Yesterday we went to the annual Sussex Flea Market. This is a huge 3 day event in the town of Sussex that attracts approximately 20,000 visitors per year. The town is close to an hour’s drive up the highway between Saint John and Moncton. Mathew insisted on inviting his sister and to our surprise she joined us (normally she is busy with her boyfriend). She rewarded us by finding an older wheelchair for $40!! It was in perfect working condition although it needs some TLC. We had travelled the grounds for two hours by then and Mathew’s pain and fatigue were wearing him out. He gratefully sank into the wheelchair and lasted another 1-1/2 hours or so, once more mobile enough to push on a little further.
We first perused the indoor venue which is cooler than the outdoor market but the arena only holds a small portion of the flea market. It was definitely cooler in there shaded from the sun. The rest of the 900+ vendors however, are outside on the gravel roads or grass. It was rough going over rocks or bumps in the ground, over power cords or through the grass with Mathew’s walker and his back and leg started hurting him. The timely purchase of the wheelchair gave him enough relief to continue shopping. Pushing him in that chair was one heck of a workout and today my arms and back are both protesting loudly.
Mathew searched for, and found, the vendor who sold him some of his wrestling action figures a few years ago. He rented the same location as the last time so Mathew remembered exactly where to find him. He purchased 5 more wrestling action figures plus several DVDs found at other vendors. Kristen spotted belly button jewellery to add to her collection. John and I didn’t buy anything (other than drinks and food).
The weather was great…a mite hot though like the last time we went about 3 years ago. It wasn’t as humid as that time thankfully, but hot nonetheless. There wasn’t enough cloud cover ~ the temperature fell to a comfortable level when the sun was covered but neither did it rain. What a mess on the fields that would be! Seating was few and far between and throngs of crowds relentlessly crowded us.
We didn’t wander as far as the last time and only perused half of the grounds at most. We were all too tired to continue. Sussex is a small town and to get to the main highway requires driving through its downtown area. While a pretty place with numerous murals we weren’t anxious to do spend an hour driving two kilometres or so. John opted for the back roads, a longer drive but faster overall and a peaceful scenic way home. A trip to Dairy Queen rounded out a lovely day. Mathew was so happy to get out and enjoy some time away from the house.
All that activity cost him additional pain later however. He had a bath, probably for the last time, and sank into his bed with freshly laundered sheets. He needed additional morphine throughout the evening and night to keep the pain to a manageable level. He is still sleeping as I write this.
Mathew’s ability to do certain things is decreasing rapidly. Now that we know the vertebrae in his back is compromised by the cancer eating away at it, protecting him from falls is of utmost importance. His weakened leg and impaired nerve reduced the range of motion and his back pain adds to Mathew’s inability to perform certain tasks. Having a bath is near impossible now. Mathew is having extreme difficulty in getting up and the bathtub is slippery enough to cause serious concern about him falling. We are converting it to a safety zone today by installing a bath bench or chair, hand holds and slip-prevention gadgets. The toilet too has to be modified, again there being nothing to grasp or hold to help Mathew up. His leg falls asleep quickly when he sits and all of us have experienced that sensation!
Mathew’s understanding of having cancer and the road ahead still has some ways to go. Yesterday he proudly told me that he will be a cancer survivor in a couple of weeks. With eyebrows raised I cautiously asked him what he meant by that. He thought that everything from chemotherapy to surgery will be over in just a few more weeks. It was hard dashing that optimism by explaining all the procedures are more likely to take a year or so… I believe honesty and realism (to some degree) is the best overall policy although I felt like crap telling him that.