Valerie

coffee

Yesterday was pretty funky.  I got almost everything done that I had planned, arranged for a neighbor to pick up the girls at the bus stop, and was at my son’s cross country meet, fully intending to attend the senior rec party afterwards.  A storm was rolling in, and I suddenly got a wicked bad, tumory headache that came on so fast that my eyes were watering.  I had to leave as soon as he passed me, near the very end of the course.  I felt like I was in a Stephen King short story – you know, one of those ones that starts out so optimistically and then becomes ominous.  I went home, picked up the girls, curled up on our old armchair and just cried for awhile.

Yes, I am grateful.  I am grateful that I don’t have a cancerous tumor.  I am grateful that my husband and all four of my kids are very healthy.  I am so, so grateful that as hard as parenting multiple children can be, and as hard as marriage can be sometimes, that I still have them all.

But I am still pretty ticked off that I have plans that can get ruined last minute by something that is so completely out of my control at this point.

I am tired of waiting for the “next” MRI.  I am tired of grieving my (previously) healthy life.  I am tired of looking positive on days when my head feels like it could roll off of my shoulders.  I am frightened of scheduling radiation if my MRI at the beginning of December comes back with the same accelerated, unexpected tumor growth.  I am sick of seeing doctors.  I am annoyed that I can’t just have a saintly, “ah well” approach to my suffering.  I am upset that I can’t really multi-task anymore, and lose the ends of sentences while I am talking to my kids.  I am embarrassed when I mix up the names of objects – or for goodness’ sake, the names of my kids! – when I am looking at the thing that I am asking for or describing.  I am pretty pissed off that this Space Invader is in the very part of my brain that controls language comprehension.  Of course!  of course it is.

I am not normally an anxious person, but I have claustrophobic feelings about this tumor.  I have named her Valerie.  She is intrusive, obnoxious, nebby and often ruins my good times and my plans.  She makes me impatient (when I mix up words), and snippy (when I go to a room to do something, someone talks to me or a song comes on and distracts me, and BOOM!  I’ve lost what I was going to do).  She makes me frustrated (when I am writing and I mix up words – like just now, when I wrote “miss” instead of “mix”, when I thought “mix” the whole time).

I try not to let this situation control my life, ruin my good time, distract me from my real obligations, tasks, responsibilities, but it has become very difficult to separate my tumor moments from my Mommy moments.  My two youngest children haven’t been told (and we won’t tell them until I have to schedule radiation, so that they can be ignorant of everything until then and not be upset or think that I am going to die because of this, some kids always leap to the worse case scenario), and so I plug on, only talking about Valerie once a week to my husband, while in private.  I don’t identify myself as a tumor “victim,” but with how my writing and cognitive abilities have become moderately impaired, I can’t just ignore this.

This. is. happening.

So, I steal little opportunities to squeeze all the worry and poison from me before the kids get home from school, so that I can concentrate on Them and not Valerie.

I pray.  I meditate.  I write.  I listen to music that reminds me of positivity, like Matisyahu and Dave Matthews and Feist and Bjork and She & Him and Matt & Kim.  I blast music while I’m in the shower and sing at the top of my voice.  When I feel restless, I go out on the back porch or go walking.

I have learned how to say “no” to things that I can’t handle, and to say “yes” to new experiences.

I have learned to let go of unrealistic expectations for myself.

I enjoy the things and moments that might get clouded once I do radiation treatments, and the recovery afterwards.

I thank the Lord that I have health insurance, a patient husband, and kids that are willing to help out around the house when I feel overwhelmed.

I try to be grateful.

 

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