Scribbles. Static. A full bowl of tangled spaghetti noodles sometimes making it on the plate, and many spillin’ right on the floor. That’s about the best way I can describe my brain most of the time since the major portion of my treatment has ended. That, my friends, is the best thing I can give ya for why I haven’t written a darn thing in a while.
Am I sad? Not necessarily.
Just often stuck in one place, not moving forward or backwards. Frozen in time.
I wouldn’t have even noticed it, and I’m fairly certain that most around me surely wouldn’t either (at least, I don’t think so. Not workin’ on my acting chops to put on a show, or anything, it’s just that it’s a rather unnoticeable state of mind). I just come off a bit disconnected here and there, I guess. Kinda helps that I tend to be a daydreamer on my most favorite days … staring into space every now and then, and probably forgetting
a few things on a good third of my whole darn grocery list, if not my wallet, or even the purchased groceries, too (That last part was a pregnancy brain moment. True story!). Not always, but only on the days that I was really enjoying myself after, oh I don’t know… forgetting my phone so that no one could reach me to tell me I was supposed to be at a doc appointment, work meeting, or something else where people were waiting for me and I was off jogging down my favorite cypress moss-covered street only to pass my boss with a smile as he drove past me, having no clue that I’d just missed my first faculty meeting as the new teacher on my first job out of college (Yet another, embarrassing, but true story)! I want to kick myself once I snap back into reality on those days for letting people down; yet, I gotta admit, each moment of oblivion has always been fun while it lasted!
I’m a mess. A hot mess. Often, I apologize for it… A LOT.
And sometimes, I just kinda gotta own it.
Since my last infusion in June, my moments of “goofy hot mess me” and periodic days of simply not being able to start the day, staring at the same list of “to dos” and wondering at 1:00pm how it is that I’ve been on my feet yet can’t recall what I’ve done, or why I haven’t done a thing… have become more and more clear in their differences from what is and isn’t my norm.
After “waking up” from one of my “trances”, standing in my office moving the same papers from here to there for a good 15 minutes… IT HIT ME.
P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
I’ve mentioned this once before, yet I’ve unfolded the mystery of my wheel spinning more and more in my unexplained writer’s block.
When Cancer first introduced itself to me, I shook hands with my challenger in the center of the ring, put on my gloves, handed pairs to my family and friends… and we gave it everything we had. No turning back. We barely batted an eye. Was I naïve? Was I stuffing feelings? Hardly. I felt every punch and remember every fall. But we got back up and never tapped out. I always referred to my state of mind in the most challenging portions of my treatment as “keeping my head in the game”. What I didn’t realize was that the day they disconnected that infusion line in the summer, or removed my port in my most recent reconstructive surgery this fall, I couldn’t walk away from my opponent.
Each day, I notice new side effects from both my continuing “preventative treatment” (estrogen blockers…) and cumulative effects from chemo, radiation and my multiple surgeries. And yet, when I bump into people around town, I give a thumbs up and come up with a brief (and sparing) response to the question, “So you’re all done, now, right?” An entirely normal question that seems completely impossible to really answer.
All done with cancer.
Cancer never feels… “all done”, like a toddler who’s finished their happy plate.
Like the many, many, MANY other people out there who’ve been faced with cancer, or ANY other abrupt challenge that dropped into their life and told them to “sink or swim”, I chose to SWIM. My whole family threw off our “floaties” and swam our best strokes, pulling each other along when our arms and legs were falling limp. Trust me, there’s nothing more I’d like than to get out of the water and never look back. Playing the victim card isn’t exactly my thing, nor do I believe it’s anyone’s desire after facing tragedy, … or loss in many cases.
Yet it’s a part of me.
There’s no going back to our “old life” now and to “the way things were”. Rather, we keep swimming. I can’t forget what happened, nor do I entirely want to. (Regardless, the scars all over my body wouldn’t let me.) I’m learning more and more of the long term effects of my diagnosis that will remain with me every day. In a few years, I pray to hear the word “cure” from my doc’s mouth and stamped in my charts; yet, I’m accepting that, just like every other milestone, that will be reason to celebrate, have a dance party with my kids, and have a margarita..
… yet also know that it won’t erase the stamp that Cancer has placed in my life and the random days that I may wake up in fog… static… like a phone off the hook again.
However, those are merely symptoms. Minor details. Little things.
God has never failed me in putting all those Marley tunes in my heart, and I won’t let my Rasta-muse out of my thoughts now. “Every little things is gonna be alright!”
