Denial Or Optimism: Blurring The Line For Survival


Image by califmom via Flickr

“We really want to help you.”

“This is an aggressive disease.”

“There’s a very real chance this won’t work.”

“I’m nervous about doing the transplant.”

“You understand the risks are increased because of your situation.”

I see it now for what it is. The hesitation in the doctor’s words, movements, the catch in his voice. He’s scared.

At first I thought I was projecting my own fears, but not after yesterday. Not after the doctor said, “I’m nervous.”

Bob answered back, “But if you don’t put me in the game, I won’t have a chance to bat.”

And I sat in the stands, wondering why we have to play this game. Why didn’t we sign up for shuffleboard?

Radiation ends in three more days. Thursday.

Bob will have a CT on Friday. We’ll meet with Dr. Waffle Cone again on Monday to go over the results of the CT, discuss the state of Bob’s lung, the risk of pneumonia, and, I’m sure, again, the very real risks of the transplant.

What we don’t always discuss, but have, is the alternative.

Doing nothing.

That’s the other option. That’s it, really. Palliative care. Keeping him comfortable until he dies.


Until my husband dies.

Doing nothing until my husband dies.

I’m standing at a craps table in Vegas and I’m gambling with my husband’s life.

I grew up in Nevada. I don’t gamble. I’ve never played craps. I don’t want to start now. And I don’t want to start with my husband’s life, but I don’t get a choice.

Instead, I get this.

I get to pretend in front of my kids that their father is going to have a transplant that we hope will make him better, knowing full-well that in a matter of weeks, they may have no father at all.

I get to go about my days with a husband who can barely hold my hand at times because the pain is too excruciating to extend his arm, but at least he’s here, and he can laugh, and he’s my partner, and their father, and my world.

I get to spend my nights, lying awake, listening to him breathe, cough, moan in pain, but he’s here, and I can talk to him, ask him what he needs, try to make him comfortable.

I’m supposed to be supportive, his cheerleader, looking at the positive, being convinced he’ll pull through this, but I’m so fucking scared I can hardly breathe. I don’t know how to be Pollyana.

I just know how to be afraid.