Monday, December 17, 2007

The Picture

Mid morning here, Sarah has just left for work, (I have evening clinic) and I am worrying. This is how things are going.

Without rehashing the whole timeline, Sarah's got relatively advanced joint disease. It's worst in the hips, worse on the right. She's been to an orthopaedic surgeon and he has recommended surgery. That can only happen in April, and surgery itself may be difficult, because to intubate people for surgery they have to bend their neck about, and she has joint disease in her neck as well.

In the meantime she is in considerable discomfort. I know this via deduction - when the day begins she walks with difficulty, almost stiff, like a poorly animated marionette. She moves more freely once her medication kicks in - the dextropropoxyphene lasts maybe two or three hours, the transdermal buprenorphine all day, but only at low levels. She is sleepy during the day - partly a medication effect, partly because pain affects the quality of sleep, erodes its complex architecture.

Towards the end of the day she may wince, or falter, or stop in the middle of a sentence, once or twice she has momentarily paled, and sat for a while.

Joint pain is bad. It's a combination of two or three different kinds of pain - the sharp pain of a fractured joint - (this is what is going on, the radiologist points to where the bony spurs, the steophytes on Sarah's hips have broken off), the dull pain of constant inflammation, occasionally the horrible burning ache of neuropathic pain. The acetabulum, the cup in which the ball of the hip twists and turns, is supplied with nerves that also supply the lower limb - she gets a dull ache in the muscles of her thigh, pain in her knee. The joint itself is corroded and fragile. Looking back - and reading about this - it may have been that the joint has been mis-shapen and weak from birth.

As I said, I know this via deduction, and weak induction, but I do not know this via her testimony, because she almost never mentions it. The reasons for this are, as far as I can work out, complex.

Sarah is afraid that everyone will think she is whining if she complains at all.

She is afraid of being self-pitying, or of allowing her illness to dominate her life, of becoming an illness wrapped in the skin of a person, someone who is their pathology, rather than a successful and fascinating and wonderful person in her own right, a person who has an illness.

At some level, despite my best efforts (and possibly because of my worst) she remains afraid that I will somehow get irritated by this and leave her for a Russian gymnast.

She remains deathly afraid of becoming one of her own patients, and imagines herself toothless and torpid, her life a flat, featureless plane, surviving on the disability support pension.

All of this combines to make her attitude to pain relief deeply stingy, and her mental attitude a curious mix of determined, unrelenting optimism that very occasionally dissolves into glimpses of terror.

I don't know. I am in awe of her, not for the first or last time in my life. It's odd that at a glance I am a lot stronger than her, I can carry her around the yard whereas she can't unload even small bags of cat-food from the car, but there is no way I have her strength. I can kick hard at head height and bench press a reasonable amount and do CPR on a big man for a long time, but there is no way I could last a day doing what she does.

I think that before cliches became cliches there must have been a time when they were new and young and fresh. The first person who said "All flesh is but grass", or "her eyes were as blue as the sky" or "I will love you til I die" must have felt that thought like lightning, as something pure and limpid and true. Now that experience is lost to us, because there is no way, unless we are particularly skilled, that we can express thoughts like that in that way, with that potent combination of truth and immediacy.

Anyhow. I will love her till I die. I wish I could take the pain for her. Her eyes are as dark as the night.

Enough of this. The thing is, that picture that Sarah keeps in her head of her after the operatrion, her better, her healed, is something we are going to be focussing on. It's not the only thing, we are going up to the zoo later on for one of those behind the scene things where you look at baby cheetahs and so on. I have been trying to buy her surprise presents, trips overseas and cats and so on, which is a difficult thing to do when you have joint accounts, and so far every attempt has run into some kind of organisational portcullis or another. But overall it's just a matter of organising stuff so that she doesn't ave to do as much, so that we spend the maximum amount of time together.

See, from that point of view it's not all bad. Everyone's a winner.

Anyway, time to get my act together for tonight, which is seafood and something, and then a romantic DVD or something. Hopefully a more romantic DVD than my last choice, which was actually a horror movie.

Will post soon,


Blogger Camilla said...

Hogs, hogs, hogs to you both. I am holding thumbs that the surgery will deliver brilliant results. In the meantime, hang in there. When we come over, I can recommend Emrys-cuddles as a method of pain relief (well, admittedly it's more the pain of dreadful clients, but pain nonetheless).


ps why do I always get wordverification codes like "xlwpzafu", in some unreadable form of italics??

11:58 PM  
Blogger Ladyk73 said...

Gosh...I hope Sarah feels better soon!

Merry Christmas!

11:26 AM  

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