Saturday, July 11, 2009

Best Laid Plans

I preface the next blog. I think because of all that has happened that hasn’t been planned, having plans is that much more important to me; that, and the fact that I’ve spent a career making plans, a Producer is a planner. Having the right plan, within the correct time frame can be a beautiful thing. To me, having the right plan can bring a sense of purpose and peace. Should either of those aspects go awry, the result is quite the opposite of a beautiful thing. And so how does it go? We plan and God laughs. A little less laughing please.

Strange how reading over my blog from last summer makes me feel as sick as the day I was writing it. It’s all too easy almost a year later, to remember exactly how I felt driving back and forth for treatments, the food shopping when I got there, the heat, the fear, the nausea, the slurpees, the old lady downstairs. Seems like yesterday. When will that go away? When will “it seems like yesterday?” become “it feels like a million years ago?”

Last year’s July 4th weekend was the first weekend I started to really feel the effects of the radiation. This July 4th weekend I really wanted to have a good time. What can I say…the best laid plans.

Jon took off five days from work to participate in this year’s “fun filled July 4th holiday”. He prefaced this occasion by saying “these next five days will be fun; I will take care of you”. All I can say, is it’s best not to set such high goals. Thursday came and Jon wanted to engage me in such fun-filled things as going to the hardware store, going to Home Depot for new basement ceiling tiles, going to the supermarket. Are we having fun yet? Friday was even better, it included a trip to the dog park with our puppy Max…and something else, something so amazing that I can’t even remember what it was. On Saturday, the day of July 4th we had big plans. Last July 4th we went to the beach, I was too sick to eat out, too hot to be outside for long; this year we planned to go to Pennsylvania to visit relatives, Jon had called ahead to let our relatives know we were coming up to visit, it’s a two hour ride. We, (the kids, Jon, myself and our puppy Max), took a beautiful two hour ride. My parents helped to take care of our other dog Chloe (she did not come on the ride). Our intention was to visit, partake of some lunchtime barbeque from my brother-in-law’s new BBQ venture, and then have dinner with them. Well the ride was terrific, the BBQ was delicious, complete with an authentic traveling smokehouse, but they apparently did not know we were thinking of staying for dinner. Awkward. So we chatted, and drove back two hours…scrambling afterward to seek out some 4th of July fireworks. We were exhausted from traveling so much so quickly, felt a bit like we were truckers that day. We drove around looking up at the sky for any sign of patriotic light displays we could find, which we were able to locate. This day was fun, but not what we thought it would be. Jamie in particular was wondering why she took off a day of work for this day. Three days down, two more to go. On Friday, we were supposed to go to the beach. I wanted to leave early, it had been raining for days…and days the week prior. I wanted to catch the best part of the day shoreside. The drive out to the beach is over an hour. By the time we discussed who was coming (Rachel was not interested in having a beach day, Jamie was working, but getting off early for her (around 2P), someone needed to be with Max for a certain amount of the day; he couldn’t be in the crate for more than four hours), by the time this was all figured out, I felt like my head was going to explode, and we were definitely not leaving early. I was in tears from all the negotiating and deciding. Jon and I ended up leaving around 1P, getting there around 2P. Jamie and Rachel stayed home. The highlight of the day, and perhaps this five day vacation where Jon was “going to be taking care of me”, was when we went for appetizers and the best Bloody Mary I may have ever had at a seaside restaurant that we love to go to. We stayed while the sun went down…it was beautiful, and this felt like what I had thought about wanting it to be like. If only it had ended on that note, but we still had one day left of “pampering”. I had wanted to kayak, Rachel went back to day camp, Jamie went to work, and Jon and I went to a great place to kayak. It was another beautiful weather day, it was good to be in our boats. The sun was bright, and extremely hot…this was looking good. Then hunger struck, I had cookies, I could not get to them unless I paddled up to some land…which I did. Jon was concerned that the “Nature Preserve Police” were going to come and get us (this was an unfounded worry); he did not approve of my paddling up to land. Convinced that the whole cookie operation would take only two to three minutes, I calculated the danger and decided it was worth a chance. Jon did not paddle to land, he stayed out about fifteen feet or so…he decided to take pictures while I pulled off the cookie caper. No sooner did I get up to land, when the shoreline splash came at me with quite a clip, and kept coming. Are you visualizing this picture? I was soaked, the boated filled with water, the cookies were doused, and I was pissed. As I called out to Jon to help me, as the water kept coming and coming, and I couldn’t undig myself from the shore…I could hear in the not too far distance, “I’ll be right there, I have to put away my camera”. By the time his camera was safely stowed, I was soaked. I asked Jon why he couldn’t help me sooner, and he said that he was getting there, and then he said what I know this situation definitely didn’t need. He said “I told you I didn’t think it was a good idea to go up on the shore.” I said “there will be no wet cookie for you”. I was shouting so loudly that a guy who had been napping in the bottom of his small motorboat on the way out, was aroused from his slumber to try and see what aquatic emergency was developing. It was me, I was the aquatic emergency. This is not the day I had envisioned, kind of, but not really…and this did not feel much like “being taken care of”. Plans!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What a difference a year makes

