Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Little Less Complaining

Somewhere in the deep crevices of my mind, I must have been entertaining dramatic scenes of reconciliation. Like in those tear jerker movies, where the woman lies on her death bed, gasping her last breath, and someone dear, lost long ago, charges into the room to look the dying woman in her eyes, to forgive, to share those final moments. I think I must have hoped that the specter of cancer, of what that word evokes, would have softened angry hearts. But it turns out that it was only my wishful thinking, yet again.

And the episode is already over. No dramatic moment. No climax. No forgiveness. Just a visit with the doctor this past Friday where he announced that the cells are only precancerous. A quick snip, snip, removal of the precancerous body parts on Monday. And now onto recovery.

The day after I found out that I didn't have cancer, I found myself in the bathroom bawling. And grumbling under my breath. Why was I upset, I found myself asking. It was real, this sense of disappointment. I found myself thinking about my sister. She, who was supposed to be there for me. And yet, it is only Jeff and a few of my friends who even knew about my possible diagnosis and my last two weeks spent trying to fight off worries of what if's.

I found myself rebuking myself in my head. The ridiculous idea of capitalizing on this impending doom. That I shouldn't just be grateful. That I should fail to appreciate the gravity of such an illness. I'm sure anyone with cancer would gladly swap his/her diagnosis with mine. I thought about this dad with stage 4 lung cancer, and how his post made me cry.

I thought about what it meant. That I would entertain the idea of inviting harm onto myself for a reconciliation with her. That idea seems shameful. And I thought about how people who find you only in your moments of impending doom. Are they any better than vultures?  Would I even want someone like that in my life, even if at the end?

Yesterday, after a day at the hospital, we arrived home after 5pm. The night was setting, the kids were tired, and I was heavily medicated. It took all of Jeff's patience to get the kids to stop whining and picking on each other, while I reclined in my seat trying not to move. Jeff helped me up the few steps to our house, and we trudged into the house.

As I was taking off my jacket, I heard Jeff say, "Wow. Look at all this!"  

He was standing by the front door looking out to the front lawn. There, we found two bouquets of flowers, a bottle of beer, and a bag filled with home-made pulled pork, steamed corn, mac and cheese, bread, and a hand-made card from their 6 year old. The food was still warm.

I thought about my friend whose husband dropped off the food. They have three little ones, they live 40 minutes away from us, and they delivered the food in the middle of rush hour traffic. We have three more friends lined up to bring food for us this week. And I declined several others offers, knowing we'd never get around to eating everything. I also thought of my friend who brought me books, and several others who offered to watch our kids and to pick them up and drop them off from school and activities.

Jeff turned to me and said, "Look at all the friends you have. See! No more complaining about San Diego!"

No, no more complaining. Ot at least a little less.

I am grateful. For those who showed they care. Who took time out of their busy lives to prepare nourishment for me and my family. Who want us to be well. And for those who want me to share my life with them.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Little Changes

I would be lying if I said I wasn't expecting it. For some reason, I feel as if I've been suspecting it for some time, maybe for months. Not that I had any reason to. And not that I've detected anything unusual. Just a little irritation, a slight itchiness, differences that I could have easily brushed off.  As if there is some secret layer of knowledge that only your body knows, and whispers to your brain, only to have your brain dismiss it as nonsense.

So when the words "cancer" and "biopsies" came out of the doctor's mouth, I didn't even flinch. I sat on the examination table, nodding along. The doctor's eyes were wide open, and she looked into my eyes intently. She read the lab results slowly, deliberately. And I kept nodding along, my suspicions confirmed. I wonder if I would have been disappointed if the results had been otherwise.

After the biopsies, I dressed myself and waited for a copy of the lab results. I could have waited in the examination room, as they expected me to, but I found myself in the hallway, looking for the nurse, tracking her down, calming prodding her to get what I was waiting for.

Later, as I sat behind the steering wheel, I felt a mild irritation creep in. This pesky news, on top of everything else. Just when I started getting into pilates. Just when I managed to secure some quiet time to myself. Just when I was feeling like my days had gained a sense of order. Then, a random flurry of thoughts. Will people treat me differently? Maybe l'll lose a couple of pounds after all this? Can I keep doing pilates? What does this mean for the holidays?

That evening, after the trick or treating with our kids, I pulled out my laptop and started googling. A 100% survival rate with early detection. Relief.

Throughout the weekend, Jeff kept asking, "How are you doing?"

I found myself saying, "The body does what it does. Not much I can do."

Still, I kept finding a little bubble pop up in the back of my head, as if reassuring me, It's not a big deal, it couldn't have progressed that far, no need for melodrama.

These little changes have a way of creeping in despite yourself.

As I made my children's breakfast this morning, I didn't feel the need to harp on the kids to sit down, to stop screaming at each other, to just eat their breakfast. I found myself sitting down with them to help them with their socks, when I would have normally barked at them to put them on by themselves. That little voice in my head that complains constantly about the mundane tasks of my life kept quiet, and the agitation that had been coursing through my veins for the past few years receded, as if I were a ping pong ball that finally settled into a groove on the roulette wheel.

Today, I'm waiting for the biopsy results. And waiting to make an appointment with the oncologist. And things look a little different.

I want to drink my coffee with half-n-half. I want to reach out to old friends. I want to make new friends. I want to write. I want to read. I want to replace the dead battery on my watch. I want to hug my kids and Jeff - and anyone else who'll hug me back. I want to do my hair. I want to watch random videos on Facebook that make me laugh. And I want to linger even after the small talk.