Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Don't make promises you can't keep, but more importantly...never say never
Wow, in reference to the last post I made on this blog, ya know the one of "I'm gonna post again within the next 24hrs. I promise"...it seems that I think 24hrs is somewhere in the ballpark of approximately 42 days! Don't you wish you ran on my time schedule?? Just think of all the things you could accomplish!
All joking aside, my last post back in September really was meant to be followed up on with another post just a mere 24hrs later. True story. I had been working on a piece that unfortunately had taken almost 7hrs. It seems that once I was diagnosed with leukemia whatever bladder function I had remaining from pregnancies, surgeries and the mere cruel workings of that bitch mother nature had gone out the proverbial window leaving me with a need to pee every 5 seconds opposed to my normal once ever 20 minutes. Thus taking my writing time and quadrupling it! Add in nausea and my mother coming to check to see if I was breathing, awake, hungry or did I mention breathing and a normal session that I could have knocked out in an hour or two tops without so much as 1/2 dozen trips to the potty (usually with laptop in tow...it's not like I haven't done it before, example "Tales from the Crapper") had been turned into an arduous non multi-tasking catastrophe.
Being diagnosed with leukemia SUUUCKSSSSSS!!!! Being diagnosed with leukemia and NOT being able to write and express my frustrations with previously stated disease SUUUCKSSSSSS ASSSSSSSS!!!!
It seems that with the diagnosis of cancer my body lost the ability to do more than two things at once and seeing as the first thing on the "body's to do list daily" was fight the leukemia, I had to be real selective in choosing the second activity. I usually switched between eating and thinking but more times than not both of those options tired me profusely so I'd go to my third and more favored option which was sleep.
The promise that I made about writing again after that last post was broken when I angered my body and broke the "I'm dealing with leukemia rule" that was set unbeknown to the rest of me. Apparently my attempt to battle cancer, think and write all at the same time was enough to make it so my whole body revolted and it sent me right back to the hospital. I mean if you would've asked my doctors they'd say that I was admitted due to an extremely low white cell count that had thrown me into another bout of neutropenia, thus making me highly susceptible to illness and already battling a staph infection. But I know the real reason...cancer's a vindictive bastard that will flex it's muscle in whatever way it seems fit to make sure that you know that it and not you are in control.
Thankfully, I have learned a valuable lesson in the 42 days since that well intended but still broken promise and in the now 6 months exactly since my diagnosis. That lesson is to take back the power that cancer had slurped up and give it the very well deserved finger! Oh yeah. That's right....it's the big F-U to cancer!
I'm happy to announce that with technology, amazing doctors, nurses, the love of my family and my friends, the shear blessings of every God in this vast universe and last but certainly not least my broken #16 chromosome that was a factor in my getting AML but more importantly was a factor in my treatment and reason that I am as of this moment in the early phase of clinical remission!
God I never thought two such words that were not the names of my children, love of my life, cherished friends or my favorite type of ice cream could sound so magically wonderful! At this moment I am in a phase of contentment that I didn't think would be possible at 3:33 am back on April 27th. In that moment, alone in the emergency room, I pictured the worst case scenario.
I pictured the anguish on my loved ones faces. I allowed myself to imagine for an instant how my children and Jon would cope. I swallowed back that pain that would be the very real possibility of my parents having to mourn the passing of another daughter. I envisioned my sister living through the pain that I had once endured in losing a sibling that she had been too young at the time to comprehend. I thought of how my very best friend Allison, who I've known for close to 30 years and how we loved the movie "Beaches". All the sudden it seemed as though now I was to be the character that Barbara Hershey played when all these years I had planned to be the one Bette Midler had shined in and of course there was the fact that we had agreed neither of us would die because...well we were young, invincible and usually got our way.
I went through all of that in about 5 minutes. Then I took the deepest breath possible with the amount of pain I was having from my now very swollen and seemingly pissed off spleen and decided that if all these scenarios were to be my outcome then A) I wasn't going down without a fight and B) I would NEVER allow myself to go back to this mindset again.
I was EXTREMELY successful with the first one and that is something that I pray will not change because clinical remission or no clinical remission a chance of relapse for AML is around 60% within the first 1-5 years following treatment. The actual statistics don't go down to a more favorable number until about 8 years following treatment but even then it's around 40%. My chances of achieving a classification of "cured" are only about 25% but I'm still relishing in this albeit tiny victory in the mass scope of what I've gone through thus far and what I still have left to weather and achieve. I will continue to educate myself, follow doctors orders and lap up all the positive energy that is, thankfully, in a seemingly unending supply from those around me.
