Things have been pretty quiet in the CrabbyCancer household. CrabbyCancerMan continues in radiation, and has been pleasantly surprised to find that in his case, round 2 is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay easier than round 1. Sure, he’s fatigued, and he’s achey, but without the sores and sharp pain associated with them, and then all of those nasty side effects that were compounded by the chemo. He’s finally gaining weight (that’s a whole other story), and we have a system.
When it came time for my cousin’s bridal shower out of town this past weekend, we decided that I would go and he would stay home. We had thought about having him stay with friends, just for in case. Then we thought about having a friend stay with him, just for in case. But finally he said “You know what? I think I can be home on my own. I have my phone, and there are people I can call if I need them.”
Nervous nelly that I am, I was hesitant, but finally caved. It was going to be two days – what’s the worst that can happen? And the worst didn’t happen – in fact, nothing bad happened at all. He ate (maybe not as much as I would like, but he did), took his medications, and even had friends come to visit. The weekend was a victory! I was thrilled and relieved. He felt empowered – it’s the longest he’s been home on his own, and he managed just fine. So we high-fived, patted each other on the back, celebrated this small victory.
And then the glow burned off. He’s late in his radiation sessions, so the fatigue is intense – when he gets tired, it is a need to sleep right then, not a “finish what you’re doing then take a nap” sort of thing. And the fatigue is intensifies as the sessions wear on.
Shortly after our fist-bumping session, CrabbyCancerMan hit the fatigue wall, so as he rested, I started looking around the house. At first, a wave of annoyance hit me – the house was a mess. The dishwasher was full of clean dishes (started before I left), with a pile of dirties piling out of the sink and over the counter. Dirty clothes were strewn about, the mail was in a heap on the table, books and DVDs piled everywhere, and all of this despite doing a preemptive clean before I left. I spent the first four hours home doing all of the chores that needed doing. Taking out the bag of recycling (extra, due to the liquid meals he’s been having through his feeding tube), taking out the trash, cleaning the litter box, but also laundry, emptying the dishwasher, refilling the dishwasher with the dirty dishes, wiping down the counters, and picking up around the house.
As I tried to return the house to some semblance of order, my annoyance burned off and I started to see the picture of the weekend. The evidence leads me to believe – he made it a point to take care of himself. To eat, to rest, to medicate, and occasionally start a project, enjoy the quiet time alone in the house – a meal, a book, a what-have-you, and then the fatigue would get to him, he’d get tired and leave it where it was. He would forget about it while sleeping and then start a new project when he woke up. So while he was able to take care of himself – he was able to manage his personal needs – he wasn’t able to take care of the day-to-day maintenance of life.
So what did we learn from this whole experience? We learned that he’s able to take care of himself, but not able to maintain his space. We learned that he has enough energy to enjoy life in the moment, but not a bunch of moments in sequence. We learned that he can be on his own for a short while, but he still needs care taking.
I totally should have scheduled the cleaning person to come in today (which is one of the reasons why a cleaning service is one of the best gifts you can give to your friends in need).