Sunday, January 13, 2013

Incessant Rant and Update

It’s been almost one year now that we found out about my mom’s cancer. This last year has been trying, to say the least. The fear that takes over your entire existence when you receive such devastating news is, well, overwhelming for lack of a more profound word. My mom is the one with the illness, yet my entire family has been affected, obviously. I love her more than the earth and the moon and the stars. She has kept this family together for… well, always. She has always been the strong one, the one everyone looked too. Then she got sick and I was suddenly thrust into that roll. I tell you it is one very hard job, especially being so far away from all of my family. Nonetheless, I picked up the gauntlet and have tried very hard to fill her shoes but oh how I have struggled. My whole world has seemed to have fallen apart and I have felt sadness, anger, humility, hopelessness, love and resentment towards my mom, and because of all of that, I have felt an overwhelming guilt for those feelings above all else. Guilt for being healthy, for being glad it wasn’t I that got sick; for loosing hope and being constantly fearful that she’s going to loose this battle; I have been angry that she has confided things in me, things that I shouldn’t know at this point in my life. The worst guilt for resenting her, because the one person I needed most in my life, my life that has spun out of control, I haven’t even been able to tell her of the destruction of my marriage. I haven’t had her to lean on because she has had enough to worry about with her illness, chemo and everything else. I haven’t been able to talk to her. I am angry at, I don’t know, cancer itself I suppose.

I have tried to stay strong and not show how weak and insignificant I feel I have become. I tried to push on and stay strong. Escaping from the reality of fear, I delved into writing, putting my emotions into words I suppose. I’ve been selfish to a point and have made some very stupid mistakes, pushed at things I shouldn’t have, DONE things I shouldn’t have with people I had not reason to, except maybe to try and feel something other that what I was. The madness that my life has become scares me. I want to scream and shout and hurt, just as I am. I want to run away from the world. Take a break. Is there a way to do that? I sound like a pouty brat right now, not getting my way. (More guilt) I started out meaning for this to be an update on my mom, but I am afraid that it has been more of a rant, for that I am sorry. I suppose I am overwhelmed more so today. My mother, my poor dear mother, has been strong and gone through 7 ½ months of Chemo and all the hellish amounts of side effects that go with it. Last month, she was to go in for surgery to remove the last of the omentum and her ovaries to lessen the chance of recurrence. An MRI was done mid December that showed there was a new mass that had grown, even with the chemo. As she prepared to have surgery two days after Christmas, she came down with an infection, hence putting off her surgery until this month. Another MRI was done last week and the news received was devastating to say the least. The mass, in one month, had doubled in size. Her surgery is scheduled for this Thursday and I am preparing at the moment to travel up to be with her and my dad for her surgery and her stay in the hospital. That gauntlet is as heavy as Thor’s hammer right now and the breadth of my emotional stability is wavering. I know I can do this. Someone told me that I have to so I will. I know my problems and fear and even who I am, have surely been forgotten by him, his words, the words of a stranger, never rang truer than they do in this moment.

I would like to say a special thank you to that person. Now, to all my other twitter friends, I would like to say a very special heartfelt thank you. You have helped me in more ways than any of you all will ever know. Thank you for supporting me, encouraging me, laughing at and with me and for putting up with my incessant moments of, let’s just say hormonal yearnings of certain people. I never would have made it through this last year without being able to escape from my crazy world with you all. I am profoundly grateful that I have found such true friendship with/from you and will be forever in your corners if ever you need. I would like to put out this prayer in the world today. I pray for an end of this hell that my mother and our family have gone through, and to those who have helped me survive it to date.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

From The Beginning

I suppose I am writing this for my own sanity more than anything. This is my account of the insanity that is life right now. My account of the beast called Cancer and how it has over taken over my life. Cancer doesn’t only happen to the person diagnosed, but to all who are part of that persons life. Over the last several months, I have come to realize how cathartic writing really is for me. Why did it have to take so many years and a tragedy to figure that out?

I say tragedy, but is that really what it is? I really don’t know. We go along each day, living our lives and become complacent with basically everything. We all get swallowed up in our own existence, the day to day routines of our lives and the things that matter most to us, get pushed back; put on a shelf to be dealt with at some other time; chores, friends and families. We all cope with the day to day, then tragedy strikes. There’s that word again.

