Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Farewell to 2013

Dear 2013,

The TV is droning in the background with a "year in review" program.  How in the world did "selfie" make it into the dictionary this year?  Who decides that?!?  I guess we should be glad the word isn't "twerk."  Blech. I am finishing this year in the same way that I have spent much of the month of December:  in bed, propped up on pillows, waiting for the next round of medication.

I am also waiting for the clock to wind down the minutes until you are gone.  You've been unkind, 2013.  There's no other way to say it.  I will not shed tears at the stroke of midnight.

The Year of our Lord Two Thousand Thirteen has taken me on a wild goose chase as I continue to pursue care for the Monster.  I went from Texas to New York to Oklahoma, only to be sent back to Texas empty-handed.  Monster has grown, uninhibited, while doctors literally across the country seem to shrug their shoulders and wish me the best before passing me along to the next stop.

I am discouraged.  I am tired.  I am uncertain.

2013, you have sucked the fire out of me.  All of the bravado I can muster has fallen short when stacked up against you.  

Things that I have held on to for security or comfort have also been taken from me this year.  Important things, like my AbbyDog.  There's no question that it was time, but I would be lying if I said that I haven't missed her during this ongoing time of convaslescence.

Husband just got notice that when the ball drops tonight and 2013 expires, so does his job.  It's all about budgets and contracts and he's not the only one, but in no way does that calm my fear.  

My very identity--how I define myself, how I find my self-value--has been undermined this year.  For the first time ever, I have serious doubts about my mothering abilities as I spend more time being "sick" and less time being "Mom."  Of course, the "right" answer here is that my value is found in Christ, not as a mother or a wife or through any level of activity or accomplishment.   But the enemy of self-doubt is hard at work, and I feel it so strongly in my soul!

My natural inclination is to hide.  It's actually been easy to do this month as the wretch of radiation has almost dictated hibernation.  This way, I can nurse my wounds--and my fear--in peace.  The warrior in me is beat down.  You've busted her up, 2013.  I hope you're proud of yourself.

Before I go, though, I want you to know one thing:  You don't win.  You've tried hard, no question.  But tonight, while the clock ticks down, I have the sense to count my blessings.  Forefront among them:  I was there to welcome my nephew into the world this year.  I honestly did not think I would live long enough to hold that precious baby, and there is no way the joy that is knowing Truett can be stolen from me.  

There are others, of course.  My own 3 sons are healthy and growing well.  I am part of something much bigger than just me:  a family that loves and cares for one another in unbelievable ways, ways that so many other people just don't have.  I get to be Auntie to darling pieces of my own heart.  I have amazing friends who are committed to walk this path with me.  I am part of a dynamic church that supports, loves, and helps us.

So, 2013, take that.  I am tired of you.  I will not stay up tonight to even give you the satisfaction of  a proper send-off.  I'm so done with you.  Here's to a happier, healthier, all-around better 2014.

"Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, indeed He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.' "  Isaiah 35:3-4

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Digging Out

Six Days.

Six Days.


Six days is how long it has been since we have had any kind of normal (cough, cough) in our household.  Six days ago, Old Man Winter caught DFW in his sights, and life as we know it came to a complete standstill. Here's what I've learned in the last almost-week:

Ice is pretty when it blankets your world and you can snuggle up by the fire with nowhere to go.
Ice is fun when school is cancelled for the first day.
Ice ceases to be pretty or fun when school keeps closing and cabin fever sets in.
If you live in a continual state of winter, 3 pairs of flannel pajamas is not enough.
A major ice storm is in Texas what a major heat wave is in New York.
You can only toss so many coats, jeans, gloves, scarves, hats, and socks in the dryer at one time.
Little boys do not freeze or tire easily.
You should clear the ice not only from your windshield, but also from the roof of your vehicle before you drive.

Our children's children will be regaling their children with stories of The Great Ice Storm of 2013.  How we didn't see our youngest for more than 24 hours because he went to a friend's house and stayed...and stayed...and stayed.  Or how we got what seemed to be the last loaf of bread in the city before store shelves were completely emptied by crazy frantic citizens...or how the freighbor girls, who hail from Michigan, shared their real live sled and showed our Texas boys a thing or two.

