Wednesday, July 1, 2015

...and the darker side

I feel it's only right to post the harsh realities as well as the "rah rah rah I can do this" stuff. I don't want to give the impression that this experience is all sunshine and roses, because it's not. That I never feel down, because I do. For the most part I'm keeping a positive attitude, but there are times when the dark thoughts creep in. I am human, after all, and it's natural with what the next few months will hold for me. 

There's usually a trigger, something that reminds me of the seriousness of my situation. Last night, I needed to teach a dance lesson. I have handed off some of my students, but was trying to continue teaching as long as possible--both for the income and to not overly tax the other teachers at the studio or force the studio to lose revenue or make students unhappy by having to switch teachers mid-package (most of them are getting ready for their wedding). But yesterday when I took my shower before going to work, just putting my hands up to wash my hair was painful--largely because of the lymph node in my armpit. I don't know if it's still angry from the biopsy (a week and a half ago) or if it's the cancer. My breast hurts, too. Often just a tender soreness, but sometimes there are shooting pains the Codeine takes the edge off of, but doesn't mask. 

Anyway, the shower alone was exhausting and painful. I thought about the 20-minute drive to work, teaching, then driving home..and decided to have Michael drive me. It was the right choice; I was even more wiped out after my lesson. Clammy sweat, woozy feeling. I was very glad to not have to drive home. At that point, I handed over the remainder of the students who hadn't started their lessons yet (I must have handed off 6 or 7 of them...cha ching). I still have a few lessons to finish up, students who have just a lesson or two left in their package. Hopefully I'll be able to hang in there for them. However, I promise to keep thinking of my health first and give them up if I have to. 

This morning I remembered I had a general physical scheduled. I haven't had one in god knows how long, and since I'm now covered under medi-cal, they suggested I go ahead and get one. I thought it would be no problem to drive myself there (about 25 min drive), do the appointment, then go to my apartment just a couple miles away to wait for Michael to get off work and have date night. 

Again, I thought wrong. I went downstairs to get coffee and microwave something for breakfast. I got back upstairs and was already wiped out. I realized driving downtown was not a good idea. I rescheduled the appointment, and Michael and I decided that I should not plan on driving anywhere until I feel better. 

Who knows when that will be? After surgery? After chemo? Will it be months? How long will I have to be dependent on others for something as simple as driving a few miles? Michael urges me to not be too hard on myself, to allow myself to just rest and heal. That it's natural I would feel tired with what my body is going through. I know he's right, on an intellectual level. But it's hard to accept it. I'm the one people lean on, not the one who leans on others. I'm the one who's strong and independent. I'm the one who takes care of herself. Who covers for other teachers at the studio. It's hard to let that go. It's hard to feel this helpless and dependent. I know, I know. It's temporary. But I don't have to like it.

I had some other dark thoughts last night, too. What if I DON'T beat it? What if something happens during surgery? What if, what if, what if? I told Michael we need to do a Power of Attorney, just in case. A sobering but realistic thought. Best to plan for the worst, and then it won't happen, right?

OK, I'm done. Pity party over. I will be fine, and I will get through this. Things will be bad, but I am strong and I can handle it. I'm surrounded by love and people who will help me.

Tomorrow I see the doc and will have a better idea of what the next step is. 

One step at a time.


  1. Yeah, you are gonna hate it. I hated having to be driven around like a child. I was so happy when the doc finally cleared me to drive again. Gather all your clothes and put them on the bed before you shower. That way you can get out and plop on the bed and get dressed right there (or lay there naked while you gather your energy). Showers were exhausting and sometimes still are.

    I can't even imagine teaching a dance class. Heck, just getting my kid off to school was exhausting and we live right across the street.

  2. Ellen BroadhurstJuly 1, 2015 at 4:51 PM

    We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers, Jennifer!

  3. Sharing is never a pity party. Just feeling where you are at that moment...which is healthy and true. Kinda like crying when you need to, then enough and you fight the fight...

  4. I'm going to make a suggestion here, at this juncture. People have asked what they can do to help, and they have been sincere. Make a public Calendar (Google calendars or Caring Bridge) that people can subscribe to and sign up for specific things to help. When you have somewhere you need to go during the day, let someone sign up to drive you. When you need help with something and Michael isn't available, let someone sign up to help you. That way you have a pool of people who can contribute something, but you aren't asking the same people over and over again. You make your needs known, and people respond. Transportation, meals, someone to sit with you or help with certain tasks, whatever... I've seen other friends with cancer use this mechanisms to great advantage. I hope you'll consider it. Yes, there will be dark days, but we'll be there with you, then, too.

    1. This is a calendar the social worker at my cancer center recommended (and I'm sure google can work for you too - remember you have an army!)

  5. Yay! Excellent dark side, needs more swearing. :) I have a very select support group with whom I share these sorts of things. I found out after my mom died that she did the same. She and her friend had some M&M paraphernalia (mostly t-shirts). Her friend told me they had formed the Mad Mothers Club - wherein they bitched about their children. Lord knows, they both had enough to bitch about. :)

    Anyway, we swear, we laugh at the most morbid things, we celebrate each other's scars and hospitalizations.

    You are doing a great job at your life. You're learning what you need to, you're doing what you need to, and you're feeling what you need to. <3 So many hugs.