Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Supportive Care

The junior partner of the Bigtime Lung Cancer Guy came into Jim's room to consult with us yesterday.

"We still have plenty of treatments we can give you," he said, kindly. "This isn't a rare cancer and it's not like we're out of ideas. The problem is that your system is too depleted from repeated bouts of cancer and treatments and anything we could give you at this point could kill you faster than it could help you."

The plan of action is to give what's called supportive care--round-the-clock nursing care, nutrition, medication, steroids--to try to build up Jim's reserves. If he regains enough strength, he'll get more chemo.

"Doc, I don't want to sound like I want my husband out of the house so I can throw wild parties, but he's absolutely going to be kept under care until he can get around on his own again, right?"

Because I'm out of the house all day, and even when I've been in the house, I could never manage what I've been seeing them do at the hospital even if I cloned myself.

In fact, I hadn't realized how much I was already doing until I didn't have to do it anymore. It was slow and insidious, like cancer. About a month ago, Jim stopped being able to get up and down the stairs without assistance, so I had to make sure anything he needed was in the house before I went out. Then, he was too tired to cook and too tired to eat and I left little bags and containers of stuff that didn't have to be prepared, just warmed up. Sometimes, not even warmed up. Then everything had to be where he could reach it without bending over. Then everything had to be close to the bed or the kitchen table.

That's when you realize that your life is made up of concentric circles that get smaller and smaller until it's down to just you and your body.

They're going to keep him there, one way or the other. I've been bringing him bits of home to sustain him until he can return to the real thing. I've been going to the office every day, then up to the hospital, then home, where I play White House Press Secretary and give all the friends and relatives the official statement. You've just read one version of it here.

I hadn't realized how much I was already doing until I didn't have to do it anymore. It was slow and insidious, like cancer.

I think of it as boiled-frog syndrome. You know, they say if you throw a frog in boiling water it will jump out. But if you put a frog in water and very slowly heat it up, the frog keeps adapting to each increase in temperature and doesn't realize it's boiling until it's too late.
Annie, yeah, I had another friend make that analogy, only it was back in January when it looked as if the treatments were failing and I realized I was up to my eyeballs in depression.

Now I'm not as depressed. In fact, I'm sort of relieved.
I remember feeling that way when Jacques was really sick and out of it in December. I think in my case, anyway, it was relief from the constant tension of hoping and fighting. Letting go of the struggle and accepting that it was beyond my control. Also, of course, giving some of it up into other people's hands. Now he's in enough of a remission, whatever that means for his kind of illness, so that having the tension back is compensated for by having a companion back.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

nyc bloggers map