Fuck Cancer Part Dos

April 22, 2014

I had a post about adoption mostly written and ready to publish last week when I received word that my friend was taken to the hospital and likely had metastatic melanoma. I held it in drafts because I just couldn’t publish a post about adoption while my friend was fighting to live. She’s still gonna have to fight to live but she at least survived emergency brain surgery last week and will likely be going home from the hospital very soon.

She lives to fight another day.

I will continue to support her however I can. If you have some extra $$ she could really use it as I’m sure the bills are going to be outrageous – even with insurance coverage. Click here to donate. She’s a total rock star. I promise. Just…without the rock star income.

Until I receive my next assignment for how I can help her, this blog will return to its regularly scheduled topic of all things related to me attempting to acquire a tiny human.

Stay tuned.

Fuck Cancer

April 18, 2014

So…lemme get this straight…

I attempt to create a tiny human and someone I love gets cancer? Those are the rules we are playing by these days?

I’m gonna add that to my list of things you should have told me YESTERDAY. Or, ya’know, well before I started on this path.

Seriously, how is that fair play?

I mean, I sort of understood that Pops was at risk. He had already had cancer. Twice. And he had lived a full life.

But my friend? In her 30s? OK, so yeah, she had also already had cancer. But that was YEARS ago. She beat it. Or so we thought.

I know in my head that my actions had nothing to do with it. And this is not about me. But this is my space and I am feeling…ALL THE FEELINGS.

Unfinished Business

November 20, 2013

As I’m a bit off schedule this week I’m going to use this past Monday’s NaBloPoMo writing prompt for today: Tell us about a blog post that you didn’t publish.

I have several posts, in varying states of completion, hanging around as drafts at the moment. Many, if not most, of them I plan to post in the foreseeable future. But there are a couple that may never see the light of day.

There is one in particular that I would like to finish and publish one day. But I’m not sure it will ever happen.

I have a half written post on what it’s like to watch your father die. I don’t just mean the slow death of cancer over months or years but also the very end – the last few hours. And that’s part of why it’s unfinished – it’s not focused.

I set out to write about those last few hours and how horrible they were. But as I wrote, I felt compelled to explain the days and weeks and months and then years that led up to that moment. And the post just got lost in itself. Obviously it’s not an easy post to write as it deals with a lot of complex and raw emotions. What I didn’t expect to encounter was a difficulty in writing it from a technical standpoint. I thought the words would just flow and make sense. But they didn’t.

Pops’ favorite holiday was Thanksgiving. Every Thanksgiving since his death I revisit writing this post. Maybe this year I will publish it. But I doubt it.

I started writing this post a year ago. WordPress tells me I last updated it in December. I may actually finish editing it and publish it this year. And I’ve scheduled it to post while I’m off doing something that will hopefully make me forget all about it.
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Jesus. I just wrote the title and realized it’s a double entendre. I was intending to write about Pops’ death one two years ago. But… I suppose it applies to Right Guy and our losses as well. Fuck. That’s another post. Or not. Since he doesn’t talk.

Anyway… here’s the disclaimer. Death is not pretty and neither is this post. Seriously, stop reading now if you think you might not want to hear about what it’s like to die. In this case, of lung cancer. But I think the end process is similar regardless.
Not every death is like this one. I’m sure there are people who go peacefully in their sleep – really and truly. Someone more flowery than me might have described Pops’ death as just that – if they hadn’t been there in the hours just before, they might have said he died peacefully in his sleep. If you had found him in the morning that’s what it would have looked like. But he didn’t.

At least, not from MY perspective. Right Guy says different. I suppose he’s seen more horrible deaths. In the grand scheme of things, perhaps he’s right. But I have no basis for comparison. To me, my father’s death was traumatic.

I watched him struggle to breathe for hours. It was painful to watch. I kept giving him more morphine with the hope of him not knowing he was struggling to breathe.

I was with him all night. I saw the labored breathing. I kept him as doped as possible. At the time I wasn’t even completely sure I wasn’t overdosing him. I was trusting Right Guy’s medical advice – not knowing whether he was abetting euthanasia (he wasn’t). I just saw how clearly difficult it was for my father to breathe and I desperately wanted to make it easier on him – in any way I could (can you imagine?). If euthanasia had been explicitly mentioned at the time I likely would not have said no, although, I couldn’t have done it myself.

I can only hope now, as I did then, that he was too doped to know what was going on. That he was, in effect, sort of asleep and not aware in any way. Unfortunately, I won’t ever feel sure of that. He struggled so much to breathe, I find it difficult to believe that he wasn’t aware of it on some level. But I hope. In the same way I #hope that I can become pregnant with one tube and old eggs I will one day have a child.

He died in the wee hours on a Saturday morning. The day before Father’s Day. Friday afternoon the Hospice nurse had said she thought he would make it through the weekend. Which was kind of disheartening actually. It was clear to me that he was suffering quite a bit at that point. For it to go on for the whole weekend seemed cruel. But death is often like that.

