Today I felt a sound; piercing silence with destitute angst, grasping upon fibers of resolution with no sustenance for carrying such weight. Fear, exhaustion, sadness, weariness, exasperation; the last few exhales of a frail and emotionally barren patient who feels as though one more night without resolution may become one night too many.
I felt it! I didn’t hear this sound, although my hearing is just fine as human beings we carefully and most often selectively choose what we hear and when. Yet every now and again it is more.
While on the beach we hear waves yet I feel deep in my chest their mighty power swell, withdraw and swell again crashing onto the pummeled earth we know as sand.
Riding my horse, any horse; I can hear the animal breathing hard leading me to know she is working, but what I feel is so much more. Tightening, relaxing, stride reaching or falling short, flex, give, kindness, frustration and freedom. I carefully feel deep inside what I hear leaving me satisfied or yearning for more.
My child hugs me and says I love you daddy, but what I feel inside is warmth, love, caring need, want, respect and knowledge that this being was not only the very best decision made in my life but, I will always love them exactly the same way long after I am gone.
So when my wife calls me this morning quietly whimpering, leaving me struggling to understand what she is trying to say. I feel that. Through calm patience allowing her to gather enough breath only to break apart, crumbling into tears because its been a long night with no sleep, excruciating pain, another fever, and a new inability to adequately exchange oxygen within her lungs. I let her cry.
I don’t hear her cry, I feel it.
Phrases like: I am done, this is all I can take, I just want to go home, spew forward with no resolution. I can’t take the pain any longer, I feel broken, I’m never getting outta here, I am scared, so very scared! All spew unabated from her raspy, quivering vocal chords.
I feel it deeper.
My throat is tight, yet I can’t let her know, my stomach hurts so quietly away from the receiver I take calculated precise breaths to not let her know my heart is breaking.
Because I no longer hear her words but feel her pain.
Today they are doing a procedure to extract a portion of her lung for testing. She does not have adequate oxygen flowing through her system and they are concerned as to why. Her white cells are there, they are multiplying, they are accepting their new home. She has a fever that will not go away, vomiting has not ceased, fluid retention stays the same and with each and everyday she feels her road to normalcy slipping away.
Two days ago she felt good, we all felt positive, but for some reason two steps forward continue to multiply into three steps back. Like climbing a mud slicked hillside or traversing through a severe rain storm. This journey was never promised to be easy, it was explained to us in very plain English it may be a rough road. Since we have been at Stanford I have personally witnessed people walk out, ready for the next phase.
I know there is hope, I feel it without so much as a word spoken.
Yet it is not me suffering through each day, I am not staring at the same four walls, no big blue curtain surrounds me or leaves minimal privacy as my body aches to urinate every five minutes. My life is not surrounded by nurses or inundated with endless needle sticks, buzzing, chirping squealing machines. At no time do I feel like screaming from boredom just to hear something other than the television. When I arise in the morning my legs work, I stand just fine, without assistance. There is no button to push asking for help or more IV pain meds, no pills to swallow every four hours, no reciting my name, birthday and address for security purposes every time a medication is given. I don’t need strangers helping me to shower, cleaning up after me or wiping my backside when things go sideways. Every morning a group of attending’s with their mentor does not surround my half-naked body staring and talking as though I am not there unless a learning moment needs explanation. Oh they are nice enough, friendly smiles and all yet it is not in my wheel house.
All of this happens everyday for my wife, my feelings are positive, I know it is all going to turn out ok, I feel it.
I hear her desperation, I hear her cries for help, I hear her pains, wants and wishes.
But when my wife calls saying she’s done; I cannot hear that, I can only close my eyes and feel an angels pain.