This article is in honor of my wife Linda (the LOML) on International Women’s Day March 8.
Linda and I started dating when she was 17 and I was 19. A few years later, we got married. On December 19, 2020, were blessed to celebrate our 50th anniversary. Especially so since I underwent Whipple surgery for pancreatic cancer in February 2015. Yet, here I am — one of the less than 10 percent of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer who have lived for at least six years after the diagnosis.
While there are many to thank for my survival, Linda the LOML is THE driving force for me. She is my caregiver, my inspiration, and my role model. And while I receive constant attention as a cancer survivor, Linda the LOML does not receive enough recognition for part in my survival.
During the last six years, Linda the LOML has been my primary de facto nurse. In addition, she has been my constant companion, my chauffeur for doctor and hospital visits, my personal shopper, my cleaner upper, and so much more.
As my caregiver and constant companion, Linda the LOML has had to endure a lot. For which, I am sorry. She has anxiously waited at different hospitals, seen me at my weakest after the surgery (including the loss of 60 pounds), been there when I got sick from the side effects of chemo, cleaned up after me when I threw up, and endured me not making it to my daughter’s bridal shower because I passed out at home from low blood sugar, surrounded by friends. Throughout all this, Linda the LOML never once complained. 🙂
Due to Linda the LOML, these past six years have been very good to us. We fully participated in our daughter’s wedding. Traveled a lot. Saw our friends. Etc. Except for one event that was very traumatic, especially for Linda the LOML. In 2018, we went on a cruise of the UK.
On the third night of our cruise, I started shaking and shivering. After telling Linda the LOML no multiple times about seeing the ship’s doctor, I finally listened. Once we saw the doctor, he immediately ordered us off the ship to the Waterford, Ireland hospital. Since we were tendered off shore, a tender delivered us to shore, where an ambulance was waiting.
In the emergency room, they diagnosed me as having sepsis and double pneumonia. And I was transferred to the ICU. I was placed on oxygen and given lots of meds. I was told later that I seemed to hallucinating.
At that point, Linda the LOML had to rush back to the ship to get all of our belongings since the ship was getting ready to leave Waterford. That meant taxis and tenders both ways, checking into a hotel, and returning to the hospital to check on me. All while scared about me — and alone, across the ocean from home.
I was in the hospital for 10 days, six in intensive care. All of that time, Linda the LOML was alone in a strange place, worrying about me. Nonetheless, she took charge of everything, including a battle with our insurance company, arranging for me to be in the hotel for a week after I left the hospital, booking air, and so much more. I don’t know if could have done all these things under so much stress. Linda the LOML did. That is why she is my inspiration and my role model. Note: To this day, Linda the LOML suffers from a form of PTSD from that trip. For this, I am heartbroken.
Of course, 2020 into 2021 has been a real “adventure,” as it has been for so many of us. It’s once more been draining for Linda the LOML. In January 2020, I had knee replacement surgery, with Linda the LOML in charge of everything. The surgery was in Manhattan, 50 miles from our residence. The day after returning home post-surgery, we saw that I had developed enormous blisters on the inside of my knee. The doctor asked that we go back to his office so that he could lance the blisters and check the knee. This caused stress because the blisters were so awful looking and the ride was so long. To my admiration, Linda the LOML aced this too, while her insides were churning.
Since then, Linda the LOML has banned me from any outside activities, except going for socially distanced walks. This has meant her doing every possible chore. Linda, I try to thank you and tell you how much I love as often as I can. But it is still not often enough. I appreciate you more than you’ll ever realize. And I truly wished you worried less about me. Although I know that is not going to happen.
Epilogue: This article focuses on the last six years. However, Linda the LOML has always been my inspiration and role model. She has such a big heart and terrific moral compass. Early in our marriage, Linda the LOML supported us so I could go to graduate school full-time. She has been a phenomenal mother to our two adult daughter, while teaching at Hofstra University. And while our parents were alive, a wonderful daughter. In sum, Linda the LOML has been my muse since I was nineteen, and knew within two months that we were destined to be married.