I said I lost a cousin to cancer two weeks back. Now, my husband’s uncle is in the hospital. His sickness has gotten worse and he is on morphine. I’m told he is given this medicine because he has so much pain and is restless. But this medicine keeps him in that – kind of semi-conscious state – all sedated and not fully aware of anything. I don’t like the thought of him being sedated but I think there is no better thing anyone can do to help him. I visited him only twice in the one week he has been at the hospital. When I’m at the hospital, I just sit on the sofa and watch him, or watch his relatives trying to do anything available to make him feel better. It is exasperating to see how they are ill at ease, not really knowing what they must do. They massage his feet, put a wet cloth on his forehead; they make him sit for a while. They make him lean backwards on a pile of pillows. I feel that the patient might feel irritated by this constant disturbance though he doesn’t show it. But I guess, I must understand their feeling of helplessness and how urgently they want to help.
I’m touched by the many relatives who come to see him and his own children who are around him every day. All his children are grown up and have good government jobs. I think this must make him feel a little better. Imagine a young person, imagine my cousin who left behind his two young school-going sons. But I’m not saying that it is ok to die once our children are grown up and are able to fend for themselves. It isn’t. But then, never in our life do we feel ok to die. It is sad how we want to prolong our life even by a breath and how far we can go in doing it. I’m dumbfounded by the life’s uncertainty. I’m paralyzed by the fear of the unknown.
I went home yesterday to find that my mother brought home a 76 year old man from Paro who had come to Thimphu for treatment. He has nowhere to stay. On inquiring, he told me that he went through surgery twice, three years back. He said, ‘I was seen by Dr Sonam. He asked me to come to him when I had health problem.’ Luckily my husband works in the hospital. I tell him that he will take him to the hospital the next day.
This morning, he went through his bundle of prescriptions and I was told that he had stomach cancer. What now? Why cancer everywhere? It is as if, it is determined to etch a mark in me until I have done something about this disease or about my own life. I’m struck by this coincidence. It is there not to leave…and I can only hope that its message, I get it clear.