The oncologist did not feel it was right to begin my mom's chemo treatment yesterday. Between the general malnutrition, the feeding tube, the narcotics intolerance and PleurX drain surgery, I can't say I blame him. He wants her to build up strength over the weekend, and is looking for some of her counts to level out (calcium too high, hemoglobin too low, etc).
"Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others." -Robert Louis Stevenson
I am trying my hardest to do this. I read my family the riot act before they arrived yesterday: NO crying in the room. NO negative emotion. NO arguing. NO "what ifs" that lead us down the path of the unthinkable. I held my mom's hand while she was in pain, rubbed her shoulder, stroked her hair. I did all the same things I've been doing all week and tried to show them to do the same. I told them she needs us to be strong. I need them to hold it together. They are.
"To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another." - Katherine Paterson
That mistake was made a couple times this week, although the second time wasn't as bad as the first. Wednesday, when I walked out of this room nearly torn apart, I thought I was hiding it well. But it had to be written all over my face. The woman from housekeeping looked at me and asked if everything was alright. For the first time in a long time I think I answered that question with "No." And she hugged me.
"There is a time to take counsel of your fears, and there is a time to never listen to any fear." -George S. Patton
When I stop to think, I'm still in shock. How is this happening? How is this possible? It's just so unbelievable. I'm watching the nurse adjust my mom's feeding tube. Her IVs. My mom's feeding tube? Why does she have all these tubes running into and out of her? My fears did not offer any counsel that I wanted. Nothing the I will utter out loud or type on a keyboard. My fears did nothing but make my stomach sink and eat into my gut and fill my mind with terror and denial and grief. I wage war with them every minute to keep them at bay. Sometimes, somehow, I'm successful. I block them out. I am confident and strong and calm. Sometimes.
One minute, I fear what will happen tomorrow. Will she continue to get stronger? Will she stay awake longer? Will we get her out of bed? Or will a test show something else wrong? Was something that was strong begin to falter? And what of Monday? Will the oncologist change his mind? Will she not be strong enough? It's funny how those are "What ifs" disguised as guesses...
But I fight back. I told my mom that today she was so much better than yesterday. And that tomorrow will be so much better than today. When she says, "I think I'm doing better," I tell her, "You ARE doing better." When she moans, "I hope this pain will go away," I tell her, "This pain WILL go away." I try to be ever-watchful of her words and slay her doubt as fast as they tumble from her dry lips.
"I want to get better" becomes "I WILL get better."
I wonder who would be amused now to see the self-proclaimed realist, but often-accused pessimist forcing himself and others to be positive. Forcing himself to have hope and faith and courage.
I wonder who would believe that he actually feels it, because there are those times when he genuinely does.
Here I sit. In this room. Watching my mother sleep. She WILL get better. I told her she would. And I won't let her forget it.
Our next hurdle sprints to us. We need to be strong enough to overcome it. If you are reading this, pray for us. Think positive thoughts for us. Help us. We WILL do this.