Open Up the Vents

Time to open up all the vents and air things out.

I get mad.  I know my husband is in a fight for his life and I know he’s sick as a dog and miserable but I get really mad about the whole situation and have to keep it all bottled up.

I saw this coming three or four years ago.  He just quit trying.  He’s always been a couch potato, always drank too much, always eaten whatever he wanted but he really threw in the towel about four years ago. Started coming home from work and began drinking and eating junk food within minutes of getting home. He wouldn’t walk with me or get any exercise at all.  He’d gripe about me fixing healthy dinners and make a frozen pizza for himself or run out for fast food.  He was smoking three packs of cigarettes a day and living on pure junk food and drinking himself into oblivion every evening.

And I could see the toll it was taking on his health.  He’d go to the doctor because he felt like crap and always want some kind of pill to make it better.  His doctor started calling him “Mr. Noncompliant” because he wouldn’t listen and do what he needed to do.

I tried to get him to cut down on smoking, tried to get him to exercise, tried to get him to eat right and quit drinking and it led to a lot of arguments and friction.  He just made up his mind that he was going to do whatever he wanted and nothing I said was going to make any difference.

I kept telling him, “Don’t you care that you’re killing yourself?  Doesn’t it matter to you?  We’re finally getting to a point where we can retire and enjoy life and I don’t want you to wind up having a heart attack or a stroke or getting cancer.  If you don’t care about yourself, what about me?  Doesn’t it matter to you that I’m the one who’s going to have to care for you when it all catches up to you?”  And he’d get mad and tell me to quit nagging him.

So now he’s had cardioversion, quintuple bypass surgery and been diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer all in the last six months.  And he gets to take it easy and avoid exerting himself and I have to pick up the slack.  I get to be the supportive, loving wife.

A therapist calls him every couple of weeks.  Someone his doctors have on their team who calls him and just talks to him about what he’s going through and listens to him.  She called today and I felt my anger rising as he talked with her about his bad luck.  Having all this happen so unexpectedly.  How unprepared he was and how miserable he feels.  I was overhearing the conversation as I was taking down the shower curtain to wash it after he vomited all over the bathroom and then crawled back to bed leaving me to clean it up because he’s so weak he can hardly stand.

I’ve tried so hard to avoid saying, “Dammit!  You brought this on yourself.  I did everything in my power to make you see what was happening and you didn’t care enough to pay attention and do something about it.” I’ve kept all of the negativity bottled up and been so careful not to let him see anything but love and encouragement and positive energy.

After the therapist hung up, I told him I should find a support group or talk to someone.  I needed to go for counseling or something because it’s not easy for me either.  And he said, “I know it’s hard for you, honey.  I know.  But I just get so tired of being sick.  Sometime’s I just don’t care anymore.  I really don’t.”

And the shit hit the fan.  I burst into tears and said, “You know, that’s just about the cruelest thing you’ve ever said to me.  I’ve tried really hard to avoid saying this but you’re in this mess because you didn’t care. Because you wouldn’t listen to anyone or do anything when everyone was telling you you were heading for trouble.  You’ve been sick for six months but I’ve been watching you kill yourself for five years.  And I’ve begged you to stop destroying your health and take better care of yourself but you didn’t care enough about me to change.  So I’m pissed.  I’m angry that you have cancer and I’m angry that I can’t do anything to make it better.  And I’m angry that I saw this coming and tried to warn you and you wouldn’t listen.  And I’m even pissed that I shouldn’t be saying these things because I’m trying so hard to remain positive and be supportive but sometimes the anger is so strong that I’m choking on it.  I’m here for you. I’m doing everything I can for you and I just don’t want to hear that you don’t fucking care.”

Then Donnie got mad and said, “Oh, so it’s the old ‘I told you so’ routine?  It’s all my fault that I have cancer and heart problems?  What about your brother?  He’s always been so perfect and now he has congestive heart failure.  Is that his fault?  How do you know this is all my fault?  Are you blaming me because I have cancer?”

And I stopped.  I walked away and had a good cry and he came and hugged me and he thinks I’m all better. But I’m not.  Thank God I didn’t spew out the rest of it while I was venting.  How I feel betrayed because I’ve given him my entire life.  Been with him since I was 17 and I’ve been a damn good wife for 43 years.  I’ve been supportive and loving and done everything in my power to show him how much I love him and our family.  I feel so betrayed that I gave him all my good years and now, when I’m tired and worn out and getting old, he’s probably going to leave me.  And I don’t want to be alone.  I don’t want to have to spend the rest of my life without him.  And every time he says he doesn’t want to eat or he won’t get out of bed or he doesn’t do exactly what his doctors tell him to do, I feel like he doesn’t care enough about me to fight for me.  But I try to be patient and positive and encouraging and I do my crying at night after he goes to bed.