Finally--FINALLY!--this morning, everyone went back to work and school.  I love my family, but all of this quality time (and wet shoes tracking in leaves and mud) has pushed all of us a little closer than we want to be.  There is still plenty of ice around.  We live on the north/sunny side of our street and there are still several inches on our back patio!  Across the street, where there are more shadows than sun, dangerous icicles (seriously!) still hang from the rooftops and the sheet of white in the yards remains largely the same. Every night, what little bit has melted refreezes on the driveways and sidewalks.  Because it's still cold.  Yesterday we reached a whopping 37 degrees...heat wave!!!!  

Now, you might be wondering how a Texas girl passes the time when she is iced in.  Good question.  I'll tell you:  She warms up with a bit of radiation.  Oh, yes.  While the rest of the world is snuggled up drinking hot coca and playing board games, I (and my darling I'll-do-anything-for-you friend, Rachel), drove into Dallas to the hospital for radiation treatments.

Here's the deal on radiation:  I've never done it before.  I've never done it before because radiation is not a typical treatment for ovca patients.  In my case, the cancer has been too widespread to risk radiation in lieu of more traditional treatments.  Now, though, I've exhausted traditional.  We are all done with standard.  The choices are 1) Non-traditional, or 2) Nothing.  So, I am allowing myself to be radiated.  In exchange for making the trip to the hospital every. single. day., (You heard me.  Monday through Friday, for three weeks.  I get off on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.) allowing strangers to use me for their own personal sketchbooks ("x" marks the spot!), and risking a slew of side effects (they were said to be no big deal.  Liars.), I might get some relief from the harsh, relentless symptoms of fast-growing Monster.  Did I make a deal with the devil?  Perhaps.  It has not been an easy go.  Of course, everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong.  Topping the list:  nausea, extreme fatigue, and fever-like chills and shivers.  Rounding out my bottom-of-the-barrel, my radiation oncologist had a medical emergency of his own and will be out for the remainder of the month.

Reeeaaalllyyy?!?  I only need him this month.

This morning I woke up feeling super-nauseous.  I have plenty of meds to meet all sorts of needs, but today not even prescription-strength anti-nausea was making dents.  I went ahead and went to radiation anyway, because I thought I could not feel much yuckier.

Bad call.  I found out I could feel worse, and I found it out while I was getting sick in a McDonald's parking lot close to Highway 75, with my deserves-better-than-me freighbor patting my back and looking on helplessly.  (I switched drivers yesterday.  Lucky Rachel.)

Damn cancer.

I hate this wretched disease.  If you piled all of my "dislikes" together--cold feet, wet blue jeans, empty toilet paper rolls, children with no manners, alarm clocks--it still could not amount to the level of hatred I have for cancer.

Susan graciously delivered me into my own driveway, although hers is about 10 feet away.  I managed to wiggle back in to my pjs and when Little Middle and Baby got off the bus, they found me on the couch in exactly the same position I was in when they went to school this morning.

I've had a few words to say to God about this new treatment, and they haven't all been nice.  Actually, hardly any of them have been nice!  I am so over it.

When I started writing this post this morning from my position on the sofa, I occasionally glanced up to look at this:

It's not a perfect tree, but it's ours.  There is something really peaceful about sitting by the Christmas tree, isn't there?  I yearn for that peace all the time.  It is a hard-fought battle every day.  "Let every heart prepare Him room....."  

Lord, please help me to make room for you.  Thank you for being my Friend and for being a safe place for me to go.  Please give me joy, especially in this season.  I want to be soft and open to You and to Your spirit.  I believe that you can heal, both inside and out.  Please let this be a season of healing and miracles.  I want to be ready to receive my King:  You.  Thank you for loving me and for your promises that are always true.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Insomniac Blogging: Twelfth Edition

Good morning.   4:34 a.m.  Yawn.

--I have never cooked a turkey all by myself.  I consider that to be an adult fail.

--Strong opinion alert!!!  I am not a fan of folks who put that crazy Rudolph the Reindeer costume on their car during the holiday season.  First, costumes are for Halloween, not Christmas.  Second, your car is not a reindeer.  It's a car.  It's just silly.  All those rein-cars sitting in the parking lot do not inspire Christmas cheer--they just make us roll our eyes heaven-ward.  Strong opinion rant over.

