I am finding that one of the most difficult things about being suddenly and seriously ill is trying to figure out how I can care for the care-givers, meaning my family. Of course, when someone like me is seriously ill, the attention first points to me. But then, we must start to care for the care-givers and me, being the one ill and the father and husband, must be a primary source of that care.
The difficulty is having so much on my plate to deal with. The constant ill-feeling and pain. The fear of the unknown, including death and suffering. Then, I must find the energy to provide care back.
I have walked through being a care-giver to the care-giver when Denise’s father was ill and died. She did the same to me when my father and mother both passed. It is hard enough in those situations, when you are otherwise normal, to find the skills and words to provide that care to someone else who is caring for someone suffering and dying. But when it is you who is the sufferer, you must still find the way and the energy to meet those needs and that is where it is difficult.
There is always guilt when you are the victim of disease, especially when it impacts people you love. I can’t imagine the guilt if the disease was partially my fault, say I was a two-pack-a-day smoker for 40 years and then developed lung cancer that was directly related to smoking. But even though I had no responsibility to my disease, living far healthier than many of my friends and family, eating almost vegan at times, running six miles once a week (at age 63) and shorter runs three times a week, and then, for no known reason, a medical calamity strikes. Still I feel guilt. I think at times how I wish Dense had never met me, to spare her from this. I wish at times I was living alone in some Byzantine monastery cave deep in Anatolia, where my illness would only impact me and no one else. But I don’t. I live with Denise and I have five wonderful children who care about me. While reassuring and comforting to me, it spreads the grief beyond the borders of myself and that I regret. I always wanted to bring them happiness.
There are so many challenges one can face in life and serious illness is one of the worse. But, finding the energy and wisdom to care for those who are suffering in my wake, is one of the most difficult. But they must survive. They must go on. They must thrive and be healthy, physically and emotionally and I must do my best to assure this course for them. But it is hard.