able to push the button on my IV pain meds and then I would feel a little bit better. When I push that  button it gives me a whole hours worth of pain meds all at once. I know that I have a nurse coming this morning to set up a new IV bag so I figured I would just wait for her to come and tell her that my pain button wasn’t working for the extra pain meds. I guess it was about 9pm last night when everything on my IV meds quit working at all. The only pain meds that I take are in that bag so I hadn’t been getting pain meds for hours before I knew what was happening and I had to call my nurse late last night to ask her to come to my house right away and fix it. She was yawning when I was telling her on the phone what was happening, but she came right over.

I told her that I was really sorry that I had called her at home after she had worked all day but she made me feel better about calling her. I like my nurse…she understands what the pain can do to people. She ended up having to take the needle out of my port and insert a new needle and luckily the new one flushed perfectly. I was in so much pain by the time that she had it working right again that I actually felt the pain meds go into my body, normally I wouldn’t feel the pain meds at all. I asked her why that would happen and she said that I was moving around too much. I hardly do anything at all and now just taking a bath is a big deal. I don’t know how I can do less that I already do.I think I’ll spend my time watching a movie this morning so I don’t try to clean anything because I know I’ll hurt myself if I do. I do have a box of M&Ms and a pot of fresh coffee to comfort me.

My best friend Daine was here for days doing dishes and cleaning my floors so I think that just watching her do all the work that she did was what hurt me. I did probably do one or two things without realizing I was doing anything at all because she was doing so much. I don’t know how she has put up with me for twenty seven years (I think), but she’s the only reason that my house looks as good as it does. Thank you Daine! I hope you’re coming back soon, but for visiting or watching a movie or something.

 

#146 Humility, my own lesson with it


My take on life is most likely not what everyone else sees. Things that used to be very important to me are way back in the background, and different things are up front now. First lets take my morning routine. I wake up a little later now than I used to because I get up every few hours throughout the night. After each four-hour ‘nap’ I try to do one or two things that I would have before waited for the afternoon to get working on. Then there’s sleep its self. I have to take pills for this that and the other(right now I have pneumonia again) that usually makes me a little sleepy so the four-hour sleep thing actually works out fine. I would have thought that only sleeping in four-hour intervals would make me tired all the time, but it gives me a little bit of time after each four hours to do a few things. This morning I woke up and had a cup of coffee and read a few pages of my book and decided that I might have enough energy left to knock out a quick post.

I know I’ll have to write it quickly because I’m already getting tired, hopefully the coffee will help with that so that I can stay up a while longer. I have my M&Ms too so one more cup of coffee and I’ll be fine . I have a friend who I haven’t seen in a few months that showed up a few days ago and wanted to know if it was all right if she came to stay with me for a while to help with all of the housework and to keep me company. It’s nice to have people come over to see what they can do to help us out. We need help all the time so we have friends coming and going throughout the days. Some just come to keep me company and those are the ones who can’t help with any other needs. I think that kind of help is so precious. I’m not one who normally likes to have a lot of people around the house because I’m embarrassed that my house isn’t always clean anymore. That doesn’t seem important these days. I told her that she’s welcome to come and help out for a while. She should be here sometime today.

Then we have the bills. I can’t ever find the words to convey how embarrassing it is to have to admit that we can’t make ends meet anymore. I’ve always hated having to admit that we need help but I’m putting my pride away and asking for help in different ways. First we just signed up for state services for food and health insurance for Rick, he needs to be able to keep taking care of his heart. He went for over a week without taking his heart pills and never told me because he knew we had no way to come up with enough money to pay for his meds. We now have decided that we can’t just go without some things.

I’m setting up a way for people to help us financially if they want to. I think Elaine is working on a way for people to help in different ways. Some want to mail a check and some want to pay bills directly, and some just want to send cash or a money order. Elaine will make sure that if you want to help financially then it will be excepted in whatever form you wish. I think that letting people send us money is right up there at the top of embarrassing/humiliating. I’ve come to accept that it’s alright for me to say when we need help, and boy do we need help! Like I’ve said before we have helped so many other families when we were able to over the years and I wish I knew how hard it was for the people we were helping. I always just figured that they were happy to have some financial relief and that was the end of it. Well, that is so not the end of it. I remember feeling so happy about giving people whatever they needed, but I think that now its my time to learn how other people feel about having to except charity. Thank God we’ve never had or used credit cards, I don’t like to make payments on things, so if we didn’t have the cash to purchase anything we just saved up for things.