As for the "I would NEVER allow myself to go back to this mindset again" situation...well, ummmm...yeah...about that. To say that I've never gone back there would be a bald faced lie. To say that I will never go back there in the coming hours, days, months, years and so forth would more than likely be another lie. If I was to throw around numbers like the one's I'm up again with relapse and so forth, sadly I think they would be higher than that 60% in the first 1-5 years following treatment stuff.
Just as I've learned I've got a lot more fight in me than I thought was ever possible I've also learned that you should NEVER say NEVER. It seems to me that as soon as you utter those words that whether it be the workings of karma, the natural order of bad things, the result of foolish choices, the inability to harness the idiotic tendencies of the human race and many other things that I have not the time or expertise to write about...inevitably the NEVER gonna happen situation...well for lack of better terms...it happens.
If you are like me and require examples sometimes to see the bigger picture I will leave you with this explanation that I recently gave my 16 year old when the topic of a "my child would never" discussion took place regarding a mother's reaction to a perceived bullying incident involving her own child.
ME: So I heard that there was a confrontation regarding that situation at rehearsal the other day.
16YR OLD: Yeah. But the parent said that her child would never do anything like that.
ME: Well that's a sure fire indication that there has been, is currently or will be an issue in the near future.
16YR OLD: Huh? What do you mean? She said that her child wouldn't do that. So....I mean....why, would you say that?
ME: You know how you just now came home?
16YR OLD: Yep.
ME: Well now that you are sitting here in front of me I can say that at this exact moment I know that you are where you said you would be at the time that you said you would be and that you are not inflicting harm verbally upon anyone. Would you say that is correct?
16YR OLD: Yep.
ME: Up until the moment that you were sitting smack in front of me I couldn't say with 100% certainty that you weren't doing something that could be construed as harmful to yourself or others, something that myself or your dad didn't wouldn't approve of or agree to you doing, something that is illegal or immoral. Would you say that is correct?
16YR OLD: (Getting flustered) But I was at rehearsal. Are you saying you think I wasn't where I said I was supposed to be and doing what I said I was doing??
ME: Relax...I'm not accusing you of anything...yet. But I'm seriously thinking about it. Anyways...the point I was trying to make before you got me to worrying that maybe I should go back to randomly showing up to places you say that your going to be just to make sure your not lying to me is that if someone were to come to the door before you came home and told me you were slinging meth to pre-schoolers on the corner of Gause and Robert I couldn't say "well my child would NEVER" do that because CLEARLY she is too busy lying to me about being at theater rehearsal!
16YR OLD: (Big dramatic hand gesture and eyes rolling) Sure you could say I would NEVER do that...I don't even know how to make meth let alone sling it! (Gets up and walks away from table leaving me to shuffle after her in a painfully slow manner launching questions about her rehearsal in rapid fire succession)
Man I love that even in the face of cancer both myself and my family have not lost their sense of humor and I still have not lost my ability to be a complete and totally neurotic mother. Ahhh....good times.
I will admit that my humor has become a lot darker lately which can be both off putting to others and wildly entertaining to me. I've been told that it takes a strong person to stare a potentially fatal illness in the eye and say, "not today my enemy...your not taking my life today, but come back tomorrow and we will duel again". Six months of that has been exhausting. However, I will do it everyday for eternity if that is what it takes to ensure that it loses and myself and those that I love remain victorious.
Jon and I have had many conversations about the "what if's", "how longs", "can you believe", "did you ever", "who'd have thought", "this is insane" and my favorite "not on my watch" to fill many, many pages and it always seems to come down to one thing in our very scientific and logical way of picking this illness apart....I'm one stubborn son of a bitch. Plain and simple, I'm just not happy until I've won. By whatever means necessary. Until now this has not been a very admirable quality. Unfortunately for Jon he had to concede that I was right in order to claim the prize of keeping his wife alive. He swears that it was worth it. Ya'll might want to check back with him in say 15 years when the luster of being cancer free has worn off and he's had to listen to me exclaim how right I've been everyday for that entire time. In short, what some call strength I call pure unwillingness to allow the cancer to be victorious.
FYI, before you start writing the hate emails MY CHILD WOULD NEVER SLING METH TO PRE-SCHOOLERS ON THE CORNER OF GAUSE AND ROBERT....I mean seriously, she is WAY too busy duct taping her little sister to her bedroom wall and taunting her with licorice that she keeps just out of the reach of her mouth.