Friday, October 17, 2008


Thursday was a long day, and although I'm pretty good at keeping things on an even keel, it was hard to do Thursday. Mary came to be with me. We picked up the keys to the new house. I tried to explain how 'jangly' I felt inside. I couldn't even have my beloved morning cup, because I felt so jangly that I did not want the extra 'buzz'. Mary assured me that she was quite impressed with me. "Debby," she said, "the day that I was supposed to get my biopsy results I was a wreck. I burst into tears every time someone spoke to me. I just wanted to be alone. It was awful!" That made me feel a little better. In the three weeks since I found my lump, I have found myself trying very hard to put this in a Godly (for non-believers, I guess you'd say 'wise') perspective. I was helping my children deal with the news, and after long discussions, really, they all bore up beautifully. I have to say, I did a good job with my kids. At church, I was telling the wide eyed teenagers in my Sunday school class that this was a chance to watch God work, close up. In church, everyone gathered around to comfort, and I thanked them all and tried my best to encourage my encouragers. I dealt with new and scary things, and there were lots of tests. But I was brave, and I was funny, and I chatted pleasantly with everyone. There was one person that I had trouble with during this whole thing and it was, unfortunately, my husband. He tried very hard to assure me that I had nothing to worry about. This was because if it were decided that I had something to worry about, well...he would be required to do something about it. You know...comfort me...say comforting things. This is not his bag. We've talked about it through out the three weeks, and he has tried hard to be better. It is not that he does not love me, and love me dearly, at that, but he is not a man to show emotion. It is how he was raised. Right now, however, I've needed him, and I stressed to him over and over, that very thing. But it's been pretty much business as usual for Tim these last three weeks.
We got to the surgeon's office just before my appointment at 4. The waiting room was crowded. There was a two year old boy there, who did a lot of screaming. Two year olds scream, by nature, but this one had very young parents. He wanted a pink 'hi-lighter' pen he had been coloring with, until he started coloring off the paper, and onto the furniture. When he began to get hot pink scribbles on his parents' clothing, the pen was taken away. Carson wanted it back. He began to scream. His mother said, firmly, holding the pen before her face so that he could see it, "No. You won't color on the paper. Mommy's taking it away. I'm putting it back in my purse." Only she didn't. She sat there holding it in the air while he screamed in frustration. She smiled broadly at this display of firm parenting. To my credit I did not snap, "Two year olds have the attention span of broccoli. Put the damned pen where he can't see it and he will forget about it, you stupid thing." (That right there should be proof of my noble nature, by george.) But we got through it (and no blood was shed), and finally we were the last ones in the waiting room. Tim held my hand a little, but really neither of us had much to say. I'm sure that he was nervous as well. We had another wait, in the little exam room, which was freezing, and finally, it was our turn. He gave us the news, which was good. I mean, I've got cancer. We knew that, but if you've got to have cancer, mine's a decent one to have. He answered questions, and seemed surprised at my relief. I said, "Well it's been a long day." And my husband, in his relief, spoke up and said, "She's overdramatic." I looked at him, and friends, I was pissed. I was pissed with a white hot rage. Very carefully, I replied, "I am NOT overdramatic Tim, but I was worried, and I had every right to be." The doctor, sensing trouble, tried to smooth it over. He really could have been a marriage counsellor I suppose. He put it to Tim like so: "Say, for instance, that you come to see me and I rip off one of your testicles, and I tell you that, maybe, I might be back for the other one....would this concern you?" And Tim, knowing he had stepped in it big time, allowed that it would. The doctor then said, "So what do you have to say to her?" And Tim apologized. The doctor said, "Things like this will either break a marriage or make it stronger. You have to decide," and he went back into discussing estrogen receptors, and progesterone receptors, and Her2 markers.
We left the office with our good news: My cancer was moderately aggressive, stage II, had begun to affect the lymph ducts, but had not made it to the lymph nodes, which is why he removed a lot, a lot of tissue. He explained that if anything felt funny at all, he took it out, which explained how it came to be that he took 17 lymph nodes instead of the 'couple' he planned to. I don't care, really, I just want the cancer gone. I sure as heck was not going to be weeping over missing lymph nodes. But all of the lymph nodes biopsied 'clear'. The PET/CT scan showed no cancer anywhere else. I had cancer. They think they got it all. I will have chemo. I will have radiation. I will have estrogen suppression therapy, and the good doctor thinks that I have a very good chance that this will not recur. All good news.
I was happy, but still, really, I was pretty mad at Tim, and on the way home, he got it. I was crying the passionate sobs of an overwrought, exhausted woman, and man, they did not stop. I told him that I was not overdramatic, but that he was an ass, and that he had embarrassed me, number one, and number two, it seemed like, just once in a while, he could tell me that I'd been doing a good job, or that I was being brave, or that he loved me, fucking anything, besides quietly going about his routine as usual. I ranted. I raved. He told me repeatedly that it was a stupid thing to say. He told me repeatedly that it was not even true, and he shouldn't have said it. He even said, "I'm sorry" a couple more times. I told him that really, really, really, this one had hurt my feelings big time, and that I needed to be alone for a while. I took myself upstairs, and I fell soundly asleep.
I had a dream that I couldn't sleep, so I got up and came downstairs. Cara came out, and we talked, and we curled up on the couch together, and dozed off. The dog padded over. Sleepily, I thought, "He's not allowed on the furniture," but I couldn't bring myself to stop him, and the three of us slept together in a comforting pile. Soon the room was full of people. Old people, young people, even children, and babies. A little girl was crying wandering around, so I knelt down, and she came to me. She had brown hair, and I cuddled her. Other children came, and I watched a small baby crawling my way, and I comforted children, while talking to the other people there. And it was pleasant. It was very comforting to visit with them all, a lapful of children. Tim wandered in and out, and it was nice to see him, but he did not stay. Strangely, I heard my mother's voice calling a couple times, but she was in another room, and she did not bother to come in. I didn't see any sense to trying to yell back. I knew she wouldn't hear me anyway. And then I woke up. I was in my own bed, and Tim slept next to me.
I know what that dream was. That was God. I realize that my lesson is 'it is in comforting that we are comforted'. I lay there in the dark thinking on these things in my heart. Before long, I realize that Tim is awake too. I tell him that I'm no longer angry at him, but I tell him also that the fate of our marriage rests in his hands. He says that he realizes this, that I have been strong, and honorable for a long time, and that it is time for him to step up to the plate. What does the future hold? I don't know. I know that my husband loves me dearly. I know that he is a man of his word. I know that he believes in God, and believes that our marriage is by God's plan. I wait. Like I said, there are lessons for all of us here, and when it is all said and done, I don't think any of us will be the same.