My hope was that I would be able to start writing this blog again from the anniversary of the first day of radiation last year (that would have been June 23rd) through to the last day of radiation (August 11th), to see what a difference a year makes. Well, much of like what I’ve planned this year, that didn’t work out. This is the year of making plans and not having them happen, or at least at the time I’ve wanted them to. This year has been exhausting and overwhelming for different reasons than last year, and for different reasons than I had thought.

Last year, I was uni-focused on finding the best doctor and treatment I could. Once I felt I did that, I focused completely on getting better. I felt physically awful, but mentally in charge to a great degree. This year, I have felt both physically awful, and in charge to almost no degree. This year is the year I felt I was supposed to be getting back on my feet, and to do that, I needed to find work that I would like doing, was able to do, and could do part-time (not so easy). This year was also the year that we had to sell our house; we bought our house five years ago based on both of us working, and only one of us has been working for the last two years. This is not the economy to sell a house. I really love this house, it makes me sad to leave it, especially given all that has gone on in the last couple of years, it’s seems important to me to have what feels a bit like a safe haven. We don’t want to move Rachel out of school, or Jon too far from the city where he works, so it just makes this puzzle that much more challenging. Anyone who has sold and bought a house at the same time knows what this is like…not easy, even under the best of circumstances.

Having all these things going on at the same time has been too much to handle at times. I have spent a career being a person who solves problems, who turns the no’s into yes’s, and yet I’m unable to solve these problems. This makes me question my strength and abilities at a time I need them most. It also makes me feel like a drain to my family. Last year I was undergoing radiation dreaming of how it would be when things weren’t upside down, but they are more upside down than ever. Not knowing when things will improve feels like running a marathon, but not knowing that the finish line is just a mile more up the hill, but instead it could be anywhere…this makes a difference when you’re running.

This year feels more lonely than last year. Not unlike when someone dies, and everyone comes to the grieving family’s immediate needs, but soon afterwards they get onto their lives, and the sad family is left to deal with their sadness; my situation was similar, in that last year during the time of crisis, many people helped me and my family to get through that time, but once that time had passed and I was supposed to be better, most of everyone went back to their own lives. This is the way of things, but difficult non-the-less because I still felt/feel like I could use the help…but unlike last year what I need this year is not as easy to figure out. Last year I needed a ride, or a babysitter, or someone to keep me company; this year is much more complicated.

I feel like I’m living in a Rubik’s cube, if I had one space in that cube I would have a bit of movement, but every space is filled, and all I can do is slide them around until I can figure out the puzzle. The combination of still not feeling that great, selling of the house, finding a job, and the rest of life’s normal challenges when you have a family in this economy is quite the puzzle. What a difference a year makes? Yes, but not for the reasons I thought it would be different. I will continue to blog for the rest of the summer.