I sometimes feel like I keep having the same conversation over and over. Many times the things I am living through feel so familiar, pretty much like life is repeating its self over and over.
My sister-in-law called me from her work, she sounded frantic. She had left my brother at home in bed. Micky had been having a persistent back pain for two week which he had been trivializing, the pain had gotten to where over the counter medication was not helping. He was unable to stand for a long period of time. She had tried unsuccessfully to get him to go to the doctor. He had lost consciousness several times.
“Can you please talk to your brother; I do not know what else to do.” I could tell from her tone she was extremely worried. I suggested for her to take him to an emergency room. He conceded and went to the emergency room. After physical examination and x-rays were done, the doctors came up with nothing. He was released with a prescription for pain medication and a referral to have a MRI done.
The pain medication he received was doing very little for him. Yet he was insisting that his pain was the result of a strain muscle. He kept insisting that there was not any need for an MRI. He continued to lose consciousness and his pain increased.
The phone call came again, “Please talk to your brother.”
I did. During that conversation, I agreed with him that there was probably nothing wrong with him. He on the other hand needed to prove that to his wife. She obviously needed reassurance. He agreed to have the MRI. Two days later he got the results. The MRI showed cancer of the spine. He was scheduled for surgery one week later.
The tumor was partially removed. It had encircled the spinal cord and the surgeon was concerned that the removal of the entire tumor would cause paralysis. He was scheduled for radiation and therapy after the surgery. He made remarkable progress.
His doctor instructed him not to lift more than fifteen pounds. For a few weeks he did just as he was instructed. He reported to the family that his condition was nothing to worry about and that he would be back to himself in no time. During the Christmas season he felt strong enough that he had moved some furniture around. This all sounded too good to be true. Then the all too familiar phone call came again.
“I did not know what else to do, I tried to call the neuro-surgeon but it was a holiday weekend and he is not in. Your brother is not doing well. He is in bed he is vomiting, he is weak, and he has not eaten in two days. His arms and legs are weak. He is in pain and the medicine is not working..”
I not only heard the anxiety in my sister-in-law’s voice, but in my own, in my sister’s, in my mother, in every woman who has stood in her place. Hers was the voice of a woman who feared losing her man. His reaction was one of determination, denial and pride, something I had seen in other men and will probably see over and over again. This is what I call Déjà vu, the fight we women have over and over with our men.