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Necessary Things

Updated on May 6, 2011

The oxygen unit is much louder than the portable he used to use. This hums and makes a shish, thump noise as is shoves life giving air into his lungs. I have developed a love/hate relationship with this beast.  It lives next to the bed on his side and is wedged between my vanity and the mattress so trying to vacuum under it requires lugging it out into the middle of the room.  It always resists and drops its tube so that I roll over it requiring a new length of tubing and a new nose piece.  It drones through the night huffing and puffing me awake and pauses occasionally just to frighten me, I know. 

I was used to his snoring.  Window rattling, low gurgling, labored breathing and snoring.  But it is now joined in a mad chorus that sings a death song.  I hate it!  But it keeps him here.  It supplies his lungs with the air he is no longer strong enough to push and pull on his own.  His heart is not as taxed when this machine pumps so I must learn not to hate it.  I must remember that as long as it is running, he is still here, with me, still alive. 

I used to lie next to him, watching television and scooting up close so that our backs touched and I could feel the warmth of his body.  Now I lay in the dark.  This machine forbids me playing the television, for to hear it the volume would have to be all the way up and all of the noise is deafening.  When he wakes in the night he will sometimes sit in the living room and turn on the portable oxygen.  I lie listening then too, making sure he isn’t falling asleep in the chair with this tank that could drop and injure him.

I hurry to do the things out-of-doors that he used to do.  I mow the grass at a neck breaking speed and leave the edges long and shaggy.  I don’t have the time or strength to pull out the weed eater and try to trim up the yard all neat like he used to.  I rush through my shower, sweat stinging my eyes from labor my body is not accustomed to and dress quickly in whatever my hand pulls out of the drawer or closet.  I pull my hair back and fasten it with a rubber tie left here by our granddaughter. 

I fix his lunch and watch while he eats without interest, without tasting.  He hated this new low fat diet and used to argue or even sneak some decent food.  He no longer argues, just chews and swallows with difficulty.  His beautiful blue eyes no longer shine with life.  They are flat and focus only on his food or the television.  I can’t tell if he has given up completely or has assumed this attitude of complacency.  I, I am livid!  I hate watching him dwindle away to a mass of atrophied muscles that won’t allow him the courtesy of supporting his weight as he tries to stand.  He refuses the walker and struggles instead with a walking stick he bought to use while mushroom hunting.

The doctor says there is no telling how long his life will be prolonged by using this oxygen and the inhalers, maybe a year, with grace maybe even three.  His lungs are so bad now there is no reversing the process but keeping his heart from over working is important and the stint they put in will most likely be joined by others as his veins continue to constrict.  We line up his twenty-three pills nightly and put them into a divided container, each compartment bulging with pills to help him pee, keep his blood thinned, break up any cholesterol that sneaks through his diet.  Medications to adjust his heart rate, those to help with pain, ones to help with his Depression and another to quiet his Anxiety.  He sits on the stool until it leaves a deep red almost bruise, even his digestive system has rebelled at all of this medicine. 

My son asks of his step-father, do I really think all of the medicine is good for him?  He should get outside, go for a walk, take up a hobby … and I want to slap him across his young strong face.  Why yes, let’s plan a ski trip!  Or maybe a cross-country motorcycle road trip.  You ass … go away and live your life, afraid to admit that all too soon you will have a widowed mother, a situation which will interfere with your time by needing things done for her.  And my daughter, who has been told several times that his health is very bad, skips over it and goes on with the conversation she is determined I listen to, about how difficult her life is.  Stop calling to “see how I am” when all you want is a sounding board for your frustrations.  Can’t you see I am busy loving my husband and trying to have hours, even minutes of time with him that have some sort of meaning? 

He does not reminisce, that is too painful.  We do not speak of days when he was strong and worked two or three jobs at a time and provided first for his ex-wife and their children and then for us.  And what of those grown children?  They speak on the phone occasionally, when he calls.  The hatred their mother had for him is implanted in their souls and the jealousy of seeing him go on and live his life with a new wife and her children prevents them from caring enough to know he is fading away.  It’s too late now to miss him, they don’t even know him.

