We All Fall Down

John’s chemotherapy and radiation treatments were over in six weeks as promised. Three weeks later he started falling apart. Falling down. A lot.

At first he could help me get him back if not his feet, and least into a chair. But even that didn’t last long, and then it was just me struggling to lift my big, forever strong and handsome husband up from the floor.John had seizures, many of them, and all he could do was sleep them off the way some ridiculous college binger would sleep off a big weekend. I watched him sleep, sometimes dozing off myself, then waking with a start, afraid that John wouldn’t awaken at all.I took John back to Barrows ahead of schedule and insisted he have a scan done of his brain. The news the scan brought was not good. I hadn’t expected it to be, of course, but I couldn’t always trust my intuition anymore. (Other than from the kids, I wasn’t expecting to see good coming from anything). There were three new spots on John’s brain. In strictly physical terms, small. In medical, and psychological, terms, enormous.

The glioma was recurring with remarkable speed. The cerebellum, where your physical coordination comes from, was the site of one of the new spots. That explained a lot. His motor skills were shot. The falling wasn’t just weakness from the weeks of chemo and radiation. This was not something he would get over with time and rest.The implantation of a Gliadel wafer was brought up now. Of course it would mean going into what should be no man’s land—John’s brain—once again. It was, in the most generous terms, a stopgap measure, one that might add some time to John’s physical life, but would not in any way ensure any quality of life. And the side effects, as mentioned before, seemed almost more dreadful than the treatment.We chose home instead.

©2010 Catherine Graves

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