I am closing the books on another week, yet again feeling quite fine to see it saunter its way out. This week--oh, this week. This was the third week of the third round of the Topotecan chemotherapy cycle. All that really means is that the dreaded scan is drawing dangerously near. Next Monday, to be exact. February 25th. Yep, that's the big one. The day when one scan will supposedly give me answers to all of my biggest questions: Is the chemo working? Is the cancer growing? Am I dying? My anxiety grows with every passing hour.
That sounds dramatic, but it's really true. However, let's back up. I had the pleasure of my daddy accompanying me to chemo this week. While I would never use the word "fun" to describe such an adventure, I don't mind telling you that it made me giggle a few times to point out the staff (who I refer to as the "cast of characters") and to gauge his reactions to things that have become old hat to me. Especially when Q-Tip Tammy (an infusion nurse who resembles a human Q-Tip) raced by, cackling all the way. She's something.
But, as it always does, chemotherapy worked its dark magic and tossed me into the sea of sickness. I don't know why some weeks are more, well, blah than others, but this was one of those weeks. The nausea was definitely more intense. The temptation to cover my head and hide was stronger. We had a thunderstorm on Wednesday morning, and I was actually angry that it didn't last longer. How DARE God not let it rain 24 hours a day while I was feeling so....RAINY?!? And then the sun came out. The nerve!
I don't know if it is possible to describe what it feels like to be plunged--over and over again--into that sea. For several days after my treatment, I sleep. I lose most of my sense of time, depending on the alarm on my phone (which Goliath got hold of and changed to bark like a dog--how annoying is that?) to wake me up when the morning comes 'round so I can see my boys off to school. A quick shower and fresh pj's, and all of my energy is used up. That's it. I go back to bed, and depend on my mom to fill in for me.
That's why it sliced a little deeper when the school nurse called on Thursday with a sick Little Middle in her office. Yes, he had complained of a sore throat that morning, and yes, I had given him 2 Advil and sent him to school anyway. No Mom-Of-The-Year Award for me. Mom went to get him, took him to the pediatrician, and walked out with a positive strep diagnosis, prescriptions for antibiotics, and strict instructions for him to "stay away from your mommy because your germs can make her really, really sick."
They had no sooner made it back to the house than the school nurse called again, this time with Goliath in her office. He had fallen and hit his head on the playground, she said, and he was behaving strangely. If it was her child, she would want him to be close by and would probably get him checked out. "Strange behavior? He's 11. That's what this kid thrives on." Those were my thoughts, but I dutifully summoned my poor mother to make yet another run to the elementary school.
Turns out that "strange behavior" is dizziness, confusion, and affected speech among other things. In the last 48 hours Goliath has seen the doctor twice and done both a CT and MRI scan. Both scans came back normal. The symptoms persist, though, and while thankfully we can rule out serious brain injury, we face some unknowns.
At the pediatrician's office yesterday morning, Goliath was sitting on the table when Dr. B came in. Dr. B did Goliath's baby well checks for the first year of his life. While she was talking about outpatient MRI vs. hospital admitting, I could clearly see in my mind's eye my baby boy, totally loving me, needing me, wanting me to take care of him. That baby boy may have morphed into a giant over these years, but some things haven't changed.
In the middle of all these physical trials, with me constantly fighting the temptation to dive for shelter under my covers, there has been a sweet and welcome point of relief. Every single day this week, even if only for a few minutes, I have been reminded in a very real and tangible way that I am not walking this crazy and scary road alone. I knew it when I had a mini-meltdown with my Tuesday-turned-Monday sisters and they rallied behind me over enchiladas. I knew it when that rally cry extended to our men. I've known it nearly every day for the last 10 days when the World's Grouchiest Mailman pulled in and delivered a card from a sorority sister or classmate from HSU. The WGM doesn't know it, but his furrowed eyebrows only make it that much sweeter for me to pluck those cards from among the bills and junk mail. I knew it last night when we opened the door and there were three goody bags on our doorstep with cards that read "Get Well Goliath", "Get Well Little Middle" and "Stay Well Baby". I've known I am not alone every time my phone dings (or barks) with a text message that reminds me that someone is thinking of me and cares. I knew it when I got a for-real offer from a friend who really gets it to shave our heads together in a united effort to show the $%#&@ cancer who's in charge...and then go get a pedicure. I knew it when I received a "Sunshine Basket" from my friend Jaimie (filled with all things yellow), and a gift bag from Jana filled with things that, by her own admission, are "frivolous." I know it with each yellow prayer gram I receive from a church I've never attended, written by a person who knows me only as a name on a list. But that person believes on my behalf, and they go faithfully to pray. That is powerful, is it not?
The heartache remains. The dog is very old. Bills must be paid. The kids are sick. The cancer is there. Monday is coming. Decisions must be made. The fear can be paralyzing, if I let it. I can listen to the lies. Or I can swim. It's against the current. It's hard. And I will get tired. But I know that I am not in this alone. And in these few moments, that means everything.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. " 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4