It can be trying to try

I met up with the ladies from my grief counselling group.   It was about five months since I had seen them last.  Things had changed for all of them, some large things, some small, but each viewed it as a success.  We met up for dinner out, four completely different people in temperament and interests, but tied by one significant bond – grief.  The time flew by, we listened to each other and understood on a level that others cannot, and we agreed to meet again in a months’ time.

That conversation that we shared was more than just words; it’s not just what’s said but also what isn’t said.  This was a group in which each one of us had our life partners die.  We understand intimately the grief experience each is going through.  Our dinner chatter wasn’t morose or depressing.  For me it was normalizing.  I feel so much better when I realize that I am not dragging my heels on ‘getting over’ what happened.  When I hear their stories about their children and listen to how they are dealing with the new family dynamics, I recognize that it is new to all of us.

Death has a ripple effect through a family and through friends.  It takes a long time to rebuild.  And, I guess, rebuilding allows for change, you can’t have what was, so you have to figure out what will do.  I don’t think this is short changing the rest of the family, not at all.  I think that my children are doing the same thing – figuring out the new way.  They have to deal with the ‘what do we do about mom’ question.  It’s their question not mine, I think it’s natural to worry about your remaining parent after one has died.  Worry about all sorts of things – worry that I could die too, sooner rather than later, that’s a big one; worry that I may need more than they can give; and worry about whatever else 20-something year olds would worry about.

It’s so complicated, this whole business.  That adage is so true, that the only way to really understand someone else is to ‘walk a mile in their shoes.’ Which, of course, we simply cannot do, but at least we can try. I can try and understand how my children feel dealing with the death of their father, and they can try to figure out what their father’s death has meant and done to me.

Try – what a great word, it fits on a couple of levels.  I try, you try – its effort – directed to an experience in life that can actually be called quite trying.

Thrush

One of the things we were told about in the chemo education class I attended was the likelihood of thrush.  Because of the aggressive nature of the treatment and the resulting weakening of the immune system, cancer patients are far more susceptible to thrush.  It can be quite painful and looks awful, a sticky white paste on the tongue and white coated sores on the back of the throat.  Well today, despite rinsing his mouth routinely with a mix of salt, baking soda and distilled water, my husband woke up with a sore throat.  This sent me into panic mode, since it may be thrush, but it could also be something more dangerous like strep throat – where there is fever for me, there is fear. 

Fortunately he was fairly forthcoming in telling me that his throat was sore.  He has sleep apnea so it is not uncommon for him to wake up with a sore throat.  For instance if he takes off his CPAP mask and sleeps for a couple of hours without it on, the combination of snoring, holding his breath and mouth breathing can mean he has a sore throat in the morning. 

Today when he woke up he asked for soft foods for breakfast since his throat was sore.  So we had the discussion about what “kind “of sore, like dry throat sore, acid reflux sore, etc.  I got out the flashlight, looked at the back of his throat and there was a visible patch of white.  I took his temperature, which registered normal, and then I called the doctor.  For now, we have a prescription for an oral rinse designed to address thrush.  We also likely have an appointment at the doctor’s office tomorrow.  This all changes if he does develop a fever, in which case, out comes the fever card and off we go to Emergency.

Here is an excerpt from a website that provides a fair bit of information on thrush, I’ve pulled out a few sentences that give a tiny bit of information on thrush:

Oral thrush is an infection of yeast fungus in the mouth and throat. It is caused by yeast fungus – called Candida yeast – that settles in the mucous membranes lining the mouth and throat. This gives the condition its name “oral candidiasis”. … Oral thrush is one of the most common adverse effects of cancer treatment. Chemotherapy can aggravate the mucous membranes and weaken the immune system, which means that the fungus can spread more easily.”  (Source:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0046251/ retrieved September 6, 2014.)