I've been wanting to do a post about what cancer has meant to me.. how this diagnosis, albeit my Father's and not even mine, has literally churned my insides and flipped my life upside down. I joke about therapy, which is ironic because my mom is a psychotherapist, yet I am the type of person that subscribes to the theory of "get over it, shut up, put up, and move on!" (thanks for that, Dad) It's a running joke in the family that there's a reason I'm a nurse and not a therapist because I'd make a HORRIBLE therapist! That's just my personality, I'm not usually one to loathe in self pity and problems and quite honestly have a limited amount of patience for others that do. If that offends anyone... sorry... that's me, like it or leave it. I mean it's like my latest tattoo... "Get up and fight another round"... suck it up and roll with the punches folks, life can suck that's for sure, the goal is to realize the greatness you can experience along with the bad. That being said, I process things differently, I work things out in my own mind.
Part of me working it out in my own head means that I tend to shut down when emotional experiences arise, at least to the outside world. I don't like to talk about my problems, my anxieties, my fear, my anything. I go inward and figure it out on my own and then I come back to "earth". This has been quite an interesting challenge as of lately... more on this later. So here's to processing... in my own head... but outloud on this blog so that I can make some sense of what I'm going through.
The past year has been hell, I'll be honest. I have struggled with complex emotions from the joy of a new baby alongside the devastation of cancer. Losing my uncle to cancer the day after Baby D's birth and my Dad's diagnosis shortly after. This diagnosis has literally effected every single facet of my life inadvertently. I struggle with finding the words to really express just how crazy and awful this has been for me. It has hardened me as a human being, forced me into being "cold" to the outside world all the while being far from "cold" inside. And because of this it has created a rift in my marriage. Exact words out of my husbands mouth one evening were "you know I always figured if something like this was to happen it would bring us closer... and it hasn't... at all".... and he's right. Rather than confiding in my best friend and partner in life I have gone inward to deal with this on my own. I've alienated him and shut him out. A part of me thinks that he could not possibly understand what I'm going through, unless it was his Dad, so there's no point in trying to lean on him for support. But my heart breaks knowing how hard he's trying and I'm just shutting him out. Not to mention my pride... I stand tall no matter what I go through, no one and I mean NO one in my life has ever known the real hardships I've experienced because I always put a brave face on and I do it well. It has been an immense challenge for us, an unwanted challenge mind you and this is just a hint of the "destruction" cancer causes.
This experience has made me question everything about life. It's made me angry. It's made me feel helpless, which pisses me off. And it's made me feel extremely guilty... while I've been focused on my Dad's cancer and treatment I've neglected myself, my husband, my kids... my BRAND NEW BABY. I feel like I have an almost one year old that I've never truly been able to appreciate, a one year old that hasn't gotten the best of his mommy... a family that's been put on the backburner while I focus on the patriarch, a man who means more to me than I could ever express. Guilt.... overwhelming guilt... tears, that I only cry in the middle of the night into my pillow quietly by myself. Aggghh this feeling is gutwrenching. It's like clawing for your life as you hang from a cliff with one arm slipping farther and farther away.
But oddly enough it hasn't all been bad, which makes it even more overwhelming. This experience has made me realize that I need to appreciate the everyday things. That I need to strive to be a better mom, a better wife, a better student, a better nurse, a better ME. It's really been an eye opener on enjoying the present. Not constantly fighting for the future, for the next step, the next house, the next kid, but stopping and enjoying the NOW. Stepping back I see that there have been good things from this experience, real things that actually have happened to change me, rather than getting caught up in the cute cliche of "appreciate your life, be thankful what you have" I can honestly say I really and truly am experiencing that concept. And it's been subconscious, I haven't had to force myself to adapt these ideas, they've just come about... I take a look around and go, wow for once I'm content with my current surroundings and it feels GOOD! For once in my life I truly feel a sense of calmness and peace about where I am in life. I don't feel like I am on a perpetual stepping stone to the next phase of life. I am happy with where I am and who I am. Honestly for once in my life I am really starting to feel this... surreal to say the least. It is a feeling that no on one the planet can understand unless they have lived it, I mean really they just can't possibly come close to understanding the gravity that this experience carries with it.
As I type I sit here cautiously optimistic after my Dad has been re-admitted to the hospital this morning. His kidneys have stopped functioning, most likely due to scar tissue blocking off the plumbing. So he's laying in a hospital bed with tubes coming out of his back, doped up on pain meds, waiting in limbo.... this goddamn limbo I feel like we've been entrapped in for nearly 12 LONG months. Every doctor gives a different story... the primary care resident talking about "soft tissue masses" and "lytic bone lesions" appearing on the CT scan this morning.... aka- cancer. More FUCKING CANCER. I HATE YOU.
I HATE YOU
I HATE YOU
I just want to scream and hit someone in the face... can we ever catch our breath here... ever or is the rest of my life (or moreso my Dad's life) going to involve this constant walking on eggshells feeling... this anxiety and helplessness. What the hell did HE or the rest of us do to deserve this. Here we are sitting in the same shitty hospital 2 rooms away from where we were when this fucking nightmare began a year earlier and yet we're STILL going through this crap. My Dad even has the same nurse.... it's like a twisted deja vu and it makes me angry, so angry... I'm very good at angry.... And as I begin scanning my nursing knowledge of bone cancer, metastatic processes, myeloma, etc and I'm ready to break down. I want to jump out of this 8th floor window. Then the urologist walks in, who I really like and know well (we've been seeing him regularly this whole year), and he says he is very confident that this acute problem is not related to cancer. Long story short, he doesn't think there is any recurrent cancer that is causing this problem, he thinks it's moreso a "plumbing problem" He thinks that the interpretation of the CT results by the radiologist this morning are wrong to put it simply.
So I breathe a sigh of relief... but only briefly because at this point we really just don't know... once I hear the interpretation by the oncologist I will feel more confident in what we're dealing with, until then I continue to hold my breath. Are we about to embark on another nightmare.... or is this just an unwanted bump in the road. I dont have the answers. Limbo... once again. All I know is that I feel at peace about things right now, my intution is saying that everything is fine this time around rather than what it was telling me the last time we were in this godforsaken hospital on this godforsaken 8th floor, 2 rooms away. That time I knew it was BAD news, I knew something was very wrong.... this time I don't feel that way.
And thus we continue our ride on the cancer rollercoaster, it's a bitch folks, not for the faint of heart. And the destruction caused along the way is unimaginable for the great majority.... "sickness, evil, plague, scourge" couldn't even touch this experience... I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.