We sat in Alex’s office. I know he had been depressed. I’d tried everything. I’d tried cheerful things, nice meals.
No that sort of thing wasn’t working. Life in his shoes is difficult. After the cancer treatment he has never felt better or close to what he thought was better or even normal. I have this vague feeling that he felt that he’d come away from throat cancer treatment cured and feeling like a 20 yr old man. Not one who is turning 67 with a very long extended list of health and mental health issues. Okay, not the crazy scary mental health issues, the kind that is chronic depression along with chronic PTSD.
Since his stroke that he says wasn’t a stroke that affected his brain/eye co-ordinaton, he has decided that he doesn’t have enough balance to ever ride again. Well, last year he didn’t have the energy. I have spent the past 10 years getting mules ready for him to ride. I catch, groom, saddle, and do all the work.
However, even though he feels he has a huge balance issue, he seems to be able to do all sorts of things that require adapting to ‘this issue’. One being climbing a ladder 12 feet into the air and working on stretching an electric line.
I know his COPD has gotten far worse yet he wishes to think that it isn’t and that he is just winded. I’ve gotten the filthy dirty look when I pop an oximiter onto his finger. Unless he works at it, his 02 level falls.
Anyway in his conservation with Alex he exudes despair. He claims he needs to be 100% again. Alex discusses work arounds and tells him straight that this may be how it is going to be. Then he decides maybe he doesn’t want to live this way. He goes on and on about how is life is nothing, how nothing…nothing … nothing.
Alex asks if he is going to kill himself. He answers in a surprised voice “NO!”. Then he goes on and asks what kind of life is he leading. Nothing is good, nothing in his life is good.
Is this the real way he feels? All the glumness and angst– is it for Alex and a captive audience? At home he is not that grim. Although lately he has spent days just sitting. We came away from the appointment with another appointment to see his Psychiatrist, to see if the antidepressants are working.
How does this make me, the caretaker feel? We are aging and that is the simple truth. He faces many health issues to be addressed with his heart and lungs. Now we add what could be some intense surgeries to the face to remove skin cancers. I don’t think he even realizes what it will entail. To not do it is eventual death.
Which brings us to the Quality of his life. If we can help his attitude, perhaps the quality of life will be better even against the looming medical issues.
For me, I have to get out of my recent slump and find joy again in my life. I cannot live for his misery. I am the caretaker but I am not going to be suffocated by misery.