Friday, July 20, 2018

Cancer surgery #1

About 3 weeks ago, my dad went in for a surgical consult and to meet with the rest of his cancer team.  The simple consult turned into emergency surgery.  There was a second mass that had suddenly become life threating between the weeks of transferring care from one hospital to the next. 

We had decided to spend the 2 nights between appointments in Temple to avoid having to drive the 6-hour round trip between home and the hospital 3 days back to back.  As a result, my mom was at the hotel with my girls, while DH and I took dad to meet the surgeon.

It was a very scary time for me.  We walked in expecting to just talk and it turned into being admitted into the hospital and signing consents for surgery the next day.  We asked lots of questions and then we waited for the room to be available for my dad.  We were in the doctor's office about 3 hours.  After the consent was signed, DH left to go inform my mom what was happening.  As he was leaving he asked me to walk with him.  It was the first time I was able to show just how scared I was.  I don't remember if I cried or not at that point.  He hugged me tightly.  He was in charge of explaining everything to my mom and then calling my brothers.  I was left with my dad trying to stay calm and asking questions.

The entire staff at the hospital was friendly, professional, and most importantly helpful.  No question too stupid to ask.  Nothing too small to be unimportant.  Once they got my dad in his room, they began the process of inserting an IV.  This was the only time I got pissed at the nurses.  I know we were at a teaching hospital but the nurse trainee made my daddy bleed all over his pillow as she inserted the IV.  I had to step out as they did a full body scan of my dad.  This was when I lost my shit.  I just started crying not uncontrollably.  I cried enough to calm myself and get my face straight.  They had made my daddy bleed.  He was in so much pain from the tumor.  We had to talk about the possibility that he didn't survive and what he wanted to happen.  It was not easy.

Because both of my brothers live about 4 hrs away from us, I am in charge of all of the care.  Each time the surgeon called to give us an update, I was the one who had to talk the call and then translate the information for my mom and grandmother, aunts, and uncles who all showed up to be there with my dad. 

I was on the phone with the surgeon hearing all about there being a 2nd cancerous mass.  How this was a very rare presentation.  How this might change the approach to treatment if this cancer mass is different from the other cancer mass.  I was scared.  I knew I had all eyes on me.  My family watching my face for clues until I got over to them with information.  I cried while on the phone.  I know being rare in the medical world isn't good.  I was praying for a fat lump but no it was cancer.

Things we know 3 weeks later:  Dad would not have survived much longer with that mass in place.  He pain was a sign it was getting ready to perforate his intestines.  Once that happens, we would have had hours.  The cancers are the same type of cancer but are two separate occasions of cancer.

I can see now just how close to losing my dad we were before the surgery.  The surgeon moving quickly saved his life.  It is still not easy.  Next week, we should have the start dates for treatment.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

You don't fight to keep people

I have been told in the past that I let people go too easily.  I don't fight to keep people in my life, personally or professionally.  I usually just let people vent that feeling towards me but I don't usually have a response.  What am I supposed to say?

Do I let people go?  Absolutely.  If someone wants to boot me from his/her life, should I really be fighting to stay in his/her life?  The one time I did explore this issue with Soul-sister, my explanation was this:
     If someone is a friend, I have declared them my friend, then I am obligated to 
respect that this person thinks their life would be better without me. 
 If someone says they want to leave, should I make it harder on
 them to leave?  That doesn't seem fair.  Cutting a friend out of 
your life is not an easy decision, why would I want to cause
 the person more pain by demanding they stay?  

I guess there is a part of me that feels that if I beg someone to stay and they still leave then I would hurt even more than just accepting their good-bye.  There is, of course, a part of me that believes I deserved to left by all of my friends, that I am too awful to deserve friends.  

I don't know.  Maybe I should fight.  Maybe I should make promises and compromises.  Give up me in order to keep them.  Here are some of the problems I have with those ideas:
  1. If I make a promise, I plan to keep it.  Can I really change myself enough to keep the promises required?
  2. Is someone who wants me to change, worth keeping in my life?  If they don't want me as I am, do they really want me at all?
  3. If the road that brought us to this impasse in the first place comes up again, won't I just get dumped again?  Better to break it off now rather than later, no?

