The road of life has so many twists and turns that there are days it feels more like a roller coaster than a road that you are on. Each of us have our own path we must follow in life. It is a path we create from our choices and decisions, or sometimes a lack of choices or decision which draws us in a new direction. I find myself looking at the path I have traveled before today which led me here, right here, right now. I see some misguided turns I have made, but mostly I can say I am proud of the roads I have taken in life. Unfortunately I have hit a few roadblocks which have slowed me down, actually they have brought me to a sudden halt in my life.
People are quick to judge and question you about the way you lead your life, but what right do they have to do that? Basically it is because they are viewing YOUR life from THEIR eyes. They can only see through the view they have chosen to take on their path and if it doesn’t match your view, they question it. Maybe out of disapproval, maybe out of envy. But either way, its not for them to say. Your path is yours and that is how it should be.
The important thing is to remember you are in the drivers seat of your life. Nobody else. You may have different passengers along the way and perhaps you may make the mistake and let someone else drive for a short period of time, but in the end, you are charting your course and making your own decisions. You have the power within you to be happy, to be successful, to be loving and to be giving. You need to decide what you want from life, and head that way. There is no one stopping you but you. Or in my case…me. Time to start back up and head back onto the road. There is so much more for me to see…
This is my daily mantra these days. People ask how am I doing what I am doing; I don’t think I could do it; how am I getting through all this. And this is my answer, over and over, You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. What else is there to do? One foot in front of the other and you just keeping going. You do what you have to do and you don’t think twice about it. We are all strong. There is an inner strength in each and every one of us. Sometimes it doesn’t show up until we need it most. The important thing to remember is that it does show up. We as humans are not wired to give up. We want to live, we want to thrive, we want to continue on. What gets in our way is our own thinking. Our brain starts to spin and we spiral out of control in our thinking. This turns and turns until negativity and weakness appears. It overrides our natural instinct to keep going; to be strong. No matter what you are going through, no matter how horrible your situation may be at this time, you are strong and powerful in your own world. You can make it through and persevere. It is up to you to ruse above the negative thoughts and allow your natural instinct of strength to rise out of you and let you shine.
So you think you’re gonna mess with us again do you? Well I have a few words for you. First of all you don’t know who the hell you are messing with. My husband is going to beat the living shit out of you! Maybe we took you too lightly last time, because you think you are welcome back, but you are sadly mistaken. You are not going to beat us down and tear us apart. We are stronger than you and we will NEVER give up. You come into peoples lives and make a mess of everything. You care for no one and sorry to say, the feeling is mutual. Who do you think you are butting in on peoples lives and making things a living hell? You are nothing, but a worthless piece of shit that feeds off of peoples bodies, minds and souls. You deserve all that you are about to get. Watch out because this will be the end of you.
As I sit here waiting for the doctors to come in and ease our minds, I watch my husband. This is a man who has chosen me to love; supported and guided me through tough times; he is the father of my three amazing boys. I’ve written about the struggles I have been through with his illness, but I never took a moment to address him.
I am so proud to be your wife, your friend, your partner. You is the strongest person I know. You have fought through this battle with undeniable strength and determination. You have been through a hell of a lot of shit and have been an amazing warrior through it all. I couldn’t imagine my life without you and I want to thank you for sharing your life with me.
I will love you ’til the day I die
One thing I have learned from this shitty hand we have been dealt, is that love has no boundaries, and no limits. My husband has never given up on anything in his life..He is a fighter, a winner, and my hero.
The pain of watching a loved one suffer is indescribable. Sitting by helpless, not being able to do anything to ease their pain or protect them is heart crushing. I sat by for five months as my husband suffered through chemotherapy; simply watching him twist and turn in pain, toss and turn in his sleep and lose his hair. I couldn’t do anything. I tried to do what I could. Take care of the kids, the house, the necessities of day-to-day living. I wanted to give him everything I had to offer during this time. When the news of remission came to us late December we were overjoyed with relief and joy. We were ready to close that chapter and begin a new one together. We didn’t know where we were headed, but we were doing it together.
And now this. Little by little, tiredness has returned. An overall feeling of ickiness. Is it the effects of the chemotherapy leaving his body? Is he sick from the flu or another bug that’s going around? Then a headache that won’t go away. His eye is killing him and the pain in his head is unrelenting. He takes what he can until he feels we need to figure out what is going on and get some medicine to take away the pain. Off to the hospital.
