June 20th, 2010
Today is my wedding anniversary. It’s also Fathers Day. I am reminded of how incredibly fortunate I am to have landed my husband all those years ago.
I love this picture. It captures so much about the kind of daddy he is.
Cancer treatment has tested our relationship in a way that new jobs, cross-country moves, and newborns can’t touch. In all of those other stresses, we were a team. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We communicate well. Although we don’t always see eye to eye, we share a set of basic values in how we live our lives. We know how to have fun and cut loose. We know that we can depend on the other one to come through, time and time again.
During this treatment, I have had to renege on many aspects of this partnership. Over the past 7 months, I have not always been able to step up when I can see he has given all he can and needs a break. I have not been able to help weigh options to find the wisest parental intervention. I have not been a good sounding board for things going on at work or in his relationships. I have not been able to say, “Honey, you’ve had a long day. I’ll get this one.” My husband has had to pick up most of the slack.
I have often talked about the crazy roller coaster ride that treatment has put me on, but my husband has had quite a trip himself. Since I had a longer stretch than expected between surgery and radiation, I started to get back some of my old vim and verve. I made a birthday party, complete with homemade cake, for my 10 year old. I handled Laundry Day from start to finish, from washing to folding and putting away. I cooked dinners. I cleaned out layers of detritus from my pack rat 7 year old’s room.
In this reprieve, my husband collapsed with two back-to-back bouts of strep throat coupled with profound exhaustion. Although I felt satisfaction in pulling more of my weight and letting him take care of himself, I lacked the generous grace I usually aim for, given that I was running at about 75% of my usual energy.
Last week was a real test for us. The radiation fatigue kicked in after 4 weeks of treatment. Our car’s gas tank got punctured, requiring a two-hour tow truck wait in 100˚ heat, hours of phone hassles with insurance people and mechanics. During a brief storm, a tall tree in the woods behind our house called it quits and let go of the soil, crashing into our back fence. And my husband got punched in the face. He was in a Thai boxing class. A yellow belt sparring partner knew just enough to be dangerous and popped him in the nose.
Right now, I can’t pull my weight. My efforts to step up and help him let go fall short. Between my limits and his depletion, the gap between his needs and my contribution is like nothing we have have ever experienced before.
All I can hope is that, over time, my energy will come back and we’ll find some kind of equilibrium again. In the meantime, we still can sing the Beatles in harmony and spontaneously break into a romantic dance in the middle of Laundry Day.
I guess we’ll muddle through somehow.
This entry was posted on Sunday, June 20th, 2010 at 3:23 pm and is filed under Treatment, Wellness. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.