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Joelswife

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  1. Joel Mittman

    February 9, 1940 – February 8, 2006

    Joel Mittman, 65, of Belleaire Drive, Palm Coast, devoted husband of Pamela (Averill), passed away at his home on Wednesday, February 8th after a courageous battle with lung cancer. He was born in Brooklyn New York on February 9, 1940, son of Max and Ellen (Feinstein) Mittman. He was married to Pamela in Denver, Colorado on June 3, 1986.

    Joel was a longtime insurance agent in New York and from 1978 to 2000 in Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was an active member of Pine Lakes Country Club and was enjoying retirement in Florida since 2000. He was a former member of Rotary Club and Independent Insurance Agents Association in Colorado.

    Joel had a great sense of humor, doted on his dogs, never met a stranger, traveled the world, and loved his family—especially his grandsons. He loved golf and in his words, was on the verge of mediocrity at his game.

    In addition to his wife, Pam, he will be sadly missed by his son, Jeffrey L. Locke and his wife Valeria of San Antonio, Texas; and his daughter Tracy R Delucca and her husband Michael of Long Beach, California; his mother, Ellen Mittman of Brooklyn; and sister, Sheila Gloekler of Las Vegas, Nevada; two grandchildren, Nicholas and Anthony Delucca. Joel was preceded in death by his father, Max Mittman and his son, Darren Mittman.

    Coastal Cremation will handle arrangements and the family will have a private ceremony at a later date, scattering Joel’s ashes in Puerto Vallarta, a place Pam and Joel often visited, and which holds many fond memories.

    In lieu of flowers, contributions in Joel’s memory will be graciously accepted at Flagler County Humane Society, 1 Shelter Drive, Palm Coast FL 32137.

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  2. As soon as the dr told us that hospice was the only option, Joel declined rapidly. His sister Sheila came in to be with us. Our son changed his flight but was in the air when Joel died on Feb 8, the day before his 66th birthday. Joel died in extreme pain and agony and we were never able to get relief until the last hour of his life. I am so angry about that and don't understand. He was literally writhing in pain the morning he died and we were just helpless. That said, being with him while he passed away was probably one of the most profound experiences of my life; more intimate than holding hands, sex, etc. It was truly an honor to be with him at that time and I'm so grateful he was able to die at home. He was loved so much and he knew it. I will post the obituary in a couple days. I never knew I could cry so much and everything, absolutely everything reminds me of him. The ONLY good thing about the pain was that it made it so much easier for me to let him go.


  3. Joel told me today that he doesn't feel he can be left alone. He can barely walk, he didn't eat, he has a draining hole in his neck from tumor, pressure sores on his butt and foot, on a liquid only diet, now has to use Depends and has extreme extreme fatigue. We are due for results of CT on Wed but I have a bad bad feeling. I believe our onc was trying to prepare us also. Joel is absolutely miserable and I can't remember the last time he smiled. Today is the first time also he has said no matter what, no more chemo.

    Should I take family leave? Is this temporary? Is this the end? Do we call hospice? Even though I haven't posted lately, I read the posts every day and have frankly had to double up on the prozac. So far we've been taking it a day at a time but it feels like we need to make some decisions.

    Thanks for listening.

    Pam


  4. I'm so very sorry about your Mom but happy for her that she could go peacefully surrounded by those who love her and with you having been able to tell her just how very much she meant to you. Not everybody gets that chance. Take care. Pam


  5. The right oncologist is something we feel strongly about. The old onc was testy, didn't like questions, actually said "look I've been an onc for 30 yrs and I know more than you" and when I called her re extreme pain (10 out of 10) on a weekend, she said "why didn't you just call the pain dr". Enter the new onc who has changed our lives. We feel totally cared for; he listens, he's a straight shooter, thorough, unhurried and he's a hugger. Our only regret is that we didn't change earlier. When things don't feel quite right, trust the gut.


  6. We had our local cancer support group Christmas dinner last night and the nuns who run the group cooked a fabulous Italian dinner (who knew?) for about 50 of us. They waited on us hand and foot and even pureed soup for Joel (who is still on a liquid diet). Very festive and a warm and supportive group of people. Lots of longtime cancer survivors that make us feel very hopeful about the future.

    Pam


  7. Joel's wound specialist recommended Desitin with zinc. It comes in a little tub and is 40% zinc, about $15. She said she uses it instead of all the fancy prescription stuff. It has helped him immensely. Poor guy has either constipation or diarrhea, no in between.

    Pam


  8. My two dogs, Nigel and Pearl. They are a constant source of amusement for Joel during the day. When Joel is having a bad day and laying down, Nigel lays right close to him and stares at him with big brown eyes. They greet me when I come home like I'm somebody famous. I wouldn't trade them for $1,000,000.


