A welcome turn

Stepped into the same ER as we did 5 months ago. Got brought back just as quickly as before when the triage nurse saw his level of pain. Had the same ER doctor come in to the room. And as she stepped in she stopped. I’ve treated you before, haven’t I? He looked and said yes, that she was the one who found his cancer. She asked prognosis, current symptoms, and immediately put in orders for pain meds and a CT. I saw the same concern on her face as the last time when she ordered pain meds and a CT. Last time for his colon where she found multiple large masses, this time for his head where he was having the severe pain. It was all so similar, and so frightening.

I vividly remember 5 months ago, sitting in the chair next to hubby’s ER bed while they hook up his IV. Waiting in that chair while they take him for scans. And finally seeing the doctor return with results, closing the door I didn’t know the room had before closing the curtain usually used as a door and turning to us to explain what she found. That time led to a week at the hospital, a cancer diagnosis, explanation of stage 4, massive surgery, and a rollercoaster of pain and emotion that we still face.

Today I sat in that chair next to hubby’s ER bed while they hooked up his IV. Waited in that chair while the took him for scans. And then sat there anxiously staring at the door you wouldn’t know is there unless you’ve seen them use it. Desperately wishing it to remain open. I couldn’t handle going down this road again so soon. Even if I could handle it, I don’t know if he can. His mind is breaking.

Last time we sat through unspoken fear of colon cancer, this time the unspoken fear of it spreading to the brain. The doctor came back but the door remained open. Scans are clean, labs look great (considering). But she still admitted him. She wants another doctor to take a look, and beyond that just to give his body a rest. She is promising pain meds, anti nausea meds, and anti anxiety meds. And as the first batch went in his IV I slowly saw him sink into a gentle sleep. He is calm and resting, his pain managed, and when last I left his room he was keeping down what he has decided is the most delicious cranberry juice. The first thing he’s kept down in days.

It’s likely that the symptoms are just from the chemo, but it hit so hard and wasn’t letting up that we needed to get him in. What has me most concerned is the occasional moments of confusion or lapses in memory. It’s not normal for him, and started before these other symptoms. So they’re looking into it. I’m relieved that the brain scans are clean, and that he will be able to rest pain free even if just for tonight. This trip to the hospital had a much better turn out then last time. But I feel it will continue to loom over us every time we have these ups and downs. But right now I will sleep easy knowing he is safe. And tomorrow I will hopefully be able to take him home.

Depression and Cancer

I never liked to hear that depression is like a cancer of the mind. I am a mental health advocate and a firm believer that mental illness is in fact an illness, not just moods. I never corrected someone for comparing depression to cancer as I know how hard it is to describe to those who haven’t had it. But I simply did not understand the link. Cancer is cancer, depression is depression, right? Well today I got it. I suddenly understood the link.

Hubby is fighting stage 4 cancer right now. He went to the doctor this morning who said “you don’t seem yourself today, are you feeling alright?” He said no, and tried to explain but couldn’t quite put it into words. They did see that he was dehydrated so got him hooked up to some fluids. They tried to talk and help while he was at the office. But eventually he needed to go home.

Worried about why the doctor kept him late I came home early from work and found him half asleep in bed. I asked how he felt. He said he didn’t feel well, but wasn’t sure why. He described his day. That the fluids didn’t really help him feel better but it’s good he got them. That he kind of just doesn’t want to move. I asked “is it kind of like the exhaustion and aches that come from the flu but without the actual flu?” Kind of, that sounds a little similar. “Does it overwhelm your body but dull your mind?” Yeah. And I just want to sleep. I don’t want to keep getting up and facing these things. I just want to lay here. I don’t feel good. “Honey, that’s depression.”

As the husband of someone with Borderline he has heard me say so many times “I physically feel my emotions.” But I don’t think that really registered until today, when I put a name to his ache. I explained that it becomes overwhelming and takes over. That he needs to start going to therapy and get back on an antidepressant. He wasn’t quite convinced, though I could tell he was listening. So I went on.

Depression starts in the brain, your mind feels it and starts spreading it. What started as some chemicals in one part of your body is spreading to other parts and making them sick. If not treated it will not just go away. It will spread through you and overwhelm your body just as your tumors are. And that’s when it hit me. Depression is like cancer.

Depression starts in one place. It begins mild but is often ignored which allows it to grow. Untreated it will continue to grow and spread until it overwhelms your body and drastically decreases your quality of life. My husband had mild symptoms of cancer that were ignored. Untreated the cancer cells continued to grow and spread until it was discovered that he had tumors covering his colon, liver, and lungs. The cancer overwhelmed his body and drastically decreased his quality of life. But cancer kills, depression doesn’t, right? Wrong. If he doesn’t get treatment and this depression continues to grow it is possible it can take his life before the cancer has a chance to. And that scares me more than anything.

