Saturday, March 24, 2012

when caregivers get sick - lung cancer

"Talk by a poet who has not been in the moon is likely to be dull.”
Mark Twain
Like Twain’s spurious poet, I was guilty ofdully sharing the statistics of risk in long term caregiving.  Yes, the stress diminishes my immune systemand increases my chances of cancer and chronic illness. Yes, my life expectancywill be shorter and my mortality rate higher. After all I have been a spouse caregiverfor over 22 years.

No longer am I a dull poet of the risks in longterm caregiving -  three days beforeChristmas a chest X-ray revealed a ‘nodular density’ in my left lung.

Actually I was driving with Patti when my cellphone rang. Pulling over I tried to juggle a life altering conversation whileavoiding alerting much less alarming Patti. Shamefully I was grateful forPatti’s Multiple Sclerosis short term memory loss. Caregiving never reallygives you even a moment to focus on yourself.

At this point, sometimes a story is best told by taking a briefpeak at the last chapter first …

St. Patrick’s Day morning I was discharged from the hospital threedays after successful surgery for lung cancer. Now home recovering it’s time toshare because ‘my story’ is now part of ‘our story’.

Back to Dec 22 between holiday schedules andthe methodical plodding of medical testing it would be 27 days before I got tosit down and talk with a medical professional.

That ‘vague nodular density’ on an X-ray begatan 8mm ‘spiculated nodule’ on a CAT scan which begat an 8mm ‘irregular nodule,with an SUV max of less than 2.0’ on a PET scan. 

Feeling abandoned by the medical profession, theGrim Reaper moved into my head and became my new BFF. Of course I couldn’tsleep and the Reaper and I spent the holidays and the month of January surfingthe Internet with my copies of each test and radiologist’s impressions tryingto determine how long I had to live.

Simultaneously, I could not comprise oncaregiving for Patti. Concealing everything from everyone, I stole only themoments to pause and treasure each ‘last’ Christmas, ‘last New Years’, etc.

I began living two lives.
(to be continued … since its inception Caregivingly Yours entrieshave courteously not exceeded 350 words)