Thursday, March 21, 2013

Opportunity Interruptus?

Happy birthday, Peanut!

Yesterday, The Peanut turned 10.  She continues to refuse to stay tiny for me and insists on becoming a young lady.  So unfair, isn't it?  

Due to a longer wait than we'd hoped for tests that are being run, the breast cancer surgery is now postponed for the moment.  On the one hand, more waiting is exhausting.   I feel like I have been holding my breath for a month and am still going...which is just about true, to be perfectly honest.

On the other hand, though?  It may be a blessing in disguise that will allow for some catching up on a number of fronts.  Sitting down with a notepad and writing out a "to do" list became an overwhelming task this morning; there is just so much to do and so little time to get any of it done well.

It feels as though I'm standing in the eye of the hurricane for that brief pause before the storm crashes over me all over again.  But all around me, the winds are howling and waiting to get at me again, and the pressure outside this tiny window of calm is still there, within reach, just waiting to take hold again, ever present and tugging at the edges of my consciousness.

The big question this morning is what to do with this precious and rare moment of calm.

How do I best maximize not just what I can get accomplished in this little window?  Also, how do I maximize the health benefits of a little exercise and eating really well before surgery and treatment begin?  These are important questions to answer quickly and thoroughly, because my time frame for fully completing any of this is rapidly closing and I have this urgent need to go, go, go while I can, while at the same time desperately needing some time to do absolutely nothing and find a way to exhale somehow, some way, despite the fear I'm carrying around with me like an extra lump.

It has been a little while since I had breathing space with all of this.

The diagnostic testing was so emotionally draining because question after question kept popping up and things kept getting more and more serious.  When you added a breast cancer diagnosis on top of everything else, it felt for a while there like I was literally drowning in a sea of emotional exhaustion and information overload.

Pile on appointment after appointment and more paperwork and information than you can possibly digest all at one time, and you see how people confronted with this sort of tough diagnosis tend to hunch into a stupor for a little while in shock.  It's tempting to just form a protective shell and not venture outward, I have to say, because it is a whole lot to process all at once.

We are all feeling it, too.  The Peanut's 10th birthday was yesterday, and as I wished her another happy birthday before she went up to bed last night, our exchange went something like this:  "Happy birthday, baby girl."  "Happy birthday, cancer mom."


I sat here in the sunroom, sipping my hot coffee and sliding my hands around the warmth of my mug to allow it to seep into my hands this morning as I'm watching birds flutter back and forth on the feeders on yet another snowy, bitter day, and I replayed that conversational snippet in my mind and started to cry a little bit before I stuffed it back down and decided to sit here and write it out instead.  I need to let this out, but I'm afraid if I start, the I won't be able to make it stop.  And I'm afraid that all of this worry that we are all carrying around, day in and day out, is somehow robbing my darling baby girl of part of her childhood innocence and that makes me so very sad because I'm the cause of that somehow, even though I clearly would never have chosen to have cancer in a bazillion years.

There has to be a better way to learn to surf the emotional roller coaster of this, but I haven't found it yet.

There is no controlling the fact that I have breast cancer, nor is there any way to control the time it takes to get the answers we need from the testing: it will be done when it is done, and that is all there is to it.  Nor is there any way to control anything about the surgical outcome:  we'll either get clean margins or we won't, the lymph nodes will be clear...or they will raise even more questions.  Treatment decisions will be made accordingly, and I will muddle through with as much courage and dignity and strength and I can muster, day in and day out, until we get through all of this and to the other side of it.  Period.  End of story.

It will be what it will be, and worrying about the things that I cannot control is just makes me freeze and feel panicked and that is no good for anyone, especially me.

So I find myself trying to over-control the things I can impact, both in my classroom and in the house.  The nesting instinct is strong with me at the moment.  Maybe I should just run with it and get things done while trying not to wear myself out entirely.

What's the worst that can happen?  We declutter a lot more and I fall into bed physically exhausted and actually get some sleep for a change?  That can't be horrible, can it?

(Photo by Christy Hardin Smith.  This is our Peanut at her very first birthday party.  As you can see, the frosting was a particular favorite, and ended up everywhere...including in one of her ears.  She was too cute for words, and still is.  Love you, Peanut!)


Anonymous said...

Dear Christy, I have been enjoying your blogs since the Firedoglake days. I admire and resonate to so much that you write and now that you have this new challenge well all I can say is I'm so thankful for the husband that you have beside you

bg said...

Your writing is lovely, as always, and the truths you tell, so true.

I hope you find all the space you need to keep your mind and heart whole through this process.

I wonder if there is time or space to explore what kinds of support/groups are nearby? Perhaps it is helpful to talk with others who have been through this stage of the process and could help you with some of your questions?

I am following your posts and thinking of you, wishing you all the best.

So glad for your family there, and the Peanut who will inspire and teach you too.

Sending love.

Christy Hardin Smith said...

Thanks so much, everyone, for all the support and cheer. We spent most of yesterday at a birthday party that was Harry Potter themed. The Peanut had a blast, I got to make my own "wand" with a stick, a hot glue gun, and some acrylic paint...and everyone had a blast.It was a wonderful break from thinking about all of this day in and day out, and I'm so glad that The Peanut and I got that break together. You have to savor the good things day to day, you know? :)