[Aug 2012] Cancer or Heart Attack Please?

Last weekend I broke down. My body sent me a serious signal, that I should decrease my pace, because it is killing me. It was a very difficult and demanding week, not the first in a row. Then on Saturday morning we went down to some village with my girlfriend and my friends, to celebrate the wedding of a friend of mine. That was where the problems started.

It was unbearable heat, and a long jurney. I was driving the car. I felt I was exhausted, which was nothing new, kind of the normal state lately. First we went next town, to the house of my other friends to leave our things, because we were going to spend the night there. Then we moved on to the village, to the house of the fiancé. I parked the car on the street, then we walked to the house. Although we were pretty much on time, there were lots of people in the courtyard already. Tipical rural wedding atmosphere, with typical rural people, at least that was how I judged it. I felt overwhelming pressure, as we walked closer and closer to the people. There was only my friend, the fiancé, and then no one else I had met before. A bunch of strangers very different from me. I felt like an alien. They welcomed us warmly, but it didn’t reach me at all. I had already sweating heavily, my shirt was totally wet. There was not a single cloud on the sky, and no hope for any rain. They offered me some very strong local aperitif, which I hated. I don’t drink shots, because I hate it, in general. Now I felt the burden of declining the otherwise kind offer weighing on my shoulders. My heart was pounding heavily, and I was shaking inside. Didn’t really now why. I just felt like I don’t want to be here. But I had to. I somehow refused the aperitif, then we moved to some huge tent to sit and talk, but I wasn’t really there. I sat down, because I felt like I couldn’t stand still, or at all. My legs were weak. Everybody around me was talking and laughing, and I was just sitting and staring at nothing. I felt nausea, and a very strange feeling I can’t really describe. I felt like having fever, and somehow being in an alert state, but still very weak and trembling inside. I felt I wasn’t myself, I wasn’t in my body at all. I wanted to leave, but didn’t want to take my body with me. I just wanted to leave it there, to be eaten up by others, but I didn’t want to see it. I was terrified that someone is going to notice that there is someting wrong with me. I wanted to hide. My girlfriend asked me if I was okay. The question shocked me. So they saw it. I said I was okay of course. Then I felt like I can’t take it anymore. I wanted to escape. I decided to go to the toilet, to have some peace and get myself together. It seemed like a good idea.

I went in and met other strangers along the way, and I didn’t like them either. The bathroom was very small and a complete mess. And on top of it, the door couldn’t be locked. Wonderful! But at least I was finally alone. I hoped I can relax myself, but I couldn’t. I was feeling more and more strange. The only effect of being alone and in peace was, that I felt like I am not able to stand up and go back there, it is so much better in here. But I knew I had to. I couldn’t just hide and spend the rest of the wedding on the toilet, although I wanted to. I pulled together all my reserve energy, stood up, and went outside, back to the tent. I could have looked very bad, because now my friend asked me if I was alright. I convinced him that I was, although I couldn’t convince myself. I sat back down to the bench. The heat was unbearable even in the shadow of the tent. My frustration and fear was rising, and I had no tool to comfort myself. I couldn’t even drink, because I was the one to drive the fucking car, who else. I was staring in front of myself, and I felt I am starting to leave my body again. All the conversations around me started to become some distant background noise. I felt very dizzy, and the tent started to move around me. I was terrified that I am going to faint, right in front of everybody. I was in sheer panic. I knew for sure I only have seconds to move before I can’t move at all. I was jumping up, grabbed my girlfriend by the arm, and escaped out of the tent, out to the car. My girlfriend was terrified of me. I kind of ordered her to sit into the car and start driving, away from here. We moved a couple of streets, then we stopped under a huge tree, in the shadow. I had to tell her something to calm her down, so I said I am feeling sick, which was true by the way. I thought there must be something wrong with me. Some heart issue, or my blood sugar level, or something. We sat there for like 15 minutes, and I finally calmed down and felt better. My heart rate went back to normal as well, and I felt relieved. I was thinking about going back, but I was wise enough to not do that. I called my friend and asked him to give us the keys of his house next town, because I am not feeling well and I want to go back to the house. He was really understanding. My girlfriend took me back to the house and stayed with me the whole day. I spent the afternoon in the bed, sleeping and drowsing. I felt exhausted and hungry and thirsty and everything a man can feel.

When we got home the next day, I checked my blood pressure and my blood sugar level. Both were totally normal, to my surprise. So I am just exhausted, nothing more. And maybe some emotional problems… I was really terrified because of this intense signal of my body, and I started to ponder on my situation and the events of the last months. I opened my diary and checked the entries of the last couple of months, and I noticed something interesting. I barely wrote at all, which is no surprise considering the complete mess and rush of the last months. But the surprise was, that I wrote absolutely nothing about my father and his sickness, just as if it hadn’t happened at all.

