Thursday, October 10, 2013

My amazingly flawed life...

There has been a substantial flow of life going past me (us) in the 9 months since I last wrote an item on this blog.  Several people have asked (suggested) I keep the writing process alive, which I agree is a good thing to do.  I will say I have been blocked emotionally and have been unable to make public statements about the life I'm living...  Recently, though, I joined an on-line chat/support group through a BC-based medical program, which connects support and caregivers of people with cancer.  The participants are spread across Canada and we "meet" weekly to chat.  That's started me writing again.

In the last nine months, there has been private conversation, serious private concern, and more responsive caring from friends, old and new, tried and true, and people from the past and  the present.  Our circles are bigger than we think when the stuff hits the fan.  We just have to be ready to let people in.  Might not always be easy to share the things that we are feeling, because it seems so private, but the process of sharing is what cracks open the door.

Cancer is a full-time job for the person with cancer.  It is individualized and unique, which is why it's so hard to quell. The medical system does a pretty excellent job of working with the patients and finding new ways to circumvent the spread and stress of the big C.  Supporting someone with cancer is also a big job.  For me it didn't feel like I got a lot of support to be the supporter, but that was because I was wearing my blinders of resentment and sorrow.  The vortex of the stress was (and still is) demanding.  The workplace issues that are going on right now are immense and wearying.  The extra hours of work required during the busy times of summer meant I had no time to breathe, to be positive, and to be "on".  And then there are the three teenagers in the house.  All need time and attention and require my love and attention.

Several weeks ago the kids and I attended a presentation by Kim Phuc at the St. Boniface Cathedral.  She said something that spoke directly to me:  

Give yourself the permission to have a new dream!  

Sure enough -- the vision, the plans, and the dreams we have require regular maintenance.  If we think our bodies and minds need refreshing, I would like to suggest that we also need to refresh our dreams and visions for ourselves.  So it's flawed, so it isn't "perfect" the way the propaganda says it should be.  It's the life I'm living, and I have to live it. Kim didn't ask to have napalm dropped on her 9 year old body and then spend much time recovering and learning to live with the new "her".  She is a peaceful and positive role model who has come to this awareness as a way to move forward.

There's no way Tom asked to have the horrible fact of life of cancer in his life.  There's no way I asked for it to happen either, but I have to give myself the permission to make the switch in mindset, to incorporate what has happened and to deal with it gracefully.  I didn't ask for my workplace to become completely turned upside down, but that's what has happened.  My job is to keep things going for the students who are registered in our programs and that's what I keep doing.  My B.Ed. program is moving along, with a potential grad date of May, 2014, so that's a big part of the new dream.  Keep revising, changing, and moving the plan.  It's always ready for a shift.

So thanks to all the friends and people who have weighed in with positive contributions, thoughts, and hope and prayer.  It makes a difference!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Helpless in the Face of Love

Yesterday at the dog park I walked just behind Tom and marvelled at the strength in his legs.  No limp.  Moving along.  I've always been a sucker for his butt, which today was covered by the parka, so I don't think I was just reacting to a physical sensation, but I felt overwhelmed by an attack of longing and love for the man.  What he's been through.  What he's had to deal with since the pain started in the pelvis.  His strength through two surgeries in five months.  His response to living a life when diagnosed with cancer.  Not always easy, but always ready to move forward.  And now that he is walking quite easily, and the titanium hip is doing its job, he is so much more mobile.  The oncologist also gave some excellent feedback -- the drug which is being used to shut down testosterone also appears to be doing its job -- his PSA level has dropped to .03.  His PSA level was always quite low, but this will be the new base line.  In the middle of January he will meet with the orthopedic surgeon to get the update on the hip, and two days later we'll meet with the radiation oncologist to hear her recommendations.

It got me to thinking.  I've been tired, somewhat low in spirits, and quite resentful of the emotional load I'm carrying.  I haven't been able to restore myself to my usual positive outlook.  However, Friday, when I got home from work, somewhat in shock (the two weeks off meant I barely thought about the "plant", as Tom likes to refer to his workplace), Kai grabbed me and hugged me.  Wow.  That's another attack of love.  This is a teenager who cares about his parent, who had to stagger in to work a full 3 days before the rest of them have to go back to school!  The University opens a few days before the rest of the school system, which isn't a bad thing -- it got me back to a state of what you might call normal.  Or pushing toward normal.

Last week my brother Rob showed up for a Winnipeg visit with meals he bought for us -- just because he wanted to do something to help.  Again I felt overwhelmed.  I keep thinking about how many wonderful things people have done for us in the last half year -- food, wine, cards, visits, gifts of many sorts, downloads, CDs of shows and movies, a subscription to the Winnipeg Free Press, a subscription to the New Yorker, beer, magazines, candies, phone calls, offers of help, advice, friendship, love. Our children have been positive, helpful, and willing to trouble-shoot when I was at my crankiest and most tired. They give me love every day.

It boils down to love, plain and simple.  I was down in the dumps in the week after Christmas -- broke down crying one evening just contemplating the myriad of stuff that's happened.  Today I think I can see this for what it is.  I have carried a lot on my shoulders in the last half year or more, without processing my feelings about the care and love family and friends have given to us. It sometimes feels hard to be the recipient of all this love.  Why do people care so much?  It isn't just about the stuff; it's about how our friends and family really care. And it's easy to divorce myself from the emotions of it all, because if I "give in", I feel like I could break down (like I did the other night). 
So this weekend I am helpless before all this love.  My emotional state, which is still fragile, feels like it is in some sort of recovery.  All because of a man in a pair of jeans, walking with me in the dog park.  It doesn't take much, does it? To my/our friends and loved ones, each and every action, prayer, thought, word means the difference between barely coping and feeling like it's coming together.  Thank you.