Everyone’s sense of humor –including Dan’s and my own– is getting me through this transition into our new life. I appear pretty gosh darn normal if you run into me these days, and I think it is taking some people by surprise. But really, what am I supposed to be like? A hot sobbing mess with a fanny pack of tissues ready at-the-go? I have my moments. They just aren’t in public. (Yet.) So everyone is asking, How am I doing?
I am doing OK. I am doing the best I possibly can be doing. I think it is pretty good. I suppose if I was going to make a list of my top things to get you through your transition from normal family life to terminal cancer family life, I would say…Sense of humor, loved ones (including your children if you have them) your own doctor, and your hobby.
♥ The belly laughs have been the BEST. I mean, we all know this. Anytime you have a great loss, horrible news, or something that turns your life upside down, that moment where you genuinely laugh afterward is like gold. Friends, family, Jimmy Fallon, Raine, whatever it has been, it has felt good to laugh. It makes me feel like my spirit is so resilient. Forget the guilt, if you feel it, go with it. Laugh! Heavens bless Joy.
♥ Loved ones. I don’t know HOW someone who is diagnosed with terminal cancer (and their spouse/family) get through it without other people supporting them. It makes me unbelievably sad to imagine the other people walking around in our situation who do not have my best friends, our families, co-workers, and greater support system. I just can’t fathom being alone. If I was alone in this, I would still be in his hospital room the very first day, coiled up in the fetal position on the floor. And the thing I have learned, most of all, is let them do it all. Let the helpers swoop in and just do it. Let people just do whatever the heck they want to do. Don’t say, “I’ll get back to you and let you know what you can do to help” when they offer to help. You won’t. At least, you might, but mostly, you won’t. You will be too flabbergasted to sit down and figure out what help you need. So let them come. Let them cook, clean, drive, pick up toys, send packages or deliver food, force you to take a nap, do your laundry. Just roll with it and don’t micro-manage. You can’t micro-manage. And as for your children, be in the moment with them. They bring you into the very millisecond of infinity with their questions, needs, demands, curiosity, and charm. Focus with all your might on them. Raine has brought me into the moment a million times in the last two weeks and it saves me from despairing. Despairing is grieving for the future and he is not my future. He is my Right. Now.
♥ My doctor told me to call her anytime for anything. She has my back. I am on a pro-active anti-depressant given my history of major depressive disorder and anxiety. I also have an anxiety medication that I can take to settle my stomach and let me breathe and eat. The first five days of Dan’s hospitalization were the most difficult. We got bad news upon bad news and I was in a constant state of fear. My body was in fight or flight mode 24/7! What will happen? What will they tell us next?! So may panic attacks. The only way I know how to describe how I felt is like when I tried out for cheerleading as a little girl. When I sat on the gymnasium floor and waited my turn, I fiddled with my gym shorts and wiggled my feet in anxiety. I wanted to do really good and I was so nervous to stand out in front of everyone, but I knew I had to. I felt like I could either vomit or pee my pants. Only for cheerleading tryouts, the adrenaline was exciting and helped me do my best. In this situation, adrenaline is exhausting and pointless. It might have helped power me through a few days but that was all I needed. And then I couldn’t turn it off. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep well. I couldn’t concentrate. Now I am doing better. I still grind my teeth a lot, but I am working on relaxation techniques. Baby steps.
♥ Do your hobby. Do what you love to do. Play an instrument, sport, sing, read, etc. Do what you naturally crave doing. It will be your outlet. Mine is writing. It is also shopping, but I am focusing on writing. I don’t want my husband to have a heart attack in addition to his current situation.
♥ The only other thing I would add is join a support group. We haven’t found ours yet, but we will. And I am assuming that fills a crucial need, to have the ability to listen to and talk to others who are in a very similar situation as you.
♥ Oh! And most of all! Stay off the Internet. There is no article, blog, research study, or miracle cure that is specifically about your partner and their situation. So it is irrelevant. Besides, you will get approximately a billion articles, suggestions, blog posts, and notes about what you and your partner should and shouldn’t be doing from everyone who loves you and has time to sit and search the Internet, and you can just print those off and take them to your doctor and say, I did my due diligence. Here’s a bunch of stuff. Tell me what you think. And then they can speak to your exact situation. Boom.
Thank you again, everyone, for all of your love and support. I’m doing my best. xoxo