Thursday, May 24, 2007

Feeling Sad

Today's feeling is sadness, just general sadness about my current state and the things I've lost over this last year. Today is the one year anniversary of my diagnosis for gallbladder cancer, and I'm remembering my innocence going into the surgery that revealed the cancer. The doctors explained to me the many things that could be causing my bile duct to be blocked, but I never attached to cancer, or tumors, and I never saw that as my path. That left me feeling even more blindsided by the diagnosis, and by what the surgeon found when he opened me up.

I went into surgery around 2:00 p.m., and it was expected to last a few hours. When I woke up in the recovery room, the lights were dim,, it was mostly shut down, and I could see by the clock on the wall that it was almost 11:00. The recovery room nurse was cranky with me, and refused to answer my questions. I knew something had gone terribly wrong because the surgery lasted so long. All she was allowed to tell me was that the surgery was successful and they had relieved the blockage, and the surgeon would talk to me in the morning. Apparently everyone thought I'd be knocked out all night from the anesthesia. Instead, I spent the night awake a lot of the time, moving in and out of dozing, feeling incredibly anxious, and deducing that whatever they had discovered, it was really bad. I don't remember my exact thoughts, but I know that I couldn't wait to talk with Patty and find out what she knew. I knew that the doctor would have talked with her after the surgery, although it turned out they talked by phone because she had headed home when the surgery took so long. I had my cell phone in my room, but decided not to call her until morning.

At 6:00 a.m., I called and Nathaniel, the early bird in our house, answered. He got Patty on the phone, and I told her she HAD to tell me what the doctor had said. "He wants to talk with both of us in your room this morning," she said. "I've been awake all night speculating on the worst. Nothing you can tell me can be worse than that," I responded. And so she told me that I had cancer, either of the bile duct or gallbladder (the doctors wouldn't know which until the pathology report was back). I was stunned, but still knew that it was better to know than to not know.

That night was my "dark night of the soul," when I had to face my worst fears and realize they were undoubtedly true. After my speculation, alone in my hospital bed, knowing was better, but the news was still incredibly painful.

So today is one year past that dark, painful, unexpected day. I feel sad, remembering. I am amazed on many levels that I'm still alive to write this, and to remember, and I'm sad that I'm so sick at this point that I'm not able to enjoy life with any sort of normal energy. Outside my house, it is the most beautiful time of the year, with all of the spring bulbs and early perennials I've planted over the years producing their colorful blooms; red tulips, pink and white bleeding heart, my yellow water iris in the water garden, purple columbine, white ground phlox, many colors and textures. I am grateful to see them appear with so little effort on my part this spring, and I'm painfully aware that this will be my last spring of soaking in their beauty. And I am sad.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Lynne, the news you received a year ago is, indeed, the saddest, most stunning news a person can hear. It makes one feel alone and so scared even if the love of their life is there at their side when they hear it. Your shock was worse because when you went into surgery you expected a straight forward "bad" gall bladder that was removed report. I knew going into the first surgery that I had cancer; but went in thinking that when I awoke they would have removed it. As you know I awoke to the news that they couldn't get it.
The fear and disappointment was almost unbearable.

I am so sorry that your outcome has not been good. Your sadness is shared by all of us who care about you and love you. We all wish we could take it from you...find a cure....or something.

Thank you for being able to share your feelings and thoughts with us at this awful time. Please know that prayers are constantly being sent up for you to have more energy, more strength, and lots more time to experience both.

Sondra

Mary Anne said...

Hi Lynne,
I am the wife of a fellow cc patient, Joe Coburn, and your words really express your true feelings.It is good you can express them and get them out but I know this is a difficult journey for you. My husband so far is having an easier time and he has been diagnosed for 10 months. I pray for all cc people everyday that God will fill their spirits and let them enjoy the life they have but know that there is a much better place waiting for them. I am glad you can enjoy your spring flowers. Those are very important to Joe also and he never thought he would get to see them this spring. Our prayers are with you on your journey and we are sorry to hear the chemo didn't work.Take good care and God bless Mary Anne

Anonymous said...

I remember the night well. On one hand it seems like yesterday and on the other, a million years ago. Sondra and I were baby-sitting the Rug rats. They didn’t want to go to bed until Patty came home. After she arrived, we all watched TV together until she finally tucked them in. We stayed a while longer, knowing deep inside that the length of the operation was not a good sign and not wanting to leave in case Patty wanted to talk or needed something. She assured us that she was as good as she could be and didn’t mind waiting for the doctor’s call alone. We hadn’t been home long when she called to say she had spoken with the doctor. It was as though someone had kicked me in the stomach. It brought a flood of memories from 1977 and how my mother went in for a simple gallbladder operation. Later we would learn just how bad it really was.

You have been remarkable in how you have handled yourself and your situation this past year. I have to believe that there is a reason for all of this but the overwhelming sadness makes it hard to discern. For many reasons and on many levels, I have taken your cancer personally. Although we are friendly, we have never been “close budds” yet the sense of loss that I feel fills every fiber of my being. I hate what this cancer does. It makes you feel so frustrated and helpless. I have and do pray for you constantly. I so want a miracle, that bottom of the 9th grand slam.

Jan

Anonymous said...