It was a Thursday night, rather late; a school night. As I was getting the girls ready for bed, the phone rang. Caller ID said it was my mom. Now I love my mom VERY much and we are very close, but it had been a very long day and the last thing I wanted was another long drawn out conversation with my mom about how I needed to get certain parts of my life in order (that’s a whole other story in itself). I rolled my eyes and sighed a huge sigh and tried to avoid her even more. I told my daughter to answer the phone, so I could prepare myself for the conversation that loomed. The look on my child’s face, I’ll never forget. Joy of talking to her Grandmother, turned to fret and fear. She held out the phone and said, “She’s crying.”

Ok, so now fear and guilt enveloped me. I quickly took the phone. My mom was in pain, an attack of some sort, she wasn’t sure what it was. She was calling me to find out what a Gall Bladder attack felt like. I had mine removed after the birth of my oldest daughter. To make this recollection not too long, I told her it didn’t sound like that to me, but she needed to go to the Emergency Room. I stayed on the phone with her as I tracked my dad down on my cell phone. He had been bowling. After determining that he didn’t have time to finish the tenth frame (he’ll never live that down) he left to go to her. I hung up the phone and stayed on with my mom until he got home. It was only 10 minutes, but it was a very long 10 minutes. When you hear someone you love, someone who has always been so strong, sound so weak and in so much pain… well, it may only be 10 minutes, but it was the longest most excruciating 10 minutes of my life.

I hung up the phone and breathed out deeply. Turning to my own selfishness again, glad that I could tuck that away. My dad was there, he could take care of her now. They would call later and let me know what was happening and I could sit back and wallow in my own existence again. I worried yes. It’s my mom, but I was now able to focus on me, my life, my trials and tribulations; my day to day boring routine. I put he kids to bed and crawled into bed myself and turned on the TV taking my phone with me for when they called. I drifted off to sleep, worried, but content with the fact that my job was done. I was a good girl and did what I had to; my obligation was fulfilled.

The phone didn’t ring that night. They had decided to send an e-mail that I read first thing in the morning. They told me that the E.R. said it wasn’t a Gall Bladder attack and did a whole string of tests and blood work and told her to go and see a Gastroentologist on Monday. I breathed a sign of relief at that point, thinking that she was going to be just fine. There was no fear of what was to come. Life was now ok again and that daily routine of self-importance took hold again. My mom went to her appointment and was set up for a colonoscopy for that Thursday. Still, there was no fear of what this test may hold in store for her and all of us. She was told to come back in on Tuesday and they would discuss the results of the test with her.

Now I hope I’m not portraying myself as uncaring or without emotion about this whole ordeal. It was all upsetting and yes, we were all a little nervous about what was happening, but what we found out, makes everything else seem so subdued and trivial.  February 28, 2012 was the worst day of my life. It’s the day that my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I remember listening to her tell me; not really comprehending the enormity of it all.

Now before I go any further, I think I need to tell you a bit about who I am; my personality. I would say that I am mostly a Type A personality, with lots of Type B tendencies. I’d say that I can be very creative and I really enjoy exploring new ideas; very type B. However, I have a severe sense of urgency when faced with a project or a problem and work diligently until that project or problem is solved. I do anything and everything that I can to solve any issue until it is no longer an issue. That being said, I’m sure you can imagine how I felt when faced with a problem that I had no control over what so ever.

My mind reeled with the news my mom had given me. A million and a half thoughts ran through my head in only a few very short seconds. My head was spinning. I tried to stay strong for her, make like the news was ok to hear. I stayed positive for her while I was on the phone. As I hung up the phone, my entire world came crashing in on me. I felt like Hercules, holding trying to hold up the entire world on his shoulders. The weight of it was suffocating me. I was faced with a problem that I could not solve, no matter what, it was not in my hands to fix it; make it all ok. I wanted to run from the house screaming. I wanted to run as far as I could and then run some more. I wanted to scream at the world as loudly as I could; yell into the blackness of the night until it reached the ears of God. How dare life be so cruel. A hatred brewed in me. How could he do this? How could God make such a thing? How could he allow this disease consume my mother?