So, please, pardon me if I’m in my p.j.’s in carpool line (possibly even afternoon carpool line!) periodically, or if I’m not on top of my blogging/FB page posting/phone or email returning here and there… it could be a little PTSD or (if you know me well) it could just be “the usual me” having a lolly-gagging day. It happens.
I’m pretty sure it happens to more of us than we’re willing to admit. I ask for prayers for my fam and for anyone and everyone out there that is still “swimming”, for I know well that sometimes the current seems impossible and sometimes the waters are calm.
I know that when those days of “static” and disconnect become more of your norm than just periodic, it’s time to reach out. I know there are often loved ones that have been standing there, watching while we’re “frozen in time”, unbeknownst to us. I know they may feel frozen, too… I know that, for me, there wasn’t a moment that I didn’t see my family watching or feel them wanting me to be better. They still do. As a mother, that’s definitely the hardest part.
I also admit, that I can be entirely too hard on myself and expect far too much too soon.
Don’t we all?
Some days, it’s just fine to be spaz. I’ve always owned up to being one and never claimed perfection. So glad I did. It really helped explain my recent helping of humble pie as a mother of what looks like, as comic Jim Gaffigan has coined the phrase, “T.M.K.” (too many kids)… completely missing Firecracker’s b-day celebration at school. Yup. Mom-of-the-year confused calendar dates and graciously offered the opportunity for the teacher to run out to the store (on her break, with her own cash-UGH! I don’t blush, but the thought of this turns my cheeks a good firey shade of crimson) to buy some Little Debbie Snack Cakes for the class so that she would have something special as the class sang and the teachers stood in for me for the “Mommy-kiddo b-day” pic. Talk about lookin’ like the forgotten 4th kid in a big family circus. Don’t worry, I totally made it up to her on my second attempt the next day at b-day lunch, when we remembered to wear her spirit shirt for her birthday, but was late for her lunch period and played it off by checking her out for 40 minutes to go eat Sonic in our new ride and have a dance party in the car! Oy vey!
Ya see, we adjust.
Admittedly, I wanted to bury my head in the sand like an ostrich, but the truth is…
The kid was fine.
She thought it was all good! In fact, she rubbed it in to her siblings that she “got junk food 2 days in a row from her teacher AND mommy!” (I die inside when I think of the whole ordeal, but somehow, confessing here makes it better, right??)
Moral of the story:
Some days I’m knockin’ it out the ball park. Some days… I’m stuck, either licking my wounds or in a zombie trance and nobody may here a peep from me. And others? Other days, I’m just like a lot of other moms out there, sipping coffee a little longer in my pjs and forgetting a few things here and there… just because. And guess what, whether or not everyone wants to post it on social media, I ain’t the only one out there having ANY of the kind of days just mentioned.
I merely happen to be one of the few spazzes that’s willing to admit it.
So thank you for pardoning me. ‘Cuz some days, it may be PTSD, and others, it may just be me.
Regardless, thanks for stickin’ with me.
All the prayers and love, comin’ right back at ya.
Oh, Elise, you express that so beautifully!! I thought about you yesterday as I have come out of my fog (finished June 25 and then surgery, rads, and more surgery) because I read you for the great encouragement that you are and wondered where you were in your daily challenges! And here you are today – with all the words I have thought but have been unable to express!
If it makes you feel better (not that it would…) but I forgot the school birthdays and the kids at school 12 years BEFORE my cancer!!!
People that have not experienced it do not know what to say and they would love to think that “it’s over” and Elise came out the champ! So for me, I tell them “yup, it’s all done but the healing!” For me, that is emotional and mental as well as the physical. But it makes them feel better too. So I handle my foggy moments and realize that ALL of last year was a very dense fog every day. I know the blogging takes more of your already valued time, but I wanted to let you know that I am greatly appreciative of all your writings. You have inspired and encouraged me every step of the way. If there is ANY thing I could ever do for you, I want to do it because you have done so much for me!
LOVE THIS POST!!!
Oh, thank you so much for your response, Emily! Hate to think anyone else has to go through this, but to know that any of my ramblings could help another person warms my heart in a way No words could express.
Yes, all mom’s have their foggy days…mine have lasted 36+ years and beyond the last one flying out of the nest. Talk about your tangled spaghetti noodles–and without a serious excuse. PTSD is quite a cross, but also a gift, a grace of sharing in the wounds of Christ, where pain and love become indistinguishable. As long as you remember Him, you’ve remembered the most important thing and I know you do, together with all your incredible family! God bless you all! You still write beautifully, even if you THINK you are rambling…this is a very inspiring post!
