Posted on January 10, 2013
I remember a feeling of panic when I’d get a bad grade in school. I knew it was coming, but it still brought on panic. And, of course, I remember receiving a 35% grade on an exam, panicking, only to find out the letter grade associated with it was a B-. It was a punch to the gut to me until I walked out of class one day and received an actual sucker punch to the gut. But that was then and the kinds of sucker punches we get receive as we age tend to be far more dreaded and cutting in scope. Let me tell you about a nightmare.
This post is going to be walking a fine line between attempting not to be vague and yet possibly stepping over a line of privacy, which I don’t want to do. When going back and forth between saying too little and saying too much, I tend to say too much. It’s my way. I apparently have one.
My husband’s father was unable to join us for Christmas this year because of an incredible amount of pain he was experiencing in his back. This is a man who tends to look at pain indifferently. He’s retired Air Force and he’s been dealing with the Hong Kong Grandmother longer than I have, so he knows pain. Also, he’s extremely active, overdoes things, admits it from time to time and simply picked something up incorrectly a few months ago. Hence, the pain. We took him to the ER the following day and they admitted him. Turns out he had a compacted vertebrae, which they operated on and fixed. He went home a few days later and that should have been the end of it.
But the pain didn’t subside…and here’s where we get to the true nightmare.
Would you like to know the worst thing I’ve ever witnessed? It happened exactly one week ago. I took my father-in-law to his follow-up appointment and saw his face when the doctor stated one word in particular; cancer. I then drove him to the drugstore for some prescriptions and listened to him as he called both his sons to tell them the news. I think that may well be the most heartbreaking, nightmarish thing I’ve ever seen.
My father-in-law was back in the hospital the next day so they could conduct more tests, amass enough data to make some intelligent determinations and devise a treatment. His cancer can’t be cured, but it can be managed. That’s what we’ve been told. That’s what we’re hoping for. And in case you can’t tell, this is where I’m being a bit vague for reasons of privacy.
The bit that gets me about this is that I don’t think it was entirely avoidable. To some degree, yes. His cancer was caused from 55 years of smoking. This is still the generation that was told smoking was fine, it was sophisticated, there were no problems and there would be no health repercussions. He was lied to. Many people were lied to. But what about the younger generations who’ve been told it’s harmful, yet they ignore it? After all, it couldn’t happen to them, could it?
I was spared ever having to face the decision whether or not to smoke; I’m allergic to it. But to all those who are younger than I am who’ve been told and shown the effects of smoking, yet who continue anyway? Your ignorance is astounding. I also think it’s selfish. Why? Because you’re not taking into account the feelings of those who care about you when you one day have to tell them you have that six-lettered ‘c’ word. You can change the tide of that now. Will you, though?
For my father-in-law and his sons, I will do all that I can to help and ensure he has a quality of life for however many years he has left. For the others who can change the course of their life and choose not to? I have no sympathy or pity for you. I can’t, not after what we’ve been through during the past week. This is one sucker punch you can avoid or at least lessen the chances of.
I hope you do.
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.
10 Responses to “Sucker Punch”
Jeff P says:
January 10, 2013 at 12:50 pm
I am so sorry that this is happening to your family Kris. I can tell you that my father had stage 4 throat cancer and it was cured so there is hope.
January 11, 2013 at 12:23 am
We’re hoping to kick it into remission, but it’s going to be a long road. Just trying to keep his spirits up in the meantime.
Lloyd Songal says:
January 10, 2013 at 6:54 pm
I cam empathize. I lost my Dad to brain tumor 5 years ago, after having had open heart by pass surgery 2 weeks earlier.
The whole ordeal of any sort is very tedious and exhausting for everyone. My heart goes out to your family.
January 11, 2013 at 12:24 am
We’re actually doing a pretty good job of keeping things in check. I’m making very sure that the hubs is taken care of so that he can better take care of his dad. So far, so good. And we’re keeping his spirits up fairly well.
Katy Trick says:
January 10, 2013 at 7:20 pm
I’m sorry, Kris. You are a good, kind and compassionate man. Ralph and his family are lucky to have you as part of their family. They are going to need you and your support to see them thru this (with a little bit of your magical brand of humor thrown in now and then). Love, family and friends are always what matter most. You know that already and have lots of all three. That makes you a rich man.
I am sorry your FILWDKHYFIL is ill and pray for a good outcome with as little pain as possible. You and your family are in my thoughts. HUGS!
January 11, 2013 at 12:26 am
Thank you, Katy. =) I actually expected a bit of flack for this post today. I think some folks are remaining very silent. That and I didn’t do a whole lot to publicize it.
January 10, 2013 at 10:19 pm
I can truthfully say that I have quit smoking. Almost two months now. I can taste and smell things better. I am hoping that I cancer, of ANY kind, misses not only me, but all the rest of us. My family has lost five people to cancer. We have said goodbye to a few of our friends and neighbors to it. I have watched many people fight and win! Some do not. It is a nasty thief of so many things in life and I want to get to retirement, just to see what it would be like. Sometimes I wish we could really share a scene of this movie I like. Long Time Companion has this scene at the end. This small group of friends are on the beach. All of the people they had lost. Not just friends, but the acquaintances, neighbors and others that had died from A.I.D.S. come rushing out to the beach in this huge happy group. Like the opening of the gates to a concert or amusement park. They meet each other with happy tears, hugs and kisses. I would LOVE that! I HATE cancer!
January 11, 2013 at 12:27 am
That scene made me cry when I watched it. It’s a seminal scene and has stuck with me many, many years later.
Lloyd Songal says:
January 11, 2013 at 2:29 am
It was an incredible movie. It made me realise that yes even I had a lot close acquaintances and friends that have and are dying of aids. When you are young you feel invincible, yet you have friends around you dying. Now even being out in the Sun requires cautionary measures. How can anything like being out in the Sun,which feels so good be so bad for your body. We hate to lose our loved ones especially when it is what we feel is far before our time to let go. We even morn the loss of our pets. From a beautiful Dogwood Tree to a Tulip everything has a season. It seems unreal when we loose a loved one. We always hope for the best and sometimes a prolonged life through the help of medical professionals. We are all born and no one is going to get out of this life alive unfortunately. We grieve for ourselves in this society. I guess that is what makes us have humane feelings; although, even some animals grieve for their loss as well. The most important thing is to reach a certain comfort level with our special needs in the many various people and needs for certain level of comfort for grief counseling for all of those involved.
January 11, 2013 at 8:18 am
Please know that I am most certainly here any time that you need to talk, vent, or even scream. If there is anything at all that I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to let me know…especially now that I know just how horrific this all can be. Love you guys!