Friday, January 05, 2007

"Is This It?"

Ever get to that point?

By Wednesday afternoon, having been sick with a cold, swollen beyond what I could tolerate, having pains in my stomach and my head, feeling totally miserable because the meds I'm on make me so uncomfortable, feeling so tired that I was taking naps I couldn't wake up from, laying frozen in place for minutes after waking, unable to move, I reached a bit of a breaking point.

I took a long hard look at everything and thought "Is this it?".

You know... you get so sick and you know you're not going to survive it and you just focus on buying that time, but you never really allow yourself to think about how you'll know when that time is almost up.

Is this it?

That gave me a very bad moment, almost to the point of feeling sorry for myself, which you know I won't do. I dismissed self-pity as being a pointless waste of energy within about thirty seconds of thinking 'is this it?'. I realised, with my one last shred of common sense, which was hanging on by it's fingernails, that I needed to keep my wits about me lest I lose them forever.

I'm not kidding when I say that the mere question had the potential of bringing on complete and utter panic. I decided to sit and have a good cry, it seemed like the appropriate reaction.

I was just so tired, tired like chemo tired, more so. And I know I've just had all that radiation to my brain and the cold and the holidays and that I should just expect to feel crappy as hell sometimes, but I think that when you get to that point of tired/ill, reason goes out of the window just a bit and you can't focus on anything but feeling like something the dog doesn't even want to roll in.

Anyway, my crying therapy was interrupted by Jim coming home from work. Bless him. And of course I was in no fit state to pretend that I was really fine and just having a little crying meltdown moment to relieve stress. I told him everything. Poor guy. He doesn't need to be hearing my dark stuff... it's selfish of me to even go there with him. He doesn't mind when I do, but still... it's not just about me, the whole point is to support each other and that's got to be real, he doesn't need my dramatics. (However, I think I might just need time to be a bit dramatic inside my own head if I feel so inclined sometimes. At least it gives me something to laugh at myself about later)

So that was that.

I sat mindlessly at the PC for an hour after the crying stopped, reading the irreverent humor at one of my sites, feeling pretty numb and like I was just...fading away.

Suddenly, it was like the sun coming out. Out of nowhere I felt BETTER. Like, could get out of the chair without feeling like a 90 year old woman better. Like go into the kitchen and load the diswasher better.

How did that happen? I was feeling so rough that I was thinking maybe my time was coming to a rapid end and then suddenly out of nowhere, I'm back to being me again.

I swear on my life it's something to do with PMS. Seriously, my cycle has recently affected my condition severely. The day I went to the ER with seizures after being woken in the morning with the headaches and vomiting, was the first day of my period.

I know I'm due soon, and the meds are probably stopping it from messing with my brain tumors like it used to, but looking back, what I've been feeling this past week or so is very similar to how I've been feeling every month since at least September.

The bottom line is that later that evening, I was out at the store doing a huge grocery shop, which I came home and put away while I made meatball subs for Jim and I. (He came with me, I was too medicated to drive at that point. Heh.)

I'm not sure what happened, I'm just glad to be feeling better. Back to me again. Went for a walk out back while Jamie slept yesterday and everything.

You know, the REAL bottom line of Wednesday evening was something much, MUCH better than anything that happened to me though...

While I was putting the groceries away, my son David (11th grade) came into the kitchen and announced that he's been invited to join the National Honor Society.

I am so proud of and impressed by him.

When I think of the past two years, my cancer diagnosis and everything else we've been through, moving, him having to change schools in the middle of high school, my physical setbacks, which were so, so hard on everyone, and there he was plugging away, managing to keep his grades up in spite of it all. I can't help but think there, THERE is the real inspiration in this family.

I think it makes him a hero.

I went for my CT scans at the local hospital yesterday evening. It wasn't a terribly good experience, I'm afraid, from admissions, to radiology reception, to the stupid nurse who screwed up putting in my IV line - I told her it wasn't in right, I've had enough of those buggers to know how it's supposed to feel.

So I sat and drank the cocktail, a Margarita it isn't, but so what? It's another 'do-able' ;). And then they took me through. Did the enema, yay! Laid back and went through the first part of the scan (chest abdomen and pelvis). The tech comes in to inject the dye.... *please pardon my French or close your eyes at this point*


The line wasn't in right (as I said) and the dye went through it into my skin.

Now, in the past two years I've delievered a ten pound baby, been through two surgeries, five cycles of chemo, 13 days of liver radiation and 30 days (I think? damn... dementure already?) of WBR and SRS.

