A Man of Constant Sorrow

 

images-18

 

I am sorry I havent written in a few weeks…

Life events have a way of giving or changing perspective, enlightening or suppressing emotions, giving one pause or setting one free.  This last week has been a complete disaster for me personally, leaving me overwhelmed, under the weather, lethargic, sad, and generally abandoned of feeling. Leukemia brings with it storied highs and tremendous lows, leaving its target families trying their best to muddle along somewhere in the middle.

The Saturday before last I toddled off to work as a very happy Ms. Jacy was home safe and sound, with children and a host of good friends checking in on her throughout the day. By noon a leukemia sized storm was brewing as she slowly began spiking a fever while feeling  a tad ill.  Refusing to admit something wasnt quite right (the hard-headed Cuban in her) she scoffed at my inquires and thwarted my meddling from afar. Finally after several rebuffed suggestions this woman of mine caved into peer pressure brought forth from one equally stubborn, very close family friend.  Against her own better judgement she climbed into said friends car and headed for the hospital.

Not a minute to soon

Upon arriving in the ER, blood was drawn, counts determined to be low and her fever began spiking at 102 degrees.  Jacy also began feeling a heightened pain around her Powerport insertion site in combination with redness and some swelling.  She called to give me an update, and as I worried about her well-being Jacy promptly cut me short, telling me to stay at work, all would be fine as our friend was staying with her.  What she didn’t know, what we couldn’t know was this was the beginning of a 6 day hospital stay that would bring more pain, tears, depression, anger, nausea, and hatred.  All emotions geared towards a level of care, a lack of information and a medication induced headache that would rival even the most severe pain ever experienced in her life.

Ms. Jacy had developed an infection within her port, most dangerous considering it is a direct line to her heart.  This brought an uneasy rest, fear and for a moment a feeling as though this just can’t go on any longer. Her days were filled with delirium, nausea and a much-needed (at times) drug induced sleep.

In a 6 day period I laid awake almost every night, worrying about her. Whether the infection was worse, whether or not the nurses (not chemo nurses mind you) had the right medications at the right time, are they administering blood transfusions at the right rates and have they given her the appropriate pre-meds prior to delivering the product. What are her plasma counts and if they are being taken into consideration why are her platelet counts so low? Yep every question I could think of running through my brain at all hours of the day and night.  Throw in taking care of the children, making sure they weren’t scared or worried about mommy being in the hospital again, ensuring the littlest one Parker understands whats happening since it seems every time he goes to school and mommy promises she will be home when he returns, she is not. Throw in household chores and our ranch (including one escaped horse at 3 in the morning), it was indeed a long sleepless week.

Now as I have said before, I wasnt alone. My barn people came through as always, allowing me the freedom to only do a limited amount of chores, and the flexibility to leave at the drop of a hat. Close family friends were always on other end of the line, asking, pleading for anything they could do to help.  And last but not least the constant array of giving people who have helped with dinner for our family.  I am incredibly thankful for you all..

But my brain, that dirty little Dura-matter, neurological, master piece floating inside this thick head.  If only I could shut it off for more than an hour, it would be grand.  If only I could turn off the constant questioning, turn down the vast medical knowledge that spins so freely inside.  Tricking me, scaring me, giving me panic attacks in the middle of the night! If only..

To sleep an entire night without nightmares, or wake up sweaty and cold reaching, feeling, to find no one there only to remember she is housed on floor two, room 213, alone, crying, sleeping, covering her head with ice and wondering why this is happening to her. Wanting to hold her, make it all go away, pretend it’s never happened. Is that too much to ask?

I am usually very positive, bringing the uplifting thoughts and prayers, trying my best to understand the meaning in any moment or given time. But  lately it is getting harder and harder.  Watching her cry, feeling her sorrow, asking herself; why me? Feeling utterly helpless.  I am a fixer, it is in my nature.  If there is a problem I fix it, I don’t wish to sit around and ponder a problem, cry over the problem, I just want to fix it! I can’t fix this! I can’t take it away! I can’t make her feel better about herself! I can’t help her to understand how beautiful she is, both inside and out! Cancer is chipping away at her confidence. Her kiss is still the same, her smile is still the same, her eyes still light up my heart! Cancer can’t possibly take those truths away! But it is trying very hard mentally.

