A Caregivers Perspective
By Stephen Clover
The computer screen is on. I am staring at an internal view of a human being. The graphics are such that I am looking down through a person’s body. Into the skull, down the throat and along the stomach area. It is captivating, and I cannot take my eyes of it.
Our specialist tells me this image is of my wife and I look in horror as he shows me her left lung. There is a growth in it and I do not know what to say. X-rays are one thing but computer pictures in three-dimensional imagery are something else. As the hospital doctor speaks, I hear the words chemotherapy and radiotherapy but the rest is a mumble. I am trying to listen but it goes over the top of my head.
Outside in the fresh air we wait in silence for the van to take us home. Back in our flat, I put on the kettle. I want to tell our Christian friends what has happened but my wife censures me. It is if she is ashamed. This irritates me to no end. When I am in deep trouble, I like to call out for help but she will not let me, I feel so frustrated.
Then a light turns on in my head. This is after all her condition my thoughts tell me, and I need to respect that. I decide to do things her way. Because my wife is deaf, I sit in front of her so she can read my lips. With tears in my eyes, I tell her how much I love her and that somehow we will get through this.
Now faced with my wife’s cancer more and more of the household responsibilities are coming my way. Drawing on my experiences as a single parent, I had a good idea of how to run a house. My mother had also taught me how to cook. My wife sits in her wheel chair and explains very nicely how to prepare her favourite meals. Then there is how many times I should iron my wife’s blouse to get one crease along the arm.
The day finally arrives when we travel to Dunedin for radiotherapy. After a few sessions, my wife found it hard to swallow. No problem KFC do a nice potato and gravy that we found slips down your throat so gently. At Padget House, the other residents show us around. All meals are cooked and sheets changed once a week. Has anyone seen the remote?