Re-reading the posts from the last two days I realize I contradicted myself. One day I’m writing about how Matt’s humor and personality were under assault and the next how he could joke with his sister and crack us all up around the dinner table. Both stories couldn’t be true, right?
They could, if the person diagnosed with brain cancer has an “amazing brain.”
Amazing brain is a direct quote from the neurosurgeon who performed Matt’s first brain surgery on June 8, 2016. He’d never seen someone with such a huge tumor functioning at such a high level. Another theme of our year.
On the day I drove Matt to the ER, that first day before we’d ever heard the word glioblastoma, Matt was falling apart. In pain and lying on the stretcher barely able to speak to me. That is, until a doctor walked into the room. When that happened, Matt perked right up, shook hands, cracked a few jokes, and played down my concerns. When the doctor left, Matt slumped back onto the bed, tucked his head into his hands, and disappeared. I paced. I nagged. I compared him to the old cartoon of the limp frog that came alive when no one but its owner was in the room and probably accused him of overreacting. I was too scared to be the patient, compassionate wife and I couldn’t have guessed the world we were about to enter.
Matt’s amazing brain defied expectations and surprised the doctors at every turn. Without getting too ahead of my self-imposed timeline, I can reveal that his extraordinary ability to push back the tumor and overcome his symptoms in front of others, doctors particularly, remained intact throughout his treatment. It was an ability that turned out to be a blessing and a curse because we didn’t realize how bad things had gotten until too late. But, even an amazing brain could not push back the tumor all the time, and Matt would often fall apart, like he did that first day, when it was just the two of us. It meant that a lot of times I got the worst of him because he had nothing left to give at the end of the day; he couldn’t beat back the symptoms. I’d like to think Matt knew he could fall apart in front of me, even if I paced and nagged, because he knew we were unbreakable.
On April 12, 2017, Matt and I emailed about window blinds. We texted about an electrical issue. Minutiae. The joys of home ownership. The issues you think about to keep your mind off the fact that things seem to be getting worse instead of better.