Who thought that an invitation to touch “boobies” could go to such a dark, fearful place? I’m sure you’re thinking, “Manny, that seems like a highly unlikely scenario.” Normally you’d be right, but you don’t know Cheryl like I do. If there’s a way to ruin boob touching, she’d be the one to find it.
And guess what? She has! Follow me down this rabbit hole of…
“Stroke brain thinking.”
First of all, let’s tackle the elephant in the room. Yes, in our house, “boobies” has become the technical term. I don’t know how it happened. I wasn’t involved in the decision. I never got the memo. One day, it just was.
Word usage aside, what could possibly be the problem? Well, sit back and let me tell you about the first time I was invited to “touch Cheryl’s boobies.”
Cheryl is watching TV, I’m working on my iPad. Suddenly, Cheryl turns to me and says…
CHERYL: Touch my boobies!
I’m not stupid. I did as I was told.
CHERYL: You got to enjoy them while you have them.
CHERYL: Enjoy them before they get cut off.
ME: WHAT?! Why are your boobs going to get cut off?!
CHERYL: Cause I’m gonna get cancer.
ME: You’re not gonna get cancer!
CHERYL: Yes I am. I know I am.
ME: Please don’t talk like that. Let’s not be negative.
CHERYL: Just sayin’.
And so it began…
Cheryl was now convinced that cancer was in the cards for her. Here’s the thing though, it’s not completely crazy talk. Her mother died after battling cancer for years, first with breast cancer then later it turned in to brain cancer. Her father died of cancer as well. So the Big C isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.
What bothers me most is that, IF she were to go through the ordeal of having cancer, it would actually be ME that would have to go through the ordeal of her having cancer.
The hardest part of this WHOLE process has been Cheryl’s inability to participate in her treatment. Not only is she stubborn as all hell, but she doesn’t have the same mental capacity to understand what’s going on as she once was able to.
In the beginning she was practically a zombie. She literally wasn’t mentally there to talk to the doctors, let alone make decisions about her care. Throw in her inability to hear and her poor speech, and she’s a communication nightmare. Luckily I’m a pretty good “Cheryl translator.”
Now, things are a lot better but she doesn’t always grasp what the doctor’s are telling her and relies on me to not only understand, but make the decisions based on that understanding. I am her brain at this point.
She does the walking, I do the talking.
Needless to say, that’s a lot of pressure and stress. What if I fuck up? What if I make the wrong decision? SHE was the person that I could talk to about these things. My partner. The person that would offer me support and advice about such serious matters. I don’t have that any more.
How much can one person take? Either of us?
I don’t think she’d even be able to handle any thing else happening to her (cancer or otherwise) on a physical level. She’s so fragile at this point that even the smallest of things might take her out.
The idea of it all is overwhelming to say the least.
It’s a thought that frightens me quite often. In February, it will have been three years since her aneurysm ruptured and I still wake up and start my day by checking to make sure she’s still breathing.
Spoiler alert: That’s not a fun way to start the day.
But it doesn’t stop there…
The good news (yes, that’s sarcasm) is that she’s also 100% sure she’s going to get the Zika virus.
That’s right, you heard me.
Cheryl is convinced she’s going to contract Zika. Why? You might ask. She saw a news story about Zika, misunderstood it, assumed that it was in California and now fears it on a daily basis. Doesn’t matter if we explain to her that there are no reported cases of Zika in Southern California… She “knows better.”
It doesn’t help that our apartment complex has a lot of foliage so every little flying insect she comes across is a Zika ridden mosquito. Even if we tell her otherwise.
Fun huh? The strongest woman I have ever had the pleasure of knowing has turned into a worse hypochondriac than Woody Allen. Needless to say we do not let her have access to WebMD. Giving into all of these fears could be crippling. Which is why I have to remember:
The future hasn’t been written yet!
Some days, it’s hard to put those fears out of my head, but I do my best to not let them bring me down. Whatever happens, I believe that I have the strength to handle it. I have to believe that, because the reality is that IF the worst case scenario really were to happen, I will be the one to get us through it.
It’s not like I’m going to throw in the towel with a little thing like cancer or *CHUCKLES* “Zika.” If I can get her through, essentially brain damage, I think I can take whatever else gets thrown at us.
But we’re not there yet.
One of the best pieces of advice I have ever gotten when this whole thing happened was to “not live in a future that hasn’t been written yet.”
That’s how I live my days. In the present.
After all, I’m a writer and I know better than most, that endings can always change.