Caregiving started with a crash into my life. First, there was the worst diagnosis possible, doled out factually after extensive testing. Then there was the harsh realization of what patients and their loved ones go through, especially when entering extensive inpatient chemotherapy.
After going through the registration process involving insurance and medical records, we were escorted up to the 5th floor cancer ward. The nice lady kept up a chattering banter, perhaps to distract us from the oncoming shock. We kept following her as she was showing us around–yet her words seemed to be outside somewhere as I had trouble hearing and processing the information.
It seemed to splatter straight out of a horror movie where the ghostly ghouls rise up from the misty graveyard, stretching their arms and advancing eerily toward us. It was easy to distinguish patients from the others. There was not a single hair on any of the inpatients on this chemo ward. I pasted a pleasant look on my face and tried to act as if I was not in shock. My husband seemed ok as he had complete faith in our wonderful oncologist, Dr. Charles Yen.
A few days later after falling headlong in the rhythm of daily visits and being vaguely aware of comfort and encouragement from friends and hospital staff, enough time had passed that I realized I was beginning to relax my tensed arms and tight fists.
I began to see the patients as real people like my husband whose cancer had progressed to the point of requiring hospitalization for their more intense runs of chemotherapy.
It took many weeks for my cognitive abilities to return to normal–as lost as I was in shock and grief, and let’s face it, desperation. I was faced with watching the love of my life suffer alongside financial devastation and the necessity of hanging on to whatever bravery I could muster.
It still is perplexing how I made the transition to being a caregiver. It’s amazing how we can adjust our feelings and behaviors once we align our thinking with the facts at hand. We now live fairly pleasantly even though his life is a compromise with weakening and neuropathy, the inheritance of his Stage IV cancer. We cherish each day and even have some fun along the way:-)