Saturday, April 19, 2014

Night Thoughts

Today was almost normal, and then night came.  I was lying in bed trying to fight off the demons that keep me awake, and recalled what helped me in the hospital when I couldn't bear staring into the CARE channel's tunnel of darkness anymore:  writing.  The act of getting it out of my system is enough to help me sleep better.  So.  Enjoy your trip into my self-therapeutic writing exercise.

My sister was here today, along with my mom (who has been here since the surgery).  The house was full of life, even if it wasn't necessarily my life.  My beat-up self was ambling around between my bed and the bathroom, but still it felt good to hear my kids and family downstairs.  At some point I even made it downstairs and sat at the table while my mom, who is an art teacher, orchestrated a shirt stenciling project.  You can see our fancy pictures below.  See?  If you didn't know better, this would look a lot like any other Saturday in my house.

Then, my sister left.  My mom helped put the kids to bed, then she left, too.  You'd think I would be happy to get some space in this crowded place that has hosted so many over the past week.  But instead, I felt the meaning of my emptying house:  reality.  It came hurtling at me again, threatening to crush me and the almost normal day that I had.

The physical discomfort of post-op abdominal surgery definitely gets me down, but I can handle it.  I am otherwise young and strong and have faith that my body will eventually bounce back after this just like it did after I had two kids.  So I will have a scar and my insides aren't exactly like everyone else's.  But, that's physical, and I am a mind over matter kind of person.  My mind always wins.

The dietary/nutritional restrictions and issues also get me down, but again, I can see that this will get better with time.  I will get used to the new diet and stop complaining about not being able to pound Oreos like I used to.  In the grand scheme of things, I will deal with this and it will be okay.

So what is keeping me up at night?  The unanswerable questions that have kept me up since the day the doctors found a mass in my stomach.  (Coincidentally, it was on St. Patrick's Day, my favorite holiday of the year).

Why am I defective?

Haven't I been through enough?

Why ME dammit WHY ME?

Will it come back?

Should I do the adjuvant therapy?

What happens next?

Will I worry for the rest of my life?

Will my kids be at risk?

Will my husband get tired of being with a defective person?

Is there a way to erase this entire past month and pretend it never happened?

Yeah, I used the word "demons" for a reason.  As you can see, I have some big ones, rearing their ugly heads right now and causing me to melt into a heap of self-pity.  F--- that.  I know that I am stronger than this, and that these are just stupid thoughts that will pass as soon as the sun comes up tomorrow.  I can't help but think them anyway, let them pass through me, and then out through my fingertips as I type them away, post, turn off the computer, and go back to my bed where I will watch a funny movie.

Friday, April 18, 2014


It's absolutely gorgeous outside today, but I'm told it's only about 45 degrees, so no problem just enjoying from my window.  Perspective really is everything.

Before all of this happened, I remember moments when I felt like my world was inadequate, not exciting enough.  I hate admitting that "out loud," because I know how good I have it.  I have a really exciting, fun life.  But (always a but), I felt that my house was too small, my job was too small, and that I was not using my talents to their full potential.  I felt so guilty admitting those feelings, that I kept them mainly to myself.  Comparison was a lot of the problem.  I would walk down the street, see a million dollar home and beat myself up that it wasn't my home.  I would hear word of one of my peers getting a dream job and beat myself up that I didn't make X amount of money.  All of those things that I know inherently not to do, secretly crept in and made me doubt the adequacy of my own existence.

Today, my "tiny" house feels like a palace, filled with things to do, stories to write, songs to sing.  I don't mean to get all preachy up in here, but even being in the hospital for one week and facing the reality that I might not get to return to my little palace, was sobering enough to make me want to really embrace all that I love.  And I love my home.  It is filled with everything I need to make me happy, and more.  I just was too afraid to really put myself out there and enjoy it.

The recovery process is slow.  Mentally, I am up and ready and raring to go.  I want to connect more, write more, draw more, perform more, give back more.  But, my body is still slow like an infant's.  It is hard to walk.  I need help up and down the stairs.  I can't eat like I used to.  Everything has changed.  I took a shower for the first time since the hospital today, and as the water fell down around me, I was bracing myself because it hurt to stand up for so long.  It hurt to hold my head high enough so that I did not get a glimpse of the scar on my abdomen.  I still do not want to see it.  Looking straight ahead, I do fine, but when I look down, the mess of sad emotions flow over me and I start feeling sorry for myself again.

It is important in a time like this to see the upside.  I have to force myself to do it.  The scar is a reminder that I almost died last week, but it is also a reminder that I lived.  The pathology report describing my tumor is a reminder that I had something really wrong with me.  But it is also a reminder that I have an amazing team of doctors who were able to resect the entire tumor with clear margins, so it should not come back!  This practice of turning the sad/scary thoughts around is a nonstop activity for me lately, and as long as I make the conscious effort, it really works.

Every night as I fall asleep, the feeling of gratitude is what overwhelms me.  Being grateful for this house, this life, no matter how "small" it is... that is the biggest gift in the world.  I dodged a bullet last week, and I will never forget that.
One year ago, today...


Thursday, April 17, 2014


Home is salve for everything.  While there is still a long road ahead for me and I have moments of panic and disbelief, I feel immensely more at ease here at home.  My mom is staying for the week, and then my sister will be here this weekend.

The biggest challenges are walking (still assisted), stairs (um, no, unless we have a hour), and my new diet situation.  I miss eating whatever and whenever I want.  The new "plumbing," I guess you could say, is a big adjustment.  You never know how much you loved something until it's gone, right?  For me, that something is Portillo's.  And all kinds of sweets.  Rob got Jascha a little cake yesterday and I seriously contemplated what would happen if I just stuffed it all in my face (dumping syndrome, look it up, yaaay).  

But hey - if all this means is that I have to eat a whole lot healthier, who am I to complain?  Currently I am still on a soft, bland diet, and only introducing a couple new foods per day.  It's not so bad.  HEAVEN, compared to hospital living.  I'll take it!

Other than that, I'm just hanging out trying to watch and read everything I've ever wanted to, and of course enjoying my burgeoning online social life.  For someone who couldn't stand social media, I find it a huge blessing to feel connected to all of you when I'm otherwise laid up.

Thank you again for the continued support.  Rob, the kids, and I appreciate it so much.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


I wanted to be home by my son's birthday, and I am!  

I slept so well last night.  I woke up today and it almost seemed like normal until I tried to move - ouch.  This wasn't just a bad dream, I still have significant recovery ahead of me.  Being in my own surroundings is the best medicine.  Unbelievably happy to be HOME.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Going Home


Washed Hair

Washed hair and real clothes. Are you kidding me?! Heaven. Pardon the glum face, I'm pretty shell shocked and this took a lot of effort!


I don't even want to say this out loud, but I might get to go home today!  I am off all the machines, eating soft foods, and have correctly answered all the intrusive questions, so I have met the criteria.  I still feel incredibly weak, have a hard time walking unassisted, and am learning the ropes of my new nutrition plan.  But there's not much more I need by way of hospital magic, and another night in here might just push me over the edge!

Stay tuned, this beat-up chicken just may fly the coop today...