This morning my world turned upside down; my sweet, funny, brilliant and handsome husband had yet another TIA– Transient Ischemic Attack. A TIA is the warning of a stroke. He had one three weeks ago despite the fact that he takes a major anti-clotting drug.
When this happens, he loses the ability to speak; he is confused. He is also clearly terrified–who wouldn’t be. Luckily, this episode passed within a few minutes although my finger was on the 911 trigger.
Earlier this month, a cat scan revealed his carotid arteries (big ones, in the neck, direct routes to the brain) over 60% blocked. At this moment he is making his way back from a CT scan with contrast, i.e. iodine, to beter delineate the little rivers of blood in those arteries and veins. And now, we hope, he has come by a good vascular specialist–and picked up the drug he forgot to reorder.
But again the spectre of the two of us, me with my diabetes and mobility and back issues– and my beloved, a step away from the unthinkable, the unbearable, finally chucking it in and bedding down together in a nursing home.
My mind always goes to the worst case scenario for awhile, until it gets too painful. He has now called me, on the far side of the test, and said he’s on his way home. And in addition to having lost two nights’ sleep, I have broken down at the very thought of Brother Decline and Death camping out in our lives.
I don’t want to relive the pathos and courage-driven script of my parents, who took care of each other so imperfectly down the long slide of the seventies and early eighties. They too were out in the country behind drawn curtains, isolated, all of life going on without them and thinking nothing of it.
They had us, and they had me, especially, as after I whispered to my father that we would all be fine if he let go and his intolerable suffering with emphysema came to an end, I put my career and love life on hold and came back to Colorado.
Ever the family hero. Now, Jack and I in discomfitting similitude to my folks’ lives, in the house we put on acreage twenty-five years ago, and our bodies’ systematic dysfunction and betrayal. I’ve learned that I must begin to control my blood sugar. I have been sitting or lying down too long because when I walk my back goes into immediate spasm and now a scary tingling in my limbs. I don’t want bad things to happen to us. I feel that perhaps they wouldn’t, if we moved away or into a community that isn’t as spread out as this one; a change. A new beginning.
But naturally, these wicked late in life things follow you.
It’s scary here, I reluctantly disclose, because of me to some extent. For in my inability to not drive friends away or cope with feelings of betrayal, I live on here with Jack, all but friendless. People I thought would be there for me and I for them all our lives have scattered or turned away.
I played a big part in this because I never understood that when people are being imperfect, not living up to one’s expectations or actually being unkind, you hold your ground, let some mean comment or one that feels that way pass without defending yourself, and love them anyway.
I see now–and have begun to be able to put into practice, Deo Gratias, that we each need to cut each other a lot of slack. Because each of us is weak and strong. Each of us is beautiful and ugly, loving, sometimes mean. Each of us, human.
Ironically, I’m up to 700 Facebook friends. I posted today my pain for my poor husband, and my own fear and pain. I’ve had several good hard cries; through cyber space have come soliticious words.
I placate myself over what might lie ahead for us– with the hope that there will be something he can do, take, undergo, that will lengthen our lives and insure our love.
What do you sign up for when you are mated for life?
I think it’s this. I think it’s days like this, and all the sunny and joyous and fascinating days and nights around them.
Rowing on, signing off. Be well and take heart, fellow cyber sojourners. xj