So, it is what it is.  We spend our days and nights with necessary things that keep him breathing and keep his heart pumping.  We watch the strong men of The Deadliest Catch and he is lost in the moments of their victories and their defeats.  We watch old cowboy movies and he warns the good guys, out loud, that the ones in the black hats are sneaking up on them.  We live every minute, every second surround by all of these alien intrusions to our life.  They have burrowed into our schedules and replaced our desires.  They keep us focused on this time, the next dose, the needed refill and always, always the oxygen.  These things have become our life.  They are the necessary things.


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  • QudsiaP1 profile image

    QudsiaP1 6 years ago

    I second the advise given by Somewayouttahere.

    Live in your victories in your small accomplishments. From what I know of you; you are a brave strong woman. Always in my thoughts; I love you a lot.

  • Micky Dee profile image

    Micky Dee 6 years ago

    "The hatred their mother had for him is implanted in their souls..." - I know this.

    All that I worked for for decades is taken. My child is taken and turned into a scholar that receives my money but not my phone calls.

    I worked until I fell asleep on the floor of my shop. All the while reliving the haunting of war, betrayal, false imprisonment.

    I pay for several life insurance policies for which I am the beneficiary of none.

    Yes, dear Poohgranma, I know. I'm with you dear.

    So tears will flood my face at any given time- anywhere - because I do not understand.

    I love you dear. I love the love you have for your "old man". God bless you dear!

  • SomewayOuttaHere profile image

    SomewayOuttaHere 6 years ago from TheGreatGigInTheSky

    ...if you need something from me...send me a message anytime...i can listen

  • Poohgranma profile image

    Poohgranma 6 years ago from On the edge

    I needed ... from you ... but didn't want to ask.

  • SomewayOuttaHere profile image

    SomewayOuttaHere 6 years ago from TheGreatGigInTheSky in the now...don't look at tomorrow...just now and enjoy your time's a different time now...the outside looking in never truly understands how you live day in and day out and of course sometimes people do not say the right things e.g. go for a walk (they don't mean to hurt - sometimes people don't really know what to say or what to do or how to help)...let it slide - it's hard I know...just live for the moment with the love of your life...the two of you...little Ali brings by some fresh air to your world every time she walks through your door....and you know what's nice about little Ali - you see her, feel her, for those moments...not only is she your beautiful grand daughter coming for a visit but a bit of a distraction as well...from what could feel like your surreal world.


  • Poohgranma profile image

    Poohgranma 6 years ago from On the edge

    I guess I'm hoping for some feedback on how others have dealt with similar situations. I know everyone is different and so is every circumstance. I just wish for some quality of life for him. I can't even think past that now.

  • Hyphenbird profile image

    Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    Your compassionate heart is so big and beautiful. Bless you for your tenderness to him. I am so glad you have your writing gift to help relieve the stress in your life. You are amazing to me and many others!

  • Poohgranma profile image

    Poohgranma 6 years ago from On the edge

    Thanks for your ever sweet thoughts stars. God Bless you and your wonderful family too.

  • stars439 profile image

    stars439 6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

    Dear Phoenix : It would be nice if you had help instead of advice. I wish we were near by to help. This is not the perfect time to say this, but Happy Mothers Day. And we hope your children, and grand children will share that wonderful day with you. God Bless You Dear Heart.

  • Poohgranma profile image

    Poohgranma 6 years ago from On the edge

    Shit!-inski - you always know how to make me cry. I'm no wonder woman right now, trust me.

  • profile image

    Shitinski 6 years ago

    I had no idea. Chin up wonder woman. ((((hugs))))

  • Poohgranma profile image

    Poohgranma 6 years ago from On the edge

    Thanks big bro. Prayers gladly accepted.

  • WillStarr profile image

    WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

    I'm very sorry, and I'll pray for both of you.

  • Poohgranma profile image

    Poohgranma 6 years ago from On the edge

    Thank you so much. I am so very afraid and since my past forbids fear as weakness, I have turned it to anger.

  • Enlydia Listener profile image

    Enlydia Listener 6 years ago from trailer in the country

    I am sorry, that things that are supposed to sustain life have intruded into your happiness...I hope that some joy will sneak in and take over the emptiness. Blessings. Btw, this was very well written.