Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cancer sucks.

Have I mentioned lately how much cancer sucks? Yeah, I thought not.

In the early months after Michael was diagnosed, I used to blog a lot more about the emotional aspects of his having cancer, the fallout on the entire family. But as I've said, Michael doesn't like starring in my blog. He's a rather private person, apparently in possession of a lot more dignity than I have. Every once in a while, he'll say to me, "Sooooo . . . I read your blog today . . ." and I go, "Uh oh . . ." because I know he's probably going to tell me how he didn't appreciate my putting this or that on my blog. So I've backed off, out of respect for my husband.

And I do respect him a great deal, but you know what? Cancer sucks. And I'm going to unload a little here tonight. Call it my Master Cleanse if you will. I'll try to just stick to my shit and leave him out of it.

Did I mention that cancer sucks?

It's taking a real toll on us. On our happy marriage. We'll pull through this, I believe that with all my heart, but the truth is, we're in a sort of rough patch right now. How could we not be? Tempers flare a lot more often lately than they used to. Speaking for myself, I just seem to reach my breaking point more and more often. It's been months and months and months that my husband has been sick now, and I often feel alone. Like I've lost him on some level, because so much of his energy necessarily goes into withstanding treatment. I miss having a full-time compadre.

And when he's sick, pretty much everything falls on my shoulders. I'm not looking for pity. Just sayin', it's not easy. In fact, it's pretty fucking hard.

And I think what it comes down to is lack of support (and I have no intention of starting up that shitstorm again - if you don't like what I'm saying, stuff it). And I'm not talking about the conditional support that's only available if you're willing to unconditionally put up with someone's shit. That's not support in my book. Enough said about that. I'm just saying, you know, nobody really to fall back on. Michael's laid up in bed? It's not like I have a mother to call and say "Hey, Mom, can you come over and make dinner for us tonight?" or "Can you take the kids for a day?" (Okay, yes, I do have a mother, technically, but she and I are strangers to one another and she's not someone I would even trust with my kids.)

I have some wonderful friends who have given endless moral support and occasionally other kinds of help as well, and for that I'm eternally grateful. I'm not discounting that. I know I'd be in a much, much worse place without that.

I'm just saying . . . I don't know what I'm saying. That this is really, really hard. It's hard to watch your partner in life diminish with illness. To not be able to do anything at all to make it easier or better, and all the while, still have to hold down the fort, often alone. It's a huge, huge task, and one that I often feel I'm not suited for.

Sometimes I think about Nancy Reagan and how she cared for Ronnie all those years when he became a complete invalid - when he no longer even recognized her! And I think, "God, I suck, because I just don't think I could do it."

I guess what I've learned about myself through all this is that I'm really not a very strong person. Certainly not stoic. I mean, sometimes I think, "I've survived so much in my life, I can survive anything." But in the midst of it, I fold and lose my temper and crumple up in tears. And then feel like shit.

But we're finally approaching the final leg of this whole ugly mess. It can only go up from here, right?


Leigh Anne said...

Lisa...I'm sure you've heard this a million, gazillion times...but I really wish we lived closer so I could offer my help! While I don't know how difficult it is to take care of an ill spouse, I've had my fair share of taking care of an ill parent. It is hard! It's been a long, bumpy road, but yes, as you come to the end of that road, you can only go up! It will get better! He will get better! I think it's healthy for you to express your feelings, so do it as often as you need. I know I'm not the only one willing to listen or lend a virtual shoulder!


ashamom said...

Hey Lisa,
Thanks for opening up and being real.
What does it mean to be "strong" anyway?
You are going through some tough shit right now, tears and meltdowns make you only human! I don't think it's a sign of weakness at all. It's a pressure release function.
I often wonder how I would do in this situation... I hope it never comes to it, but if something like that happens and I have my "I can't do it moments" I will recall that you had those too and it won't feel so alone.
So your putting it out there might help someone else who is going through a similar thing.
Hugs hon!

Mer said...

While I've never had an ill spouse, I am a military wife and my husband has been gone for weeks and months at a time, twice while I was pregnant, and it sucked. There were plenty of times when I would just lose it over something stupid. But then I picked back up and kept going, which is exactly what you're doing. There's nothing wrong with losing it every now and then. What matters is that you find it again and keep going, keep doing what you have to do, instead of letting all the hard stuff overtake you, and that's what you're doing. You're certainly not giving up and doing nothing to help your family. You're doing everything you can for them, and that's what matters. ((((BIG HUGS)))) I hope it starts getting better for you soon.

Chrystal said...

I think you're plenty strong, sis. Though I do know what you mean.

Lisa B said...

Aww, Lisa, I'm so sorry you are feeling so down and I will miss seeing you at Book Club tonight since Larry is out of town and thus no sitter to watch my mad men. We have to go out soon or over to Karyn's for some drinks when you are able to pull away for an hour or so. I am out of town for the next week starting Sat. but when I get back let's plan to get together.

I know you don't feel strong but you are - you are simply an amazement to me, mother with a puny family of 2 kids with a healthy husband and lots of family support - hang tough girlfriend! :)