The worst Saturday of my life

It’s difficult to watch anyone suffer, but it’s even more so when you have to watch a loved one suffer and there’s nothing you can do.

You feel helpless. If only you could do something, anything, to help. And then sometimes, you can, if only a little . . .

It was a Saturday in 2004. I can’t even remember what month it was, but I’ll never forget that particular day. Despite undergoing treatments, my wife’s cancer had steadily gotten worse.highway 2

One thing I didn’t know before my wife became sick was how many different kinds and strengths of pain medicine there were. And, sadly, I didn’t understand (but would soon learn) how much pain that cancer could cause.

We started out with Hydrocodone. Then quickly moved to Oxycontin. This one seemed to help for quite a while. Until that one particular Saturday.

Sometime that morning, my wife began complaining of the pain. The Oxycontin wasn’t offering any relief, and the pain was getting worse. It’s a hard, hard thing to watch someone in more pain than you can imagine. You want to do something, but you’re left feeling inadequate and helpless.

We called her doctor, and was willing to prescribe a stronger medication. The only problem was, we live in a small town. And it was Saturday afternoon – some of the pharmacies were already closed for the day, and the ones that were open, didn’t have that particular drug.

However, there was a pharmacy in a town about an hour away. One hour. Or at least two hours coming and going. Plus, the pharmacy was located within the town a ways, so that would take a little time, too.

But I took off with the memory of my wife suffering fresh on my mind. I had to go. And I had to go FAST. The faster I could make it, the sooner I could (I hoped) help my wife. Should I drive with the emergency lights on or not? For the moment, not, but I did drive fast.

And that was pretty much my thought the whole way: Gottodrivefast. Gottodrivefast. Can’t I go any faster!

My heart was pounding the entire way. I was gripped by a sense of helplessness and a rush of adrenaline from my quest to retrieve the medicine as quickly as I could.

I did make it fairly quickly, but then I wasn’t exactly sure where the pharmacy was. That slowed me down some. The people there were friendly and helpful. They had our prescription ready, and I appreciated their care and concern.

The drive back was equally frustrating – I couldn’t drive fast enough, slower cars always seemed to be in my way, the miles were passing too slowly. And all of that – all of these problems – were simply small, tangible things that I could be angry about, masking the real problem – my wife was dying and in pain. And there was nothing I could do.

I made it back home, and my wife took the medicine. I don’t remember how long we were with that particular medicine; it seems like it wasn’t very long. And I can’t remember the medicines we went to next. But it seemed like it was always changing.

None of the medicines provided a cure, but all provided at least some temporary relief. And that day was typical of many other days to come.

My wife was suffering, and me and other members of the family were left with no real way to help. Much like the pain medicines, we offered what temporary care and relief we could, but we couldn’t fix the real problem.

But I never had to make such an emotionally draining drive like that again – a drive along with the events of the day that made it the worst Saturday I’ve ever experienced.

  4 comments for “The worst Saturday of my life

  1. February 11, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I can understand those feelings, helplessness is a terrible emotion, watching someone else, they are reaching out, but you just cannot grip their hands close enough to pull them up from the precipice of whatever is going on to ease it. I have this feeling with my children, especially my eldest who has tourettes/nervous tics and now at secondary school experiencing bullying and sinking in to a depression at times. You listen, you watch, you try but nothing is taking that pain away. The same with my mother who died of cancer, I remember one time, she was getting very weak, thin, in constant pain, at that stage we didn’t know about the cancer, though I suspected in the depths of my mind somewhere. She was in her bedroom and went to sit at the end of the bed, she missed and ended up on the floor, it hurt, her whole body hurt, I just remember this, hardly ever seeing her express pain intensely though I knew she was experiencing it. So it was just horrible. She was a tall woman, and I went to help her get up, but simply couldn’t, I just could not lift her and I suppose because of the pain, she was stiff. I then felt her humiliation, she was a proud woman, I had to call for my husband to help, my mother was in her nighty and wouldn’t have usually been seen by a man unless was in bed or had a dressing gown on. He came in to help her, and I know that would have been difficult for her to let him see her like that.

  2. February 11, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    😦

    Betsy

  3. Greg Stanley
    February 11, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    Mark,
    Have ‘enjoyed’ (if that’s the right word) your blogs, especially those about your wife. Wish I could have met & known her. Think of you often. Know you have a big job as single dad. Praying for you. Stay in touch. I signed on to follow your writings. Would love to see @ visit with you sometime. We’re pastoring a church on Hot Spgs. Village now. God bless you.

    Brother Greg

    • February 19, 2014 at 2:57 pm

      Bro. Greg,

      It’s so good to hear from you. Thank you so much for your kind words and taking the time to read my blog. Thank you for the prayers – I definitely need them on my daily journey. I would love to visit with y’all too. Maybe we can get together on one of my visits to hot springs. You can contact me by email at troutcomm@gmail.com

      Talk to you soon.
      Mark

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