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Friday, 18 May 2018

In sickness and in health

Since 2016, I have seen more hospitals than any other year before in my life. I'm not the patient, however. I’m the boyfriend, accompanying the patient. Like many other people, I don’t like hospitals. Hospitals remind me of sickness and of death, not of birth and/or life. There’s little doubt in my mind that the increased frequency of hospital visits relates to (my/our) ageing.

Since December 2017, I have been trying to contact my current girlfriend. She ignored me as she was abroad and recovering from a prior hospital admittance. In April 2018, she replied to my newest message. Our first phone call was emotional as she informed me that she was recently diagnosed with cancer.

The first thing that went through my mind was: “Not again!” Her words immediately reminded me of 2 other sick girlfriends, of whom one died in 2016. I’m not a saint and thus my mind briefly considered stopping this developing contact. It was not an option for me. Instead, I invited her to my home to assist her in her healing process.

Since 21 April, we are mostly together at my home. The surprise is on her side, not mine. Each working day, she visits the Amsterdam Academic Medical Center for radiation treatment. The chemotherapy is through daily pills, apart from the initial chemo. I learned that chemo is not an abbreviation for chemical (poison) but originates from plants: camptotheca and topotecan.

I am genuinely worried about how much time is left for her and me together, despite the regular jokes that we both make about her (not) getting better. In our case, humour and laughter works better than tears and sympathy.

The hardest part for me is emotional attachment. The rational Leon is keeping some distance in order to avoid (my) future devastation, like in 2016. Fortunately, she prefers the rational Leon as an emotional Leon would be a burden on her. The last thing she needs is helping me stay afloat. The rational Leon does create some guilt, however, for hardly showing the emotional Leon.

Recently, I said to her that we would probably not have met, let alone be still together, when she would not be sick. After some thought, she agreed with me. She likes this thought and so do I. Some how, it feels like that we were supposed to meet. Initially, I was immediately drawn to her picture. She reminds me of two very special persons in my life.

My girlfriend is optimistic about her recovery. She told me that she told her doctor that I deserve part of the credits. In my view, she’s the only one who is accountable and responsible for her healing. Like her other friends, I’m just facilitating and being supportive.

My concerns over her health occupy my mind and interfere with my writing. It’s hard to focus on "petty" topics, like Mrs May’s Machiavellian Moves (a.k.a. Brexit) or Trump’s revolution of disruption, chaos & destruction. The rising oil prices due to Trump’s abundant chaos are a major economic boost for his Russian friends but why should I care when my friend is ill?

Save Me (1976) by Joan Armatrading - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Sinking 
Caught up in a whirling motion 
Such a strange sensation 
The currents uncertain 
Like sails of a mill 
I spin 
Like wheels I move in a circle 
While you stand on the bank 
Immune or evasive