So here we go again. He’s laying there in pain; he can’t handle the light, or sound, or even smells. I know it’s not about me AT ALL, but I can’t help but feeling I am causing him more pain. That makes it even harder. Now I am not only watching him suffer, but my noise and smells are causing more. The doctors are busy doing their thing trying to figure out what is causing the pain and giving him meds, but it still isn’t helping. I just need strength to go through this again. I’m trying to go with the wait and see attitude…I’m not going to get upset because we don’t know anything yet. But the mind wanders, worries brew and the heart aches…
Sometimes I wish there were more hours in the day so I could get more done. But then I realize what would I honestly do with that time? Would I accomplish more, or simply waste more time? I don’t have the answer to that. I just wish there wasn’t so much that I want to do everyday. I start off my day with a handy-dandy to do list and instead of happily crossing things off, the list tends to grow as the day goes along. I feel like I have no control over what is happening around me, let alone to me. Its like the waves of life come crashing in at the same time…always at the same time, and I can feel them pulling me under as I fight to keep my head above the water. The more you fight, the worse it tends to get. I have to remind myself to take a deep breath before I lose it all and just go with it…Ride the waves and try to enjoy the ride. Sometimes a little splash, or a quick dunk in an ocean of the unknown can be refreshing and rewarding. Not only can it make you feel appreciation for the security of the normal routine of life, but it can help you build strength, character and a new perspective on the world around you.
Yeah that sounds so easy…right? Hell no. When the waves start to break and you are sitting in the middle of it all, who thinks about all that they will learn from this? Nobody that’s who. Well at least I know I don’t realize it until way later. I am trying to focus on the here and now and enjoy where I am at and enjoy what I am doing. If I am constantly worrying about what is next, I am always falling behind. This is true with my to do lists. They never end. And I don’t enjoy any of it.
I always tell my girls at school that it’s not about the final answer, but it’s about the process of getting to it. I need to listen to that in relation to my life. I’m sure you’ve heard this one as well…Lifes not a destination, it’s a journey. Well I want to start that journey, better yet I am ready to realize the journey I have been on for the past 39+ years. Because haven’t we all been on a journey since the moment we were born. It’s only when we realize it that we can start enjoying the sights along the way. The view from my window is looking good!
Letting go is difficult for all of us. We are so comfortable in what we have and what we do everyday. Change sucks. Who wants to make a change and take a risk when you have absolutely no idea where it is going to lead you. You know where your going tomorrow, if you don’t make any change. Of course you can’t map out every second of your day…things can change on a dime. But that is out of your control. That is the unexpected crap of life. I am talking about choosing to make a change when you are comfortable in your day-to-day because you know you should. There comes a time when we know our story has come to an end. This chapter, is better, is closing and a new one needs to begin. It could be as simple as a haircut…as in my case recently, or leaving your job, your hometown, your marriage. You know that feeling and only you know it. People may try to talk you out of it and say your crazy for making this drastic scary change, but that is their fear. That is them being afraid of the unknown. You know what you need to do, even though you may not know where it is going to take you. I believe in being somewhere for a reason and having people in your life for reason…and sometimes the reason is to take you somewhere you have never been. Sometimes it is to take the next step and enter into the new chapter of your life. Don’t be stuck in where you know you no longer belong simply because you are afraid or it is the safe thing to do. Stick to your gut, know your heart and live your life. Fly on your own spirit and soar to great heights. We all have so much to give and do…Don’t let anything hold you back.
This new life journey began quickly. He was going to begin treatment as soon as possible since the cancer was aggressive. One of my new roles was being a “secretary”. I was responsible for scheduling all doctors appointments, recording medicines, temperatures and and complaints. I had to organize the kids as to who was taking care of them when and where and make the drop offs as smooth as possible. Sometimes the kids were shuffled between two or three different places in a day. They didn’t really seem to mind, since they were being spoiled rotten. Everyone was taking them to fun places and letting them have a good time
I wasn’t so nervous about this role because I felt I had some control over it. I could keep my focus on being organized and detailed in my note taking. I became OCD about documenting everything he ate, drank and medicines he took. I took his temperature a lot and would watch him sleep…not sure he knows this. While he slept, I would read up on his illness and the treatments he was going to be having. Taking in this knowledge helped me feel like I was a part of the solution. I wanted to help and fix this for Pat, but I couldn’t. That pissed me off. I wanted to take away his pain. Since I obviously couldn’t do this, I just tried to take care of everything so he didn’t have to worry about anything else. As time went on, my role as secretary changed from being a crazy note taker, to being the one to call the doctors and keep track of all the paperwork.
On top of all of this, the new school year was beginning and I was heading back to work. I had to organize my classroom, redecorate, write lesson plans and attend all the back to school meetings. I didn’t know how I was going to do two full time jobs, but I didn’t really have a choice. I would leave the hospital for a few hours and work in my room, then head back to sit with him until bedtime. While at the hospital, I would write lesson plans and map out the first few weeks of school. I felt like my brain could never shut down. I was either focused on him or on work…not to mention the three boys of my own. They were heading back to school as well. I had back to school shopping to do for them and I wanted to spend some time with them. This wasn’t really going to be in the cards for a little longer.
