Monday, January 29, 2007

Pain and Suffering

My mother cautioned me to other choices when I mentioned the prospective, now actual, title of this post. But everybody knows that metastatic lung cancer is no cakewalk. It causes the victim pain and suffering—and eventually death. And, if it happens to someone you love, it causes you pain and suffering, if only empathetically.

Notwithstanding the recent, surprising tumor regression, my father has been sickly for a week. Nausea. Lack of appetite. Dizziness. Difficulty climbing stairs. I followed him up to his bedroom this evening, noticing the syncopated rhythm of his footsteps and the cane: step, step, thump. [Pause] Step, step, thump. He had to stop at the first landing where, with his head resting on the banister, he said softly but with a noticeable hint of anger, “Weak as a kitten.” His frustration at his own enfeeblment was wrenching.

It has become hard to attribute his current symptoms to his most recent chemo treatment. My mother and I each wish we could learn the cause, because maybe then we could find a way to mitigate his discomfort. Knowing also would help alleviate our nagging back–of–the–mind apprehensions—the kind which never really leave you when someone you love is terminally ill.

At least he is improving.

No comments: