So my wife, Sheri, fell off a chair and broke her leg, her ankle and sprained her knee.

What was she doing up on a chair? That, brothers and sisters, is not really open for discussion, given that shortly before she fell Sheri was wondering about the advisability of being up on a chair doing what she was doing.

We were actually winterizing some windows, an act that was way overdue. We didn’t expect a reward for finally getting to it, but a punishment like this seems a bit excessive.

It’s been strange around our house since it happened. Sheri is pretty much confined to the sofa, with her beverages and electronic devices around her. My job is to hang loose and fill her every waking need.

Now, in the wrong hands, that could be a real pain-in-the-butt sort of thing. But, I must say, Sheri has not been having me deliver her bon bons one at a time … as a matter of fact, I haven’t seen a bon bon since long before this happened. When she asks for something, it’s a genuine need and she tries to bunch her requests so that the amount of up and down and back and forth I need to do is less.

Still, if you think about how dependent we are on our feet and legs for getting about and reaching our stuff, it still comes out to a lot, and I do it gladly. She has been living with me and my cancer for over two years; two weeks doesn’t seem like much in comparison. And it isn’t.


But part of the strangeness I’ve been feeling revolves around my having cancer. I really have to be careful how much I do. Fortunately, it hasn’t been much of a problem so far. I can fetch as good as any loyal family dog, and I can help with position changes as well, which covers the bulk of the requests so far.

We do have friends for the more involved things. When Sheri had to visit the surgeon to determine the amount of damage, and how the surgery would be managed, our friend Rita (not her real name) took her and brought her back, and another friend, Rip (not his real name either), carried her to and from the car. I was absolutely worn out. I absolutely hated not being able to be the one to take her. I know that sounds very caveman-like — me drag mate to healer then me drag back. And that’s why I let Rita do it. I can’t afford to get run down and sick.

Speaking of which, Sheri and been telling me to be careful that I don’t trip over this or that, or move that thing so you don’t fall, or make sure your shoelaces are tied when you leave the house. (I guess that probably needs further explanation but I’m not giving it.)

My thought, naturally, was that she was concerned that, having just broken her leg, she didn’t want me to do the same — she didn’t want me to experience the pain that she was.

Well, after further review, I realized that might have been part of it, but, more than that, I think, if I fall down and break something, we’re screwed.

Having cancer is one thing; I can still fetch. Being laid up with a broken something and cancer means there’s no one but Wolfie, our cat, and fetching isn’t one of his best things. In truth, it isn’t even one of his things.


It’s also strange to see that Sheri has more friends than me. I’m not complaining, just admitting the truth. The phone rings constantly … for her. People are always trying to come out to the house with groceries … for her. And now they’re offering to bring cooked meals … for her.

To show you what the pain and stress of two ill people doing the best they can to help each other while trying to remain positive can do, witness the following exchange:

Sheri: That’s nice that she’s willing to bring out the chili.

Me: Yeah. Your friends are way cooler than mine.

Sheri: Look at all the cards, emails, notes, prayers that people have given you.

Me: Yeah. But none of it’s food now, is it?

In true fairness, I suppose I should point out that I almost never have my phone on and let it go to voicemail when it does ring, unless it’s a doctor calling.

As something of a spinoff from the age-old, “Does this dress make me look fat?” question, may I ask, “Does all this grousing make me seem small?”

Jim Arnold is a former copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. To read more about his journey through cancer, visit his blog,

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