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Cancer Chronicles 8 – Twinned and Untwinned

In the beginning of my cancer treatments, Mick was my project manager. He doled out my medicines, collected copies of all my tests, asked the appropriate questions and advocated for me.

When we were home, everything was exactly as it was before I got cancer. I cooked, I waited on him.
When I was feeling really sick and could do nothing more then lay in bed, he was also laying in bed.

One Friday night, a friend cooked for us, and she is an excellent cook. When I am feeling well, everything she makes is delicious. Days before I had finished a chemo treatment and for a week after each treatment I cannot taste salt (which I thrive on) and most foods taste like metal. Only the sweet foods tasted normal to me. Whatever I did not eat, Mick didn’t eat either. One of the side dishes was an apple crunch. Of all the wonderful food my friend had prepared, that was the only dish that appealed to me. I had a little, and exhausted and weak, I left the table before the end of the meal and went to bed.

At 3am I woke up and envisioned the apple crumb dessert. I looked all over the kitchen and in the refrigerator. It was nowhere to be found. In the morning, I asked my husband where it was. He flashed me a big smile and said, “It is in my tummy.” I was beyond furious but bit my tongue.

The next week when food tasted more normal, I had a yen for salads. I think most salads are boring, but a little radicchio and arugula really give salads a kick. Mick had planted some in our garden. I went out to the garden to look for the radicchio. It was all cut to the bottom. I asked what happened to it. He explained that he had juiced it. “Why?” I asked, “Did you discover some healing qualities that would benefit you?” The answer was a resounding no. Again, I was angry. Again, I bit my tongue except that from then on, whenever there was something that tasted good to me I ordered him not to touch it.

I could not figure out why my normally considerate husband ate only the foods I like and why when I needed him the most, he was always sick.

On our next visit to the doctor, when she told me to take a deep breath, I was looking at Mick and noticed that he took a deep breath. The proverbial light bulb went off in my head. My husband so identified with me that he became the patient.

After an illuminating conversation, wherein I was the illuminator, things changed and my husband once again became the considerate and helpful husband that I had envisioned would be at my side through these trying times.

We only ran into one amusing problem after the “enlightenment.” My last chemo treatment, left me with no strength to fight off any illnesses and I developed a severe case of sinusitis and lost my voice. I needed something to drink. I banged on the nightstand. No response. I banged on the metal lamp. No response. I slammed the nightstand drawer back and forth. No response. Then I called his cell phone thinking he would see my number and come into the bedroom. His cell phone rang loudly in my ear because it was in our bedroom instead of with him. Finally, I picked up my Ipad and emailed him and SOS. Finally he came into the bedroom to see what I needed.

This has been an amazing journey. Mick and I enjoy doing many things together, but we are also very independent and spend lots of time apart (him in Israel and me in Cincinnati) so this has been an amazing journey where we have spent so much time together. I have learned to depend on him, and he has learned to be there for me. When one marries this late in life, it is impossible to know in which direction a marriage will go. Happily this one is thriving.