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Excalibur

LadyofthelakeI wonder if at any time King Arthur looked down at Excalibur and thought, “Excalibur, you have never failed me, I wonder if today I have failed you.”

On Friday, I had a phone call with one of my wife’s hospice nurses about my recent concerns over my wife sleeping eighteen hours or more per day. My gut told me that it was related to her meds. My gut was wrong.

Karen is an experienced hospice nurse, and she delivered her words gently, but they were still tough to hear, “It’s the progression of the disease.”

After the call, I tried to regroup. I’ve told others that you don’t have to be tough every moment, just this moment. This moment was proving tougher than me.

I gathered myself as well as I could and then called Barbara, a good friend of ours who has provided advice and comfort for us before. She is a retired hospice nurse, and unfortunately, she confirmed Karen’s opinion, and then answered more of my questions. By the end of the conversation I was in tears and deflated. Barbara wasn’t feeling so hot either, but I thanked her for her honesty. I told her I can occasionally effect change in reality, but I can’t do anything in ignorance or denial.

Sincerely, since cancer invaded our lives my wife has never been more comfortable; pain is managed, her appetite steady, and this led to an optimism on my part that we had somehow forged a stalemate with cancer. It hurt to hear that her disease has progressed.

I admit this news caught me at a weak moment. The conflict with in-laws a week earlier still hurt me; their previous words of support for me had proven empty, as if the rare words of support I received from them ever made a credible difference, but now I was informed my best efforts were not making the difference in my wife’s life that I hoped they were. Yeah, deflated might not be the best word to describe how I felt.

I promised my wife long ago that I would treat her like an adult throughout our cancer journey, so I shared my conversations with her. She was stronger than I was, this is typical, but she was far more accepting of this news than I and it just served to make me feel worse.

It’s now 2 p.m. on Saturday and I’m drunk. Intellectually, I always knew a happy ending was impossible. Emotionally, I’m not willing to give up this inch, because goddamn it, I’ve already given up so many heartbreaking miles.

I’m not ready to lose her.

I also do not know who I am after she passes, not waking to such a noble purpose as the quality of her life seems like a worthless day to me now.

My plan is the same plan I have always had, because I am simple that way. I will block out the future, live in the moment, and never sacrifice her comfort or dignity for a second. All I ever wanted to be is her Excalibur, her unfailing weapon.

These are not moments of human failings; these are moments of legendary failings. It is so hard to accept that as my strength wanes, her disease progresses. No truce, however honorably intended, is honored by cancer.

I am more alone than ever, but I will continue this fight. I am her Excalibur until reclaimed by the Lady of the Lake. I am her husband. I am her caregiver.

And I will not fail.

Reposted from my blog http:/besidesthecancer.org

About Bob Marcotte

Avatar of Bob Marcotte
WHAT ABOUT BOB? My name is Bob Marcotte, and I am a musician, photographer, author and caregiver. Unlike my other job titles, the caregiver job title came without training and with little notice. Now, it’s the job title I am most proud of. I live in California with my wife, Carole, who is still recovering from her massive surgeries. We are guarded and kept company by our two dogs and a cat, all rescued animals. After the Stanford medical miracle, perhaps Carole can be considered ‘rescued’, too. You can contact us at bob@besidesthecancer.org . ABOUT THE BOOK If everyone's life is a book, and every day a page, then there are some days that deserve to be dog-eared. Your high school graduation, your wedding day, the birth of your children, and the day that your doctor discusses cancer with you for the first time. I wrote "You Mean, Besides the Cancer?" to vent frustration, to keep hold of my sanity, and hopefully help future caregivers. If you are a caregiver, or about to be one, this book can hopefully shortcut the learning curve that sliced me to shreds. This book is the story of my wife's cancer and our journey through the medical system that eventually led us to one of the most cutting edge, lifesaving surgeries on earth. You can buy the book on our blog or online at the usual online bookstores. The price of the e-book is $1.99. It's as low as they'd let be price it. This book was not written to make money. Our blog is http://besidesthecancer.org.

5 comments

  1. Avatar of Trish

    Bob, I am so sorry for this news of the progression of your wife’s cancer. It is a terrible, terrible realization and so painful. I am heartbroken with you.

    You have not and will not fail. Your mission may have changed and you may not be able to save her life or beat cancer but you will succeed in making your lovely wife’s transition as peaceful and pain-free with as much love as possible. It is clear from your writings you will make this happen. Your strength in the next moment will return. You have a team of caregivers with our own swords and missions behind you.

    Sending you both peace and strength. With much care, Trish

  2. Avatar of Denise

    Hi Bob–Where there’s courage, there is no failure. And, I can guarantee you that Carole sees you today as she has seen you every day–as her knight, her hero. Take heart, my friend, because you always have Carole’s heart. Just as she has yours. That’s your legend.

    Keep us posted.

    (Hope the hangover wasn’t too bad.)

  3. Avatar of Pegi

    Bob, I can’t even imagine being able to standup after news like that. I am so sorry that this horrible disease is progessing. You love Carole so well, and care for her so perfectly. Its and extraordinay gift; have faith you will find your strength when you need it most. We’re all here, an army of us, ready, willing and able to support you in anyway we can. I agree quite strongly with Denise, you are already a hero.

  4. Avatar of Janet

    Bob you are a true meaning of a husband who will be blessed later on in life. I know of one other person like you and that is my husband, as not only has he helped me through three major surgeries and cancer treatment and having my mom and grandmother living with us. And he had never left me down. There us a store in the sky for you.

  5. Bob, I stood in your shoes several years ago. When you are at that crossroad in life where you realize the scariest and bravest thing at the same time is when you tell the world that the most important thing to you is the person that is fading away. You are right ..you don’t prepare. You embrace each moment trying to savor every part of the gift you’ve been blessed with.

    And you do that well, noting that you said you “promised to treat her as nothing less then an adult.”

    Don’t dwell on the future. You can deal with that later.

    But you do deserve all the honor and accolades that come with you being her knight in shining armor standing steadfast at her side. Don’t be afraid to accept that and embrace those hugs. And let those hugs support you when others around don’t.

    The sun always shines….

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