Thursday, 6 March 2014

Groundhog Day

I knew from fairly early on in my diagnosis that I wouldn't tell my mother that I had breast cancer, a decision that was agreed with by my nearest and dearest. My mother has vascular dementia and, as you will have gathered if you've read my profile on my blog, lives with us. With her inability to grasp what day it is, where she is, what she's doing today or indeed who any of us are from one minute, hour or day to the next it felt like a redundant and pointless exercise. 

At first I thought it would be cruel and upsetting for her to comprehend that her youngest child had an illness that could be fatal and by telling her and then her getting upset and then forgetting and then having to tell her again would just be fruitless and lead to a day to day emotional roller coaster. I felt it would be like Groundhog Day for me having to relive the scene over and over again like Bill Murray. 

I thought it would become increasingly difficult to hide it from her as my health deteriorated and my hairloss became more apparent. My mother had also been a state registered nurse so had, in her day, the medical knowledge to understand the enormity of the disease. She was also of the opinion, very strangely for a medical person, that once you started messing with certain things it would lead to the speeding up of the inevitable. I'm not sure where that logic came from considering I assumed the job of the medical profession was to ultimately aim to make you better and to do that you might have to go through some horrible, but unavoidable procedures especially if you wanted to live. But maybe her years of experience working on wards and at the midpoint of her career in geriatric care had shown her otherwise. Still that point of view resonated and kept coming back to me. Another reason for not wanting to share this news. 

For me however it was the saddest thing in the world. Although I put a brave face on it so as not to upset others, everyday of my illness was tinged with real sadness that the one person I wanted to share this with who over the years had looked after me unconditionally and without question, who had mopped my brow, held my hand and soothed me with comforting words and just been there to make it all feel better could no longer do that for me. She would have always been the first person I would go to in times of need. All I wanted to do was tell her what was happening and for her to hold me, stroke my hair and tell me that it would all get better like she use to. 

But that was a long long time ago and I am now that person to her. It is the way things are and of course I understand and accept it, but now that time has passed and my health is better (and my hair is growing back!) it is time to recognise the sadness, deal with it and move on. I need to remind myself I did it for her. She was one of the main reasons for me to fight and get through this because protecting her is now my job and what I do for her. 

So when I first said it was to avoid Groundhog Day it was really to preserve it. So everyday would continue to be like the last and that we could hold onto this time forever with my mother's dementia not progressing and all her memories of us fading and I, in turn, holding onto my life before cancer and not getting closer to the inevitable - whatever my 'inevitable' might be.

No comments:

Post a Comment