So anyways, I don't fight to keep people.  I will fight with people.  I will grow with people.  I'll learn from being left.

That does not mean that I don't feel the absence.  Even now losing Soul-sister hurts.  I run into former friends and it feels like I'm dying.  People who knew me.  I let them in.  They said you don't have enough good in you to keep you around.  People who were family who are now strangers.  People that I said "I love you" that now won't meet my eye.  It hurts.  I haven't heard from Soul-sister in about 4 years and even now I cry over the loss.   Did I let her go?  Yes.  Did I fight to keep her?  No.  Do I miss her?  Yes.  Can we ever reconcile?  I don't know.

There are times I describe being painted into a corner.  You make decisions that put you in a fight or flight position.  Once you lash out or leave, can you ever go back again?  Now that those "friends" have left can we ever find our way back to each other?  I guess only time will tell.  I know I have lost friends permanently so there is no chance to reconcile.  That makes me want to reach out.  Apologize.  Compromise.  Life is short and tomorrow is not promised.  Can I forgive the past?  Can I move past the pain?  Even if I can, would they be willing?  

I did reach out to Soul-sister when I finished my doctorate.  She was the most excited person when I started the program.  The response was cold.  It hurt to be dismissed but I respect that our lives simply do not intersect at this moment.  Maybe someday we'll run into each other in a coffee shop somewhere and the cold and pain will wash away and it will be like we were never apart.  Maybe . . .

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Saying good-bye or saying see you later

Today makes 2 years that a friend from college passed away from colon cancer.  I have and have had many mixed feelings about it.  This was one of the first friendships that ended badly and it was an ending focused on me being dropped because I didn't fit in/ I didn't have enough good stuff to outweigh my bad.  Seems like a strong theme of my life - if I am me, me completely then no one wants to deal with me.  I write that but of course, DH would argue that can't be true since after over 20 years he is still with me.  I also have other friends who have been with me for years and years.

But I digress, back to the dead friend.  Before she passed, she asked me to visit her while I was in Baltimore working on my dissertation research.   At that point in our lives we were Facebook friends but not call each other have actual intimacy friends.  I didn't make the effort.  I made excuses.  Actually, she never followed up with me while I was in Baltimore so I decided it was an invitation made due to old memories and an actual want.  I feel guilty.  She was dying.  Within four months, she would be dead and I didn't bother to respond.  I couldn't have known.  I was selfish and still harboring feelings of hurt from almost 15 years previous.  I was an asshat plain and simple.

I am a bit melancholy today.  I am dealing with my dad's colon cancer.  We have a strong rotation of family through our house.  People wanting to see my dad, make sure they do it before things turn bad.  It is a good plan.  Almost 2 weeks ago, my dad was rushed into surgery for what turned out to be a 2nd cancerous tumor.  The wait, the anxiety, the fear of watching my dad be admitted to the hospital.  To watch a simple doctor's visit turn into surgery was scary and exhausting.  Our stay in Temple went from 2 nights to 5.  From budgeted to a budget buster.  From simple cancer diagnoses to cancer treatment.

Melancholy - it is a good word.  I am thinking and feeling rather than talking.  Staying silent usually makes the melancholy worse but the feeling that I can't talk to anyone traps me in a cycle of feeling sad, feeling lonely, being scared to reach out, so then I feel sad, I feel lonely, which makes me more scared to reach out and you know the cycle become a spiral of sadness and shame.