I get it now. I get the comparison. I likely still won’t use this comparison, but not because I don’t get it. As someone who has faced severe depression and not understood the comparison, I can only imagine how hard it would be for someone who has never faced depression to comprehend the link here. So I’ll stick with other variations to try to explain what depression is, and what it does. But today I gained new insight, and better understood others in the way they describe things. And for that I am glad. I’m happy to better understand them and the intelligence and logic behind their explanation. And I’m glad to have enough insight to help hubby get the treatment he needs for mind and body.

Sometimes you’re paranoid for a reason

Just over a year ago I posted this. A description of my fears into the void in hopes of easing my own mind. My husbands blood work came back with some abnormalities. He was doing monthly blood work at the time to keep an eye on his response to a new diabetic medication, so to have abnormalities show up suddenly within a month was concerning to say the least. His GP referred him to a hematologist, whom we quickly discovered was actually an Oncologist. Fears grew. He was also scheduled for some additional tests and scans. I continued to “accidentally” find my way to WebMD through google searches, and continued to find he had symptoms of a few serious illnesses including colon cancer. I kept reminding myself that if we diagnosed purely through WebMD we’d all be diagnosed with cancer. So I pushed back my fear.

Day of the appointment came, tests results from the few they did were available, and the Hematologist/Oncologist showed no concern. “It’s just Anemia, the other abnormalities are from the lack of iron. Sometimes this pops up suddenly, don’t be worried we just need to get you on iron supplements.” He went on iron and followed up exactly on schedule. No change. “Your body just doesn’t absorb it well. We’ll put you on a higher dosage.” The next follow up appointment showed the iron in his blood went down. “Don’t worry, we’ll get you in for an iron infusion. It’ll take care of it and you’ll feel much better.”

So hubby walks into the office the day of the infusion and they explain that it’ll cost $5000. He asks what kind of payment plans we can do and they say none. The amount must be paid in full before any treatment is done. He continues to try to work with them as we don’t have the money and the doctor had said he needed this. “Sorry, but we don’t do these infusions until paid in full. We’ll go ahead and cancel the appointment and reschedule for when you are ready.” The doctors office continued to call for a while to explain he needed to go in for the infusion. Once he did they would schedule his follow up with the Hematologist. He stopped responding to the calls after a while as they still wouldn’t do a payment plan. He continued to work with his GP, continued to do blood work, always was honest when describing health and symptoms. The GP never seemed any more concerned than the Hematologist/Oncologist, so we trusted them.

April of this year his GP bumped up his iron supplements again as he still wasn’t absorbing it and a week later the occasional stomach pains he’d had for so long grew more severe. After a year of unspoken fear and trusting the doctors instead of my instincts I finally got him to agree to go to the ER. He had been unable to move for 3 days because of the pain of what he assumed was iron poisoning from the increase. The admitting nurse said “well, that could be it, but they’ll run some tests I’m sure to determine the cause.” She looked concerned. The ER doctor listened to his symptoms and asked questions finally asking “And your doctor hasn’t looked into this further?” She got him in for a CT scan. The scans showed dark spots on his colon. She said he would be admitted for further testing, but until they get the results from a biopsy there is still room to think positive. She too looked concerned.

Within 5 minutes of getting to his hospital room he had a gastroenterologist, hospital GP, and his previously seen hematologist/Oncologist standing in the room. They all looked concerned. As the first two spoke on what tests they would do and then left to go schedule them the Oncologist stayed and said “this is why you were supposed to do the iron infusion. So you wouldn’t end up in the hospital.”

Five days, two biopsies, three iron infusions, two blood infusions, and one major surgery later we had answers. Colon cancer, stage 4. A year ago I feared his symptoms were colon cancer or similar, but I choose to trust the doctors instead of speaking my fears. He now has no chance of remission from one of the most treatable cancers because it took too long to diagnose. It is so easy to beat myself up for not pushing for more tests, but that takes energy away from a family that needs me. It is even easier to be furious with the doctor, but he doesn’t care so why bother. Instead I focus on treatment, on hope that doesn’t exist, on taking care of my two young children while my husband lies in bed suffering the symptoms of cancer, surgery, and chemo.

But I learned from my paranoia mistake. The Oncologist wasn’t answering our questions, and was ignoring other symptoms. I didn’t ignore my instincts this time, I changed doctors. The new oncologist had the same reaction as the ER doctor. “He didn’t look into these new symptoms? He didn’t run more tests after your diagnosis? He started chemo that soon?” Turns out the original Oncologist did not preform standard scans to find a baseline which would show the effectiveness of chemo, he started chemo two weeks sooner than he should have after surgery, and he ignored pain that showed possible signs of spread to the bones and spots showing possible signs of spread to the lungs. He also omitted information on a more cost effective way to do chemo that has the same results.

