Saturday, August 15, 2009

Falling Apart

Tim and I were talking last night in bed. I felt badly about falling apart, about reaching the point where the only thing I could do is walk into the Cancer Center and say, "Okay. I'm having some trouble here, and I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do." Tim cleared his throat. "I'm glad that you did," he said. "I've been worried about this pain all week, and I'd made up my mind to spend the weekend trying to talk you into going to the Cancer Center before the end of the month."

I knew that these were challenging times for all of us, but I don't think that I realized how this was impacting the family until I saw Cara's tearful face, until I saw the slightly frantic look on Tim's face as he leapt out of the car at the Cancer Center. (Since it was spur of the moment, he had no clue why I was there and assumed something had gotten way worse.) Tims rarely get frantic, so this was new to me.

The oncologist is good, and she did not make me a feel foolish. I explained what was going on. She offered other ideas of what could be going on besides localized advanced breast cancer. It was reassuring. She looked at me much like I had looked at Cara, I imagine. She said, just as I had said, 'Listen, I can't tell you that you don't have cancer again. I can't tell you that you have nothing to be worried about. But I can tell you, right this very minute, that there is nothing here that is setting off alarms for me.'

Yesterday was an awful day for me. Yesterday, although I did not crumble and fall apart in a weeping heap of sobbing, I fell apart completely. This was a surprise to me, but I found, once again, that there is a good safety net, people who care, to catch me when I fall. People prayed, for me, for Cara. A doctor spent time to talk. The staff reassured and told me that they were glad I was there. My husband said, for the first time, how proud he was to watch me move through this as a woman of faith and courage. He said, for the first time, how horrified he was to know there was a second lump. He was very afraid, and drew strength from my calm.

Things are back on a more even keel today. The situation has not changed at all, but peace is again coming from a very deep place inside. It is what it is. I resolve once again to stop being this little 'self contained unit'. I will throw myself into my little community of people who love me, and people who care, and I will draw my strength from them when I cannot find it in myself. I will allow myself to be blessed, and I will thank God.

And can any person out there tell me why, after everything, my biggest fear is of looking foolish and over-reactive?


Redlefty said...

From previous stories it sounds like your biggest fear (looking foolish and over-reactive) is exactly what your family has often accused you of. So it's basically been planted firmly into your psychology that this is the worst possible thing.

The antitode may be immersion therapy, basically giving you tons of opportunities to be foolish and over-reactive until you just don't care anymore!

Today I'm trying to convince Jamie that I have a fear of watching Tiger Woods play golf. My only choice will be to immerse myself in the TV coverage over the next two days...

Lydia said...


I am so glad that you are reaching out to those around you. I have learned that there are a few people in life that you can be absolutely transparent with, and they need to be there when you are in the midst of such adversity, as you would be there for them.

As far as looking foolish -- I'm the same way. I have a belief that I should be able to do everything myself. No help. Self contained. Asking for help seems like it opens up a chink in my armour. I really understand that fear of asking.

It is wise to ask of those who are experts in all of this. Good for you. My continued prayers are with you.

Debby said...

Redlefty: Good luck with that. Jamie strikes me as a woman that didn't just fall off the turnip truck yesterday, as they say here.

Lydia, thanks. It always makes me feel better to find that I'm not walking alone in 'idiosyncrasy land'.

steviewren said...

If it makes you feel any better, I took my first classes in college (at the age of 43) with a buddy. Not because I was afraid of failing, but because I was afraid of not being able to find my way around and looking foolish.

I'm glad you went to the doctor. At least now you and your family feels like you've done what you can until the end of the month. It sounds as though you all have aired your worst fears. I'm sure this helps each of you to not feel alone in your worry. My prayers with you each in this unwanted journey.

Bob said...

Isn't this marriage thing great?

Debby said...

This marriage thing is great, Bob. This whole last year has been like a giant "Marriage Encounter" seminar. Every good thing in my life has only been made better by cancer. Strange to say, isn't it? I wouldn't have chosen it for the world, but how I have been blessed during this time.

WhiteStone said...

We all, at some time or another, fear looking foolish and over-reactive. But remember, especially in regards to your cancer, you have a profound right to be reactive and nobody can tell you that you are being OVER-reactive. I use a different word than reactive...I like calling it "being your own advocate". Nobody knows your body (and its attendant twinges and changes) than you. Therefore Nobody can advocate for you as well as You Yourself. Do not feel you must apologize for being a self-advocate. Speak up. Ask questions. Request whatever considerations you think you need in order to deal with the current happenings in your body. If you have difficulty doing this, write down a list of your questions ahead of time, discuss them with the doc, then check them off as you get answers. And if anybody gives you flack, just refer them to me! (that last said with a silly grin)

Amy said...

i dont know you. i read your blog. but i think of you often.

Nana Trish is Living the Dream said...

I'm so glad you went to check on things. I'm so glad you are reaching out. You haven't been down this road before and not knowing exactly how to act seems very reasonable to me. I will continue praying that you will get a special peace of mind about all that is going on.

Caroline said...

I am glad you got checked out. Sometimes we simply need the reassurance so that our fears do not get the best of us.

Bush Babe said...

YOur calm is really important to you. That's understandable, when you have gathered such strength through your life's challenges, the kind of strength most of us can only dream of. But I think sometimes its OK to NOT be calm, maybe even essential to let your guard down...

I agree with Redlefty... lifelong habits are VERY hard to break. I'm proud of you for seeking help (with *ahem* a little prompting from the sidelines). Please don't worry about how you 'appear'. I would be a blubbering mess in the same situation. And I hope I would allow myself to lean heavy on the reassurance that your experts and family are trying to give you.

Hal Johnson said...

I agree with Redlefty too, and I think your role as the Mom That Everything Seems to Revolve Around just reinforces your fear of appearing foolish and over-reactive.

I think it's entirely understandable why you've reacted the way you have. I'm glad you went to the Cancer Center.

As for me, I often think my better half wishes I had MORE of a fear of appearing foolish. Ahem.

jeanie said...

Yay - finally I can comment!!

I am so glad you went to the Centre and got some feedback. That is what they are there for.

Hugs to you - I don't think finding help when you are in a morass of doubt is falling apart, it is being smart.

Pam said...

I'm going to add to the chorus of Those in agreement with Red Lefty.

Frankly, Debbie Dearest, I just don't know how you do it.

One of the hardest precepts I need to follow is "Let go and let God!" I'm getting better, but I'm not really there yet.

I'm a bad one for trying to take on the world on my own then falling flat when I find out I can't.

Daria said...

Debby, this is a tough journey by anyone's standards. It be crazy if one thought they could sail through all.

Sometimes we need support.

quid said...

I'm gonna agree with Hal. I should have MORE of a fear of appearing foolish. :)

Not to appear foolish... I'm glad you're you. I'm glad you're not calm all the time. I'm glad you went and confronted the beast.

Hug yourself for me.


PaintedPromise said...

i've got to agree with BB... i'd be a blubbering mess in this situation! your strength astounds me!!!!! your ability to share what you are going through, and your humor and honesty, just slay me! gotta go find a tissue or two or three before i drown my keyboard {sigh}

damn this economy! if things weren't so bad, i could get me a plane ticket and come hug you myself!!!!!