Recently, the 40-year old husband of a very close work colleague (of both my wife and I) complained of an unusually bad headache while at home with his wife and two young children. Hours later, he threw up and then dropped dead of a brain aneurysm. It really brought home to everyone at work how fragile life really is.
My 52 year-old brother was diagnosed this week with prostate cancer, confirmed by needle biopsy. He is scheduled for surgery in about three weeks followed by radiation treatments. He is very calm and stoic about it but it is regarded as a serious case given his age and a very strong family history of the disease. Our father was diagnosed sixteen years ago at the age of sixty but responded very well to treatment.
I am certain that I will be heading down the prostate cancer route myself one day. My brother, father and I are so much alike physically, we could be triplets although with different ages. I'll be discussing it with my doctor next month but I find the prospect of dealing with second bout of cancer enormously discouraging. Just as I am about to embark on an exciting new gay sex life, the prospect of an operation which may leave me without the ability to get an erection or have bladder control fills me with despair. But I'm projecting here... I should be concerned about my brother and parents.
Although my wife regularly says she "cares about me" and we are generally non-adversarial, I still get verbally attacked a couple of times per month. Just to keep the lines of communication open and to avoid slipping into an adversarial relationship, I generally just listen to the abuse. There is no point in responding.
All of this combined with selling our house is hugely stressful and I've been bothered by the odd twinge of chest pain (EKG showed no abnormalities) and a slight recurrence of my spinal problem due to muscle tension. My stress-induced asthma is also back with a vengeance. I just want all this to be over with!!
Following this week's distressing new, I emailed my wife describing my symptoms and said that I could no longer accept verbal abuse and that all our communication should be via text or e-mail. She has told me numerous times over the years that she wished I was dead; I pointed out that I was quickly heading in that direction and it wouldn't be in anyone's interest (the kids or hers) if I dropped dead of a heart attack.
After several days, she phoned with a tearful apology and insisted that she does care about me. She explained that when she thinks about her situation, she sometimes gets so enraged that she says hateful things but has no memory the next day of anything she said. I already knew about this .... it happened a couple of times per year throughout our marriage.
I said, fine, we'll continue talking but I reserved the right to hang up the phone the instant she became abusive. She agreed to this so once again, all is well.... more or less. We continue to work cooperatively to sell my house, the sooner the better!