This week I connected with a friend that I haven’t seen since March. We did the occasional “how are you?” emails and the answer was always “fine.” When I met up with her, she told me her husband isn’t doing well. He has a progressive fatal disease and almost overnight his lung functioning dropped 50%.
I was shocked and I wasn’t. We have been friends for many years. She and her husband are in their upper 80s but you wouldn’t know it. They were very active and she still is. Sharp as a tack. Can’t pull anything over on them. He did a lot of very physically demanding projects like fixing roofs, cutting down trees and building sheds. That was before.
He was diagnosed about two years ago. He went into denial. He told his wife he was going to beat it. Based on where he was in the progression he had a two to five year survival rate. He didn’t listen to anyone. He tried to bury himself in physical activities. He worked until he couldn’t breathe. He climbed trees. He could have fallen. He didn’t have much strength. He took such long walks that he had a hard time getting home. She’d find him sitting on the curb trying to catch his breath.
Worst of all he, refused a drug that would have slowed the progression because it was expensive. He wasn’t going to waste any of his money on healthcare. He wanted it to go to his kids. It would have cost him $3,000 a year.
His doctor put him on oxygen. He was so embarrassed when the truck delivered it he made them pull around the back where the neighbors couldn’t see. They brought the equipment in the back door.
This sort of idiot behavior went on. His wife occasionally railed at him because he would frighten her. Sometimes he couldn’t breathe and had to crawl to his oxygen tank.
I don’t understand this behavior at all. He is very selfish. His wife has to keep an eye on him in case something happens. It was the worst case of denial I’d ever seen. There have been several close calls.
At this point he can’t walk steps, lift any weight (not even a half gallon of milk), yet he tells her he’s going hunting in the fall.
My friend is strong. When she told me this she said they weren’t focusing on the “shudda, cudda, wudda” outcome had he gone on the drug two years ago and cut back on his extreme activities. I have often wanted to slap him on the side of his head. My friend has suffered because he is bullheaded. I wonder at what point he will realize that he has put her through hell and accomplished nothing. His disease has continued to progress.
According to her it’s not dementia. It’s who he is. I can only give her an ear to talk to and friendship. She is fortunate she has a supportive family who has helped out but it’s wearing her out. This is a side of care taking I hadn’t seen. I sure hope I don’t get like this. If I do, smack me upside the head!