|Jackie – Halloween 2000|
“Why isn’t breakfast green?” – a legitimate questions asked me by Kimberly. After all, breakfast on St. Patricks Day has been green every other year of her life. (Maybe not 2011 – I know we were in the hospital around that time because I remember decorating Greg’s room green. ) All I can say when it comes to Green Eggs & Ham…. I would not, could not…. actually we do green pancakes and green milk. Truth be told, I didn’t even run upstairs to change into green clothes like I have done every other year since my children have been in school.
I am definitely not functioning too well. I am not upset, or distressed, or worried, or anything like that. I am just dragging about… so completely drained… and it is like I am right back in the middle of chemotherapy.
Here is something I wrote in January 2011:
A few days ago Mark and I attended a Candlelighters Family Support group. It was really quite boring but they had free pizza… anyway, the topic was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and we were rather surprised to see parents of cancer patients on the same short list with combat soldiers, natural disaster survivors, torture victims… obviously not as high on the scale, but it kind of validated the “traumatic stress” that we have.
The weekend after I learned that Jackie’s tumor was malignant was hard. I felt exactly as though I were being sent back into combat. I was weak and just felt like pleading, “No, no, no! Please don’t make me go back in there… I know what it is like and I really, really don’t want to do that again!” Well, of course there is really no alternative, so we got right back into it.
Counting on the idea that there will not be follow-up care, it seems that surgery/recovery/follow-up is a relatively easy event. (The nearest proton-radiation facility is Seattle.) However, Mark and I have expressed many time how we feel right back in the thick of Greg’s cancer – same surgeon, same hospital – those are external similarities. It is the mental part that is the worst… I have felt it more since I have been home. Hitting snooze on the alarm (over and over), staring at tasks to be done as though they should have some sort of meaning to me but don’t, snapping at the children to stop snapping at each other… Haha. This all sounds rather pathetic, and it isn’t so bad… but I do have a headache. And I didn’t make green pancakes (though I did pull off Bangers & Mash for dinner, having previously purchased the bangers).
The interesting thing to me is how we fell right back into the heaviness of our previous cancer – I usually say “our cancer” or “when we had cancer” because it affects everyone. During that time we were so happy to end our treatments, and then so dismayed that the following year was much worse than the year of treatment!! It took real effort, many personal prayers, and a long time to get us all back to an acceptable level of functioning. (I hope this is a short time!) I learned a deep respect for trials – and patience. I know we must have appeared relatively normal, and it makes me wonder just how others are doing. What struggles do they have that we don’t know about?
When I had my fourth child I thought that I would never have a full nights rest, a clean house, or a sane mind again. That was tough! Then I would go to church all dressed up, my kids would be dressed up (that was a struggle), and people would comment on how well I managed, etc. etc. It was then that I began to realize that maybe all of those other “put-together-looking” moms were also having a hectic life also. That changed me – maybe I became less intimidated, maybe I was more caring, maybe I learned new way to relate to people… I don’t know… I just know life changed.
I am a happy person. I have a happy life. I should probably use the word “content”to describe myself. I know that life can have some really tough times, and if I keep my relationship with the Lord intact; if I maintain a vital and joyful marriage; if I give the bulk of my time to family life…and eat right/exercise… then tough times can be happy times.
Now I wonder this… why is it easier to talk about tough times? Maybe it is just because we can all better relate to our rough spots in life, we certainly all have them. Maybe it is because giving service brings joy, and tough times provide opportunity for service? Maybe it is because happiness takes a lot of effort and people don’t want to be reminded of that? I enjoy reading biographies of successful people (people who are successful in achieving the same type of goals as I have). I like to learn from them.
This I do know – when times are tough we really need other people. We need them to listen and to care and to pray and to drive children… picking up the pieces we drop. I love my friends and family. I am in awe of their support and kindness. I want to be more like them.
Jackie is almost weaned from the walker. She slept through the night without waking up for pain meds (though she wishes that she had). She is cheerful and a very good sport. On her first night home she tried to sit up at the table for dinner, but that won’t be happening again soon. We are taking things slowly and carefully, and she makes great improvement every day.