Can You Hear Me Now?
In addition to being the primary caregiver for Joe, my daughter-in-law, Anne, has a full time job and a frisky one year old son.
She now also has to take care of all of the responsibilities of their daily life, tasks that she and Joe once shared.
Of course there is a lot of family and friend support, which I am sure she appreciates. But she is still carrying a heavy load.
Communication between Anne, and I can sometimes be difficult. It's not that she and I don't communicate, but sometimes it is the form of communication that seems to be the problem.
A lot of the times our comminication occurs via text messaging. I can see the advantage to this, it can be a form of multi-tasking. However, sometimes after each message I seem to have yet another question.
Because Anne's time is so valuable these days, she takes advantage of every free moment. Usually she will make her phone calls while driving to and fro.
This can also be frustrating. There have been many times when her phone or my phone cut out and then we are both wind up simultaneously trying to call each other.
An incident which happened last week perfectly illustrates how cell phone conversations can result in serious miscommunication.
While Ross and I were traveling early Friday morning, I received a call from Anne. She was driving in the car on her way to work.
The connection was poor and therefore I was not able to hear every word. I did not want to keep interrupting her by asking her to repeat herself, so I figured I would still be able to get the gist of the conversation.
What I heard her tell me was that when she went with Joe on Thursday for his chemo treatment, they also met with Joe's doctor. What I heard her say was that since Joe only sees the the doctor every two weeks, he recommended that Joe have a visiting nurse come to see him in between doctor visits.
What I heard her say was that the doctor recommended that Joe might also benefit from a social worker visit.
I agreed this was a good idea and it would relieve some of the caregiving stress that I know Anne must be feeling.
Anne told me Joe's course of Chemotherapy has been adjusted with the hope that the disease would still be manageable.
Anne keeps a journal on a web site called Caring Bridge. This is a non-profit which provides free web sites for people with major health issues. It allows the patient or caregiver a way keep their loved ones updated on the condition of the patient.
This is a great idea. It means that the patient and caregiver don't have to answer the same questions over and over again, which can be quite stressful under such serious conditions.
Saturday, the day after Anne and I had our phone conversation, I received notification that Anne had an update on the Caring Bridge.
The title of the post was "A Visit From Compassionate Care". Compassionate Care is a hospice service.
Anne went on to describe the services that CCH will provide for Joe.
I was totally unprepared for that. I became very upset. I have always known that Joe's illness is incurable. But it's too soon. It can't be. And all of the "why" questions began spinning around in my mind. "Why him?" "Why now?" and above all just "WHY?"
One of the why's was "Why did I have to find out that Joe was going to be receiving hospice care this way?"
After I calmed down, I suddenly remembered my phone conversation with Anne. And that's when I realized that the parts of the conversation that I was missing were the parts about Joe receiving hospice care. I also realized that's what Anne was trying to tell me. And I knew that she wanted to tell me personally first so that I would not be upset when I read her update on her Caring Bridge journal.
But because of the poor cell phone connection that she and I had, I totally missed the most important parts of our conversation.
Now, though, as I am writing this post I realize that it would not have mattered how or when I was told that hospice would be involved in Joe's care, there is nothing that could have softened that news or made it less upsetting.
But I did learn a valuable lesson from this incident. From now on, I don't care how many times I have to ask the person with whom I am having a phone conversation (or for that matter any form of communication) to clarify or repeat themselves, I will do just that!