From October 13th's 'Journal'
Conversations with Rich can sometimes be pretty difficult. He is not always open to saying what he is really thinking.
He can be a very difficult person to read.
Dr. Faris asked how he was doing. Of course Rich answered "ain't worth a shit." This is his usual tag line and has been since pre cancer diagnosis.
Dr. Faris replied, "Help me understand, that fellow which is you...I hear up the hallway..." he gestures to the hall outside his office on the Mental Health floor of the VA, "always sounds robust and happy. I can hear your laughter when you stop and talk to Chris in his office."
I sit back and wait quietly for Rich to answer this. I've noticed the same. While he is 'visiting' with VA employees, or for example other folks, he gets caught up in the conversation and so many people have commented 'what a great fun person he must be!'
Rich is quiet for a split second. "I'm pretending," he replies. "I'm not happy, I'm just acting."
My brow furrows and I try to watch Rich and Dr. Faris at the same time. Pretending?
I can't stop myself.
I blurt out.
"I believe then that you need to receive the Academy Award for Best Actor in Any Situation. You didn't have a good time at Jersey Valley?"
I am referring to meeting with another couple the weekend before and how my husband and my new friend's husband had so much in common as did the 'girls'.
Of course the ice breaker had been her beautiful red Mustang that both of our husbands- who had gone through incredibly nasty treatments for cancer- admired.
Rich shrugs. I am floored. On our way home we'd talked about how much we enjoyed our visit with Sue and Nick and their dog. I look over at Dr. Faris who is watching carefully.
"So...," Dr. Faris says. "Richard, you never enjoy engaging with other people? Is that what you are saying? You are then the best actor in the world?"
A big sigh comes from Rich. "Yes. I'm just acting out trying to be normal."
"What gives you satisfaction or peace? Something like fishing?" Dr. Faris watches.
"No. Not even then, but I love fishing." Rich looks straight at Dr. Faris. "My only peace will be found when I am dead."
I want to stand up and walk out. I am shocked by his statement and I want to ask. "Wow, don't I mean anything to you, doesn't your family mean a thing to you?" I'm pretty sure that isn't exactly what he meant. He goes on and on about the grand kids, his daughter, my older son and my youngest son's children. I know he is not pretending when family is around. I know this deep within my heart and soul.
I wonder if my bewilderment and anger show. I then remind myself that I am dealing with a man who has just gone through a very tough cancer treatment and suffers from PTSD.
I am left wondering if he truly believes that statement or if that is just what he feels today.
Today we visit with the Palliative Care doctor, it should be very interesting.