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I always knew he was a very good man.
Now I know that he is my hero.
It hasn’t been easy for Jerry the last six months. For anyone who has had a spouse care for them through cancer surgery and chemotherapy, those caretakers are the ones who deserve the kudos for ongoing patience, dedication, resourcefulness, and most importantly, humor.
First, there was the cancer surgery. When I needed help with almost anything, he was there. When I had drains to be drained and measured, he did it with the same devotion and rigor as a science experiment. (I guess you could say remotely that it was one.) He might have relished being not only my caretaker, but I have seen him as my knight in shining armor.
When the surgeon told me that I could go back to a normal life, my husband asked half in jest, “Am I being fired?”
But it wasn’t the end of the journey. To our surprise, I would need chemotherapy, too. I don’t think there is any way to prepare a patient for the demands of treatment, the fatigue, the lack of taste buds, how favorite foods become abhorrent and chocolate/chocolate chip ice cream can become a godsend.
Every day, Jerry would have to do a taste bud check: What sounded good for dinner? I knew what I would make for myself for breakfast and lunch, but Jerry was the dinner chef. Scrambled eggs? Homemade soup? Scrambled eggs? Chicken and baked potato? Scrambled eggs?
Our menu has reduced substantially. Jerry insists on eating what I eat (although he does have wine and margaritas without me—they’re on my yucky list). And when I’ve thought something sounded like it would be tasty, and by dinner time it sometimes sounds awful, Jerry hasn’t blinked an eye and offers other suggestions: Pasta with chicken? Chicken Caesar Salad? Scrambled eggs?
Through it all, he has made me laugh and has provided lightness when I am discouraged. He double-checks the chemo drugs with the infusion nurse. He helps me load up little cups every week with powders, vitamins, and pills. He made an Excel sheet to track where we were in the process. He doesn’t hover: if he sees me washing the kitchen floor, he doesn’t ask me if I’m up to it; he assumes I am and thanks me for doing it afterward (which he does anyway). He offers just enough encouragement to me when there are things I should do (like taking a walk every day), and I make sure he sees me snack throughout the day, so doesn’t worry too much about the weight I’m losing. He never looks at me with pity.
He only looks at me with love.
Happy birthday, Jerry; he is 75 years young today. The man deserves a medal.
How lucky can a woman be?
And to all those spouses and caretakers who have taken on the demanding job of caring for loved ones, I salute all of you.Published in