So I can’t fix it, a hard pill to swallow, and with that, my sorrow continues.  

I was raised to believe a good husband protects his wife, shields her from ugly, sadness and pain.  That as her partner it is my job to carry this load. My responsibility to take her hand and lead her through this journey, minimizing the painful effects, bearing that burden.  But what you don’t know, what you don’t understand until you are lying in bed with a million medical “what if’s” running through your head is Cancer don’t give a fuck how you were raised. Cancer doesn’t care what your ethics are, or the belief system by which they are supported. Cancer only cares about cancer, tearing down its host from the inside out, one cell at a time. Cancer teases its victim and family with good days then pummels them with bad.  In the end, you lay there, ice on your head, missing your loved ones, crying because you are alone, listening to machines beep and click, while nurses poke you, prod at you, and take your vitals every 15 minutes, yet you remain trapped in a room you cannot leave.  Oh you want to leave, the door is right there, but that I.V. octopus has its tentacles forced deep down within your veins, keeping you from moving any farther than the restroom. Humiliated in an open back robe, red sock slippers and mesh net hospital underwear.  In the end cancer not only feels like its killing you, but as though its killing your spouse as well.

I know, its tearing me apart on the inside. Many days there is a smile upon my face, but deep down, I am not there, my sorrow holds strong as I think about my wife either in the hospital or at home, dizzy, forgetting things, some days struggling just to walk down the stairs. Cancer is a rat bastard and I hate it! I hate what it represents, I hate the chemotherapy (yes I blame Cancer but in reality it is really the chemotherapy) killing my wife slowly from the inside out, I hate that it is quietly wreaking havoc on our children, reaching out with its bony finger of gloom,  forever changing our lives.

I hate feeling like a man of constant sorrow.

Unknown-4

 

Advertisements

DaRk PlAcEs and InSpIrAtIoN

Unknown-11

Darkness creeps upon you from nowhere some days; driving your car, sun shining upon your face, smiling at a favorite song on the radio then darkness comes, slowly creeping, covering your inner warmth, wiping a dumbstruck smile from your face.

Everyday since November 20 2013, the darkness has tried; everyday since that Wednesday morning as I cried, phone by my side, head hung low, horse under my arm wondering what was wrong, darkness has crept slowly across my cranial void. You can shake your head, scream out loud hoping to make it go away, but that’s the game it plays. Feeding off uncertainty, doubt, pity, and weakness of spirit.

Darkness is like mold, damaging, covering, smothering every living breathing moment of happiness that could only flourish under the warmth of love and certainty.

Everyday darkness has tried to take hold, and everyday I have repelled its advances. Darkness knows the roads I have traveled and it lays in wait for my weaknesses to surface. But what darkness doesn’t know is those weaknesses, those damaged feelings from a life lived hard are what keeps me from giving in to its cold, ugly shadow.

Darkness cannot have me, I will not let it ruin who I am, what I stand for, the ethics I live by or emotions worn brightly upon my sleeve. For you see what darkness wants is compliance and I have never been one to comply without a fight.

So everyday darkness has tried and everyday I have searched for inspiration.

Inspiration: Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.

Inspiration can be found everywhere, you must only be willing to look. I see inspiration in a flock of birds struggling against the wind, a bee trying its hardest to fly even though its legs ar burdened by twice its body weight in pollen.  I see inspiration in an elderly couple holding hands while slowly, carefully weighing every step as they move across a concrete landscape. Inspiration is all around, from a toddler learning to walk, to a quadriplegic basking under a mid days sun, smiling, eyes closed, at peace with the world during that very moment in time.

