Our Battle with Cancer. Chapter 5.

On Friday night, dad was rushed to the hospital.

Since he began his treatment two months ago, the tonic he takes is such that his body is self-cleansing and self-detoxifying. Which means that especially at night, he keeps coughing and expelling phlegm; and pees a lot through the night. Which means too that in the last 2 months, he hasn’t been getting the quality sleep that he needs.

Before he got sick too, dad was already a picky eater. When he got sick and went on a diet with no meat, he hasn’t been eating properly too.

Since then, he’s lost 20 pounds. He’s not a big man to begin with. Before he got sick, he only weighed 130+ pounds. So now he’s reduced to skin and bones.

All these things combined, he started losing control over his basic motor functions on Friday. He couldn’t walk a few steps without falling and stumbling. He had no more bladder control. When I saw him that night, he couldn’t even talk anymore. He was slurring his words and couldn’t maintain eye contact anymore.

This is his third day in the hospital, and so far he’s doing fine. He isn’t in critical condition, and his stay in the hospital now is intended mainly to help him recover his strength. I can’t say for sure if it has done much good in terms of getting him to regain the weight he’s lost, but at least he has recovered some of his basic motor skills. Still weak for the most part though.

Seeing him in that condition last Friday night was very alarming. There was this heavy thing on my chest that wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t speak, and I was simply just numb and scared at the same time.

I finally told some of my colleagues in the office about dad’s condition last Friday. I had to — cause I had to abruptly leave the office that evening.

To my pleasant surprise, revealing one of the heaviest burdens in my heart was a relief, for doing so found me some friends who understood what I was going through for they had gone through it themselves.

It’s very different talking to people who’ve been through it. You’d know right away – the words they use, the things they say, the emotion by which they tell you things… For once, I had people who were articulating the things I couldn’t even articulate to myself.

They understand instinctively – the need to continue working and keep yourself busy even if all these things are going on – because still allotting time to work and do what I have to do makes me feel that there’s still a part of my life that goes on. That not everything is lost because our family is going through this.

They understand too how situations like these can cause even the closest of families to fall apart. This weekend I went through a lot of disappointments with my immediate family members. A brother who thinks first and foremost about money rather than the overall well-being of everyone in the family… another brother who continues to act as if nothing is wrong and doesn’t manifest any changes in anything he does or says… and parents who continue to argue, fight, bicker and put each other down in the midst of all this… and a patient (my father) who can’t yet accept with peace what he’s going through.

They understand too when I say how much I long for normalcy to be restored… though they tell me it will never get back to normal. But that in time, it will be okay.

And they understand that the hardest part about all this is seeing him go through so much pain…. so much so that there’s a part of me that just hopes that if he’s not getting well anyway, then the sooner his pain can end, the better.

It’s comforting to know that others have been through this, and have survived.

Because everyday is a struggle. Every minute that my mind drifts casts a stab of pain in my chest. Every time I think about the hospital bill and the things that my brother and I now fight about on a daily basis, I get ambushed with anxiety and panic. Nowadays whenever my phone rings, there’s a momentary flash of alarm.

Not to mention the fact that I’ve all but given up any time I have left for myself. Times like this, the first to go is time to recharge and recover. As it is, I never had much free time to begin with. With work, my husband, my household chores – the only time I had left for myself were all the times I spent taking a bath and going to sleep. Now, even sleep takes a backseat on most days.

While I continue everyday to try retaining some sense of normal in my day to day activities, the thought of all that we face just nonetheless continues to lurk in the shadows.

I wait for the day when we’ll start being okay again.

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