Living with a terminal illness

I am humbled.

Image by squishband via Flickr

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while. Mr Anonymous has an inoperable tumour in the right hemisphere of his brain, which means the left side of his body is mostly paralysed. His condition is neurologically complex, to the extent that he could die either any minute, or live for a few more years. Either way, it’s terminal, and the suspense is what depresses him most.

I’ve come to understand how his mind state can differ drastically from one day to the next, because of the conflicting emotions. Sometimes he begs me to pray for him to die, to get it over and done with. Other times he pleads, stating that he is not ready to die yet, and asks what is on the other side; would his wife and children be there. He asks me this despite his Atheist standpoint because, let’s all be honest please, in the face of death you never know how you will feel.

Being bedbound makes him feel useless, so I bring him round poetry and stories sometimes, and this cool device one wears on their hand to exercise it (his functional right hand). I love that he remembers my name, Ruth, even when he forgets some of the other Carers names. I feel we have a genuine friendship, he even agreed to be my guardian angel, which made me laugh because he says: “Guardian angels are the ones who move people up lists and grant wishes, because they seem so serene and wise that no one notices what they’re getting away with.”

It makes me sad that he has deteriorated in the time I’ve known him; he was able to walk slightly, now we use the electric hoist to move him. I feel sorry for his wife because she is going through the same hell that he is, she doesn’t rest enough, is never truly at ease but is always affectionate and polite despite her pain.

“There’s always one happy day, even when the rest are bleak and numbered.” – He said this to me this evening when we put him to bed. He said this is the happiest day he has had since being diagnosed, and that seeing us Carers visit is what makes his day everyday. Well, he made my day just by smiling so freely.

This is why I want to be a Doctor, to see that same smile on the faces of patients and go to sleep at night knowing I have truly helped another person. Being a Carer is helping others of course, but being a Doctor would mean so much more than just making someone comfortable; I could actually help cure them, find a solution, connect with them and their families in such a way that would minimise the pain, even if I am only in their acquaintance briefly. I know I am capable of this, and Mr Anonymous has reminded me of this regularly, he always says he can see me being a marvelous Doctor. I hope he is right, that I can make it someday. And I wish him and his family well, they deserve to be happy.

2 responses

  1. Ahhh, I know this has been said to you, but you’re going to make a wonderful doctor.

    Reading stories like these about people like Mr Anonymous makes me wish I could do so much to help people in that condition because at some point, we or our family members are all going to be in a bad state of health near death one day. That’s pretty bleak, sorry. :( But I know I’m in no way strong enough to deal with it.

    But like I may have said before, I admire that you aren’t afraid to share these moments with the people you take care of, even if you’ll lose them eventually. I think it must really help them get through their days, as sick as they are and as powerless as they may feel and just those acts of kindness you give, or the attention you pay to what they say and feel, probably goes a long way as well. :)

    • That’s so lovely of you Nina, from everything you say I think you would be wonderful at caring for those you love and even strangers. You said you would not be strong enough to deal with it, but from your worldly outlook revealed in your writing I think you certainly would =)

      I find it hard to write movie reviews and such lately, so my blog has kind of turned into a diary where I don’t write in it very often, sorry if it’s too bleak, I’m sure I will get back to writing upbeat things soon as well. Thanks for reading, your comments always reveal interesting views, such as where you said we all end up in a bad state of health or near death, which is true.

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