Monday, March 21, 2011

Keeping in Touch

I’m sitting in front of the TV watching the Food Network waiting for a program to come on that will feature one of our favorite local restaurants.  I am thankful that I haven’t become addicted to this channel, because I became so hungry while watching one of the programs that I grabbed the chips and some cheddar cheese and chowed down (and this is after dinner and an hour before bed)!

The channel I am addicted to is HGTV – the home and garden network.  I love to watch the show where they stage houses for sale and the international home searchers show.  In this program they go into countries all over the world and look at houses that range from “they should be torn down” to “unaffordable for the common man”.

A few weeks ago we met friends of ours at a favorite BYOB in a cute town in the suburbs.  My girlfriend is living with metastatic breast cancer which is being controlled by herceptin.  Unfortunately she has had a few medical problems stemming from her treatments.  Most recently she suffered a broken vertebra which is causing her much pain, prevents her from driving and she needs the support of a walker.

It is difficult to see such a high-spirited, fun-loving person have to deal with all of this “suff” but she does so with a sense of humor and continues to keep herself as active as possible.  She always had a lot of friends, and I was fortunate to be included in a celebration of those friendships during a party she threw a few years ago.  She had a very tight circle of women friends that she had known for a long time and had frequently traveled with to many fun places. 

During our conversation she mentioned that she hadn’t seen or heard from some of her friends as much as she used to (something to that effect).  Her body language and facial expression caused me to think that she was saddened by that.  I wonder how often that happens to folks who become ill or eventually become less mobile or somewhat incapacitated by their illness.

I know it is extremely difficult to speak with someone who has a potentially terminal illness.  What do you talk about? What questions do you ask? What topics are off limits?  Maybe for some it’s just a matter of not being able to deal with watching a friend suffer or go through the physical changes that often come along with a difficult disease.

I have come to appreciate how important and therapeutic it is to maintain connections, friendships and social activities while going through this process.  There is a part of me that believes as long as I keep moving, I will keep living.  Now, probably more than ever, my friend could use her friends to keep her moving forward.  Even though she is on major pain killers, she is aware of those around her, maintains conversation, remembers your family and hobbies, and puts you at ease by asking questions and showing her interest.  She doesn’t focus on her illness and seems genuinely glad to hear what others have to say.

The point of all this is that we shouldn’t  just assume that because someone is very sick or in pain that they don’t want company – or that if we go to see them, we will automatically walk away saddened and depressed.  I suppose that at some point, if I am really ill, I won’t want company.  Until then, I hope you all keep in touch.  That reminds me - I have a call to make tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

Hmmmm..left a comment and don't see it. Wonder if site is getting selective. Ha...

Anonymous said...

Will repeat comment: I AM addicted to the food network, from the sensual Nigella on Sunday morning to Chopped - love them all! Just wish there were "education by association" goig on, but not so! Judy S.

Mary B said...

Comments are tricky. Many people have problems posting and I believe it is a google thing. If a new person comes onto the site and posts - sometimes I am notified and asked to approve the comment - which I always have done. Even when responding to a comment, I have had to post more than once to get it to stick.

I apologize to those who have difficulty.


Terry said...

Hi Mary

I love those programmes too but am addicted to an American one about Diners and Dives which I often watch in bed. I have just read a brilliant book which I wondered if you' like to try. Its a thriller by Linwood Barclay called No time for goodbye, I found it full of twists and turns and couldn't put it down. I am a great reader and just cannot be without a book. Thrillers are not my normal thing but I enjoyed it.
I was sad to hear about your friend having problems. My sister, Barbara, got a pushchair, she found it easier than a walker and she could put lots of shopping it it! People used to be surprised there was no baby in it but she didn't care. I hope your dear friend's friends step up for her. Its good that she has you.
Have a happy week.

Mary B said...

I just started watching diners and dives. It is also a fun program. Good to watch if you need to increase your appetite!

I believe the walker my friend has is what you are describing. My husband calls them rollators (sp?). Someone made a needlepoint license plate for the front of the cart. Very nice.