My surgery is on the 27th, but between now and then — and not counting weekends — I only have seven days that are free from medical appointments and procedures. Seven out of 19.
Knowing this pushes me to the edge of exhaustion.
The last month has been challenging, and while I’ve tried to be strong and worked hard to be positive, today I just can’t do any of it. Today I need to get back into my bed and pull the covers over my head and sleep. There’s a physical component to my fatigue, but most of it is mental and emotional. I’m just tapped out.
Yesterday’s CAT scan was hard. Not because the test was hard, the test is nothing — you just lie down and this machine hovers over you and six minutes later you’re done. The hard part for me, on any of this stuff, is the ongoing difficulty in finding a vein to either draw blood or inject contrast dye. The dye they use for the CAT scan pushes in quickly, so they use a big needle and they need a big vein. After sticking each of my arms in the usual place and finding nothing, the tech tried the inside of my forearm. You can’t imagine how much that hurts. Even more so when there is no usable vein to be found. Fifteen minutes later, after soaking my hands in a tub of warm water, she found a vein on the back of my hand. I still can’t touch that spot today. It feels like the bone is bruised.
My problematic veins are really a minor issue in the big scheme of things. I haven’t entirely lost my perspective. But when the big scheme of things is just too big, when the stuff that really should worry you is more than you can cope with, you tend to fixate on the stuff that really doesn’t, or shouldn’t, matter. An aching hand, the dusty coffee table, the dishes stacked in the sink.
I think it’s the same for my son. He’s worried about his upcoming midterms, frustrated when he can’t think of the answer right away — but what he’s really worried about is the big thing, the cancer, the way our lives are changing and spinning away from us. My husband, too. Everyone is wondering how we are going to get through this and what it will be like when we do.
Talking about it is hard. Saying the scary stuff out loud is really hard. So we look for ways to say it but not say it. I don’t want to tell my son I’m terrified of surgery, so I tell him that I’m looking forward to a long rest. “At least I won’t have to do laundry when I’m at the hospital,” and we smile. It’s what people do, they deflect, they dodge, they do what they can to soften the blow. How else could we manage?
Most days I can rise above all this. Most days I can say I’m doing well and really mean it. So I have to believe that there’s no shame in today feeling like one of those days when I can’t. It doesn’t mean I’m falling apart, or coming unglued, or that I’m any worse off than I am any other day. It just means that today is not my day.
And I think that has to be okay.