I'm no chicken.

I have to tell you that stuff really freaking hurt! I yelled out as it happened and she stopped the injection and ran to get the doctor. I was laying there in agony, I'm not kidding, crying my eyes out. I was at the point of just taking the thing out of my arm and leaving when the doctor came in. He had to put an IV in my other arm, where I don't have a decent vein, so I'm bruised and cut to hell today.

I suggest that having a CT scan isn't supposed to feel like minor surgery. I was in the scanning room for over an hour. They usually only take 20 minutes at the most.

Today I have this large raised lump on my bicep it's about 5 inches high and maybe 3/4 of an inch deep, starts just above my elbow. It's the dye and it's been like that since last night. I feel like someone hit me in the arm with a metal pipe or something, it's pretty uncomfortable.

Guess where Heather won't be going for her scans anymore...

Vote with your feet.

BTW, I'm in that 'not expecting the results to be good' mode, I usually chase up my doctors trying to get my results quickly, this time I don't really even want to know!

Maybe I am a bit of a chicken...

I hope everyone had a great New Year's Eve. We had a quiet but nice one here, ate and drank, watched a DVD... it was cool.

Today, while I'm still feeling okay, I'm going to take down the Christmas decorations. Why are they so much more fun to put up than take down? It's raining so no walk today, when Jamie naps, I'll get the boxes out and make short work of the job. A new broom sweeps clean, it's a new year and there's something almost symbolic about the spring cleaning that comes along with me putting away the decorations for another year.

I wanted to say that, after reading all of your comments and e-mails to my last entry (in fact, this goes for all of my entries), I'm feeling a little bit overwhelmed. I always say to people who e-mail about this blog that you guys are nicer to me than I deserve. I find your messages to be so beautifully written and full of emotion and caring that I often cry as I read them. But that's a good thing. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who supports me, it means a lot. You help me far more than I could ever hope to help others through my postings.

Thanks for being here. Let's try to make the journey a long one (we'll take the scenic route)!


Anonymous Shelley said...

The scenic route with you sounds perfect!

Congratulations on your son's invitation to the HRS, I can imagine how proud you must be and yes, that he did it in spite of his mother's battle with cancer and all of the other stuff does make him a hero. I maintain that the inspiration in your household is you though. Where else would he get the tenacity and courage to keep on going even though things were rough?

Not that I know anything about anything, but I think that "is this it?" feeling you got might be more common than you think. Please don't think you shouldn't feel that way, or any other way you wind up feeling. I think a whole wealth of emotions are natural in what you're living with and I'm sure that some of them are going to be a big surprise.

I don't think that Jim needs to be protected from your dark feelings, it almost seems like that might make him feel 'left out' of what you're going through. "Support has to be real", you said. Well, the *real* part would be sharing the best *and* the worst, not pretending in order to protect. I hope I haven't said too much here.... Your marriage is your own and I'm not trying to interfere or anything... I just care so much about you, Heather.

I'm so glad you're feeling better! I find it interesting that you're seeing definite differences in your condition alongside your monthly cycle. While it should be comforting to have the knowledge or suspicion that it's a part of that, I'm sure the changes scare you every time.

Good luck with your scan results, I can't imagine the anxiety involved in that. I don't think I'd be as calm as you are about it. How did you get that? Practice, or just by being a naturally cool customer? :D

Love and (((hugs))) and praying for great scans!


3:04 PM  
Blogger Carver said...

Dear Heather,

Gee whiz I wonder why you're tired. Pardon the sarcasm but not only are you not a whiner or one to give in to self pity, what you seem to see as a melt down seems like sheer bravery to me. I also think it may help your husband for you to be able to express some of your dark feelings to him. Sometimes what isn't said is scarier that what gets put out there, if that makes any sense. You are the embodiment of courage in my book and the dark times don't make you less brave, they are human and honest.

As to the scanning day from hell, what can I say but THAT SHOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED. I could say something else but I'm keeping it clean. I'm so sorry you had to deal with that on top of everything else.

I'm so glad you got a nice walk in yesterday and I hope you'll have some more pretty days soon when you feel like walking.

As far as your son goes, hear me CHEER. That is such wonderful news and I have no doubt where he got much of his ability to continue to do well in school during a difficult time. I know I think the world of his mother.

Love, Carver

7:51 PM  
Blogger King (Kathie) said...


