Journal entry by David Matchett

To Stephen’s loved ones: news about Stephen has fallen behind for the wider circle, and for that I apologize. It’s been an intense three days since Tuesday and I have been looking for the time to catch you up. I have just left to visit Stephen, so this message comes from both me and my wife, Carol Snow, so there'll be some "I"s and some "David's."

First things first: Stephen has moved from the hospital where no one could visit to a warmly praised hospice called CPMC Coming Home at 115 Diamond Street in San Francisco, where he can have visitors one at a time between 9 AM and 9 PM. No appointment is necessary but the traffic issue is real. If you would like to visit, please get in touch with Carol Cruickshank from Friends Meeting who is very generously coordinating. Her email is carol.cruickshank@gmail.com and her phone number is 415-846-4083.

After his acute setback on Monday (pulmonary embolisms, attendant breathing crisis and heart arrhythmia), Stephen's condition was successfully stabilized in the transitional ICU. But the new CT scan also showed the brain tumor hadn’t been halted. Slowed perhaps, or perhaps not. Radiation treatment was suspended for a couple of days for Stephen to regroup, with the idea that perhaps it would resume if only for Thursday and Friday since it might help Stephen psychologically to take his ride across town and back. But on Thursday the doctor, care team and Stephen together decided not to continue the treatment, and many many phone calls later all agreed that hospice was the right course. Thursday afternoon Stephen moved from Davies to CPMC Coming Home Hospice and yesterday had his first visitors in many weeks.

From Carol: Everyone, including Stephen, is surprised and dismayed that the tumor is more aggressive than expected. Already Stephen was unable to make progress and then even to carry on with the PT that followed his biopsy bleeding. Though his immediate situation stabilized with medication, all has been a blow to his system and he continued to lose ground functionally. The medical and care teams think the treatments do not offer meaningful promise and Stephen realizes he will not recover enough to return home.
     The tumor means that Stephen is in different states of presence at different times, sometimes lucid sometimes not, sometimes irritable sometimes not, often sleeping. When David arrived yesterday, Stephen was extremely frustrated "just lying here." David started to facilitate phone calls and FaceTimes and Stephen got distraction and pleasure from that. It was lovely for me to see his face!

From David: I know Stephen would like to call or use FaceTime with more of you. He doesn't have his phone and someone has to make the call for him on their phone. If you give Carol Cruickshank your phone number, as circumstances permit another visitor might be able to help him call you. I hope you understand that there will be some calls not made and some who don’t hear back, I wish it weren't so. 

No one can say just how long Stephen has. I was surprised to find his physical body to be chugging along, without much in the way of tubes and drips, and yesterday afternoon and evening he was very present until he ran out of energy and then faded into sleep. I don’t know how long these cycles are. But he may not be eating and has expressed his readiness to go. If he could pull his own plug he would do so, but he’s also sweet with visitors and callers and sees them as the next best thing while still here.

Keeping this blog post and reading all your messages and wishes have been immeasurably important to Stephen during this time, thanks to all! He's no longer able to access it on his own, but of course the family and everyone who visits can see anything added.


 
 
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