Cathy has been in Hospice for five weeks now. It feels like forever. I am struggling with watching Cathy's gradual shutting down. She is at the point now where she is bedridden; her leg muscles can't support her and so any scenery changes she wants to make are done with nurses and a wheelchair. Her short term memory continues to fade, as well. People, faces, events and things are all crystal clear to her. But she can't keep up with her phone. In bed. She can't quite remember from day-to-day how to work it, either. She learns it in the morning, but by the evening, she needs help again. Hospice keeps telling me it's "disease progression." It's getting on my nerves. She's not sick, she's hungry.
Her body is still alive; it wants to be. It's running the best it can on such limited calories. They give her food, and then two hours later, they have to pump most of it back out. She's not getting even all of the protein that's in the meager amount of food she's drinking. So she gets a little weaker every day as her body tries to pull fuel in from somewhere and unfortunately, it's taking it out of her muscles.
She used to not be able to sit through a two hour movie. She had to get up, move around, always be doing something. Now she needs help going to the bathroom. I know she's angry and frustrated, but she doesn't yell or scream. She's always apologetic when she calls them in for help. I have to remind her to work through her feelings with the councilor who visits every day. Otherwise, she'd ask them how their day was. So, she's still Cathy, as much as she possibly can be.
Me? I am a shotgun shell full of bile and broken glass. I have no place to put my inexhaustible rage, and so I have made the decision to stay as far away from people as I can for the time being. Also, I'm limiting my Internet exposure, for reasons I shouldn't have to explain. Finally, I am so in fight-or-flight mode that I have fallen back on my old failsafe of compartmentalizing. Yes, it's compartmentalizing, that wonderful coping mechanism handed down from father to son throughout the ages. Here's how it works:
Picture a paper bag in your mind. Now, from inside your own head, scream into that paper bag like you are falling into the abyss. When you're out of breath, simply gather up the bag and drop it into a box marked "shit I don't want to process right now" and put that box on the metal shelf in your mental garage. That's it! Now there's no more crying! No more yelling at the television! Displaced aggression? Forget it about it. It's compartmentalization! And it's good for current events, inexplicable tragedies, and any kind of trauma you've not processed as an adult. Compartmentalization: Try it Today!
I'm not kidding. I can't seem to function without running into Cathy-Thoughts, and it derails me for up to an hour sometimes. Working the business without her seems particularly invasive, a betrayal on my part as I try to make sense of where we are in this ongoing fustercluck with regard to re-opening the theater. I have to do my part, and then think about what Cathy would be doing, and it feels like I'm writing a letter with someone else's hand. I hate it.
This New Normal is just that; this is our life right now, and it's effectively on hold. While it's on hold, I have decided to get a head start now on making sure I don't follow my wife six months later. Starting next week, I will be on a medically supervised diet to get this weight off as quickly and as safely as possible. My health has gotten worse since all of this started, and I am frankly worried that I am setting myself up for a major problem that I can't come back from. Also, Cathy is worried about me and has mobilized several of her friends and family to check on me to make sure I don't wind up face-down in a bucket of bean dip.
I am telling you this because I will be talking and posting about this often, and I don't want this to seem like it's coming out of the blue. In truth, this has been on the table since 2018, before our world became Oncology 101. l don't regret one second of it; I made the right call. But I also put my own health at risk and I can't do that anymore. Especially not now.
I know some of you are worried about me, too, and I appreciate it. That's why I am doing it. You must be exhausted worrying about us. It's gone on for long enough. This has been a long time coming. I need a distraction, and y'all need a little peace of mind, and this kills two birds with one stone.
|The girls, chilling at home, years ago. |