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 . . .
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.