  9. I called my Mom first; it's funny how you need your Mom at stressful times. Then I had to call Joel's daughter and my son who has been raised by Joel since he was 8; he's 29 now. Those were the two hardest phone calls I've ever made. Also, I was in the waiting room at the hospital when the surgeon (who was removing an abcess from Joel's lung) told me he found cancer. The conversation took 30 seconds and he left. I started crying and a nurse who was waiting for a friend had heard the conversation came over and just hugged me hard and told me what all the next steps were going to be. I will forever be grateful to that stranger. Worst than all of those phone calls was having to tell Joel he had cancer the next morning. I knew it would be better coming from me and he would be better prepared to ask the dr questions.

    We have still never told his 92 year old mother who lives alone in Brooklyn. What would be the point?


  10. I've noticed several threads regarding the bad side effects of Decadron: irritable, hostile, itchy, restless, lack of sleep, etc.

    Joel has been on 4 mg 4 times a day since Tuesday and so far, it's given him way more energy and relieved most of the pain in his legs. He seems a lot more like his old self, talking and laughing and he was crying like a baby about a "Lost" show the other night.

    Question is do they start getting bad effects later? Do they start out OK and then get "crazy" later on? I'm a little concerned or would he already have the bad effects by now? Inquiring minds.....

    Pam


  11. Thanks all, you're all exactly right, maybe I wouldn't have know what to say if it was the other way around. I find a big hug takes care of most situations. Joel has started muscle relaxer and the decadron and he already seems much much better. They started radiation on the spine immediately. This onc is SO thorough; we feel very supported and cared for.


  12. I could sleep and roll over whenever I want without having to be careful that I'll wake the dogs up or disturb their beauty sleep.

    I'd spend money on facials and massages for myself instead of grooming, revolution, chew toys.

    I'd know the names of the people at the dog park instead of their dogs.

    I wouldn't be suspicious of people who don't own dogs.

    I wouldn't have a sandbox in my backyard for my terrier instead of a perennial garden.

    I'd be so lost if I didn't see their happy little faces when I get home from work.


  13. It turns out he has mets to his spine causing pain and weakness in his legs. He was released from the hospital with a prescription for Decadron and a muscle relaxer (and Prilosec; is that for the Decadron?) Meeting with the radiologist tomorrow to make a plan. Still planning on chemo starting Wednesday. I got him a cane with the 4 little legs to keep him steady. We have a home health nurse coming in starting tomorrow for physical therapy. He is so depressed and I hope he's not giving up.

    In the last few days I've been given this feedback from friends and family: 1. Well, this is probably the beginning of the end. 2. These men just aren't willing to think about palliative care instead of a cure. 3. You know, he's just prolonging his life. and my favorite 4. If he doesn't accept Jesus Christ as his personal saviour, he will burn in hell. (Joel is Jewish) Mind you, it's hard to tell but these are people who love us. My mind is always boggled at what comes out of people's mouths. My neighbor asked me if I realize how ill he is and that I need to prepare myself. As if I don't wake up and go to sleep every day thinking that thought.

    Just babbling. This is therapeutic for me.


  14. So Joel has been having trouble with pain in the back of his legs all the way from butt to calves, sometimes one leg, then the other, this morning he could barely stand up. I called the dr who admitted him to the hospital to rule out compressed spinal column? He is having MRI tonight. My question is couldn't it be muscle atrophy? Because of the pain, he hasn't been active which could cause muscle weakness which could cause pain and so on and so on. You can actually see his legs quivering. Anybody else have experience with this? Could it be from radiation? What could it be? We're both so exhausted. (heavy sigh)


  15. Joel had bone and body scan, MRI of head throat and neck on Tuesday. Met with new onc today. Joel has had headaches the last week and had me convinced he had mets to brain. So good news is no brain mets, the "tumor" on his right hip is a bad bed sore from lying on that side for 7 months since left lung was removed. Neck tumor is mostly necrosis, I assume that means dead cancer cells? He does have some small new spots on right lung and kidney but dr said that overall it is good news and much better than he expected. Joel starts chemo next Wednesday. He is anemic and got a shot for that.

    I felt deliriously happy; Joel has a hard time staying positive. I told him if total remission is the only thing that will make him happy, we have a hard road ahead. I'm happy for every day he's alive. I understand he's exhausted, is on a liquid only diet and still has quite a bit of pain but let's celebrate today. Son and wife coming in tomorrow for the holiday weekend; I know they will lift his spirits.

    I told the dr we're crazy about him and his straight shooting manner and he said we didn't know what that meant to him, he'd had such an awful day. I can only imagine what the typical day of an oncologist is.

    That's our mostly good news. We're thankful.


