First things first. I am fine. No real changes in my treatment nor the long range outlook for my Cancer battle. The past three weeks have been filled with the normal oncologist visits and chemo treatments. There has been lots to do around Church as we get ready to celebrate Christmas and the blog has taken a back seat for a few weeks.
I have had a few interesting experiences over the past few weeks…
PRETZELSOne of the joys of living near Philadelphia is the pretzels. I used to buy them from the street vendors. You should have heard my mother in law protest as I would roll my window down to pick up a few pretzels at a traffic light. Who knew where they had been? Boy did they taste good. Today we have a better alternative than buying pretzels off of street vendors, we simply go to Philly Pretzel Factory.
The smell inside the store is amazing. Hot pretzels at the ready. Nothing better on a cold, dreary day. A few Sundays ago I stopped and got some pretzels on my way home so I could enjoy them as I watched the game. I ate a few but there were some left over so I put them back in their bag and left them on the kitchen counter.
Monday night rolled round. I was halfway through the football game and I started craving a hot pretzel. Part of the genius of these Philly Pretzel Factory pretzels is that you can take an old, cold pretzel…place it in the microwave and bring it back to life in a few seconds. I headed to the kitchen but could not find any of my pretzels.
I asked Rayann if she had eaten the last few. She claimed she had not. I asked Nancy if she had seen my missing pretzels. She assured me she had not done anything to my missing pretzels. I hunted high and low with no success. Finally, with a hint of desperation I looked in the garbage can.
And what to my wondering eyes should appear, the eight Philly Factory Pretzels that had mysteriously disappeared!
Nancy finally confessed that she must have thrown them out, “because they were hard and not any good anymore.” I educated her on the process of bringing pretzels back to life in a microwave. She was not impressed. She was even less impressed when I told her I might try and “rescue” a few from the garbage can…I mean they were in a bag…it could not be any worse than buying them off the street corners. 🙂
In the end I ate a cookie.
For the next few days I gave Nancy a hard time about throwing away my pretzels. “I can’t believe you would throw away my perfectly good pretzels.”
After a few days it became clear to me that I was really focused on loss. Those stupid pretzels pointed to more loss in my life. I may have been voicing frustration over them but the feelings came from other places.
This neuropathy continues to plaque me and I have lost feeling in my hands and feet. Working in my shop I find it hard to pick up a single screw out of a pile. When I touch Nancy I do not feel her the way I used to.
I am not as stable or sure footed as I used to be. It is not unusual for me to stumble a little as I walk around. The other day I almost fell while simply walking across my basement. I miss the person I once was.
I may give voice to mourning the loss of my pretzels…but it is much deeper.
Nancy has a lot on her plate these days. She is caring for a lot of people and it is not easy.
Many of you are familiar with the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, these days Nancy and I laugh and say she is “raising a village.”The other week Nancy and I were driving somewhere and she turned to me and said, “If you are not careful I will leave you on the side of the road.” Nancy claims she said she would leave me in a parking lot. Somehow being left in a parking lot is better. According to Nancy the lot would be lighted, safer and probably have a bench for me to sit on.
Parking lot or side of the road I am not to thrilled at the possibility of being left somewhere to fend for myself.
A year ago I would have laughed it off and said, “bring it on.” I can walk home from here, no problem. Today it would be a problem.
I am sure I must have said or done something to cause Nancy to threaten to leave me stranded. It might have had something to do with pretzels…I can’t be sure.
I share this story only so you think about the caregivers in your life. Any of you who know Nancy know she is the nicest, most caring person you will ever meet. You know she loves me more than anything in this world and that she will do whatever she needs to do to care for me.
There are times when I apologize for how difficult and crazy her world has become because of my illness. She does not like that. There are not supposed to be apologies…it is simply what life is and we will walk it together. We are doing really good in the midst of a difficult time. In a crazy kind of way my illness has brought us even closer together.
In spite of all these truths about Nancy and how we are doing on this journey there are times she “feels like leaving me in a parking lot.” That is okay. I am not always easy. My illness does not make life easy. As hard as it is for me to see what once was it is equally as hard on her. Her life is radically different because of the journey we are on.
Look at the caregivers around you. Take a moment to ask them how they are doing. Push past the “I’m okay.” Ask them how life has changed since they have started providing care for the loved one in their life. Ask them if and how they are making time for themselves. Invite them to coffee, provide them an opportunity to sit and relax for a few moments. Patients need care…so do their caregivers.
Owen (Rayann’s dog) and I recently had one of those moments where you do not know whether to laugh or cry. Our basement has become my study and in my study there is a recliner. I used it to read and these days it has become my favorite place to take an afternoon nap. Wood stove on, lights low, it is the perfect place to recharge.
Owen has learned that when he hears the recliner going back I am headed for a nap. He views the sound of the chair moving back as an invitation to come and join me. Owen will stand by the chair all pitiful and lonely looking until I give him permission to jump into the chair so we can share a nap.
The other day we had just finished a decent nap. I was drifting back and forth between sleep and alertness. Owen was resting peacefully.All of a sudden I was wide awake! Feet up in the air. Head on the floor. Owen was nowhere to be seen. That dumb dog had finished his nap, jumped off the feet of the recliner and sent it flying like a tetor-totter. Not these PC, safety minded tetor-totters of today but the kind I grew up with. The ones where you could get your “partner” miles in the air, smile at their impending doom, and then slide off…watching them plummet to the ground and bounce a few times when they hit earth. Yeah, I was that kid. Every now and then you come across a playground that has not given in to the calls for three feet of mulch beneath all equipment to “soften” the fall. I am always tempted to relive my childhood, but I am afraid my partner will move faster than I do and it will be me hurtling towards the earth.
Lying on my back, feet in the air I was unable to move. I reached up and closed the recliner. Maybe that would change the balance and I could return to an upright position, no luck. I called for Rayann. She came into the basement and asked, “Where are you dad?” People apparently tend to overlook an upside down recliner with someone stuck in it.
As she laughed she came over and helped upright the chair and return my world to “normal”.
The dog and I are reassessing our relationship.
Remember, God is Good All the Time…All the Time God is Good