First of all you are NO chicken! There have been times when I would rather not know my scan results either.
I've had an IV contrast infiltrate while it was being injected and I have never felt such a burning. However, I only got a little bit of it. The area on your bicep sounds huge. I'm wondering if they recommended any kind of treatment for it - ice packs, warm moist heat, etc. I don't want that area to become a problem for you.
You must be so proud of David. He'll be able to handle anything life throws his way. He's had a good example to follow.
I can't relate to the PMS since I had a hysterectomy at age 35 but I know the moon cycles affect my sleep and moods sometimes. Does that count? :))
The kitten pic is precious.
When I am having rough moments (related to melanoma or life in general), I bring to mind two things you've taught me. One is put on your big girl panties and deal with it. The other is self pity is a pointless waste of energy. Thanks, Heather.
Really hoping and praying that your scans show improvement.
Stay Strong
King (Kathie)
Stage IV 7/05 Liver mets

9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good morning!

Sounds like you really went through it with your scans. That's a bit disgusting to me, take a patient with advanced cancer who's been to hell and back and make a routine procedure into a bad experience for her.
I'm sorry you had to deal with that. I'd have wanted to pull it out and leave too- I probably would have.
Maybe you should phone someone in management at the hospital and say something, as you mentioned that the whole experience wasn't good. They make enough money off us, we're supposed to be the customer.
Just a thought........

I didn't think of your 'is this it?' moment as being in any way dramatic. That you could speak of it so openly on here, when it's something that not many people could admit even to themselves, was the essence of bravery. You don't funk away from the dark stuff, the hard stuff. You face it head on and grab it by the balls, no matter how hard it is for you to face it and still hold on. That's one of the main things I like about you.

I also believe that your Jim needs to hear the bad/dark stuff. He doesn't need to be protected. He wants to protect YOU and must feel so helpless because there's nothing he CAN do to protect you from all this.
That's how I'd feel. (in fact I think that's how a lot of us feel about you)
Maybe in a way you trying to protect him is your way of protecting yourself.......?
Let him take care of YOU any way he can. You say he's your hero, let him be that in any way he can. I think he needs it- you both need it.

I've probably said too much as usual. (insert Heather-style "heh" here) I don't put this much thought into conversations with my own family FWIW.

David being invited to join the national honor society is fantastic news and a great testament to the sort of person he is and is going to become.

To paraphrase, you wrote much earlier that the experiences your children are living through now, while heartbreaking for them, will shape the people they are and will become and that your wish is to help that shaping by teaching them how to live with grace, dignity and strength. Setting the example with how you deal with your cancer, the greatest hearbreak they'll ever know (that part was mine, you inspire me poetic), you are also teaching them what real courage is; it's carrying on even when things seem hopeless. It's remaining undaunted in the face of terror both physical and mental. It's.......what word to use? STOICISM and I don't mean plain indifference, more like you look fear and death in the face and refuse to give in.

This comment is as long as your blog entry so I'll stop here. I hope today your sun is still out and that you feel well enough for your 'anniversary'.


ps; you need to post more we need more Heather! :o) No pressure though.

6:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've had a few of those is this it? moments.

Not through illness, though, through past military service. There's been times when things got a bit tight and I had that exact feeling. I'm not going to pretend it's not scary only stupid people aren't scared when in danger. But my main thing about it was it gave me an adrenaline rush, the fear did. I was scared and then I had to act, keep moving, focus on staying alive and the fear fuelled that determination.

That's what I get from you: Push on regardless. I don't know how you can't be scared. Fear isn't weakness Heather and you should never be afraid to admit to being scared. It's not the fear it's what you do with it that matters.

It always seems that by the time I see your latest posting other people have already seen it and said everything I wanted to say to you. I'll just offer to drive so you can all enjoy the scenery. How's that?
Thanks for being here? Thanks for having us and for sharing yourself dark and everything. That takes courage in my book because in order to share I think you have to look very closely and that can't be an easy thing to do.

Congrats on your son's achievements, I think it's obvious where he gets his attitude from, but kudos to him in his own right because he's the one who put in the time and made it work. Be proud and know that whatever it is you're doing as parents it's working!

I don't even want to hear about what Jim had to say regarding your scan experience. I'm betting he was more pissed off than he let you know or you can imagine. As to trying to protect him; don't. As someone said before me it's his job to protect YOU just let him do it.

