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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Angry and Sighing

I wrote this in the midst of waiting to find out if I had metastatic cancer.  I saw that damn cancer Care Bear in the side bar on my Facebook page.

Living with, living through, living beyond cancer is the exact opposite of everything that bear evokes, except that in me, that bear evokes anger.  Whether it is breast cancer, or pancreatic cancer, or brain cancer, or small cell neuroendocrine cancer, or leukemia, or melanoma...cancer is anything but a cute Care Bear.

I lived through 48 hours of agony, waiting to find out if I was going to have to re-enter treatment and that is worth so much more than a cute cartoon bear.  I've watched friends die, witnessed their loved ones mourn, seen people irrevocably changed, watched my own children suffer fear and anger and sadness...none of which is captured in that damn Care Bear.

And as for the sighing:

I first became aware of this phenomenon when our first baby was stillborn:  the overwhelming urge to just sit and sigh, along with a compelling urge to do nothing.  Not think.  Not move.  Not work.  Not tend to the basic needs of my family.  Nothing.

This wasn't quite so apparent when the second baby was stillborn, but I was busy chasing and tending to a toddler.  Or I don't remember it.  I do remember after both babies going out late at night, sitting on the wall in front of the house and sitting for the longest time most nights.  Doing nothing except wondering why no one else had noticed that the world had tilted off its axis, wondering how others could be going on about their normal business while my world had come to a screeching halt.

Those feelings eventually went away.  However, when my mother died, all those symptoms came back full force, along with insomnia, lack of focus, lethargy...a feeling of fragility.

And then they went away.

When the cancer train pulled into my station, I didn't have time to get this battered and beaten feeling, this fragile  feeling. No, I take that back.  The days and weeks between initial diagnosis and starting treatment were pretty horrible.  Yet, once there was a plan of action, the bullet train took off full speed, I was working full time, the only fragile feeling was the true physical frailness of going through chemo.

Today, though, I was a wreck.  It took me forever to fully awaken and actually be functional.  It took me even longer to function.  I was on the couch doing nothing until well after noon, regardless of all of the plans that I had.  I had to run out and get cold medicine for all of the kids here who have been felled by virus, and I simply could not choose.  I spent a full 30 minutes wandering aimlessly around Walgreens.  When I finally got to the gym, I lost 10 minutes just sitting in the parking lot.  Doing nothing.  Sitting.

By 5 p.m. I'd really done nothing other than work out.  Truly, all I'd managed over the course of the entire day was to work out.

I couldn't manage dinner.  I stood in front of the fridge, staring at the food.  Blank. I left the children to fend for themselves.

All evening, I've been sitting here, in my favorite spot on the couch, reading essays, watching incredibly stupid, mindless television.... embarrassingly stupid and mindless...and sighing.  And feeling fragile.

Emotionally fragile.

I don't like feeling emotionally fragile.  I feel wiped out.  Exhausted.  Scattered.  Overwhelmed.  Incapable.  Frozen.


It took me much more time than it should have to grade a measly eight essays.  At this rate, I'll never accomplish all that I need to tomorrow, which includes most of what I needed to do today and didn't do.  At this point, I was supposed to have only one set of essays to grade tomorrow.  Yet here I sit, unable to grade, with three sets that need to be done tomorrow.  Plus the meals for the week, the shopping for which I should have done today.  Plus all of my laundry (thank goodness the kids and the man of the house do their own laundry).  Plus lunches for the week.  Plus a slew of things I know I'm forgetting.


I can't even stop this blog entry so that I can attempt to sleep.  I'm not sleepy at all.  Tired, yes.  Fatigued, yes.  Sleepy, no.

I never expected to react this way.  It's not surprising.  I'm surprised.  Or I would be if I could generate that kind of emotion.  But it's not surprising.  I feel emotionally battered and bruised.  And it was only 48 hours of limbo.



TC said...

Dawn. The battle fugue you are feeling is normal. 48 hours of bracing your self; mentally preparing to contend with the next battle; gauging your response for the sake of your loved ones -- all of these take a toll. The adrenals go into high gear. And then, thankfully, you get the good news. Mentally and emotionally your "alarm" doesn't just stand-down, it crashes. Cut yourself some slack. =SIGH= and give yourself time to recharge.

Rachel Blackbirdsong said...

First, I've never seen that particular Care Bear, but if I did, I would probably kick it. No cancer is note cute.

Second, you write with such eloquence about your experience. It helps me as a caregiver to read what you wrote about the hell you went through. Sorry this is my time first time visiting your blog. Things are finally settling down here, so be prepared to see me here more often.

Take care,