But it didn’t happen that way. He tanked. FAST. More or less. He was gone just about 12 hours after the Hospice nurse left. It didn’t seem so fast at the time. I had given the newly hired nurse the night off and taken the overnight shift myself. And Right Guy happened to have that night off and came to help.

Neither of us had any clue Friday evening that we would be awake all night. Or that 12 hours could feel like an eternity.

In the end, I did what he asked. What he had asked me to do eight months before. He had asked me to be there with him at the end. He was afraid of dying alone (I think). I don’t think he knew what a burden that might be for me. He just wanted someone there with him when he went. And I understand that. And I wanted to be there for him. But, just so you know, this is a MUCH more difficult task than it sounds like. It’s not only hard at that moment but it’s something you carry with you… forever.

Last year I relived that night. Apparently the date of his death matters less to me than the way it played out. I was up all night that Friday night with him. And last year, on that Friday night, I was trapped in a hell of living it all over again. SO many things are blurry in my memory after his death. But that night… I remember it vividly with remarkable detail. I’m writing this before Friday night. I can only hope that this year it will not be as bad.

There’s a lot more to this story. Maybe, one day, I’ll get it all out. But for now this is it. His last day. The day before Father’s Day. Forever imprinted on my brain.

I Am An Archipelago

November 15, 2010

Where does strength come from? I have no idea. I know many people believe that God gives them their strength. But I’m not a religious person. I know my strength comes from within me.

I wouldn’t be able to draw on that strength, or replenish it, without the help of others. I know that. I acknowledge that without question. My friends and family (IRL or virtual) most definitely help me draw and replenish my strength during rough times. I used to think of myself like Simon & Garfunkel, “I am a rock. I am an island.” I’ve always been a bit of a loner, preferring to do things my own way. Guarding myself to keep from being hurt. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t need others. I gradually learned that that’s a very unfulfilling way to live. So perhaps I’m not a lone rock or deserted island. archipelago Perhaps I’m more of an archipelago – an island with lots of close neighbors. Together we are greater than the sum of our parts. Maybe we even reach Peninsula status. OK, I think I beat that metaphor to death. 😉

But even with the help of my friends and family, lately I’ve felt pretty certain that I had reached the bottom of that reservoir of strength. Like a keg, I felt tapped. Stick a fork in me, I was done. I just needed to curl up in my cave and lick my wounds and wait until time and the love of others helped me recover and replenish that strength.

But life doesn’t always work that way I guess. With barely any time for recovery I got hit again. And not a little bitch slap. It was a punch to the gut. A “You sunk my battleship!” hit.
battleship
On the heels of my bizarre ectopic pregnancy and 10 day hospital stay my father’s cancer came back. I’m still going for weekly betas. If I POAS’d right now it would come back positive. And yet I have to forget all about what’s going on in my body, mind and soul, and focus on getting my Dad to chemo and making sure he eats. And just in general being there for him.

He wants me with him. He says he feels himself “going.” He doesn’t think he’s going to make it through this one. Whether that’s him just giving up, feeling bad from chemo or some sort of premonition… I can’t say. I just know that he wants me with him when he goes. He doesn’t want to die alone. I can understand that. And I can’t say No.

But it’s rough to think about. Even though it’s not like it’s out of the blue. This is his THIRD battle with cancer. Lung cancer (yes, he smoked). He’s not supposed to be alive. I’ve been caring for him off and on for almost 6 years and he’s not supposed to still be here. He’s supposed to already be dead. I know that. I’ve confronted it with each diagnosis. Somehow this one feels different. I think he might be right. I don’t think he’s dying just yet (he’s most likely got a couple of months at least). But I do think he’s not going to make it through this one.

The thought of actually being there when he goes… that’s one thing I haven’t really thought about before. I can’t deny him that. But it’s… um… BIG. It scares me. I worry I won’t have the strength for it. I have to be strong not just for myself but also for him. I don’t want him to die watching me cry. I don’t want either of us to have to see the pain in each other’s eyes as he wastes away. I can only hope he goes quickly.

WTF Lung Cancer logoI know my brother can’t help me with any of this. I know he doesn’t have the stomach for it (and he’s not here physically). He couldn’t stand to be in the room 5 years ago when our father was on a respirator in the ICU. I sat with him for hours on the off chance that, on some level, he could hear me or was aware of my presence. So I know my brother couldn’t do this. I don’t judge him for that. I’m just pointing it out as a fact. There’s only one person I can think of to help me with this.

A friend of mine lost her mother to breast cancer when she was about 20 years old. I don’t know if she was with her at the very end but I do know she understands my pain. And the pain of cancer. The obligations and exhaustion of caregiving. This is the same person who offered me her eggs so I could have Right Guy’s child (although it turns out we didn’t need them). I think I’m going to have to lean on her a lot in the coming weeks. It’s weird… I’ve only known her for 3 years yet she’s done more for me than people I’ve known my whole life.

I am so lucky to have friends like her. And tweeps and blog readers like you. Thank you all.