When I had a chance I would take each one out for a quick shopping trip and then back to the hospital. Everything was about quickness and not being away too long. I didn’t want to be away from Pat because in my head I was the only one who could take care of him. The love I felt for him powered me to continue pushing forward. If I felt like I couldn’t do everything all I had to do was thinking about letting him down, and I would be right back to it. I want to take care of everyone, I want to help. That’s who I am…That’s what I do. I don’t think I fully comprehended the challenge that was in front of me.
Lymphoma of the bone marrow. This was what the doctor was telling us, but all I felt was a blow to the stomach and my lungs deflate. It was the most surreal moment. It was as though I was outside of my body watching the conversation unfold. I knew the doctor was speaking to us, and I knew I needed to hear everything he had to say, but I was somewhere else. I had to shake my head to return to the conversation and focus on his actual words. He gave us the prognosis and a brief description of a plan of action that really made no sense at the time. When he left the room, I had taken on a new role…caregiver.
I ran to my boys and hugged them all and then made all the necessary phone calls, where I repeatedly broke down sobbing. I took the boys home and began making plans for the next few days. I would hold it together in front of the boys, but when I stepped away I would break. At one point, talking to my sister explaining what was happening, I fell to the ground in front of my house, hyperventilating, asking why, why, why. This couldn’t be happening to us. I knew I was going to have to be stronger than I had ever been before in my life. I just didn’t know if I was capable of this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m one tough chick, but this was some serious shit and I had three boys and now a sick husband to take care of. I know it wasn’t the truth in the matter, but it was my reality…this was all on me. There was no room for me to make any mistakes. I had to be everything to everybody and I had to do it right…right now.
This was going to be a long tough road and we had no map to follow. We were heading out on an unknown path and I felt all alone, even though we were in this together.
Today is day two. The day I talk about my horrible experience on September 11, 2006. At the time I was 7 months pregnant with my third child. I already had two boys at home, Seamus who was 3 and Quinn who was 19 months. I was a stay at home mom at the time and not the happiest to be pregnant yet again. I started to feel sick and figured I had the flu. I was throwing up and had a temperature that was ranging from 101 – 102.5. I was sleeping ALL the time. I thought that was what I needed in order to get over this illness. My husband figured I was sick and I was tired from being pregnant, so he did his best to handle things. After a while, he did get frustrated because I wasn’t taking care of the boys during the day and letting them play with my jewelry and make quite a mess in the house. Finally after a few days, my husband told me I had to contact the doctor. When I called it was a Sunday afternoon, so obviously they were not open. I left a message and went back to bed. That night, I was sweating a lot and woke up several times soaking wet. When I awoke on Monday I guess I thought I was better. The doctor called me back and I said I felt good. What did I know? My sister came over and took the boys from me so I could sleep some more. I don’t remember much more of that day…Monday, September 11.
My husband filled me in on the rest of the events that took place. When he got home from work, I was acting crazy. For example, I didn’t know how to open a jar of peanut butter, and I tried to use my husbands sock as a headband…Things like that. My husband suggested I go to the hospital because he felt something was wrong. I wouldn’t do that. He decided to call 911, but when they arrived I was not a happy camper. I was not going to go easily. I remember bits of pieces of these moments, but more like memories of a movie. I was swearing and yelling and screaming, and not being the sweet little thing I usually am 🙂 I was fighting with the paramedics and being a whole lot of nutty. When they got me to the hospital I had a spinaltap and it was determined that I had bacterial meningitis. Remember I was 7 months pregnant. This wasn’t an illness that pregnant woman typically had. I was transported to another hospital where I was placed into a medically induced coma. That is where I remained for 1 week.
When I awoke, I was obviously confused and completely unaware of what had happened to me. As I was filled in on the events over the past week I was totally blown away. There was a high chance of me dying. They had a crash cart ready for me and the baby. They thought that if I did survive, I wasn’t going to be the same. And if the baby survived, they would have their own issues. For example poor muscle development, and skin coloring issues. Fortunately, I woke up and was not brain dead. I did have some issues. I had to go to physical therapy to walk, talk do math and take care of myself again. I had to regain some memory and fine motor skills. What a week.
When the baby arrived, I had a perfect, beautiful baby boy with no issues! Not to mention, my eye sight had improved. It was a struggle to come back from this event and I lost some memories and some short term memory issues. But overall, I am fine, and so is Aidan, my sweet 7 year old.
This event made me view life and death differently. I realized I wasn’t immortal and how quickly everything can be taken from me. In a way I think I should have learned more than I did from this close encounter with death, but I can definitely say I am thankful to be alive and for all that I have.