>Chemo is my co-pilot.

28 Sep

>Another day with cancer starts to become just another day with cancer. Until it’s not.

And last week was one of the worst yet. The hubby returned from Cali still full of gusto. We delayed our planned trip to Winter Park a day so we could all catch our breath. Miss-miss was out of school for Thursday – Monday and had assessments on Thursday morning. We settled on Friday morning to head to the mountain air.

Then it was Thursday night and we were proceeding like a normal family. Dinner out at Southern Sun. Then over to Gramma Yen’s to visit with the TRPL TRBL clan and sister Kell’s Bells. It was all running along swimmingly. Until time to leave. We load tired girls into the car. Start talking about packing and drive away. A few yards we go and the hubby tenses up. “I think I need to go back.” I watch. And wait. He suddenly swerves the car and hits a u-ey. Parks on the side of the road and bolts out of the car.

It hits me. One of those DAMNED SIDE EFFECTS. So as the girls craned their necks to see what Daddy’s doing crouched behind the car in the dark (and I pray many prayers than no one drives by and shines a light on his b-a), I roll down the window and offer up some tissue.

He’s mortified. The girls are freaked and all I can think about is if shit got anywhere while I smile my best reassuring smile. Inside going, “FUCK. Don’t know if I can do this…”

And it only got better. The girls batter me with questions then conch out. I call True Blue and cry it out. Then I hear a mad dash to the bathroom overhead. And it isn’t until later that I realize it’s happened again. This time the bathroom floor is the victim. Instead of someone’s front yard. And the hubby is victim too. To this completely vile disease that strips away any shred of dignity you hope to possess.

Yes, I know. It’s gross. And embarrassing. And, well, shitty. And I have to admit that it’s taken the hubby and me just this long to be ready to talk about it. I gave him the time he needed and haven’t written a word since. He had to be sure. (Now he is.) Because this is the part of cancer and chemo that happens. The part you live. And it SUCKS. BIG. FAT. HAIRY. ASS.

The feeling of having your one that’s truest fall into you sobbing because he’s humiliated and mortified and reduced to what seems like an infantile status. My heart could break into a million little pieces. But. It’s what happens. While your little girls watch from the car window.

So we forgot all about Winter Park. Decided to park it at home and do the ole wait and see. And the shit storm passed. Lucky for us all.

The long weekend consisted of shopping for bean’s birthday. Dinner at Pizzeria Basta, a free growler of Addiction Imperial Stout c/o Southern Sun, massages, Ciclovìa on Pearl, brunch at Aji, Lulu’s Farm for roasted hatch chiles (‘tis the season!). We did our best to relax and be on vacation — never straying too far from the home-mode. And he was fine. Good. Confidence restored. Amen.

Then it was Tuesday and time for MORE EFFIN CHEMO.

The thing about this past week in particular was it was bean’s birthday week. She was side-splitting excited to be F-O-U-R. Like she was going to wake up and be as tall as Jack’s beanstalk. Miss independent.

Her requests were clear. “A scooter. A boy one. NO pink. And a boy skateboard.” She later threw in a stuffed giraffe and wooden food cutting set for good measure.

I was determined that this birthday would not go unnoticed. Would not be touched by those stupid c-words. So I threw together a hasty email and invited some friends that she spends the most time with to the park for cake and pizza. Easy. (Though she also specifically requested carrot cake since we’d just picked carrots from the garden.)

Presents bought. Mini-last-minute-party planned. And off to chemo.

We got to the cancer center at 9 am. It wasn’t until SIX HOURS LATER that we were finally sprung. I left there feeling like I’d had a vacuum with heavy suction attached to my core. It was a ZOO. Full of human beings who were fighting for their lives. Some completely wasted away. Others full of hope and vigor. Yet others full of longing for what once was (like being able to taste food or have real breasts or hair). We sat there. Stuck in place while this valiant parade happened before us. It was so busy that we’d been forced to sit in an aisle seat. So the suffering and fight was right on top of us. FOR SIX SOLID HOURS.

