Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Turning the brain upside down
But there is something that is on my mind so I will write about it. I talked to my cousin's wife this morning. My cousin, who I have written about before on this blog, has a brain tumor, glioblastoma multiforme Stage IV to be exact. He and I grew up together, played together, and have remained close over the years.
The brain tumor was diagnosed not long after he retired. He noticed his golf game was off one day and then in another week found out that he had the worst diagnosis that one could expect when it comes to brain tumors. He underwent surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. He has been on a lot of medications. The upshot of it all is that he is alive, but his cognitive skills were compromised. He cannot walk without help, has rages that alternate with quiet, has difficulty reading and with forming sentences.
His wife has become his savior. She has taken care of him, watched over his therapy and care with great tenacity. She has a spiritual side that is uncompromising. I believe that without her energetic input his quality of life would be much less. Perhaps he would not even be alive.
But she also says many things that I find to be strange. She believes that dead neurosurgeons are living in his brain and are helping to cure him. This morning she told me that my cousin's mood had improved greatly since the dead surgeons took his brain, turned it upside down and shook it. I resist rolling my eyes as I'm listening on the phone. I keep quiet and listen but not without judgment. I have to remind myself that he would likely be dead without her.
And now her mother who is 92 has suffered a stroke. She will be taking care of her as well when the mother gets out of the hospital today. I do not believe that I would want to do all of this that she is doing. I think that I would become a hostile martyr. Perhaps this is just another example of my own selfishness. I know that I have great compassion for those who are caregivers for loved ones. But knowing how much self-sacrifice is involved and how her every moment revolves around my cousin, and now her mother, seems totally stifling to me. I am awed by her unwavering commitment which I am afraid that I may not have.