What ails me today

My hair has been shedding lately. I’m losing a good handful every day. I think it is a residual effect of the stress I had in February, after the bad scan. 

I hope that’s all it is. My hair is finally behaving the way I’d like it to, for the first time in my life. I’d hate to lose it now. 

Another Inlyta user mentioned that she’s getting blisters under the skin on her feet, and now I’m thinking that I should have the corn on my foot looked at again. Cause it’s just weird. 

Also weird is the growth on my head. It’s a cyst and I’ve had it removed once before, but it is marble sized again, and becoming an annoyance, and the procedure should be simple and fast. So I should get that taken care of. 

I’m happy to report that after a week of mostly oatmeal, pro-biotic yogurts, bananas, lentils and rice, and applesauce, my gut is feeling a bit better. Actually the whole tract. My mouth feels less irritated, because the foods I’m eating are so bland. I have spots on my tongue that are odd, but aren’t causing more than mild irritation.  

And now I’m thinking, why the hell am I listing all of this when I had an amazing picnic on Saturday?  Roughly 100 people, friends and family. I joked to a few people that I now know what it takes to get a Bowes family reunion to happen. Cancer.  But I’m pleased to have reconnected with cousins, aunts and uncles. And it was a thrill to be surrounded by love and support. I hope this will become an annual event that I’ll be able to host for years to come. 

No stress New Year.

I’ve been thinking about how much easier things have been lately.  Certainly the physical stuff has been SO. MUCH. BETTER. since I took the meds break in December, but I’ve also felt better emotionally and mentally, too.  We’ve had a two week break with all four of us at home, over the holidays, usually a fairly stressful time.  But this year, I haven’t felt so stressed, and while I’m looking forward to having everyone get back into their routines with school (kids) and work (Reil) and being the car service (me), I am not salivating over it as has happened in previous years.

I haven’t been hiking as much as I’d like to, and when I do get out for a walk, it’s usually just that – a fairly short and flat walk.  I haven’t been challenging myself at all.  And yet, when I get out there, I feel happy and content.

I think the key to all of this is that I’m giving myself a break.  Although I’m not challenging myself physically, I’m also not feeling upset or disappointed that I can’t achieve my hiking goals.  Because I’m not pushing myself, I’m not getting winded (and then frustrated).  Same with being home with the kids.  Usually, I’d want to have lots of activities planned, and to be a hard ass about being on the computers.  This year, well, we’ve done some nice things (trip up to my home town, playing tourists in SF for the day, movie day), but for the most part, it’s been a lot of puttering around the house and a heck of a lot of video games.  And you know what?  The kids have had a great time.  And they’re going to be fine.  And I’m not stressed.

Do you think there’s a lesson there?

Caregiving by the caregetter

I’ve been finding it difficult to go through cancer and at the same time be a caretaker to my two children.  There are so many things that were once just part of the routine that I don’t want to do – referee fights, help with or monitor homework, cook meals, deal with teen aged attitudes.  Let’s face it, I just want to be the Disney mom;  the one who does the fun stuff with fun kids.

All of this goes against who I’ve been as a parent and a wife.  This isn’t to say I’ve been the epitome of the perfect mother, the always devoted wife, the one who gives up everything for her family.  Because I haven’t, and I’ve often had to struggle because I thought I wasn’t enough of those things.  I love my husband, but I’ve not taken on the roll of waiting on him, or even letting him be the only one who wears the pants.  I adore my kids and have liked day to day life with them, but I’ve always needed my “me” time.  And yet, our family has always been the number 1 priority.  It’s part of the reasons why I’ve not worked full time since the kids were born.  Its the reason I chose my husband (besides his dashing good looks):  I knew that family was his priority, too.

I’ve been feeling a lot of guilt over what I can or can’t do, over what I want or don’t want to do.  I feel guilty about taking more of the family resources, whether it is cash to buy plane tickets or flying to retreats by myself, leaving the family at home.  I’m doing some fun stuff, and they’re not.  I feel that I should still be able to take care of everything, but in reality, I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed by the needs of my kids and, to a lesser extent, the wants of my husband.  When I become overwhelmed, I start to retreat from my family.  I become more disconnected.  I can see the disappointment in my kids, especially my daughter.  What I’d like to do is spend time watching Doctor Who with them, or painting watercolors with my daughter, or just hanging out with them.  Just being fun.

I spent the past weekend at a cancer retreat at Harmony Hill in Washington. (I’ll write more about that in another post.)  The participants, volunteers and faculty were all incredibly supportive, and gave me a lot of advice about how to deal with this struggle.  The main piece of advice I got was to say “No.”  Instead of accepting a responsibility I don’t want to take on, doing it half assed or not doing it at all, and then seeing the disappointment from my family,  instead let them know, “No, I cannot do that.”   The advice is so difficult to take and use.  Aren’t we moms supposed to do everything, in high heels, and backwards?  And do it with all possible grace and flair?

But then I came home, and yesterday, after school, when I was completely wiped out, hands and feet hurting so much, my son approached me about making a costume for homecoming week.  He wanted to go buy things somewhere, and all I wanted to do was lie on the sofa to try to recharge.  And what did I tell him?  “No.  I can’t take you out.  I am too tired.  Why don’t you look in the closet and in the shed in the yard for something you can use?”  And he did.  And we spent the next hour talking about what he wanted to make and how he was going to make it.  We’d discuss a step, he’d go do the work while I snoozed a bit more, then he’d come back and we’d move on to the next step.  We accomplished what he wanted, and I was able to do what I needed to do to take care of myself.  Amazing!

I also have the worlds best husband, who was initially a bit freaked out by what my saying “No” might mean.  After a little bit of discussion, he realized it just means that he might have to take on a few more responsibilities, become less of the fun time dad.  And he’s totally up to that.

My job now is to make sure that I’m taking care of myself, too.