I took the dog to the vet a few weeks ago. $321 and a diagnosis of “cyst” later, we were on our way. When the cyst wasn’t healing, we decided to take him back in for a recheck. Now another $301 poorer, we have been told it’s a mast cell tumor. So, Winnie goes in for surgery today to have it removed. If the tumor is stage 1 or 2 then he should be okay if they can get clear margins. If the margins aren’t good, then it sounds like radiation treatment will be recommended. We don’t want to think about stage 3.
I don’t believe in feeling sorry for yourself. I don’t believe it does any good to think that you have it worse than anyone else – that your plate is more full. But seriously? There should be a limit of crap that you have to deal with at one time.
In more positive news, Samantha comes home today. It’ hard to believe that her first year of college is done. It will be so nice to have everyone under the same roof for a few months. She and I will go up to Baltimore on Friday for her infusion of Reclast at Kennedy Krieger. She says her back is feeling better after being debilitated for a week or so. I am hoping that things are on the upswing for her now.
Dave’s scan was moved from yesterday to next Tuesday due to some insurance/clinical trial confusion. All prayers and positive thoughts welcome! I am so so hopeful for positive news.
I am not patient enough.
I do not hand out praise lavishly.
I am not sympathetic enough.
I admit these things publicly not because I am looking for support to the contrary. In fact, I believe the reason these things don’t come naturally to me is because these are not things that I seek out or need. I admire people who can respond with just the right supportive comment when talking to Dave. Admittedly, I usually attach the caveat that “others don’t have to deal with this all day, every day” so it’s EASIER for them to be encouraging.
I admit these things publicly in the hopes that being self-aware will help me self improve a little.
Coming off of a successful work week prior to Spring Break and an amazing trip over the break, I had high hopes that things were swinging back to a more normal phase. So, this week has been a pretty big downer. No work for Dave. Counseling appointment cancelled. And these texts from Sam.
I handled the situations with Dave poorly and a little better with Sam. I am not superhuman, and I definitely am not beating myself up over this. I am just reminded that there is always room to grow. Patience, Praise, Sympathy.
Today we received a HUGE box in the mail. It was from three of Dave’s colleagues. The box was full of family activities – things to read, things to play, things to entertain. There were activities for inside and some for outside. They even remembered to include the dogs! Here are a few highlights…
This was a particular favorite.
I should mention that the dog is a speaker to which you connect your iPod or phone. This song was all ages appropriate. Admittedly, we did have him play and dance to Eminem too which was pretty darn hilarious!
Once again our day was made so much brighter because of the thoughtfulness and kindness of others. Inspiration to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather as a family!
We had an amazing trip to LA. Dave’s brother made it really fun and memorable for everyone and the time flew by far too quickly.
Dave’s energy held up really well. It is such a relief and SO great to see him more back to his old self. We did opt to skip Universal since he wasn’t up for the potentially long lines and standing around. The kids were disappointed for half a second, but because they are such kind souls, they understood why we were bailing on the park and happily went to Santa Monica instead.
We will ease back into reality this weekend before work and school start up again on Monday. Tonight we started a new series (old to pretty much everyone else) The Wire. It comes highly recommended from Dave’s brother and several other friends too. We have never really been a couple that watched a show religiously every week together. But we loved watching and discussing Mad Men so much that we decided to try another one. I have a feeling there is going to be a lot to dissect with this one.
I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend and a Happy Happy Easter.
(Anyone remember that song? Trust me, if you start singing it, it will stick with you all day.)
In glancing over my last few posts, I definitely feel like I have been repping the pain and rain side and not so much the sunshine and joy. But it is there. It is always there. Today it came in the form of this –
Isn’t that pretty? A simple reminder of what is important. Our amazing friends, Doug and Lexy sent this thoughtful and lovely map to us. (If you and I are Facebook friends, you will have seen my reposts of Doug’s updates from Ukraine.) We have walked some twisty paths with these guys and somehow they are managing to walk this one with us even from so far away.
Because life and conversation can’t always be about cancer, Dave and I have been purposeful in finding other good things to talk about. The first idea we had was to read the same book which led to some interesting discussions. (We read This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper which sounds like it could be cancer related but it’s definitely not. It’s being made/has been made into a movie with Tina Fey and Jason Bateman.) More recently we have watched the Mad Men series. What a phenomenal show. A few friends mentioned that they started to watch it but couldn’t get over the blatant sexism. Early in the series that is true. Of course it is set in the late 1950s and 1960s so that isn’t totally unexpected either. I love how stylized the show is. I love that there are hand over your mouth shocking moments. And I love how the characters develop and evolve over time. We have loved watching all six seasons and can’t wait for the final season to start on Sunday.
Another MAJOR bit of sunshine has occurred over the last couple of days – both in the weather and in Dave. He met with a counselor at the Life with Cancer Center on Tuesday night. I intentionally didn’t ask him any questions as this is a time and experience for him. He did mention that he liked the guy, and he thought it was helpful and he has another appointment set up for after Spring Break. The counselor recommended a mediation class that he attended today. But that isn’t even the big news. For the last two days, Dave has reemerged into every day life. Wednesday morning, after sleeping in, he went to work. On his way home, he stopped at the Y and then took Parker to her oboe lesson. He even picked up dinner afterwards. Today he went into the doctor for lab work, went to work again, went to the meditation class, hit the Y, and then grilled out dinner. It has made me so so hopeful. He is definitely tired but I think in a good way.
