As I’ve written recently, my strength and mobility have declined sharply in recent weeks. This decline has rendered me housebound, although I am working on that. The walker has helped, as will the wheelchair we hope to borrow through palliative home-care services. J. is willing walk the dog with me in the wheelchair–sounds like quite the workout to me–which will allow me to leave the house without overexerting myself. We are trying to think of other ways I can get out of the house. As summer is now in full swing, it is hard to be stuck at home.
The other problem is that my time at home is spent primarily watching television and sleeping. Would I feel more alert if I had more to occupy my mind? Using the computer is still a challenge. Typing is still difficult, as is surfing the net because my fingers still jump around randomly. I’m more restricted in what I can do. I don’t read much, except for the newspaper or the odd magazine. I’ve lost the attention span that a novel would require. Trust me, I’m sick of mindless reading and TV. The distractions have lost their appeal.
Since I am mostly homebound, you’d think I’d want people coming to visit, but, surprisingly, I’m finding I don’t. The odd person has dropped by, and I did ask the rabbi to swing by before he heads off on vacation, but mostly I’ve kept to myself. Visitors are exhausting for me, not just because making conversation can take all I’ve got, but because I don’t know if I’ll see that person again, ever.
Something that may be hard for you not-dying people to understand is that I am constantly thinking about whether this is the last time I will see you. Imagine the emotions this raises in me, and maybe in you too. I’ve had plenty of tearful hugs following visits, and those hugs have not been easy.
And so sometimes I’ll say no to a visit, not because I don’t love you or care about you, but because I’m not up to the emotional turmoil a visit will raise. I’m not up to my own emotional reaction, let alone yours. Will I have to support you emotionally through the visit or will you know how to manage those emotions without my help? I don’t know, but I do know I’m not up to being anyone’s support right now.
I know that I can barely keep my head above water emotionally right now, and I’m not up to being anyone’s lifesaver. It sounds selfish, I know, and it is. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so selfish in my life than I have these past months. But I’ve spent many years supporting other people, in- and outside my office, and those days are done. I wish I could still offer compassion but I’m admittedly self-focussed.
I lack emotional energy for anyone but myself. I trust you’ll understand, but if you don’t, I’m afraid you’ll have to catch the next bus. This one has run out of gas,