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
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