I’ve been holding off on this entry until some information was delivered. In my last post I mentioned pain (the title) and how pain in the bones was the only mention the doctor had offered when we first visited him a few weeks ago. I also mentioned that chemo had started and the fourth week, the break between week3 and the first week of the next treatment cycle, and Dad received a drug injection that was meant to boost his immune system (and could be painful).
Well either he is suffering pain from cancer in the bones, or the injection. The doc is leaning towards the injection and with some comments from a long-time friend who is a RN I’m going with the injection theory too (and praying that we’re all right). It’s just too coincidental that the injection was received and his pain intensified.
So, in the last two days my Mother has talked with the doctor and last night Dad received a prescription for an additional dose of his pain medication. This means that he is receiving 2 tablets every 6 hours, prior he only had 3 doses which left him with a window of pain during the evening hours (he was holding off taking the last dose until he got closer to bedtime). I spoke with him Thursday evening and he felt somewhat relieved of the pain but seemed to be hesitant to claim ‘victory’ over the pain at that time. In fact he has been to so many doctors’ appointments and is receiving so many different prescriptions that it can be confusing for him and even my Mother sometimes. I’m sure most people have seen this, an elderly couple flung into the middle of a quagmire of appointments, prescriptions, combinations of morning drugs, lunch time doses and evening pill combinations. It can be nothing but daunting, even for a younger person.
Throw in a caregivers life of washing clothes, cleaning house, scheduling and driving to appointments, coordinating all the pill combinations, cooking food, helping the sick person get out of bed, back into bed, answering every beckon call for help eating, walking, brushing teeth, combing hair, changing socks and television channels, answering the telephone and then explaining (and re-explaining) all that is going on – and you have a harrowing experience for the person that is ill and the protector-caregiver.
Caregivers do all of this with varying degrees of thankfulness. My Dad is thankful but at times can be a little testy. Impatience seems to be a trait my Dad has fined-tuned. He is quick to comment, while waiting for my Mother of an angel to deliver. This is not meant to come across as he is unappreciative. I can only imagine a grown man that has developed skills and abilities then experience pain that makes it hard for him to walk or even sit. My Dad is a man that has always taken care of himself, went where he wanted to go and got there with no help. While kids have dazed into cash register trying to figure-out which button to push to charge him for coffee he was able to calculate the cost, tax and the exact amount of change. Now he is dependent on his wife and family to help with most everything. This would make any person frustrated and impatient.
Oh, my stranger that visits me occasionally just sat down next to me, put a hand on my shoulder and said, “Don’t cry. Suck it up and don’t let that tear run down your face.” But I’m beside myself and its 3.00am; I will do what I want. Fluid is sitting on my eyebrows and pooling at the top of my cheeks preparing to roll over and down my face. But it’s ok; I will not allow callousness to harden my heart so that I can selfishly be comfortable.
This reminds me of something that happened Wednesday. Some of you may have read my tweets where I mentioned my hard drive took a hit and had to be replaced. Well, the guy that did the work for me is really nice. I’ve talked with him several times and he has impressed me with his attention to details, courteousness, and willingness to explain things. He took my laptop in to work on it and had it ready for me in the afternoon. While the last steps of the work were completing on the machine we had the chance to talk.
If you have read my other posts you know that I might be writing about this but I’ve not reached the point where I can “talk” about it, I can only “talk” about it logically so this computer guy was safe from hearing about my challenges. Maybe.
During our conversation something was said and I mentioned that I was trying to plan a trip to visit my parents and we talked about the length of the drive and possible dates. He asked, “How old is your Dad?” I answered and he said something that almost took me out of commission on the spot.
He told me that his Dad passed away on October 30th. I looked at him and asked, “This October 30th?” He said, “Yea.” I immediately considered how hard it was to say, “Yea.” It was hard to hear it!!
Wednesday was only November 17th, that is only 18 days. I thought, “Oh my God, could I stand there? Then it hit me, one day I would be in that position." I felt that nerve from my previous posts that is exposed and sticking out of my chest being twisted and pulled. My stranger saying, “Give it to me. This isn’t going to hurt that much. You better get used to it Andy, just consider this practice.”
So of course I could imagine me outside me. I was standing in front of me, only it wasn’t me. I’m sure that was moisture pooling up in his eyes, but maybe it was moisture pooling up in my eyes. I wanted to reach out, but my stranger twisted the nerve extending from my heart and said, “No, No, No; I’ve got a hold of you.”
I wanted to hug the guy but I didn’t. I should have but I think my fear was….well I don’t know what my fear was and I wished that I had hugged him.
Some people say, death is a natural part of life and I agree. But it is not something that we have to callus over, or darken our heart so we can get past it. An it’s obvious that we cannot run from it.
I’m sure that was red in his eyes, the kind of red that comes just before a cry. I felt we were on fragile ground, something that I’ve tried to avoid (and maybe he has too). At that moment I backed away thinking I didn't want to draw him into something that neither of us was ready for. .
He may read this, I’m not sure. But if I can muster my courage I will go find him tomorrow and give him the hug for the moment I protected, and cheated him out of. But as I write these brave words I’m thinking ‘maybe not’. But I know my intentions (and I’ve just told a multitude of people that will read this), we’ll see what behavior I can muster in a few hours.