  16. Joel can only open his mouth 1/2" because of neck tumor so he has been on a liquid only diet for about a month and was losing weight. We use those 350 calorie Ensures as an in between meal snack. I went to GNC and asked for the most calorie laden weight gainer they have. After giving me the once over, I told him it was obviously not for me. That stuff is expensive but well worth it. I add whole milk, rice milk, soy milk, ice cream, cream, yogurt, flaxseed oil, wheatgerm oil, (not all at once!) anything to add calories. We have a juicer and I make carrot juice and calorie laden fruit juices, pineapple, blueberries, cantaloupe. I also add vitamin supplements to his shakes, liquid multivitamin, Vit C, etc. since he has trouble swallowing pills. Oh, and his radiologist recommended Scandishakes, 600 calories a piece. We ordered by internet, free shipping for 2 cases. He said it tastes much better than some of the protein shakes. It is my mission to keep his weight steady. I drive him a little crazy


  17. We met yesterday with our new onc and can't believe the difference. He spent almost 2 hours with us, was extremely detailed and thorough and very kind and caring. About halfway through, when he was examining Joel, he put his hand on his shoulder, looked him in the eye and said "I'm so sorry that this has happened to you and that you're having to go through this. I will do everything I can to help you and make life better for you." My eyes instantly filled with tears. When the dr left the room for a few minutes, Joel said "Do you know that's the first time in all of this that a medical person has said something like that to me?" It was so powerful and both of us felt like a huge weight had been lifted from us and that we had a friend and ally and that Joel is not just a patient file.

    He was very straightforward, not wildly optimistic but has a plan and told us to call him any time of the day or night. Joel is having a complete body and brain scan, MRI of the jaw and mouth and bone scan to find out where we are. He finishes radiation on Monday and will start carboplatin/Gemcitabine on Wednesday.

    Sorry so long, I'm just feeling so much better, I had to share. If I have learned anything from this, it is to listen to your gut and change drs if you're not getting the support and care you deserve.

    Pam


  18. I know just what you mean. It's funny because the surgeon was very handsome, sweet, funny and warm (and very capable). The onc didn't even take the gauze off Joel's neck tumor to look at it and when I asked if she would look at it, said that wasn't necessary, she was sure it was draining and only radiation would help. She was very annoyed when we got a second opinion and told me she thought the 2 week delay had probably made it too late for the radiation to help him. Perhaps there has just been too much negativity and she sees Joel as a non-compliant problem patient. We have an appt on Wed with the new onc and are hopeful. At this very vulnerable time in our lives, we just need all the positive reinforcement we can find. Probably should have fired her when she misdiagnosed his neck tumor as a side effect of chemo.

    Before this whole cancer thing, the word oncologist wasn't even in my vocabulary. I'm still learning every day.

    Take care,

    Pam


  19. The good news is we found a cancer support group nearby that meets once a month. Frankly, I feel like we could use once a week right now but I'm thrilled to have this one. Joel seemed happier, more animated and smiled more than I've seen him in weeks. On the way home, he said this was the best thing ever for him. He's always been pretty social and was inspired by some of the other people. I am better on a web site support group because of time constraints.

    We have decided to fire our oncologist. Another good thing about support groups is that they are a wealth of local information and were able to refer us to a different one. We've been unhappy with our oncologist and feel she has made some mistakes, definitely has a God complex and is far from warm and fuzzy. Wish us luck on the new one.

    Joel has a procedure at the hospital tomorrow where they are shooting phenobarbitol into the nerves near his surgery incision to combat his great pain. He will be happy if it takes away half of his pain.

    Wish us luck!


  20. Thanks Carleen, you're exactly right. When Joel is having a bad day, I feel as low and hopeless as possible. When he feels good, my spirits soar. I think the worst day was when he thought he should check himself into a hospital, the pain was so bad and the onc said they don't hospitalize people for pain. Wow. That kind of drove it home for me. He does have a pain dr and they are doing a procedure this Friday to deaden nerve endings, they are pretty sure it will help. I can only hope. I hadn't heard of Nuerontin and will check. He hates being so doped up and sleeping so much. Plus it's really scary because he looks like he's dying when he's so drugged, all white and kind of staggering. Today is a good day so I'm in a good place today. :)


  21. Last November, Joel had an upper respiratory infection that became pneumonia. They bombarded him with antibiotics for 5 months before deciding to do surgery to remove abcess from lower left lung. The surgeon told me in the waiting room he found cancer but thought he got everything. My world from that moment on has never been the same.

    We went from a diagnosis of Stage 1B to Stage 4 within a few days, mets to ribs and neck. He has had chemo and radiation, hated the radiation so much that he stopped it and then when he had a growth on his neck that keeps him from eating anything but a liquid diet, he is now doing radiation again. We really wanted to fight the cancer with vitamins, juicing, etc but now feel that the cancer is so fast growing that radiation is the only answer to slow the cancer to give the natural alternatives a chance to help.

    I could live with all that except for the brutal pain that he suffers. He is on a fentanyl patch, oxycodone, dilaudin that has been increased to 16 mg every 4 hours. I cannot bear to see him in so much pain and from everything I read, he shouldn't be. He is having a procedure next week to deaden the nerves; if that doesn't work.....what then?

    He is very depressed, so am I. There are no support groups in our area. We have some wonderful friends and family but I still feel so alone.

    I am so grateful to have found this site.

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