Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pick a Number Between One and Ten

Rick was still in much pain so they called the pain management team to come and assess him.  Now if you've never had the pleasure of being in that much pain in a hospital, it goes like this:  "Richard, on a scale of one to ten, where would you say that your pain is today?"  The kicker here is that although he was in tremendous pain, he was also on narcotics that blasted him to La La Land.  The medical professional who deals in drugs should know that when you talk to someone that strung out, you're not going to get a straight answer.  "Three," he replied.

For the love of God and all that is holy...I wanted to scream at my dear, husband but that wouldn't do.  "Ah", I interrupted, "this is the worst pain he has ever experienced in his life."  "And you are?" she said as if she had just noticed me sitting there.  "I'm the wife." "Mr. Roszel, is it okay to speak with your wife?"  No, why don't you talk to him that will get you far. Rick nodded his permission.

Multiple Myeloma is cancer of the bone marrow that causes lesions to form inside the bone. Imagine the bones under all that pressure; this is where the pain comes from. I'm thinking the woman is not dumb; she can see what kind of excruciating pain he's in, and the Dilaudid they were pumping into him was not even touching it. "His pain level is a ten." I said. "Well, would you agree with that Mr. Roszel?" she asked. "Yes," he replied.

I learned a lot about pain while Rick was sick.  It is like a monster that needs to be tamed.  You punch it down bit by bit until it reaches a point where it can be tolerated.  The monster is sneaky and tries to show its head and attack unnoticed.  I would gain a whole bag of tricks for taming that monster in a very short time.  The key to the taming was looking for the signs in Ricky to recognize when it was sneaking up.

There was a  pattern with Rick that began to emerge.  If he didn't admit to horror, then it wasn't real.  I think going to the hospital was admitting that there was seriousness to the situation.  If he said that the pain wasn't that bad, then it wasn't. I would have to read his pain, ask the questions and suffer the backlash from him. It wasn't fun but it was what I signed up for.  For better or worse, in sickness and in health... I was in for the long haul.


  1. it's unfortunate how the disease becomes plays such a pivotal role on the relationship. it's hard to keep it away, and have some real time together. my thoughts are with you. i have nursed my grandmother and mother through terminal sickness, and felt that the intimacy of care was a gift they gave me, perhaps that i gave them too. it's lovely, terrifying, raw and tender and i can only say, good luck.

  2. Bobby,
    Sorry I haven't commented. I agree that the disease plays a role; it actually changes the relationship between you. The gift is in knowing that I did everything I could do for him to keep him comfortable, get the right treatments and be his advocate. I have no regrets, nothing was left unsaid. We loved each other.
    Thanks very much for writing and stop by again.

  3. Jane,
    I am making another copy of your story for a friend whose husband just died. Not for her really but for the lady's group and church that need to understand that she is going to need major help from her mom for sometime to come. I love you dearly for writing this.
    Grammy T.