I am ashamed of how I treated my old friends.  I should have reached out.  Met the offer to meet with kindness and effort.  I didn't.  I can't change it.  I can learn from it.  I'm not learning very fast as I was again recently dropped for being an awful person.  Maybe one day, I'll meet an old friend who hurt me for coffee and I'll smile and it will be okay between us until then I'll work on keeping my eyes open to the opportunity.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Your bad doesn't outweigh your good

Continuous Improvement: For Good Measure

So Sunday night that is what I was told by someone who is now an ex-friend.  I guess you could argue that anyone that would say that to you was never actually your friend but I digress.  I think at the least this person was respectful enough, to be honest with me, right?  Instead of just ghosting out of my life, this person was able to get in a good stabbing and let me know how much I suck.

I am vacillating between wanting to be mad and wanting to be sad.  This person is absolutely right about me.  For their life at this moment, my bad outweighs my good.  That isn't necessarily a comment on me as a person in general; really it is about their own life and needs.  I can't really be a good friend if I demand someone put my want of their friendship above their own needs.  And still I was told that I suck and that hurts.  I'm sad because I did want this person in my life.  I thought we had a good friendly relationship. 

All of that being said, this person had a long list of faults too.  Did I make them a list as they were leaving?  Nope.  I wished them luck.  I help open the door and smiled as they left.  Maybe the problem was this person wanted me to beg.  Bargain with them to stay.  Maybe I should have.  I've had other people ask me why I don't fight to keep people in my life.  Maybe I'm afraid I would fail and end up looking like more of an ass.  Maybe it is that every time I have tried that the friendship ended worse than if I had just let them leave when they wanted. 

I could go and beg this person to be in my life.  On Monday, I got word that I was being asked to be interviewed for the Hollins alumna magazine.  This is a massive honor for me.  Hollins has some really amazing alumni and being included in the magazine is amazing.  After I told DH, I wanted to text this person and let them know.  I almost did anyway but then I remember they don't love me anymore.  They don't want to hear from me.  I'm a horrible addition to their life.  It hurt. 

I admit all of these feelings are not only about this one person.  Most of it goes back to 2 previous relationships that to this day I mourn.  It is those breakups that set me up for this one.  Instead of letting this person in completely and accepting what this person could give, I made them pay for not being what I needed.  This person would pull away and I would give space and then return and I would make them pay for their absence by being mean.  It was a nasty pattern that I couldn't see until it was over.  Now it's over.  I broke my own heart by not really being open.  What to do next?  Unclear but then life is a work in progress so let's see . . .

Thursday, May 31, 2018

So much life

It has been well over a year since I posted.  The last 3 months have been crazy let along the previous 20 months or so since I defended my dissertation.

I guess I'll start and just try to cover the big pieces of news:

1 - Dec 27, 2016, I gave birth to a daughter.  Her social media name is #BabyLala.  #Gymgirl loves her dearly and calls her an answer to her prayers.  Lala is amazing and so different from Gymgirl.  I love watching them interact and watching Lala develop into an amazing child.

2 - Snoopy dog was hit by a car and quickly passed on to dog heaven back in March.  Unfortunately, we were on a family walk and we saw the whole thing happen.  Gymgirl was totally lost in grief for many days.  It hurt to lose him.  For now, we are pet-less.  Which is good considering the next piece of news

3 - My dad has stage 3 rectal cancer.  We are in the process of getting him treatment but this is no easy task since he has no health insurance.  The struggle is beyond real at this point.  As a family, we are taking it in stride.  I am in charge of paperwork and making appointments.  DH is doing the majority of the driving for appointments.  The girls are surviving but Baby Lala has always stayed with my dad so being dropped off to other people for care has been hard on her.  My mom is taking it as well as can be expected.  I can see she is stressed and she is smoking more and running off to bingo to keep herself distracted.

Between the end of the school year, the start of the cancer journey with dad, and some health problems for other family members, I feel pretty drained and at a few points at my breaking point.  In the last 2 months, I have gone back to roller derby and running for stress relief.  Rather than go back to my old team, I have joined to other ladies in starting a fresh league.  It has been glorious as stress relief.  I have faith that my dad's journey will go according to God's plan and that I can survive whatever else comes my way.

I'll probably be blogging more just to give myself a way to log this new life journey.  In case you don't know, cancer sucks and the American healthcare system sucks too.