Saturday, August 23, 2014

16 Years Cancer Free




My cancer free anniversary came and went without me even pausing to notice it. Sixteen years ago a tumor was wrapped around my aorta twice. Sixteen years ago my sternum was split in half with an electric saw. Sixteen years.

I was 29. Now I am... not 29.
My daughter was eight. Now she is 24.
Weeks after my surgery, my husband and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. In just a few days, on September 9th, is our 25th wedding anniversary.

During the last 16 years, the trees in my garden have grown taller. My dark hair has fallen out from chemo. And grown back. And fallen out again from more chemo. And grown back all over again. Now it is streaked with gray.

After my surgery, I got carded at the liquor store. Now my daughter gets carded. Through my bifocals, I watch her pull out her ID. When she pours herself a cocktail, I wrestle back the urge to tell her, "Hey, what are you doing!" Then I remember she is 24 and I am... not young anymore.

Aging means aches and pains in the morning. It means middle age spread. It means wrinkles and gray hair. And it means you have survived. You survived close calls and near misses. You survived failures and set backs. You have been knocked over, and pushed down, and held down, and stressed to tears. And gotten back up again. You have learned to deal with pain, because pain is as much a part of life as laughter. No one tells you this. You learn it the hard way, the ugly way, the way that leaves seven inch surgical scars that still ache 16 years later when you turn your head to back up the car in the driveway.

Aging is the most amazing thing that can happen. It is proof you lived, even when death was an option. Aging is a gift to be celebrated. Gray hair, scars, and all.

Monday, August 11, 2014

If Suicide Makes Sense

Today the world learned Robin Williams committed suicide. I'm feeling shocked and saddened. I've read comments that he had everything to live for, that he was selfish, and on and on they go. The hard truth is, when someone is badly depressed, everything stops making sense. Everything is dark and the pain is excruciating. I am so sorry Robin was in so much pain. I couldn't help him. Maybe I can help you.

If I had to choose between having a nine hour chest cracking cancer surgery again, or be suicidally depressed again, I would choose surgery. It hurts less.

If I had to choose between 24 more cycles of intense chemotherapy again, or be suicidally depressed again, I would choose chemotherapy. It hurts less.

Deep depression is isolating, and frightening, and so painfully lonely that no love can enter inside. Depression feels like being trapped in a hole so deep no light can penetrate. People flippantly say that, "Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem," but this just isn't true. If you are trapped in a place without light, or hope, or love, feeling like committing suicide to escape makes sense. When you are that depressed, suicidal thoughts are the only light you can find on your own. And that is a scary place to be.

Suicide is an attempt to solve a problem of intense emotional pain with impaired problem-solving skills--Kalafat & Underwood, 1989

 Thoughts of suicide feel like a comfort, and way out of this hellish trap. Suicide is the only way out  you can come up with to make the pain stop. If you are in that place right now, and found this blog because you are suicidal, please understand this: The reason you cannot escape the dark is because someone else has the key to let you out.

You need to ask someone for the key. Tell someone that you hurt inside. Someone who won't laugh it off. Someone who will hear you. You can call emergency services, or go to the hospital. Speak to a doctor. Speak to a crisis hotline. A teacher. A neighbor. A parent. A spouse. A sibling. A friend. The person who hears you has the key to unlock this dark pit.

You don't have the key, and you can't think your way out of depression. You need to ask someone to help you escape. They will unlock the door and lead you to the help you need. The key exists. I know it does, because someone unlocked the door for me. I am alive and well now. It wasn't easy to get better, but I did get better. So will you.

There are medications that can help. Doctors and nurses who can help. There are tools you can learn to help you problem solve. There is hope on the other side of the dark pit. Ask someone for help. Please. I've lost three friends to suicide, and I don't want to lose another friend. If you are here reading my blog, you're my friend. Your life matters to me, even if it doesn't matter to you right now. If you hurt so much inside that suicide makes sense, please get help. Please.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Good News

We increased April's insulin dose and now she is back to her old tricks.






I never thought I would be glad to see April getting into the garbage. Thanks to insulin, we have our old dog back. I'm a lot less stressed now.

Disclaimer

I am not a doctor. I do not have a medical degree. Nothing on this site qualifies as medical advice. These are lessons I'm learning at the University of Catastrophe. What I find to be correct answers in my classes may not be the right answers for you.

If you are enrolled with your own major at the University of Catastrophe, please consult your doctor, therapist, attorney, auto mechanic, veterinarian, plumber, dietician, arborist, acupuncturist, manicurist, mother, local dairy council, shoe shine boy, or other equally qualified professional, for advice and assistance.

If you email me your personal information will not be shared without your permission and your email address will not be sold. I hate spam. Even with eggs.

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