As if my uber-bachelor advice means anything around here - or anywhere for that matter... 8-)

Happy "Anniversary" to you both! (and YES we need more Heather)


8:13 AM  
Anonymous Carol said...

Hi Heather.

Wish the weather here was better for you on your Saturday anniversary day.

Once again, I'm shaking my head in disbelief of the fire in your belly that fuels your character/personality--disbelief is a poor choice of word, astonished at your ability to pull up the big girl panties (time after time!!) compared to ME is probably what I am thinking. You are such an example of the best a person can be while dealing with a life-threatening nightmare, accompanied by stupid-people and a lousy medical care issue (can you imagine how many of us want to punch out somebody's lights for doing that to you with the IV?)

I'm not saying it right, but hoping you get the drift after reading all the other messages. You are bringing out the best in your admirers, too, improving everyone's writing ability!

Do not apologize for allowing yourself to wallow for a moment. Geeze, woman, you do it with such amazing strength. We probably wallow for you longer than you do.

Proud of David? OMG! I know what it takes around here to get nominated in your junior year of high school. This doesn't happen in one year; he couldn't miss a beat all three years of high school to get this honor. And at the school district he's in--they expect a LOT from their students. No shrinking violets getting that honor there. Congratulations and another Mom's hug for David.

Re PMS and moon cycles--did you see that moon this week? Oh yeah. Now we're talking some serious mood stuff here. Part of that scenic tour, lunar trip.

You know, people who aren't dealing with life-threatening cancer break down after the holidays, aka Moms who have tilted the scales to do the "Martha" thing for the holidays. In your own way, the normal Heather Mom doing a lot to make the holidays just right (and you did!)---maybe that Mom just needed a big crash day. Couple that with recovering from WBR, driving two freakin' hours every day for it, end it and take on (emotional) Christmas preparations....come on, I can imagine the crying jag, pity party I would have had for several days, letting those (might I say) really BIG (haha) panties drag around my ankles, for goodness sake!! I am a walking pity party, always ready for the invite, but I have YOU to smack me out of that party room.

And I thank you very much, Heather. You are simply the best!



11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just checking in to see how you're doing. I'm sorry to read about your experience having the scans, I hope there's someone you can talk to about it. It shouldn't have happened to you.
Great blog, very inspirational as always. My crystal ball says it's not 'it' for you by a long shot. Hang tight, lady, there are a lot of us pulling for you and praying hard.

Congratulations to your son. Be proud!



6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Good luck with your results, praying for good ones!


6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just reading the comments here today was like reading a blog! See what an effect you have on your readership? I'm sorry your scans went so badly and hope the results are better than the experience. Aside from congrtulating your son on his accomplishment, which is outstanding, everything I could have ever said about your latest post has already been said by people who have said it far better than I ever could.

If we take the scenic route I'll bring lots of ammo, there might be bears!


7:34 AM  
Anonymous Terri said...

I want to say that this blog keeps getting better and better (because it does), but at the same time I wish it didn't even have to exist. You face it all so.....solidly..... You talk about cancer and death as though they're completely normal things to be talking about. You don't even flinch and I don't know whow you do it. I just wanted to let you know that I really admire your attitude, and wish you good luck with your scans.


Congrads to your son btw!

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, everyone is so eloquent in their writings. After reading your heartwarming blogs, it's hard to come up with anything to say.....I'm like stuttering.....
Congrats on your son, that is a proud moment. I'm sure it has been hard on him, but he's getting thru it also, just like his mom. Your hubby needs to know what is going on. You may feel that you are loading him down, but if the time ever comes when you are not with us, he will cherish those times. Along with the rest of us. If it helps you, it helps all of us.
I hope that nurse never does that mistake again, I hope you ripped her a new one! That is just not right to put anyone thru it.
{{{{{{{{big hugs}}}}}}}}

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Heather, I'm praying your news is good news. Your strength is amazing. I wish I was there to help you load that damn dishwasher!

Congratulations on your son making National Honor Society. That is fricken AWESOME!!

Hugs, Patty - who can never remember her password!

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I can't tell you how much you make me laugh, cry, and just love the hell out of you! You must be so proud of your kiddos- AND your hubby! What a bunch of angels on earth- ALL of you!

You are always in my thoughts and prayers... looking forward to coming out to Rochester and meeting you this April! You'd better plan on it, sister.... don't make me exercise my pimp hand (wink, wink...)

I'm sending you lots of love and hugs from my end of the country,

Melanie (Bed_Head)

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