Thank you so much! And thank you for your example of prayer and motherhood. Always an inspiration and source of spiritual support. Much love
Boy did I need that…
At the dentist today the new hygenist said “i see u marked cancer, what did u have?” I was like wait! R u talking to me? Is this the right file?!… Then I took a breath and said Yes, this little melanoma was removed. Boy, what a reality check. Yes, cancer was removed and i pray it stays in remission. But yes, i too am a Cancer SURVIVOR and we are in a special club that no one wanted to be involved in but here we r. And we live the Serenity Prayer one day/ one hour/ one moment at a time God bless:)
Ah yes, the Serenity Prayer. Thanks for the reminder of that one. One day at a time, one prayer at a time.
And by the way, you’re gift of prayer to me throughout all of this never was left without prayers in return. That doesn’t stop. Right back at ya!
Got a lump in my throat after reading this one. You are loved!! Thank you for sharing so much of yourself to help others.
I’m ALWAYS so thankful for your prayers. I know how powerful they are.
I can’t express in words how happy this was to read and to have someone else feel the same way. Instead of thinking that I’m the only hot mess that can’t get it together. I love ready big this and so encouraged by your words and your friendship 💕😇
Hot mess? Girl, you’re the hottest mess I’ve ever seen. Not just hot… “HAWT!!” But I know looks can be deceiving and just cuz you’re lookin’ good doesnt’ mean that’s how you’re feeling each day. I’m here for ya whenever, wherever. Just give me a shout. We’ll have some coffee talk and let our kiddos hang out.
By the way, the feeling is mutual. You’re my hero, Mama
Wow, did Pardon Me and My PTSD hit me in the chest (or what’s left of it). I live in CA but I was hooked up to Team Buna, by my niece Missy Guice of Mandeville, LA. I believe you 2 know each other.
I’m in the reconstruction phase of this journey, having my expanders filled weekly. I was a plastic (cosmetic) surgery nurse for 30 years, so you can imagine my confusion at what’s happening to me. The chemo which everyone said would be horrible was a piece of cake compared to this and I’m not sure I care anymore.
I know I’m rambling and I’ll blame that on your PTSD. It feels like since my chemo ended and my pathology reports said tumor had shrunk and no evidence of cancer remaining and nodes negative that I should be fine. It’s like well since I’m not going to die right now everything should go back to normal. I feel very empty and have those days that don’t seem to exist.
Pardon me for replying to this post. I just wanted to say thanks for posting.
Trying to keep up the fight against TNBC.
Sent from my iPad
What a small world that we live in that Missy would connect ya to my blog and we’d be supporting one another now. I’m sooo with you, sista! Seriously though. PLEASE read my blog post today:
IRONIC RAPUNZEL… I’m fairly certain you just may “get” what I meant.
It’s a weird place to be, on what’s supposedly “the other side of cancer”. But, you’re not alone, and you won’t be forgotten. My prayers are with ya!
I’ve thought about commenting on your beautiful posts many times, but never had the confidence until now. I was put in touch with your blog by my cousin, who is a friend of yours from college, right around the time of my diagnosis. It was so nice to read your posts and you seem to eloquently state almost exactly what I feel, but can’t quite put into words. God has given you quite a gift, and thank you for sharing it! I imagine it’s not easy to do with 5 children. I have 3 and have a tough time keeping up ;). Anyway, this last post about PTSD hit home for me especially, I so appreciate you writing about this. It’s so strange to hear people say “so you’re done right?” and try to find an answer more articulate than a “yup.” But inside, its a “nope.” The stinky fears are still looming, and though I know our Lord doesn’t want that for us, the scars of it all just hang around (not to mention the side of effects of the meds!). I’ve known two women who have passed away from cancer in the last two years, so I definitely get how lucky we are, and yet this part is still scary and strange to say the least! So anyway, thanks so much for sharing this. I will keep you in my prayers. ; )
Amy, you’re sooo not alone. I never knew about this end of cancer. How would I? I was concerned to post about it, just as most are concerned to mention their own story for fear of scaring anyone newly diagnosed. However, I kept feeling like I just need to keep going on my blog. I feel like we ALL (no matter what our story is, cancer or not, sick or not, just in our daily lives) need to remember that there’s community to be had out there, and support waiting for anyone willing to let them. I so often forget and start to wonder if I’m on my own island or “JUST HOW in the world is everyone else doing this?!?” But then I remember that, just as when I first got my diagnosis… everyone out there is carrying their cross ONE STEP AT A TIME.
Just keep swimming, Amy. My prayers are with ya!