We ran into an old friend from work who was there with his adorable mom. All bundled up in a wheelchair with a mask to protect her from the world. About to be admitted to the hospital straight away because her body was too tired for all of those damned chemicals. I just wanted to hug her. But she looked like she could break.

Then we left on legs of jelly. The hubby already weakened and wobbly. Me watching him (as usual). Trying to picture him in a body that has become a shell. A bag of bones with just a hint of fire about the eyes. Still fighting on. And I couldn’t. Just. No.

I drug myself home. Feeling like a pile of dirty, wet rags. Picked up the bean, dropped off the hubby, and headed to the store to buy the birthday supplies.

By the time I got home, we all just barely had enough energy to eat dinner and go to bed. Cake baking plan abandoned. Saved for the next day.

We celebrated bean in a big way. Breakfast out. Then full on party prep mode between work calls and emails. The hubby was done already. In bed. Not talking. So I was solo. Supermom on a mission.

Party time came and it was pouring rain. So I tried to breathe while I racked my brain for a back up plan. Calls with Purse Girl. TRPL TRBL. Then Nanner’s Mom. She took charge. Venue changed to her house. Swimming, trampoline and hot tub with a covered space for eating. Saved.

I lugged all of the stuff over. Set up. Purse Girl showed up with bean and Nanner’s Mom went to pick up the big girls from piano. And the hubby still couldn’t move from the couch.

He called just before party started to talk to bean. I took the phone and we both started crying. The tiredness and frustration and just damn-it-all-to-hell-ness washed over. And even though it’s only one birthday in exchange for being around for the rest of them. Well. It still sucked.

So Nanner’s Dad left to go keep the hubby company while we swam, drank, ate, blew out candles and opened prezzies. Bean was ecstatic. I don’t know if she’s come down from it yet.

The next morning it was back to single-mom-hood with an even sicker hubby and an early morning meeting. The kitchen was a complete disaster with the cake makings and party shambles pretty much covering every surface. Balloons and new toys and discarded bags littered the house. I put on a blindfold, took the girls to school, grabbed coffee, called Purse Girl to see if she would check in on the hubby at some point, and headed to my meeting.

Three hours and two meetings later, I return home to a clean kitchen, fed hubby, lunch waiting and a smiling Purse Girl. Time for big cry number three.

The hubby was close-to-completely incapacitated for THREE days. Head could barely leave the pillow. Hands on fire from the cold-induced neuropathy. Not enough energy to take his medicine or make a plate of food.

And here I am needing to go buy him a pair of gloves that he can type in, buy bread and beer for a potluck and pick up Miss-miss from soccer practice. Conundrums.

So while we were at the preschool potluck, I arranged for the friend who was bringing dinner to make him a plate of food so he wouldn’t starve.

Then it was Friday. And since the hubby still couldn’t move, I retreated to Purse Girl’s to toast the end of one truly shitty week.

He was up and mobile by Saturday morning, but not strong enough to come to miss-miss’ soccer game. So I drove the whole way to Lafayette — crying again, music turned up loud and keeping my face forward so the girls wouldn’t see my pity party in progress.

The rest of the weekend progressed with much less angst. Hubby continues to make progress. A little less need to wear the gloves. A lot more time upright and functioning.

And you know what? I’ll take whatever I can. Tears or not. Today we’re looking forward, not back. Every moment of wellness well earned and eagerly anticipated. Embraced. Just another day with cancer. Looking towards that day when this shit storm that has become our lives is history too.

PS: Keely finished chemo on Wednesday. Can I getta WHOOP-WHOOP?!?

TODAY’S THEME SONG: Bucky Done Gun. M.I.A. I’m battered by your sumo grip. Lucky I like feeling shit. My Stamina can take it. Gymnastics Super Fit. Muscle in the gun clip.

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