Dear Lynne,

My heart goes out to you and Patty and the little ones. If life were fair, you would at least be feeling well enough to enjoy this glorious spring and the time you have with your dear ones. So, no, it's not fair. It just is what it is.

Reading your thoughts about feeling angry and feeling sad made me think about em-body-ment. I think, therefore I am. I feel, therefore I am. It strikes me, too, that there are two "I"'s: the embodied "I" and the spirit "I." The embodied "I" gives us the opportunity to feel, to think, to sense all that is wonderful and awful and everything in between: sour, bitter, sweet; the warmth of a fire; orgasms; gut-wrenching sobs; whoops of joy. The spirit "I" guides us while we're embodied, and returns us to some cosmic oneness once our bodies give out.

I feel so glad that you've made it to a year post-surgery, post-diagnosis. I feel so sad, with you, that this will be your last spring. Nature has given us an uncommonly glorious spring. I think it's put on an extra special show for you.

much love,
Julie

Anonymous said...

Lynne,
It doesn't seem like a whole year ago.....yet...it seems like a lifetime, doesn't it?
As with any uprooting, heart-wrenching,life-altering news...it takes a little to get your head around what it will mean for you and your loved ones. Thank God we've had this time to talk, to laugh to cry and to try to figure it out..( as if we can, right?).
I remember my mother's bittersweet year or so after getting her heart breaking news that her chemo was not working anymore...she seemed to be looking around at the world and thinking about it being her "final hurrah" as she used to put it....I hated that part of the journey. It was as though all hope had gone.
I would rather keep hoping for another Spring...keep your eye on the prize...or maybe....rather...keep hoping for another day!!
I do!
And I don't know what's going on inside of me!~Only God knows that.
I still go to bed with my prayers for my loved ones...and for me...hoping for the strength to cope with whatever comes my way...the grace to learn from it and teach with grace whatever the lesson is I need to share.
You doing that with such grace and eloquence!
Yea, I know....it sucks....wouldn't we much rather be dancing on the beach...wind blowing through our hair and not a care in our hearts..?..
...I think that is what eternity is for...the rest we need when the long, tiring, heart-wrenching journey is done.
Our footsteps our beside yours, Lynne ...and when you are dancing on the shore...and we are still looking ahead at our path...I know you will be with us and help us when our feet get heavy and weary. Your words will be our comfort and our prayers will lift you and hold you tight.
Lovingly,
Cori

Nora said...

I have just stumbled on your blog today here and I empathize with your sadness.

The comments that others have left here on this post you have made speak so loudly to me and so eloquently, I am just speechless.

I too have cancer albeit another form - I just wanted you all to know that you have touched my heart today and I am sending out vibes of strength, hope and love to all.

Thank you for sharing of yourself here.

Anonymous said...

Lynne,

I am feeling the sadness too. This is my second attempt to write; as I am fighting back the tears. Although we don't go back as far as some; but you have impacted our lives. We were welcomed into the church, and became instantly apart of the family there.

Our continous prayers, our continous love for you, Patty and Lucy and Nathaniel.

We love you,

Stacey and Tanya

Sandy said...

slipping
spilling
falling
like tiny grains of sand in a timer


and I feel so sad

so I busy myself with tasks and distractions


then I don’t think
then I don’t ache
then my cheeks are dry

Anonymous said...

Lynne.....I have been at such a loss for words, seemingly, the right words, to comfort you in this sadness. I realize, though, that in your beautiful openness, it is YOU who have comforted me during this phase of your journey this past year.....Sondra said it well when she said that all of us are so saddened too.....You, Patty and the kids are all on my mind and in my heart, constantly. I pray for you to have peace, sweet and gentle peace, Friend, Jamie

Anonymous said...

lynee- i'm sad, too, very sad- you have been such a dear friend, and it seems wrong that it is going to be temporary- it really sucks !!!! (sorry, swearing on the post again- i only do it when i have such strong feelings)- part of me(that eternally optimistic part) thought maybe you could beat the thing- against all odds- and you did beat it, in many ways- you never let it get you down long enough to lose your faith, your grace, or your spiritual self- you grew spiritually throughout this cancer journey- and you are still so amazing and elegant- it was very special to see you tonight, and i hope to see you again soon- your presence is such a gift- i pray for you to have more days to enjoy, and for us to have more days to enjoy you !!!!!
love, alice

Anonymous said...

Lynne, my wife has a related, but somewhat different, disease, cholangiocarcinoma (intrahepatic bile duct cancer). We were directed to an extremely aggressive medical oncologist, as well as equally agressive radiation oncologists and surgeons. She's still with us, and her diagnosis date was just a day or two ago -- six years so far. At the moment, she has some metastases in her foot (of all places) that the radiation oncologist thinks he can treat, and she's on chemo.

I highly recommend her oncologist, Dr. Howard Bruckner, now at Cabrini Medical Center in NY City. He's had more success with cholangio than just about anyone else in the world; I suspect he's equally good with gall bladder cancer. (We regularly run into pancreatic cancer patients in his waiting room who are 5 years out, so it's not just cholangio.) He's very used to working with patients at a distance.

If you need contact info or anything else, please don't hesitate to contact me -- rmt at umcs.maine.edu.