I think that I missed this entire Christmas season because I did everything but hide in my bed to stay away from people. I wanted my family to have a good time, but I think that I could have helped to make it a better holiday, even without any money. I know that my mood swings are coming from all the meds and the pain I’m going through. I’m so used to having a lot of pain but this is way more than what I’ve ever had to deal with…and it’s only going to get worse. I did finally get my mother to agree to take me to make my final arrangements while I’m able to have a say in everything. Of course I have a long time to go yet but I didn’t want to wait until I can’t go with the family to choose what I want. Rick and mom need to make theirs as well. I don’t think that anyone should wait until their too sick to go and have a say in their own final wishes.

I might think about things differently now but it’s only because I don’t want all the difficult things left for other people to take care of. My muscles are all very stiff when I wake up…every time I wake up, but then it gets a little better as I get up and move around a little bit. I get very excited when I’m able to finish any chore on my own, and I make sure that everyone in the house at the time knows that I accomplished something on my own. Here is a recent pic that was taken just hours before my sister Elaine left to go back go back to NC.:

Myself and Elaine

#145 I’m still here…I think?


I had the most pleasurable stay in my new Hospice inpatient unit lately and just arrived home Christmas day…I think. I don’t remember things very well anymore so if you need info on anything that is important, for God’s sake don’t ask me. I was having uncontrolled pain so the hospice team thought that I should be under their care at a facility that I know was supposed to be in kind-of-a hospital setting…but it was really more like a resort.

I was in such terrible pain when I arrived there, and it took an entire day to get the Medical Director in there to see me (he thought he should be the one seeing me because all of my prior medical issues with getting the right treatment) and then I waited hours for a nurse to come that was trained to hook up my port to give them IV access. It seemed then like it took forever, but considering what they were able to accomplish, it was a very short time after all.After all of that and a few more hours to have the meds delivered…they did it. They knocked down my pain level to a level that it hasn’t been in years. I’ve told you all about the tumor pressing on nerves (my own conclusion by the way) but when I told the Medical Director where all I was having pain he said that I was absolutely right.

It’s not often that any Dr would agree with me but this one did a through medical exam and after feeling the tumor he actually said “Oh my God! that’s way bigger than on the scan” Finally someone listened to me and understood that I knew what my future was looking like. It only took a few minutes for him to decide to give me the only medicine that has ever work on pain for me and he ordered that I have a Patient Controlled analgesic pump. He actually told me he was going to give me higher and higher doses of it until I felt better. I didn’t want to be in a haze and he didn’t want me sleeping all the time so we found the right amount that worked for me.
Now I’m home again. I did have to go in another time to increase the dose, but I think I’ve found the right amount of medicine to continue to let me function.

Now, when I say function, I don’t mean doing anything that takes much energy at all. I’ve had to have a hospital bed brought in because I can’t climb the stairs in my house without hurting myself.
I keep trying to do more around the house but I only end up hurting myself.My sister Elaine has come from NC to help out for a few weeks and my friend Diane has been here a lot decorating and cleaning.

This month I’m focusing on trying to raise money to pay some bills that I just can’t put off anymore. I did manage to get together enough money to pay all of the household bills…now I have to get my car paid for. I own my car free and clear…However it has a repair that has to be done before I can take it to get current registration. Rick called the insurance company to let them and the department of motor vehicle to let them know that the car isn’t being driven because of repair issues.

I’m trying to find a way to set up a legitimate bank account for people to donate into (so they know that this is all above table). I’ve done fund-raisers before but never for myself, so I’m at a loss as to how to start it. In the past I would always choose families for Christmas or friends of our kids’ families and have car washes. Now I know how it feels to have to ask for help, and it’s a horrible gut wrenching feeling that I don’t wish on anyone.
Hopefully it isn’t too late to talk to Santa?