In that moment, I felt more alone than Tom Hanks was in Cast Away. My husband, gone. My parents in pain. Friends, distant and removed. Being a military wife sucks in that you are constantly leaving friends. So being the Type A personality that I am, I solved that problem, many years ago. I stopped putting myself out there, giving a piece of my heart to friends for it to only be torn away when we once again had to leave. I built a wall around myself and to let anyone in was a major feat on their part. I had secluded myself from opening up and bonding with anyone on that intimate a level. I felt as if I was falling into the abyss; a black hole of nothingness. Panic ensued. I didn’t want to fall in, yet I had no where to turn, at least so I thought. I didn’t know who to talk too. I didn’t want some sugar coated reply from my old distant friends. Nor could I burden my brothers or family with my thoughts when they too were dealing with the news they had just received. I had been standing in the middle of the room, mouth open, unsure of reality. I sank the my knees and sobbed in agony. How was I going to handle this? Who could I ask for help? Then a poem that I had read a few weeks before popped into my head. This person, this stranger, had faced the vicious monster, had lost someone dear, and still made it through to the other side. Was there actually hope left out there? I was desperate to have answers to all my questions and I had no clue where else to turn, but to this stranger.

I stood up, and in a futile motion wiped away the tears that would not stop oozing from my eyes. I pulled up my e-mail and started typing, pleading for an answer. I wrote to this stranger then sat for a few moments contemplating whether or not to hit send. “What the fuck!” Ran through my head. “The worst that can happen is there is no response.” I hit send, turned off the computer, resigning myself to the fact that I wouldn’t hear anything back, but I was ok with that. Honestly. It had felt good to release some of the emotions that were drowning my brain. I walked around over the next day or so in a fog. Still in agony, but coping with the monster that had the audacity to rear it’s ugliness in my life. I still had to talk to someone, so I took a leap of faith and turned to two people on twitter of all places. They helped so much. More than I can express in words. I felt a true friendship brewing and it was okay that they were hundreds or thousands of miles away, we still connected and my pain started to dissipate. I was still fearful and unsure of how to handle what I was feeling, how to cope with my feelings and still be supportive to those around me.

Then came a tweet. From that stranger. There were a few kind words, a tweet back and forth and a phrase that was so matter-o-factly that it brought my mind that had been going hundreds of miles an hour to a dead stop. "You have to deal with it, so you will." It made perfect sense. I was in awe of the simplicity of it. I had sent that message out into the world, not expecting a reply. You see, my faith in humanity was also faltering at that point in my life, from something that I will not go into at this time. So to get a response from this stranger, this person who is so busy with so many different things, that took a wee bit of time to respond to another human being, meant more to me than anyone will ever be able to comprehend. It restored my faith in humanity a bit as well as inspired me. I was suddenly filled with the urge to write a poem. I had never written a poem before. I just sat and started writing. My feelings came flowing out of me and by the time I was done, I felt so much better. It was a thank you more or less, to those that opened up and held me in their hands and hearts for a short while, until I could stand on my own. If you’d like to read it, here ya go.

I felt hope crawling up out of the darkness and the weight that had been sitting on my chest the last few days was slowly lifting as time started to soften the blow that had struck only a few nights before. A follow up e-mail from this stranger solidified that there are still good people out there in the universe, they aren’t all asses. Life was still revolving around me and time passed slowly, but I was still riddled with sadness and bouts of hopelessness. This is the second worse time of my life right now, the first being a miscarriage I had when 4 months pregnant. The loss of a child, even one that hasn’t been born is the only thing that I can even begin to equate to the loss of a parent.

Over the last few months, I have come to have a distrust of Doctors yet my faith in humanity and compassion has been returning, slowly, but each day it grows. I have found a support system in my twitter friends, that has held me together by sharing their own trials and losses. I am taking each day given, one day at a time. I’ll wrap up this particular post for now and will continue this story of caring, coping and hope shortly. My hope with this blog, is to hopefully let someone out there, that may be going through the same madness as I have, as I am, that they aren’t alone. No one is an island and it really does help, (sometimes, not all the time) to talk things out.