Sunday, November 14, 2010

11/14/10 - "Pain"

Friday night I went to practice with a Christmas choir, practice went well. While driving home I thought “Call and check on Dad.” My Mom answered and said they were just sitting around watching something on the tube and that they had already finished dinner. After we went through what I call the 'regulars' (you know, "How's work, the family, traffic, etc.) I asked 'How's Daddy!" (I've called him that all my life) 

I got an answer that I did not expect, and for that matter an answer I did not want. 

Life was about to flush right down the toilet, again.

Mother mentioned his pain. I said "What pain?" She reminded me that he always has some pain and I said, "I remember."

She said, "It's gotten worse. Since they gave him the shot that’s supposed to improve his white blood count after the chemo treatment the pain has intensified."

We discussed the fact that the shot could cause pain and she told me that “...the doctor increased his pain meds to deal with it.”

I immediately thought, “Hmmm, the pain is worse and the doctor increased the medication. In the first appointment the only thing he mentioned in regard to pain was “If it spreads into the bones there will be intense pain, but I will treat you for the pain; your quality of life is most important."

It was at that very moment that the stranger that rode with me on my visit to my parents a month ago stuck his head around the corner and said, “Could be cancer.” 

(To my reader, can you feel my lungs lurching out at you, screaming at this moment???)

I didn't mention this to Mother, mostly because I couldn't breathe or speak at that moment.

Seconds passed and I made some comment that would keep her talking while I tried to get my emotions together. My thoughts went into overdrive. What do I say? How can I help her feel better? At that particular moment I was not a good listener, I have no idea what she said during that brief lapse of time.

I assured her the pain had to be from the injection, that if he didn’t have increased pain before the shot the pain could not be from the shot. But she stuck to her concerns; she was dwelling on the idea that it was new cancer, that something had changed and it was not good.

Of course the stranger said, “Andy, you know that it might just be a coincidence.” Then he screamed “NOT”.

My Mother talked a few more minutes and I could only come up with things like, “Let’s see what the doctor says”, “You need to try and relax", and "Get a good night’s sleep.”

I said, "I love you", she answered back "I love you too" and we ended our conversation.

Saturday morning I got up and my first thought was about our conversation. What could I have done differently? Should I have told her she was wrong? Of course not, she’s a grown woman and this is her man, the man she has loved and lived with for more than 50 years. Maybe I should have used the statement “It’s out of our control; it’s in God’s hands.”

But I didn’t do that. How do I callus my heart, hardened it so I can be strong for my family, set an example for my family that I am not? I thought my mind was set and my heart was prepared as I noted in my last post. But it is obvious that I am not prepared with a deadened, cold, callus, dark heart. I feel as though I love him enough to respect him with my love and pain.

Much like a person that drinks, takes a drug, or for comparison just goes to sleep, when the mind returns to its original state the problems that existed are still there, problems do not just go away. So, I’m not sure I want my heart darkened to the point that reality is not reality. Should illness and imminent death be ignored, trivialized, or minimized so my pain can be ignored or delayed?

I will think about this and have a post another day.

What do you think?


dannybuntu said...

Take it one day at a time.

Andy Bryant said...

Thank you Danny, one day at a time is good advice - I'm trying. Take care

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear your daddy is suffering with such pain,..really has no word as I am in similar position, death of our parents is inminent, what I think we could do is be prepared for that moment and give confort to others relatives.Just pray in order to relieve the pain and that he doesnt suffer...
Maybe I cant express myself in english, although I suffer a lot I think I have to be prepared...

Joan Saks Berman said...

Don't try to make it better for your mom. Those things you thought and said are just platitudes, and meaningless. Always speak from your heart.

The same advice is given when talking to people who are grieving a loss. DON'T say all those terrible things people insist on saying, that maybe make themselves feel better, but don't help the grieving person.

Only say, “It’s out of our control; it’s in God’s hands,” if that's something that is meaningful to you, not something that you're trying to help your mom feel better. Referring to god for people like me doesn't carry much weight.

brandy said...

I don't think there is anything you can say to your Mother that would make her feel better or feel reassured. You can't be reassured with something like cancer because you never know what is going to happen. But, if you want to say something, say something that's going to be meaningful to her and you- don't just say what you both want to hear. It's good to remain hopeful, but you also have to stay realistic as well. It's also like you pointed out, your mom knows what's going on, they've been together for so long. Words like "I'm sure it's nothing" "He'll be fine" "It's from the injection" won't help her at all because she knows better. Just be truthful, meaningful, realistic, hopeful. That's all you can do. That and pray.

Oh, and don't worry about being strong like your family needs/expects you to be. You're going through a rough time, they understand if you're not as "strong" as normal. Even the strongest of people need to cry and be emotional sometimes- because that will make them even STRONGER. that, and it's only human to go through emotions when it comes to something like death/cancer.

Take it a day at a time.

Take care, keep me posted, as always, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Beckye said...

Andy, I'm so sorry that your family is going through this, and that your dad is in pain.

You don't have to try to make it better for your mom. Let her know you are 'with' her, and support and encourage her in the incredible stress that is caregiving. Help her in any way you can. If you can give her a day or two off every so often it will help a lot. Letting her know you are also sad and allowing her the chance to talk and cry if she needs to will help. And pray with her and for her.

I've heard from others that had to get the shots to build up their white cells that they have awful side effects and often make people very sick.

You and your family are in my prayers.

Andy Bryant said...

Thank you Joan for your thoughts and concern. I understand what you mean about platitudes, but nothing I would say to my Mother would be said as a platitude, I have too much respect for her. But of all the things racing through my mind it was hard to consider which word I would be able to utter while effectively expressing what I was feeling at the time. Unfortunately for many people death is a hard thing to deal with, or is so seldom dealt with on a first-person level that common statements are the first thing to come into our minds. I have a lot of emotions concerning my Dad (and my Mother), its the single nerve I've mentioned in other posts, and I will continue to explore my feelings here on the blog. Please come back and share more in the future. Thank you again!

Andy Bryant said...

Thank you Brandy! I appreciate you taking the time to read another of my entries and posting your thoughts. You are right, I have to be real with my mother and speak my true thoughts. In the case of mentioning that I believed it was the injection my thought was that she seemed to be thinking the worst, that the immediate pain was from the spread of cancer; I wanted to lay that thought to rest since it was just to much of a coincidence with the injection. Thanks again for visiting me and leaving your thoughts in a nice post. Be safe!

Andy Bryant said...

Beckye, thank you for the good advice. I have been talking with my mother for several weeks, almost daily and you are right – straight talk seems to be the best communication. I live more than 10 hours away so I will have a problem supporting her with days off, but I am hoping to visit soon and will plan to supplement her efforts and provide some relief. Thank you again for your comments and time while you read my post, I hope you have time for more of my posts and leave me a comment when possible. Have a nice day!

Andy Bryant said...

Hi Maria, your English is beautiful (Hey, you know how I 'try' with Spanish). ;-) I always look forward to, & appreciate your comments and concern. I understand and am looking for ways to support and comfort my Mother while she deals with the emotional and physical requirements of caring for my Dad (she is a ‘high-tech’ lady and sometimes reads this blog) ;-). Please remind your mother that she remains in my prayers. Take care!