On Januray 15th 2015 all hell broke lose when the doctor studied the MRI scan report and confirmed that my mother-in-law had been attacked by cancer cells for the third time. My husband and I were shell shocked!! Alas!. Who would have the guts to break the news to my mother-in-law?
9 years back (in 2006) we had a tough time convincing her for a hysterectomy and 28 sittings of radiation , the advised treatment for primary stage of cervix cancer. She was devastated mentally and physically drained but overcame it somehow. The year before last (in 2013) after 7 years she had been diagnosed with recurrence of cancer in her left urethra. She was completely shattered but after our untiring efforts to convince her, she agreed for Chemotherapy. The memories of the outbursts she had during her 6 chemo sessions is still fresh in my mind. She had suddenly turned into a bad tempered woman from a very loving, sweet mother-in-law. Perhaps the medication and the ailment had led to all the frustration but, it took us very long to understand the sudden change in her nature.
Haunted by the ordeal of chemotherapy undergone by my mother-in-law, both me and my husband were too scared to convey the diagnosis by the doctor to my mother-in-law who didn’t have the slightest clue of the deadly disease she was afflicted with for the third time (this time in her left ureter and the spine) . With a heavy heart, my husband declared the results of the scan report and there my mother-in-law broke down! God shouldn’t have been so unfair to her. Even before we could suggest treatment, she stated categorically that she wouldn’t take treatment and would accept death with open arms as she had lost the will to survive. Little did we know that the journey to death would be such a horrifying one! However we had no choice but to opt for palliative care.
Though she was strong initially, gradually her health started deteriorating, and her temperament became unpredictable. One day she would be emotional, the next day irritable. We were befuddled. She was put on Morphine later but she continued to moan and groan. Lack of sleep, chronic pain and change in taste buds had made her tetchier and we were left wondering how we were going to take care of her. We used to make her listen to her favourite bhajans and speeches of her spiritual guru but gradually the interest waned off. I used to surf the internet to study about cancer patients and how to take care of them.
Household chores, taking care of my 8 yr old kid and my mother in law was taking its toll on me and my husband was burdened with his official targets and in between we had to hospitalize her when she suffered infections. She gradually became weaker and weaker and cantankerous. We were not able to comprehend her what she was going through inside her body.
Within 6months she became bed ridden. A home nurse was appointed and a home care palliative doctor visited her every 15 days. Efforts were being made to control her pain and mental agony and trauma but it didn’t help much. Day and night she would wail with excruciating pain and make weird noises which made three home nurses quit the job. She would yell at the nurses, refuse to take medicines (as there were medicines all through the day making it her diet ! )and had mood swings all the time. Her patience /tolerance levels had also drained as the pain had spread to other parts of the body.
For the next 3 months life was hell for her and for us too! Managing home, our kid, the home nurse’s never ending tantrums, mother in law’s illness, her uncooperative nature due to her pathetic condition made things worse. We lost our patience quite often…there was unpleasantness in the house….. And one fine day she didn’t wake up to have her morning tea. Suddenly there was vacuum in the house. Our prayers were answered. God had finally decided to end her suffering.
I don’t know why, but in spite of giving her the best of care (thanks also to the physical and mental support of neighbours /friends and office colleagues and their timely succor ) I still feel guilty somewhere as I had lost my patience in between and had outbursts too. We feel we could have been a little more patient in dealing with some situations. … It is very unfortunate that we couldn’t fathom her anguish and sporadic behavior. … Easier said than done but, PATIENCE WITH PATIENTS is a very important element of care giving which doesn’t come easily..
A vegetarian, of course, a nondrinker, nonsmoker, highly spiritual and a senior citizen who had lived for many years in the village environment , ate fresh fruits and vegetables without pesticides, led a tension /stress free life and yet became a victim of this fatal illness. I wonder what all ailments are awaiting us.
In this fast , technology age, would our children have the patience to take care of us? Living in the 2G/3G/ 4G era, how can one expect patience? Although it is very easy to advise but I really feel it is quintessential to cultivate the virtue of patience as either we may need it to take care of someone or to endure our own mental and physical ailments although I wish a healthy life for each one of us .
How I wish my dear tech savvy youngsters, would develop an APP that could help us all download ‘THE VIRTUE OF PATIENCE’ in the 5G speed may be!!!