Hubby got all the scans done with the new Oncologist and he has tumors covering his liver and lungs, but fortunately none in his bones. He now has a baseline and while they can’t switch chemo types yet they will with his next round to save him both time and money. He now has a pain specialist, a new GP, and a psychologist who all partner with his new oncologist. He now has the treatment he needs. Too late because of my ignoring my instincts, but hopefully soon enough to elongate his life.

WebMD won’t always be right. It’s usually not cancer. But it is better to ask and push for tests. Be sure to rule it out before assuming the doctor is always right. Trust your instincts even if they turn out wrong. I learned a hard lesson and my husband will now pay the price for that. Beating myself up steals energy from my family but secretly I may never forgive myself. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

I’m back… kind of

Sorry for my sudden disappearance. Life went a little crazy all of a sudden. And by “a little crazy” I mean we moved, I started a new job, and my husband was diagnosed with cancer all within the span of a week. I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to focus and keep things moving. So I plan to get back to posting on a semi regular basis, but things will be a bit slow.

I’m wife enough for him

So hubby and I got to chatting about communes, cause that is apparently our version of causal Saturday morning chitchat 🤷‍♀️ And he said we couldn’t live in one cause it will lead to a suicide pact or an FBI raid. I explained we didn’t need to go THAT far with our commune and tried to bribe him with the prospect of multiple wives. He looked horrified! I’d like to think it was because he couldn’t imagine loving any wife as much as me but let’s face facts here, I’m just too damn high-maintenance for him to imagine having multiple of me to deal with. Sometimes being high-maintenance is a good thing, it means I’m more than enough wife for my husband 💏

Gotta be honest… looks like a sock to me

Knitting knitting knitting “ah crap”. That is basically the story of this damn sock.

So in case you’re not following, I am knitting socks right now. Knitting is a coping tool for when my brain monster is taking control, so I’ve been doing it a lot lately. I decided to try a sock again, I’ve never successfully finished one but I was feeling hopeful. Upon finishing the ribbing I noticed a mistake in one of the rows. Looks wonky but not overly noticeable so I kept going. Then I finished everything before the heel, success! Furthest I’ve ever made it! Oh wait, my repeat pattern has a mistake a few rows back. I’m really bad at ripping back and picking up stitches so I’ll let it go.

I finished the heel flap yesterday, so proud of myself! And it was done without mistakes! Yay! Started the heel turn. Got to row 9 before I realized I’d done the whole fucking heel turn wrong.

I burst into tears. Hubby was wondering what was wrong. I held up the sock and said it was all screwed up and I should just give up. He said it looked fine and asked what was wrong with it. I pointed to the mistake in the ribbing, the one in the ankle, and then to the heel turn which would fit only if my heel slanted to the left.

Hubby looked at the sock thoughtfully, examined each part I had pointed to, then calmly looked at me and said “I gotta be honest with you. It looks like a sock to me.” 😐

So I went to bed and am trying again today. I had to rip out the heel turn, but couldn’t successfully pick up the stitches in the heel flap, so had to rip back all the way to the last row before starting the heel. Now to start the damn heel again.

Round 1 goes to sock, but Round 2 shall be mine!

Failed them again

It was supposed to be family movie night. I would come home from work, we’d snuggle on the couch, drink some hot cocoa, and watch Cars 3. But I got to work and all plans left my mind. While I focused on the mountains of paperwork and hours of analysis and data entry, my husband went to the Thanksgiving event at the kids school. While I struggled to help my team balance work and make realistic goals to avoid unnecessary stress, my husband helped the kids with their homework, encouraging them as they continue to learn. And as the work day came to a close, I stayed. Forgetting movie night, I sat at work to try to get stuff done. I felt so far behind and wanted a chance to catch up. Until an hour before bedtime when my husband called and asked “aren’t you coming home?” “Yeah, just finishing up a couple more items.” “What about the movie? The kids have been watching for you to come home so we can start.”

I failed my family. I prioritized wrong and missed a chance to snuggle my kids. I got home and they were so sad because it was too late to watch the movie. I apologized, they wandered off to play a little before bed but still with these sad faces. A couple minutes later I heard giggles. Went to see what cheered them up so fast. They were playing with Daddy. My husband to the rescue, again.

I love that they are so close to their Daddy, and that my husband is always there for them. But I feel like such a failure as a mother. Tonight I felt that terribly. I still do. How can my work become so important that I lose sight of spending time with the kids? Will I ever have a chance to prove I can be there for them? Or will Daddy always be the one they need?