Saturday we head to LA to spend time with Dave’s brother and our niece and nephew. (Unfortunately our sister in law will be out of town for most of our visit.) We are looking forward to getting away and previously I was thinking we might not be able to do much while we are out there but with Dave’s recent activity, I am thinking anything is possible.
Sunshine and joy.
It turns out that Dr. S wasn’t entirely wrong. I think we can all agree that the last appointment was short of inspiring. Several of his comments have stayed in my brain over the last week including “At this point, some couples just live two separate lives.” I was angry over this comment at the time. Turns out it is kind of true. Not intentionally of course, but to a certain degree. The kids and I head off each day for work, school, time with friends. When we return, Dave is in the same place essentially. So when we sit down to dinner and discuss our days there is noticeable silence from one spot at the table. Dave is doing exactly as he said he was going to – rest, go to the Y, and “fight the cancer”. When it comes to dinner conversation though there is not much to say about that. He did rally this weekend and on Saturday went outside in the beautiful weather and hit some tennis balls with Parker. And Sunday he took her to her tennis lesson. But when I asked him to grill some steaks he said he wasn’t up for it. And yesterday he was back in bed again. I am not going to lie; it is depressing.
I have kept to my word and not mentioned work. I did suggest that maybe he set a time for himself each day that he would get out of bed, shower and get dressed no matter how tired he felt. Just to have some sort of normalcy and a chance for a more regular schedule. Also, when he commented how much his side hurt, I suggested that perhaps a change of position (out of the bed) might help. So, you can see me keeping my mouth shut entirely just isn’t happening. You can also imagine that he appreciated my suggestions. I just see him being more tired the more time he spends inert. At the end of the day though, if this is how he chooses to live his life, there is not much I can do about it. He is trying the increased antidepressants and has an appointment with a counselor tonight at the Life with Cancer Center. Hopefully, this will be helpful to him.
Another habit that Dave has developed over recently months is lying. Not great giant earth-shattering whoppers. But stupid little white lies. Mostly to get me off his back or to duck out of doing something. In his efforts to avoid people, he tells them he has an appointment or treatment or has to take one of the kids somewhere. And this works well except when people reach out to me later and ask “how did Dave’s appointment/treatment/kid activity go?” And I respond with “huh?” and then “Good. Good. Everything is fine.” He does it to friends and family alike. It isn’t personal. He just doesn’t want to see anyone. There are a very few people who have broken through and now he is comfortable seeing and talking to them. I can think of three outside of the family. I have asked him to stop with the little fibs. I’ve asked him to just take the straightforward approach to excuse making – “I don’t feel well.” “I am tired.” “I am not up for it.” Say what you mean and mean what you say. Being honest gives people a chance to genuinely respond and be supportive. Which might be something else he is avoiding.
After Dave’s appointment on Monday, I was disheartened to say the least. I felt that his doctor did him no favors and certainly wasn’t encouraging. At the end of the visit, Dr. S gave me a hug and told me to “feel free to email or call anytime”. At that moment, I couldn’t imagine why I would want to. After all, he hadn’t heard me when I was sitting four feet away. But I did email him. I needed to let him know that he wasn’t seeing the whole picture with Dave. My husband, a previously incredibly active and social guy has become a person who avoids most others, sleeps the day away, and spends his time ordering random crap from Amazon. This is not cancer progression. This is depression. I haven’t heard back from him. Go figure.
I made a deal with Dave after the appointment. I felt that Dr. S had all but given him permission to throw in the towel. Since I am not about to stand by and let that happen, I figured negotiating had to take place. I realized that I am trying to rationalize with someone who really isn’t in the right frame of mind to be all that rational. So, I told Dave that I would keep my mouth shut about work. Not a word. In exchange, he had to promise to try the increased dose of Zoloft and get counseling. This has been SO hard and it has only been a couple of days. Dave has not done much – went with me for a walk, hit the grocery store, took Parker to oboe lesson. Honestly, it makes me want to cry. If he slows down much more, I’ll have to scrape him out of the bed. I am giving him time for the meds to kick in and hopefully for some counseling to take place. I am hoping that in a better frame of mind, he will realize that it is boring lying around the house all day. Samantha comes home from school at the end of the month. I am hopeful that by then, even if it is just in an effort not to worry her, that he will get out of the house and do something meaningful. The end of the month feels very far away.
I keep thinking about the last scan. Yes, there was tumor growth. But the tumors are still very very small. Millimeters for the most part. Now is not the time for anyone, especially his friggin doctor, to give up on him. So, I am in a bit of a bipolar state – anger and sadness. But as the good doctor suggested, when I think I might want to say something, I am going out with friends instead. So, I had a coffee date yesterday, a 5 hour dinner date last night and plans for lunches on Saturday and Sunday. Honestly, I am not sure how I will get through Friday without saying anything let alone a month.