I’m not really in a competition with my mother (because, let’s face it, she’d always win), but dang, sometimes it feels like it.
I visited her today at the UCSF Medical Center, where yesterday she had her surgery to remove the mass from her kidney. Not even 24 hours after the surgery – closer to 12 hours, actually – she was up and walking around. When I arrived, she was sitting in her chair, with a lovely view of downtown SF, eating a lunch of solid foods. The pain management team came in to talk to her about her epidural and weaning her from that, but don’t worry, we’ll have oxycodone for you. And my mom looked at them and said, “I’m not really into that. Can I just have some tylenol?”
Ok, so 15 hours after my surgery, I hadn’t gotten out of bed. I had only had some warm broth. And I was seriously attached to my pain medicine button. SERIOUSLY.
So, as with so many parts of my life, I can only dream of equalling my mom, and instead, just settle for admiring her and trying to do my best. Parenting, marriage, community involvement, kidney cancer.
The kidney twins
But none of that matters, because my mom is doing well, and her cancer has been taken out of her body.
OK, everyone take a deep breath. Hooray! School has started!
This summer was not terrible. This summer was not great. It just was. There was a lot of learning how to care for the kids while caring for myself. Lots of reflection, therapy, getting through the first wave of dealing with having cancer, accepting death (while doing what I can to keep it at arm’s length!)
And now the kids are in school and my days can once again be about me – what a luxury.
I want to set some goals for the semester to try to keep myself moving in positive directions.
- Keep on hiking and walking – at least 3 times a week, but more would be just fine.
- Sketch/paint/other art daily
- Write at least 3-4 times a week, with at least 2 blog posts each week.
- Start cooking again – at least one meal a week from scratch. (And by scratch, I mean that it is OK to open up cans or boxes. I just need to start planning my own meals again.)
- Daily smoothies, or most days.
- Meditate/Guided Imagery – daily?
Dang. When am I going to have time for my trash TV?
Also, as I write this, my mother is at the UCSF Medical Center, where she is undergoing surgery for her renal cell carcinoma. They aren’t taking her whole kidney (since she only has one – born that way), but will remove the mass, which I think is a slightly more complicated surgery than I had. So, please, keep her in your thoughts for both of us.
There are times when I feel as if I could hike forever. A good trail with rolling hills, sun light burning down on me in the meadows and gently filtering in through the leaves in the forests. Earbuds playing my favorite tunes. I can walk and dance and sing all day. Especially when I want to avoid everything else.
Yesterday my mom was diagnosed with kidney cancer. It’s the same as I have – renal cell carcinoma. They haven’t staged it yet, but since it hasn’t spread, it is less severe, more easily treated than mine. Perhaps curable, unlike mine.
I feel so helpless. I can’t help her. I can’t help me. I barely have the ability to cope with my diagnosis. How can I support my mom in hers? Who will I cling to like I’ve clung to her? Will we cling to each other, hoping for the best?
I sit on the stone bridge where I’ve stopped for a rest and to write. To help clear the thoughts banging around in my brain. A cool breeze blows through, making the eucalyptus trees creak and the redwoods sway.
I tell myself I can’t go down the road of what ifs, even though I already have. What if it isn’t as simple as her doctors make it seem? What if? I can’t even go further down that path.
So I put the earbuds back in, pick myself up off that stone bridge, and start walking. Down a real path that is lined with trees and wildflowers. That will give me a little more time to escape from reality. Where I can sing and dance and hope nobody sees me trying to push these thoughts away.