--We put our tree up and did all the decorating on Sunday afternoon.  I was working hard to get the ribbon on the tree "just right!", when I heard it...the unmistakable "Away In A Manger" tune from the Little People Nativity.  You know the one--you push the angel down on top of the stable, and she sings.  My cowboys are 8, 9, and 11 years old, and they will not hear of passing on "their" nativity scene that they have painfully outgrown.  I guess it's not the biggest thing I have to worry about.

--When I woke up, my immediate thought was:  "I don't have anything to put in the boys' lunches!"  Then I remembered what day it is.  It's Waffle Wednesday!!! Phew. (Yes, that's a real thing, and they LOVE it.)

--Every meteorologist in DFW is going nutso right now promoting the upcoming "Winter Weather Event."  It's December.  It's supposed to get cold.  This happens every. single. year.  Settle down, troops.  Settle down.  

--All I want for Christmas is to see Saving Mr. Banks.  Sixteen more days.

--I worked a shift at the book fair at the boys' elementary school.  Maybe I'm just viewing it through jaded adult lenses, but the book fair isn't what it used to be.  I remember volunteer moms spending weeks ahead of time working on decorations, and hyping it up to us kids.  It was magical!  Now, Scholastic decides on a theme, and packages everything you need for a successful book fair:  Book Fair In A Box.  Twice a year like clockwork, the boxes arrive, the kids come, the parents spend, and then everything is boxed back up and the Scholastic truck picks it up.

--While I was working, two classes came in:  one 4th grade class and one Kindergarten class.  All of the kids are paired off as "book buddies."  The big kids were so sweet as they helped their little friends write their "wish lists".  I saw one big, tough-looking 4th grader gently put his hand on his buddy's back to guide him through the crowds.  That touched my heart.

--We did get our hands on the highly-coveted brand new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book.  Little Middle is super-excited!

--When I was a kid, we also did Santa's Secret Shop.  It was awesome because I, as an eight-year-old, could buy Christmas gifts for my entire family for $4.00.  I remember feeling pretty good about that, and I always bought something for my brother (that was the spirit of the season at work in my little heart).  Do schools still do that?

--I feel sorry for people who work for the USPS.  They must walk around feeling unsettled all the time.

--I hate days when I have so many things to take care of that I don't get to be at home for any period of time.  I mean, I like my life and I don't sign up to do anything that I don't really want to be a part of.  Some days, though, stack up quickly because I underestimate.  That's how I get mountains of laundry like what we have going on right now.  Luckily, the Winter Weather Event is coming!!!  Maybe it will be a good excuse to be homebound.

--We do not have an Elf on the Shelf.  Honestly, I think that little Elf is sort of creepy, and I don't want it watching me all the time.  So it's bad enough that my kids believe (probably correctly) that we are the only family without our own elf.  Honestly, you over-achieving moms out there:  there is ZERO reason for you to make me feel worse by allowing your elf to take a "bath" in a bowl full of marshmallows.  Or allowing the elf to pull the laundry from the drawers and toss it onto the floor.  Or let the elf build a roller coaster out of toothpicks on the dining room table.  For real--there' already so much pressure on parents to make the holidays picture perfect.  If you MUST have an elf in your home, please tell your children to keep it a secret from their friends.  That way I don't have to hear about how WE don't have an elf who made chocolate milk last night and fed it to our dog!  Thanks a lot.

--My favorite boots are falling apart, and I find myself for the first time ever needing a shoe hospital.

--I love, love, LOVE being an Auntie.

--Four words:  The Cowboy Rides Away.  What would I not give to see George on his farewell tour?!?

--I have a nearly-neurotic fear that if I leave the Christmas lights on the tree on when I leave the house, then they will start a fire and the house will burn down.  It's a little ridiculous--even to the point that I was halfway to Target and I turned around and went home to unplug the lights.  But if the house burns down, well...that would be a BIG thing to have on my conscious.

--(Walking in to church on Sunday...)
Me:  Doesn't our church look so pretty with all the Christmas decorations?
Baby:  There's too much mistletoe in here, if you ask me.

--All three of my little cowboys have asked for a puppy for Christmas.  And they each want a different breed.  We still have Gus the Terrible, and that's all the dog --and more--that this mama can handle.

--In other Christmas list news, Baby wants an elf.  Not a creepy Elf on the Shelf, or even an Oompa Loompa. He wants a real elf.  As in, one who is trained and certified by Santa himself.  I asked him what he would do with a real elf, and he said, "He would do stuff for me, bring me a drink when I'm thirsty, and build me toys to play with."