He is a pistol today. He sits in his easy chair, but his forehead is tense and his eyes could spit fire. It is chemo week, and his current chemo transforms Bob into a state of semi-controlled rage.
“I’m hungry,” he barks, “Let’s go get something to eat.”
“Honey, I’m so tired.” Between caring for Bob, visiting my ailing mother at the dementia facility, and managing my own chronic pain, driving to the curb would be too much tonight. “Let’s just eat leftovers.”
His eyes glare at me like steely white laser lights. “I am not going to eat leftovers. I want to go out.” Thursday is his toughest day during chemo week, but I am too tired, too testy for chemo moods today.
“Bob, it’s 95 degrees outside.”
“Fine, I’ll go by myself.” This is not a good idea during chemo week. Last month, he backed my car into another car. A few days later he drove my new bumper into a wall. This month he ripped off his entire front bumper. He drove the car home, pushing the barely connected bumper in front of his auto at five miles per hour for three miles, exhausted and dehydrated. We had been warned about the difficulties of judgment with “chemo brain”, but we did not expect him to suffer with mood swings.
He wants to drive. His car is being repaired. My car is the only car in the garage, and it sits like a waiting duck.
“You’ll go by yourself? In what car?” His petulance is pissing me off, and I am not pretty.
“Are you saying you don’t want me to drive your car?”
“Bob, how many bumpers have we gone through lately?” My tone sets him off.
“Fine, just fine! I’ll walk to a restaurant!” He is up and stomping now.
“Bob, you can’t walk outside in this heat. Besides, you would be walking on a four lane road with no sidewalks.” I do not want him to leave, but I cannot seem to show my concern. However, my irritation is as thick as a cloud, too thick to see through.
“Well, I’m going anyway.” He storms to the door and walks out – no water, no cell phone, just attitude.
I wait a few minutes for him to return, but the door does not open, so I call his always-down-to-earth sister and tell her about my nasty snapping turtle comments, Bob’s chemo temper – the whole ugly story. She can hear my concern. “Well, Jeanette, I reckon you need to get in the car and go look for him. That’s what I’d do.” Her simple words resonate wisdom – the wisdom of distance from the glaring contest of two entrenched and exhausted wills.
I grab the car keys from my purse, and drive down the hill looking for my husband. I spot him inside a pizza joint ordering a sandwich. He is safe. I breathe more comfortably, and my heart beats more slowly as he walks out the door.
“Hey! You want a ride?” Bob gives me a half-hearted stubborn look, but his edginess is waning as his exhaustion grows.
“I guess so.” He opens the door, and climbs in the car.
I put my hand on his arm. “Let’s go home, Babe.” His shoulders drop as though a hint of relief has passed through his muscles. I turn and look at him, thankful he is safe. I don’t know why chemo changes the man I love. I don’t even know how much longer I will have him. But I do know that by Saturday this round of chemo will be over, Bob will be himself again, and tonight I will be the one to drive us both home.
© 2012 Jeanette Reese