Bush Babe (of Granite Glen) said...

Testosterone has a lot to answer for. Men are made so that they feel they must FIX things. If there is a problem, they must RESPOND to FIX it. And when they CANNOT, they FREEZE.

Sounds to me like Tim was as nervous as hell and words the words he WISHED were true (coz otherwise it might have been just too scary) spewed out in the pressure release of that moment.

I believe marriage is not just God's plan, but planned and guided by the two who participate in it. It comes down to them. Hold on. Find support where you can (that includes friends near and far). It will come in many forms, including that offered by your man. In his own funny, testosterone-driven way.


Bob said...

Debby, this is good news. I have been praying for you this week and have not checked your blog in a few days.

As for Tim, well, bless his heart, sometimes we of the male species can screw it up big time (you might remember I asked my wife at a very inopportune time once, "What's for dinner?").

My dad went through this with my mom and sometimes I wanted to ring his neck (she did too). But she and I learned through the process how very much he loved her and over the duration of it all he learned and grew (even in his 70s) and eventually said very kind and thoughtful things and loved her so well.

Still pulling for you. And praying those prayers. And thanking you for sharing with all of us.

Mary, sister of Cynthia said...

Debby, my gosh, you are an insightful woman, a strong woman, a faithful woman and a REALLY good writer!! I am so impressed with you and the frankness and ease with which you tell a very poignant story. Thank you for opening up your heart and life to us. You may never know whose lives are touched and forever changed for the better by your willingness to relate these events, which at one time, are laced with pain and supreme faith. God bless you, Tim and your family. I don't toss this compliment around - You are an amazing and talented woman.

M+B said...

Big hugs. I hope Tim steps up to the plate rather than playing the ostrich (head in the sand and all) hoping it all just goes away so he doesn't have to deal. Take Care

Redlefty said...

As a male, I can translate Tim's testosterony language:

"She's overdrammatic."


"She's been stressed, crying and fearful because she thinks she still might have cancer. But that can't be true. Because I love her. And I need her. We're meant to be together... I'm her rock. So you see, she can't have cancer. She can't. And since she doesn't have cancer, then there's no reason to be dramatic at all."

Scotty said...

I'd bet that as soon as those words left his lips, he knew. I cringed more than a little just for reading it. Too often we guys have to learn our emotional lessons the hard way; speaking from my own experiences though, we generally become all the better for it.

Debby said...

Redlefty: Thanks for the interpretation. You could have saved Tim from an extraordinary butt chewing yesterday, had you only been there. (except for the stomach flu stuff...ew.)

Everyone else: Thanks. Tim is a good egg, and a hard worker, and chock full of testosterone, which tends to make men strange and incomprehensible creatures. :^D

We have had a good marriage all these years. I have been a strong and good wife, and I will have my due. He'll come around, I imagine. Uncharted water for both of us.

Lavinia said...

