Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It's hard.

I haven't posted here in a few days. I haven't been sure what to write. There is so much going on in my head, but it's difficult to find a balance: to respect Michael's privacy and yet fulfill my need to unload and allow people to understand what we're dealing with. Because I need to know that people are pulling for Michael and for us. Michael's not an unloader. And I know he sometimes has a hard time with my need to publicize so many aspects of our life. I do keep a private, for-my-eyes-only blog chronicling this whole cancer thing where I really unload - and that's where the most personal stuff goes. Someday I'll give it to Michael to read if he wants it. But there are still aspects of this whole thing that I have this compulsion to post here and get feedback, even if it's only well-wishes. I know nobody can really do or say anything to make going through this any easier, but it still helps to know that people understand what's going on and are at least thinking good thoughts for us.

So, the last few days have revealed a downturn of sorts. The first couple weeks of Michael's treatment, he seemed to be fairly sailing through it. I never asssumed that would last, it was just a matter of waiting for whatever side effects were going to manifest to manifest. And now they are. Minor things, really, relatively speaking. The bottoms of his feet hurt. The skin on his hands is dry and cracking. His fingertips are growing more sensitive (and don't forget he plays guitar!). He's got sores in his mouth that don't seem to want to heal and are making it difficult for him to talk and eat. The accumulation of these things are leaving him somewhat miserable. And I feel completely and utterly helpless. Honestly, it's like torture sitting by and just watching this happen to him and not being able to do a goddamn thing to make it better or easier for him.

And he's being such a good sport about it all, he really is. It's funny . . . all the times I've been pregnant and suffering through morning sickness and this ache and that pain and the fatigue, etc., and I would grow somewhat resentful that no matter how shitty I felt, I just had to keep on keeping on. There was always a household and other kids to care for. There have been so many times when I've told Michael that there's no way that he - or any man! - could handle having one single period, along with all the PMS, cramping, mood swings, etc. - let alone handle being pregnant. You know what? I'll never say or even think that again. Because what Michael is dealing with - and keeping his good humor through it - puts me to shame. I have no doubt whatsoever that if I were the one dealing with what he's dealing with, I'd be a big, giant, bitchy crybaby.

So yeah. It's really hard to sit by and feel like my hands are tied. There were a couple weeks in January, before we told anyone what was going on, when Michael was undergoing all these tests, and first it was waiting to find out if what he had was in fact CANCER. And then we found out it was. And then all the waiting for this test and that test to determine what stage it was at and how treatable. And I am here to say that that was the worst kind of hell. It was utter torture, being in the dark and having no choice but to imagine the very worst. There was so much fear in both of us during that time, so many tears, so many thoughts of death.

This is not as bad as that was - not nearly. But it's still a sort of torture. Because he has to go through this. He has to suffer the side effects. He has to do this - however shitty it makes him feel - in order to get better. And I want to help him, and I can't. I want to share the burden, and I can't.

He's not incapacitated. He's still going to work and dealing. But I know he doesn't feel great. And both of us are wondering: is it going to get worse? And he's got all this pressure to keep working. I'm sure it must suck to be going through this and have the pressure of being the breadwinner. And it's not even a question of my finding some kind of work to ease that burden for him - what am I going to do, get a job at Starbucks? And who would take care of the kids?

So anyway. I don't know. Maybe I'm making this bigger than it is in my own head. I mean, right now, as I sit here pouring out my thoughts, he's out jamming with his buddies. That's a good thing, right?


Our Little Family said...

Lisa, I wish I had something insightful/intelligent to say. I really do. I know how it feels to get the whole, "Hang in there!" comment. ;) But really, you are SUCH a strong person and so is Michael.

And, I hear that Starbucks offers some pretty sweet health care benefits. Maddie and I could always hang out with the kids! :)

The Beers Family said...

Its a very good thing he is out with his friends doing something he loves even for a little while if he feels good.

We are in the wait and test phase with my dad - anticipating the results and supporting him the best I can without having that be the focus of our every interaction.

You are dealing with this whole thing the best way you can - blogging, crying, staying strong - its all OK.

Sending a hug your way!

Tricia said...

It is a great thing. As soon as you mentioned his fingers hurting I thought of the guitar. I am so glad to hear he can still play even though I am sure it is tough. Please don't apologize, you are in a tough tough spot. And I know it might not feel like it, but your love alone, I am sure, is a giant help to your husband.

Lots of strength.

Carla said...

Oh, Lisa. I wish that there was something more than saying "I'm thinking of you" that I could do. I've never been through anything close to what you're going through, but it seems to me that your feelings (all of them) are so normal. These are uncharted waters and you've got little to no formal navigation. What you do have is the strength of your relationship with M and the loving family you've created. Draw as much strength as you can from them and all of us, your friends. Please know that I send you hugs and good thoughts every single day.

Liz said...

Much love and positive thought coming your way. Not a single word of what you wrote is in any way wrong. It's honest. Sometimes, honesty has to be brutal.

Fear is a powerful thing. Fear of the unknown can be one of the worst kinds of fears.

So keep working it out the way you have to (blogging, for example) and he will keep working it out the way he has to (music, for example) and then you both keep working it out together, too.

Hector and Jennifer Varanini Sanchez said...

I always look forward to your posts on her and on Finn's blog. I love your honesty and willingness to share with all of us. You are an amazing woman, wife, mother and friend. You are so fortunate to have such a loving and supportive relationship with your husband. This will be the greatest source of healing for you both. My thoughts are always with you.

Hector and Jennifer Varanini Sanchez said...

I meant to type "on here" not "on her"....I have such a pet peeve for typos...especially when they are mine :)!!!!

Anonymous said...

Don't ever doubt that you are not dealing with this amazingly well. Michael's lucky to have you to look after him.

Jamming is likely the best medicine for him.

Chrystal said...

You can always count on me for those good thoughts. Anytime.

I think jamming is a GREAT thing!

Lisa B said...

I would imagine what Michael wants most right now is as much "normal" as he can get and you are providing that by keeping on with the usual routine as best as you can and so is he by doing work, playing his guitar, etc. I hope he does not have to suffer the nasty side effects too much longer and is on the upswing soon. Lots of love to you both. Lisa

Wendy P said...

I can't say it any better than all of your other wonderful supporters. Just know that you've got one more person thinking about y'all and praying!

Nicole O'Dell said...

I'm so glad that he's keeping his humor and still getting out for some fun. You guys are so strong and you WILL get through this and you WILL be even stronger for it.

Lots of good thoughts and prayers for you guys.

Jodi said...

Don't know if it will help, but I've got some "bag balm" that works like a miracle on cracked skin. They use it on cow's udders (hence the 'bag'). It's much better than any lotion I've tried. I'd be happy to share since I don't think there are any feed stores nearby.

Jeanette said...

Lisa, I wish I had wonderful words of wisdom, but I don't. I can say that you and Michael are in my prayers for healing and peace.