“YOU’RE almost done”

After 3 weeks of go go go craziness, my husband told me I needed to take a day to do nothing. He asked me to cancel my plans for Saturday and just rest. I exclaimed that I can’t do that, that my current reoccurring Saturday activity should be done every Saturday. “Besides, it’s almost done” I stated in an effort to prove my point. He turned to me and said “YOU’RE almost done.” And he’s right. I’m stretched too thin and continuously telling myself it’s okay cause each of these things are just for the season, it’s almost done. My “it’s temporary” thought process may help me fight my depression, but I can really screw with my focus when applied to all of the things I want to accomplish.

So with his words in my head, I cancelled my Saturday plans. This morning I thought it was silly, I felt fine. Around 1pm I realized I hadn’t eaten all day, hmmm maybe the stress has been effecting me if I don’t have my normal appetite. After a light lunch I fell asleep. When I woke up 6 hours later my husband simply turned to me and said “see, I knew you were gonna crash. Feel better?” And yes, yes I do. I’m still enjoying some lazy time right now, and have no idea how this will effect my sleep tonight. But for now I will appreciate the day of rest, the sudden appetite upon waking up, and the fact that my Hubby will always take care of me.

Late night coffee


Finally back on all my meds, though my momentary dark phase hit before running out for a few days so the meds are certainly not an instant fix. However they put the mask back on so I can get through my days. I haven’t been posting much as I am mentally exhausted to the point of physically exhausted and have been all week. 

The exhaustion is making my dreams come through weird again and giving me zero control over them, so I am now waking up just as exhausted as when I went to bed. So tonight I drank coffee, a lot of coffee, and am staying up as late as possible. Not healthy, I know. I can hear my therapist in my head “you need to be getting sleep. It is important.” I know. But sometimes, well often times, sleep is worse than wake. I can’t control my mind during sleep. I don’t have my rubber bands to remind me to not be judgmental. I don’t have my husband to comfort me or make me laugh, usually in my dreams he is away for some reason, my mind leaves me to fend for myself. I don’t have control over my actions which is why I smoke in my dreams though I never have in real life, I drink more in my dreams, I fall silent in my dreams nearly forgetting how to speak. These are only the things I can put into words while awake because they are “normal”. My mind goes far worse, but I can’t open up on that because my mind should not be capable of that type of… scenarios I guess is the only way to put it. My mind needs my control so the monster doesn’t appear. During sleep I loose that control. 

I don’t have a normal weekend coffee date in me. For that I am sorry. But I take comfort in the idea that you may be out there. That I’m not alone in my self imposed insomnia. And tomorrow I shall start new.

If we were having coffee…

If we were having coffee we’d be sitting on my couch, enjoying basic coffee with a touch of almond milk and watching the birds outside (my son and I added bird seed to the birdhouse yesterday. The cat is having a blast). Oh, but don’t sit right there, scooch a little to the right. I already spilled coffee on the part of the couch this morning. Sorry.

If we were having coffee I’d show you the kids room. Usually it would be a huge mess but I made the boys clean it really well yesterday so I could redecorate. They hit a point last year where they officially grew out of the interests that caused the original room decor, and gained whole new ones. So for the last year, as I silently cried over the toddlers I will never again have, I also quietly collected new posters and wall art for the interests of the amazing and unique personalities they have become. I spent yesterday afternoon making the switch. They love their new decorations and I loved making that happen. As heartbreaking as it is to remove the old, the new fills the heart back up and makes it totally worth it.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you about how great therapy is going right now. I had my appointment Thursday, walked in with a great deal of frustration, walked out with peace and greater mindfulness. I also found the courage to share some blog posts with my therapist and she loved them. I didn’t really expect great feedback other than I seem more stable than I did with the journals I shared with her before starting the blog. But she really was impressed. In fact she has begun sharing my post on misconceptions with others (keeping me anonymous of course).

My husband had his first therapy appointment on Friday. I took him to my therapist’s partner. Not because she is her partner, but because when I met her it was right after they moved into their new office and I told her the fake birds were hung wrong and it was going to kill them. But also that the lights in this office where better than the last cause the light bulbs in the previous office were uneven and it freaked me out. She kindly smiled, fixed the birds, and asked if there was anything else she should have fixed as the handyman was coming the following day. I love her, she totally deals with my crazy even without knowing me. So Friday I took my husband there and proceeded to sit on the floor and color once he went back to her office. She walked out at the end of his session and said “oh, your wife isn’t back yet?” at which point my husband said “she’s right there, on the floor”. And then she proceeded to talk to me like a normal person. Have I mentioned that I love her? 

If we were having coffee, we’d sit and enjoy the quiet of the morning. It is peaceful here right now. I don’t know where this peace is coming from as my home is essentially the same as always. But right now, for some reason, I feel calm in a way I haven’t in a long time. If you still feel stress please take some of my peace and rest in it. I’ll keep pushing it into the atmosphere for you so you don’t have to use any strength to find it. Just rest.

Namaste