My God, I just can't imagine what you are going through and dealing with. We're all relieved along with you at the promising prognosis. Hang in there Debby, you are being put through the wringer and so is everything and everyone else in your orbit....I just hope the spin cycle is set to 'delicate' most of the time!

Blicky Kitty said...

Oh Debby, your post is so amazing and wise. As I read I felt so sad that someone as generous and giving has to struggle with something so difficult. I'm home with my toddler this morning so we held hands and said a prayer for you and for your husband to find the strength to help you.

Your dream was amazing and you obviously get such joy from helping people. It might take getting used to as you ask others for help.

In case you need a laugh my husband asked me to make him a sandwich while I was in labor. :) When I was seriously ill after my second child he just went to work and I had to arrange for my own care. It feels strange to feel loved and to admire the good man you married and still feel that white hot rage. I just know in my heart that the love is all there but the genders just can't always convey it to each other.

I'll meet you in the ladies room over at Muse Swings so we can have a cathartic dish about men. :) Laurel/Blicky

steviewren said...

Debby, men just are so far behind us women in the empathy/understanding department. I'd like to say Tim can't help it...but he can learn.

Time to go back to school Tim. Your Debby needs you to put your best self forward. Time to take care of her.

Stuart Peel said...

My but you write damn well.

Sometimes my brain puts something in my mouth that I didn't approve, and before I know it, it's been said, and by me ! I've had moments like that, when the words coming out seem like little alien beings that I'm meeting for the first time. But then you try to cover for them, even though they aren't really yours.

I guess he was just bloody scared.

Portia said...

Your dream sounds like you walked into Blogland. Did we all look good? Anyone with an Australian accent?

Love that doctor using the words rip off and your testicles in one sentence. Tim's probably still thinking about that one.

Debby said...

Should point out that the doctor thought that I should have gotten over it just a wee bit quicker. I still had a piece of my mind to donate to my significant other. It is interesting how we look to the outside. He felt that Tim's reticence was due to my self reliant nature. I explained that my self reliant nature was finely hone against Tim's undemonstrative nature. We're a pair, neither perfect, both learning.

Alison said...

At the risk of being completely, utterly mindless and saying something incredibly meaningless and inappropriate...
I think Tim should start a blog.
If for no other reason than we can all show him what 'overdramatic' really looks like.
Love to you Deb :)

jeanie said...

Oh Deb! Oh Tim! Oh Doctor! Oh God!

Lots of hugs all around.

Hal Johnson said...

Me thinks that in the aftermath of that comment, Tim did feel as if one of his nutty friends had been ripped off.

Michael offered a great translation. Yep, if only he'd been there. I think a lot of us need a male translating genie to pop up at those unfortunate times.

Debby said...

Al - Tim believes that you read to learn stuff. He does not see the need to read for pleasure. His brothers are the same way. His brother once said, "I have to pull out my driver's license to make sure I'm spelling my name right. These are very smart people, all of 'em, but an entirely different smart than most of the world knows. Tim can do anything and carefully reads up on it first. He once rebuilt a transmission with a book in his hand. Tims do not blog. Tims seldom read their wife's blog or column. Once Tim came out of Sunday school and grabbed me and hissed "What did you write about? Everyone is laughing." Now I'm polite. I recognize that he doesn't read it, and if there is anything that will set his Sunday School class to tittering, I try to give him a heads-up, which is why, one day, I was calling out the front door, "Tim! Tim!" He stops car, rolls down window. "Hey, FYI, I wrote about my underwear." Slight hesitation. Window rolled up. Car continued out driveway.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Debby - As a bloke and emotionally stunted dwarf (it's genetic - it really is) I apologise for my gender. We can be insensitive, unthinking and just pain stupid. But we do care. We really do. We're just shite at articulating that. As, indeed, I am now.

Great news. I knew you'd beat it. You scare the crap out of me so Mr C had no chance. Virtual hugs from England. xx

Debby said...

Stevyn, I hope that you mean that I scare the crap out of you in a figurative way...wanna come to supper tonight? We're having squirrel. Tim and Mike went hunting this morning. We've got plenty.

PaintedPromise said...

you just send Tim right over here and i will give him a good swift kick for you ;)

and then a big hug. really, redlefty is right. i've had to work through translations of my own hubby often enough now to recognize that... even though i was pretty mad at your Tim for a few minutes lol

i remember when i lost my Justice... Randy had the nerve to say "look on the bright side - now you have no more sheaths to clean". i could have cheerfully strangled him right then and there. i mean really!

(in case translation is needed, Justice was my colt - boy horse - and cleaning a sheath, well, a sheath is where they house their privates so, ya know... yeah. and if it would bring my Justice back to me i would cheerfully clean a thousand of them... oh well)

that book, Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus? well, i KNOW men are from Mars lol...

and praise God for the diagnosis!!!