JerkPosted: March 21, 2011 Filed under: breast cancer, cancer fatigue | Tags: blog, breast cancer, cancer battle, Hallmark card, Lifetime movie, missing mom, new boobs, plastic surgery, reconstruction, recovery 9 Comments
There once was a post about gratitude. About feeling it and showing it to someone who had done something that changed my life. About how I struggled to say thank you for helping me, for making things better. About how I wished there was a Hallmark card that says, “Hey, thanks a lot for saving my life.” Absent such a card, I don’t think I effectively conveyed that sentiment, but I tried, and as we all know, it’s the thought that counts.
This post is not about gratitude. It’s not about feeling or showing thankfulness. It’s about a whole ‘nother set of feelings, and there most definitely is not a Hallmark card for them. It’s about feeling betrayed and scared and frustrated and hopeless. And helpless. Lots of helplessness in there. Sounds like a great basis for a Lifetime movie, right?
I’m feeling all of these nasty things, and more. In addition to the emotional stew, I’m also feeling sick to my stomach. For real. As in, any second I may barf. Now, that particular sensation is one I’m very familiar with, and no, not because of all the heavy drinking I’ve done in my lifetime (close, but not quite). It’s because of the dynamic duo of oral antibiotics I’ve been taking for 221 days. Two hundred and twenty-one days. CCXXI days. So let’s just say I’m used to the all-day morning sickness, the pukey-all-the-time drudge that is life on long-term, hard-core abx.
Add to the stew and the roiling stomach the sleepless night that now has me feeling like a zombie on a bad day after a monstrously long night of searching for solace but finding none. That feeling of bone-weariness coupled with worry so palpable you can smell it. And taste it. Which does not mix well with the roiling stomach.
If I weren’t so tired and puny and upset, I would be mad. Really mad. But I’m not. It would be very easy to be defeated, to give up and stop fighting. To roll over and concede. That is very tempting right now. And I’m not one with a lot of willpower. Brute force, yes, but willpower not so much.
I don’t do any of those things well: the giving up, the acquiescing, the rolling over or the conceding. I’m not super competitive, at least not against others, but I really stink at those things. I have no desire to keep up with the Joneses or be the leader of the pack. I don’t need the latest and greatest gadget, the biggest house, the newest car. I like nice things, but they don’t drive me. I have a lot of pride, and it’s hard for me to say things like “you win” and “I was wrong” and “I thought I could do this but I can’t.” I’m much better at writing those ideas than expressing them out loud. Hence this blog.
As I struggle to process all the feelings coming at me this morning, and fighting through the fog that fills my brain and slows down my body, and going through the motions of the early-morning routine, one thought sticks out and gathers my attention: everything was going so well; at the start of week 3, I should be able to do more, to reclaim more. And the fact that I can’t makes me heartsick and nauseated and wish I could curl up in a little ball until it passes. I want my mama, but she’s gone, and I can’t conjure her up right now. I’m stretching and reaching to remember her voice, but all I’m hearing is static.
I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m driven. I like results and achievements and progress. I make a to-do list every day and attack it. I believe wholeheartedly in the principle of do the work first then with whatever time is left, play. I don’t idle well and have a hard time doing nothing. I need goals and milestones.
I should be reaching a milestone as I enter week 3 of recovery from a major surgery. Some progress has indeed been made: improved range of motion, increased mobility, and less pain. What I shouldn’t be encountering is a set-back. At the risk of sounding a little whiney, haven’t I had enough set-backs?
Something is going on with the right side of my body, and I don’t like it. I’m mad at my body. It has betrayed me, and it’s frustrating me and worst of all, it’s scaring me. The drain on my right hip hasn’t been working well since I got home from the hospital. It has leaked and collected considerably less fluid than its counterpart on the left. A theory was floated that the disparity between the two drains’ fluid collection could be because righty isn’t pulling its weight so lefty is taking up the slack. I like the other theory better: that lefty is threaded deeper into my body, which allows it to pull more, and righty is doing exactly what it needs to be doing for its location.
Regardless of theory, the fact is something isn’t right, both with the drain and the newly created breast. The right one had a divot on Thursday, that was deemed by the authority figures to be no big deal, part of the process. But now the skin all around the divot in an ever-widening area is hard. And sore. To the point that taking a deep breath is uncomfortable.
This is the thing about recovery that is so treacherous. It’s unpredictable and anything can happen. Things can be going well by all accounts and suddenly, out of nowhere, there’s a problem. One minute you blow a tire, and the next you’re careening over the cliff.
I hate careening.
If I could send a Hallmark card to my body, to express my current mix of emotions, it would be simple. Not a lot of words are necessary to say, you betrayed me. It would look like this:
Remember you can trust YOURSELF and you know your body. If something isn’t ‘quite right’, you gotta go see what it is…
I am so sorry you have had to endure this nightmare, and even more sorry that you haven’t had your sweet, funny momma there to help you get through it. I miss her too. Her daffodils are blooming, I think of her loading all of you up in that station wagon and you in your little Byrd Explorer uniform ~ seems like yesterday. Now just go settle yourself down in a comfy chair, put your feet up and let yourself heal. I know if you think about it, you can tune out the static and hear her voice. I just know it. Love you! sus
Ahhh, the daffodils. She’d be so happy to know that they bloom on without her, as we must do, too. Love ya back!
This is so very wrong. I am at a loss for words that don’t sound more like pity than comfort. I’d say “stay strong” but that’s already what you do. How about I hold Dr. S while you punch him. O know it’s not his fault but it might make you laugh.
I’m so mad & sad too, Nance. One day at a time.
You’re such a beautiful writer, sweetie. I wish I had ANY words to appease your pain and apprehension, but all I can do is promise that I and hundreds of others are praying for you, and thank you for sharing your amazing heart and mind with us. Also, I am here for you anytime, day or night, if you want a fresh perspective or just someone else to listen at 3 in the morning. I’ll do anything I can to help; your bravery through all of this astonishes me.
Your Mom’s voice….warm and maternal. She had a sing-song quality with just a touch of Eeyore. You know. She and that donkey both had a way of sighing and tiredly accepting the good with the bad. She loved to say “Oh well.” Your Mom talked a lot but was a good listener too. In the company of others, she always had kind words and kept an even-toned tempermant. She had a great laugh. I can hear her voice as clearly as if she were right here. Busy hands, praise and encouragement, doting on your kiddos, something in the oven, arguing with you. Normal things. A simpler time. Sorry for your challenges. Sending good vibes…..
And she’s back! Thanks for giving me the cues I needed to find her again.
Oh, how I wish this was all easier for you. You are in my thoughts and prayers. You’ve had enough bumps in the road, so it’s time to stop taking the road less traveled….how about a speedy new interstate to travel the rest of the way on this medical journey?
Jeez. This sounds like no fun. I’m sorry your are going through so much with your recovery after already dealing with so much else in less than a year. It strikes me that 3 weeks is not a whole lot of recovery time for all you went through with the surgery. You feel like you “should be able to do more” but maybe it’s not time to do more yet. You’re doing so much by just resting and healing. I loved reading Michele’s description of your mother’s voice. I hope it helped you to hear her.