On Books and Constancy

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Yes, that it is a book laying next to a toilet. The one in our powder room, to be more specific. The kid enjoys a good read while sitting on the throne. I know it seems funny for me to take a picture of this, but wait until you read why I did.

You see, that particular book — Harry the Dirty Dog — was written in 1956. I bought it from an adorable book shop about 8 or 9 years ago, when kiddo was around 2, and it’s one that has remained in his possession no matter how many times we go through his books (about every 6 months). He loves it. It’s one of his favorites — one he goes back to again and again even though he’s almost double digits and living in the 21st Century.

Books have been a part of the kiddo’s life since before birth. We read him Bible stories in the womb. We’ve read books to him nearly every night of his life. He’s an avid reader, and even chooses books over Minecraft sometimes.

I love that he chose to read Harry the Dirty Dog last night. I love that he has this enduring love — this constancy — for the books read to him as an infant and toddler. I love this picture because it shows me that while our family is dealing with some BIG life-altering things (like seemingly unending cancer treatment and the prospect of moving), my little boy finds security and solace in a good old book.

Kids are resilient, I know. We are told that pretty often, usually after some kind of minor parenting fail. And I’ve always believed that when he’s overheard an argument or when I showed him how to peel vegetables and he peeled off part of his skin. He’s resilient; he’ll be fine.

But when Mom gets cancer, it’s a whole different ballgame. The things I had always done for my child were suddenly insurmountable. There was no chaperoning field trips or volunteering at school; there were months when I couldn’t drop him off or pick him up. Times when those designated to go in my stead forgot him, and the school had to call me. I even had to miss his year-end project because I was recovering from surgery.

As any mother would, I worried that all of this would negatively affect him. That he’d be scarred for life. Instead, though, he made straight As for the entire school year. He reached a big milestone spiritually. He was resilient. Someone told me that those accomplishments mean that he feels secure.

Somehow, in spite of the upheavals that Cancer caused (and still causes), my husband and I managed to keep our little one feeling safe and secure. Mostly, I credit my husband. He took over so many of my activities — reading and saying prayers nightly, dropping him off at school, attending that year-end project — and most importantly, caring for him spiritually. All while taking care of me.

I look at my son daily, wondering with amazement at how seemingly “unaffected” he is by my illness. I know he is — in the way that he occasionally snuggles up to me for longer periods of time, or how quickly he’s willing to do something for me — but for the most part he’s a happy kid.

And I realize that he’s happy because he’s loved. Books may come and go; the snuggles may disappear; but he is and always will be able to rely on our love. It’s the biggest constancy in his life.

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The Road Ahead

roadahead

 

I apologize for the absence. Honestly, I’ve been feeling a little down lately, and I haven’t known how to properly recognize/express my feelings until recently. Let me back up …

During my recovery through May and June my Oncologist informed me that he wanted me to start on an oral chemo medication in conjunction with my radiation. Needless to say that was disappointing to me. Actually, it was more than disappointing. I was pretty upset and depressed about it. I won’t bore you with the details of the reasoning behind this, but it’s a pretty much a “better safe than sorry” precaution.

I began feeling like myself again by the middle of June (as far as surgery), and we even went away at the end of the month (to Atlanta to see my favorite band, The Cure.) However, now that I was off pain meds, my arthritis pain has consistently been getting worse. For those of you living with chronic pain, I know you understand how exhausting that is.

Chronic pain hasn’t helped the depression. But I’m able to take some pain meds as needed, and I am getting ready to start a non-drug therapy to help block pain signals. Add to that the start of Chemo and Radiation, and, well, I am one exhausted chickie!

I am happy to report, though, that I am mostly tolerating the chemo well (as in the past). I’m experiencing some nausea/food aversion and it disrupts my sleep, but things could be much worse. Radiation is purely a nuisance to me at this point, for which I’m grateful. I need a little bit of time to readjust my self-expectations and schedule before the pain/irritation sets in.

Once again, I am struggling with whether my lack of interest/motivation is from chemo/radiation fatigue or depression or both. Tonight I plan on an early bedtime with a little extra Trazadone to help me stay asleep longer (I typically only take one because I sleep really late when I take two; but at this point I’m feeling like a walking dishrag, so I probably need to catch up a bit).

My plastic surgeon told me/warned me that all I’d feel like doing in the first weeks after surgery was watching TV/Netflix and shopping online. Much to hubs’ chagrin, I’m still shopping online. Mostly filling my carts and abandoning them, but occasionally I take on all the way through, a brief wave of excitement washes over me upon arrival, and then I’m once again paralyzed by both mental an physical fatigue.

I do feel confident, though, that my mood is nothing that can’t be fixed by some sleep, some prayer, and some realistic exceptions of myself. In the meantime, I remind myself that I could be having more severe side effects; and all of this is better than being dead.

Over the next few weeks, I will try to update more regularly. In the meantime, I would love your tips on getting out of this mood!

xo