This morning was bad.
Everything with my Darling Husband is exacerbated because of the physical pain he endures almost constantly. He is astonishingly brave and patient, but sometimes it gets to him. This morning he woke up cranky, and who can blame him? His right shoulder has been painful for weeks. It is now suspected to be bursitis, and he’s to get an x-ray. If it is bursitis, he will have a cortisone injection.
The peripheral neuropathy in his legs has got worse lately, too, and the things that used to relieve it are no longer working. He has just started new medication; if it has no obvious effects after a week, it can be increased. Apparently the doctor must first see if it reacts badly with everything else he is taking. So, for the present, his pain is not lessened.
On top of all that, he is obsessing more and more about finishing his autobiography. When I think of the years in which I begged him to get on with it ... ! But he felt no urgency then. Now he is confronting the idea that he won’t be around forever. When the pain is extreme, he sometimes thinks he must be going to die very soon. (Or maybe it’s a wish.) Recently he became convinced his kids hadn’t phoned him in months. This is not so; they love their Dad and are very good about keeping in touch. I told him they had spoken to him recently. He believed me, but kept forgetting quite quickly.
‘Tell them, if they want to talk to me they’d better hurry up,’ he growled. I don’t think I’ve got long.’ I’m no medical expert, but I don’t myself see any signs that he’ll be keeling over very soon.
Sometimes I can turn these conversations into jokes and laughter. Sometimes reasoning with him works. This morning was pretty hopeless. It is often hard to understand what he is getting at; he has notions in his mind which don’t match reality, and now lacks some of the words to explain. When I ask questions to try and understand, he gets impatient with me because he is sure I already know. Sometimes he accuses me of ‘double speak’.
Finally, this morning, I understood what he has been on about for a few days. He used to do typesetting and layout. He wants to set up some autobiographical chapters that way and is complaining that our unit doesn’t have the room, the equipment or the trained personnel. As he does more and more now, he announced that we should go home. Then he collected himself and said, ‘Oh, we are home, aren’t we?’ (Perhaps the many times I have had to tell him so are starting to sink in.)
I told him — several times in between his forgetting again — that typsetting and layout are done on computer now. This occasioned various responses:
‘I don’t care. It should be done properly.’
‘Well why did those clowns ask me to do it then?’ (I was unable to ascertain what clowns; he told me he didn’t know.)
‘Well I don’t know how to do it on the computer, so I’ll have to quit.’ (I encouraged this decision, you can bet —but it was soon forgotten.)
‘I’ll have to point and you’ll have to do the pasting.’
The experts advise, ‘Don’t argue; agree.’ When I agreed to that last but said I couldn’t do it right now, that pacified him.
He was very angry with me during much of this conversation. I was in tears a few times, for all sorts of reasons.
‘Stop that,’ he shouted. ‘Crying won’t get you anywhere.’
This is the same bloke who only yesterday said, ‘How was I lucky enough to marry a treasure like you?’ When he’s more-or-less lucid, he’s very appreciative of everything I do for him — which is more and more as time goes on. This last week I have added shaving him, and helping him shower, dry himself and dress, to my regular duties.
Now I am out on my respite morning. I am sitting in a cafe with my laptop. Before I left home, DH said to Jay, the nice young man who is his carer, ‘I don’t think you can be much help to me today.’ Jay told him he was there to help me for the first one and a half hours (he does domestic duties for that time) and after that would see what he could do for DH. As I left, I heard Jay sing out to DH from where he was cleaning the bathroom, ‘If you need anything, just holler out!’ He seems to do an excellent job; I left feeling that DH was in good hands. It’s nice to have a break.
Writing this may not seem like much of a break, but at least I can get a clear go at it. This morning I was only just dressed when Jay arrived, because DH kept calling me back to the bedroom to confer on his typesetting project.
What I would really like to do is relieve his anxiety, but I can’t see how. I just have to hope that he forgets this obsession eventually, as he has some others.
Tonight I discovered that it wasn’t his autobiography he wanted to lay out. He selected some pages from a magazine of historical photos and asked my opinion on which ones looked good together. As he talked I realised he was back in his past when he used to produced newsletters for businesses. He wanted to do a presentation, ‘to show them what we can do’ and told me we should hand copies out to about twenty people.
I went along with it and helped him decide on the placement of some photos, then persuaded him to leave the rest until tomorrow. He was happy to have made a start, but I dread the possibility that he will want to take the project all the way to the conclusion he has in mind!
P.S. He had his ultrasound this afternoon. It is bursitis and he will get the injection on Friday.