Chemo Moods

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


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7 Responses to Chemo Moods

  1. Jan & Dean George says:

    Loved this. There’ll be a lot of men & women who can relate. Thank you for sharing!

    • Jeanette says:

      Thank you. Neither of us were at our best that day. He under the influence of chemo, me just exhausted and short-tempered. But these are some of the issues people face when dealing with cancer or caring for someone with cancer. Luckily for us, we always found our way back to the love that sustained us.

  2. Annette Gilzene says:

    Jeanette: Your honesty is refreshing. Thank you so much for being willing to share.

  3. Perry Akins says:

    Jeanette: Good writing and a good story. Your ability to do so much for Bob during this trying period for you both is absolutely amazing. Of course, that is because you are an amazing person.

  4. Jason Hansen says:

    I never heard that side of the heartache before and I truly am sorry. When you were in Montana, it was a true and happy couple that would be unstoppable in anything. Its truly hard to hear about him in that light, but we all know that was not him. He loved you very much. He had a great heart of gold for everyone. But thank you it was good to hear about him in any light. Yeah I miss him. I miss you too so come see us.

    • Jeanette says:

      True, we were in love to the last day… But chemo and the stress of impending death tested us at times, as it does with any couple. It was the second chemo that was so difficult for him. He was docile and loving on the first and third chemos. One never really knows until the drug hits the veins. But if I could, it would be the one day I would do over again just to make it easier for him.

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