Carry On Tuesday – Stop All The Clocks….(W. H. Auden)

Little girl with a dead bird , Jens Adolph Jer...

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Gayle had been sick for years, but her demise was so slow, so painstakingly slow, that it was difficult to judge. She was always very soft-spoken, she talked with a delicate, hushed whisper, always. I always thought if she were an animal, she would be a beautiful young doe.  She was to me still  a beautiful doe, but now older deer and very sick. She wanted no visitors, no-one at all except for her beloved husband of 55 years who remained the love of her life. They wanted only each other through good times and bad; it seemed unimaginable, a love like no other. As you get older that there are not only few happy endings but none.

Her doctor has sent his nurse to their apartment once a week now to check her vital signs; that was the most he could do for her. Her breathing was labored, her muscles had atrophied, she no longer could walk. Paul, her husband, did everything for her; he carried her from room to room, he coaxed  her to eat a teaspoon of chocolate pudding, he sat near her when she was sleeping. He didn’t want her to wake up from a long nap afraid, her voice was so low he was afraid she would call for him and he wouldn’t hear her. He had workers come and put intercoms throughout their house. It made him feel better, to know they were installed even though she probably didn’t have enough strength to push the button.

One afternoon,after she was asleep, he went to his office for a few moments to pay some bills, to grieve for a few moments by himself. This burly, big-hearted man had become nothing but a shell of himself. Once burly and robust he was now thin, his face sallow, the light in his eyes gone. He rubbed his face with his hands, dried the tears, and a long, deep breath and slowly walked back into their bedroom.

He knew something was wrong the second he opened their door, he could sense it without seeing anything or hearing anything. “Gayle” he shouted, “Gayle, wake up” but of course, she didn’t.  He sobbed and shook her, his beautiful wife, cold and stiff, dead, like a tiny dead bird. He screamed, “It was just one minute, why, Jesus, why did you have to take her in those few minutes?” He laid down next to her and bawled like a child. This was a love so primitive, his only love.

He didn’t know what to do, he couldn’t do anything for a long time. He stayed on the bed with her, not moving, not being able to call their children or close friends.”Stop all the clocks, let time stand still, I can’t go on without her” he sobbed. He got up once, many hours later when it was dark outside. He tiptoed to his locked cabinet where he had secretly kept a gun that no one knew about. He got back on to the bed, next to his beloved and at some time in the middle of the night he shot himself in the head, and died next to her.

Nobody knew for two or three days; a concerned friend, after trying to call them for days, finally called the police. The police found them together, in bed, both dead, Life was not worth living without his wife, he had always said. He meant it.

The Tin Man Known As Me

The Wizard of Oz - March 17, 2008 - Act I_180

Image by Brian Negin via Flickr

I am in a world by myself  of chronic pain, fibromyalgia and thyroid disease, yet I coexist with many friends. Friends that have similar ailments, some have the same, others that defy diagnoses but the symptoms define them. I have learned we are more than the sum of our symptoms but I have not yet learned exactly how to deal with it emotionally.

There don’t seem to be medications that  I can take (or haven’t been told about) by the myriad of doctors that I go to help relieve my pain.  First stop, the Rheumatologist for my autoimmune thyroid disease known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and for Fibromyalgia. After that, to the Endocrinologist for thyroid levels. My Internist, the Pulmonologist, the Opthamologist to check for narrow-angled glaucoma. I have seen more “ologists” than a healthy eighty-five year old person and I am not complaining for a second; these are the facts.

If people ask me how I feel, I am at a loss to describe the symptoms. The latest comparison I can make is The Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, without the oil can. I am stiff, I hurt, I move at a slow pace. It is very hard for me to get in a car and get out, these are not smooth actions, often I am holding on and heaving myself up; sometimes once is not enough.  I have balance issues too. I keep trying new medications but haven’t taken one yet that truly works. These are immunosuppressant drugs that are supposed to help relieve the muscle pain and aches I feel all the time, the operative words are “supposed to.” They also take eight long weeks before they kick in…..I wait a lot.

Tomorrow, to “get me back on track” before starting the newest of medications that I don’t even have yet, I am supposed to take Prednisone, 3 days of 30 mg, 3 days of 20 mg, 3 days of 10 mg. I have been on Prednisone before and I have mixed feelings about it. While I had no bad side effects before, there is always that risk. The emotional risk, to me, is even harder. I felt SO GOOD on Prednisone when I needed it last year that when I started lowering the dosage, I actually broke down and cried. In a previous blog I referred to it as if I was in the old movie “Cocoon” where older people feel young again from a miracle and then suddenly a short time later they are themselves again, old, aching, and hurting badly.

Tonight I feel anxious, tired, discouraged and down. I think once I am able to sleep, I will sleep deeply. It is always a game: whether to nap or work through it. Today, I was determined to stay awake. I am  deeply worried about a friend who is very, very sick with cancer. I was too upset to nap so I decided to push through the pain and get busy.  I got myself out of the bedroom and went to the kitchen to bake home-made banana bread for my family. Mushy bananas, a little vanilla, some chocolate chips, some raisins and the basics, to occupy my mind, my hands, and most importantly, my heart.