The doctor repeatedly tells Chris he must walk. Chris won’t. This is a caregiver’s dilemma.
Because I know he should exercise? But I also know how precarious his health is.
He could keel over any moment. He could die anywhere. In bed for instance. He could die while out and about. He could die in the kitchen getting a sandwich.
But he looks strong. Like his father, he has a big chest and thick rounded shoulders, a brute of a back.
Although his illness has reduced his size somewhat, it has not diminished the man.
His sense of humour is still keen, and he still has enough of a temper to direct a spate of comments at another driver, or people on TV–a politician or a football coach.
Keeping that powerful inner man intact concerns me more than his physical health. Do other caregivers feel that way about their ailing charges? Or is it just me?
After all, if the best cardiologists, and his cardiologist is one of the best, cannot cure him, then far be it from me to try. So I feed him carefully, help him keep his appointments and encourage him to stay calm and keep moving.
Which is why, when I am perfectly capable? If he offers, I will lie in bed and let him get me a cup of tea. Or make myself stay at the computer when I hear him hobbling around in the kitchen and let him get his own sandwich.
The risk I take when I force him to move like this? Is that it could be the moment in which his body succumbs.
There is a horrible guilt associated with even the possibility of this. But he does need to move. And because of the pain, he won’t unless hunger or need drives him.
Should he succumb? The only comfort I would have to offer myself is this: probably he could have been asleep and it would have happened anyway.
I have to believe that. Or I would never let him leave the bed.