I think it is just about time to face it.

The sickness of my father

My father is sick. He has a terminal illness. He has stomach cancer. Based on Tuesday’s information, with metastases in both sides of his lung. Every information points to the direction that nobody is going to be able to save him, not even operating him. In the last 6 months, since his diagnosis he has lost almost nearly a hundred pounds, he is through 25 sessions of radiotherapy treatment, almost a dozen of chemotheraphy, and now he faces the next 3 months of almost-hopless therapy with only 160 pounds of body weight. Nobody concretized his chances of survival, and I am not really interested in numbers this time, but I am sure it is pretty low. What is going to happen to him now? We’ll be lucky if he’ll live till his birthday in November. And we just sit powerlessly and watch him suffer and lose hope. We are watching what remains of him, that is less and less every day, until he vanishes completely. A couple of days ago, after the latest bad news, he asked me to cremate him after he dies, because he only wants a little urn, not to occupy too much space in the cemetery, not to bother others. Poor dear Daddy! He dedicated his whole life to others, and to cause no problem at all to the world, so much that he doesn’t even want to make a fuss of his death, just a little urn, because there is not enough space for him out in the cemetery. Poor Daddy! There were so many beautiful years ahead of him, he fought his whole life, built a house, raised two children, worked so many years, retired, and could have enjoyed the next 20-30 years of his life. He could have seen his grandchildren grow, could have taken care of his little garden, could have done what he always wanted. He doesn’t deserve this! He hasn’t done anything to deserve this. This is so unfair, so fucnking unfair! And we are completely helpless, although we pretend as if everything would be very hopeful and positive, but it isn’t. Now everybody can see, that things go in a very bad and dark direction…

My family

Since my childhood, one of my biggest problems of my life was my family. I could never really realate to them in a healthy way, I couldn’t find a place for them in my life, since I was a little child. I never really loved them the way I thought I should, or the way I think it is normal. I have always escaped them, I have tried to maintain a distance, being as far as I can. I wanted to separate and leave my past and everything about my past behind. I wanted to leave everything I got from them. I wanted to tear out my roots, and live my life rootless. Time and time again I realized that this is not right and not normal at all. I had poor attempts to be a better son of my parents and to be a better brother of my younger brother, but I could never really change or solve anything about our problems. All these years, besides feeling that I should do something about my strange relationship with my family, I also felt the guilt, that someday something is going to happen to them, and I will never forgive myself, that I treated them badly for so many years, not the way they deserved it.

The shock of the diagnosis

And then a new chapter came into our life, about six months ago. One night I had a dream: my father died. It was only a dream, I didn’t even remember it clearly, but I still feel that heart-ache and pain, the nausea and shock, that I felt in that dream. A few days later, on the afternoon of the leap-day of 2012, on the 29th February my mother called me crying, and told me she has to tell me some very bad news. I was absolutely certain, that my father died. My dream and its feelings were still in me so vividly, that I couldn’t imagine any other news. When I had seen that my mother was calling, and I heard her voice, I was sure. By the time my mother was able to say anything concrete, I was already ready, just wanted to hear it and get over it. I just wanted to hear her saying. But my mother didn’t want to say it, and when I was able to push her to say it, she didn’t say what I expected. She said this instead: “Father has cancer!” This was shocking of course to some degree, especially later on, but then and there, it was a total relief for me. Morbid it may seem, but I was relieved hearing the news.

Cancer or heart attack?

Even after everything that happened so far, since the diagnosis, I am still grateful that my father didn’t die on that day. I am convinced, that having cancer and dying of cancer is far better than dying of a heart attack or in an accident, suddenly and unexpectedly. Death is a part of life, that has to be prepared for, worked up for, and accepted by the person and by his loved ones. Cancer gives us the chance to prepare, to walk the way, instead of that unbeliavable shock of losing someone from one moment to the next. So what has my father gained with cancer? He got a couple of months from life, that is often terribly difficult, but also very wonderful and uplifting at times, full of touching moments and love. He can receive things from his family, that he might not even dreamed of. I can give and say him and to my family things, that I’ve never thought I will ever be able to, and now it all comes perfectly natural, from my heart. Since the diagnosis, I visited them at least once every week, I spoke with him or them on the phone every day, with only very rare exceptions. I support them, we support each other, we love each other, we talk to each other, we open up in front of each other. We became a much better family. Weird as it may sound, the family profited from my father’s sickness, and I truly think that my father received things – “thank to cancer” – that I am pretty sure he wouldn’t have received, if he dies suddenly, or if he dies 30 years from now, according to the normal order of life.

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