When life weighs heavy upon me, and darkness resides, it only takes a moment to chase it away. Closing my eyes, remembering the day I married my wife, our relationship forged together from unimaginable circumstances and a belief system that has only grown, expounded upon over the years. Seeing her smile when all seems lost, her eyes twinkling at the sight of me riding up to her on my horse, or meeting her at the bottom of the stairs for a much-needed date. Watching her beam with pride as another rescue dog is placed into a loving home or witnessing one of her children accomplish a goal that previously seemed unattainable.

Inspiration comes in all forms and it has become a quest for me. For as Cancer continues taking its toll, as cancer tries its hardest to smother the light, cool a souls warmth and darken the twinkle in her eye, some days it becomes harder for me to locate, quantify.

Watching, waiting, fighting, struggling, feeling as though you are in a pool with no sides, weighed down by cancers baggage, a nostril just barely above the waterline. Choking, gasping for air, pondering what would happen if you gave into the fight and let the waters depths have you. I think about how many spouses just like me are trapped, endlessly fighting the darkness and all it represents. From destroying our souls to allowing our brains to ponder an end we are fighting against. Where does their inspiration come from? How many are grappling with an inner evil, unable to recognize even the smallest tidbit of inspiration reigniting their souls?

My wife has inspired me everyday for almost 12 years to be a better man, to become a kinder human being, and to ignite passion in others.

So the darkness will never win! For what once was bright and easy shall brighten our house again! I will always retain a positive outlook on this chapter in our lives and hopefully show our children how to handle family struggles with strength, kindness, and the ability to stay positive by finding inspiration in all that surrounds them.

In the end we will walk out of the hospital hand in hand having traveled this road together, inspired by the other without a hint of dreaded darkness in sight.

Unknown-12

Nurse Betty….

20 things Nurse Betty will probably never hear from a Chemotherapy patient.

  1. Does this hospital gown make me look fat?
  2. Man I could eat a horse!
  3. Honey could you stop by the store to purchase me some conditioner?
  4. Now that was an awesome workout!!
  5. Zofran is for pussies!
  6. MMMMMMM-M hospital food again! Hell yeah!!!
  7. This hospital bed is great! I slept all night, like a rock!
  8. Go outside? Hell no I got all I need right here!
  9. Man I look great naked!
  10. I don’t like fresh fruit and vegetables anyways!
  11. Another line to put in nurse, the more the merrier!
  12. Whew! Cytarabine is such a rush!!!! Yah!
  13. I cannot wait for another bone marrow draw!
  14. Vomit-its what’s for dinner, and dessert and breakfast, and oh well you get the point..
  15. Will you please, take the needle out of my Power port and put it BACK in again? Please!
  16. I think you forgot to take my vitals.
  17. Can I please pee in the top hat at home! Please?
  18. I have no idea what my latest blood counts are?
  19. When I get outta here I’m going to Disneyland!!!!
  20. Man oh man I love that I haven’t pooped in three days!

If you have gone through, are going through or are in the midst of Chemotherapy then you know exactly what each and every one of those statements mean to you, personally.

My whole life I have always tried to find the humor in everything. I have too, it is my coping mechanism. I am the guy who can go a really, really long time being yelled at, put down, struggling under an emotional burden and laughter always gets me through, allowing me the opportunity to push my feelings down! Farther and farther, deeper and deeper, because hey, they are my feelings after all and expressing them is just a waste of time right?

So with laughter, nervous, caddy, giggling, straining laughter these feelings of helplessness and grief, struggle and heartache, get pushed farther and farther into a never-ending emotional caldron! hee, nervous hee, ha twitchy ha…..

Don’t worry, once its full down there, and it heats up a bit I’ll let it all out! I promise, scouts honor! I mean all it takes is a certain word or situation and them Whammy! My emotional toil will spill forth like Vesuvius blowing its lid, burning, maiming, damning all around me into an eternity of fear.

Scared you didn’t I?

Seriously, we are very blessed for this sense of humor we have retained throughout this whole event. I am calling it an event because in the grand scheme of things that is all this is-an event. We will look back upon it someday and laugh, probably cry a whole bunch too, but I am sticking with laughter!

My wandering point with all this drivel. (besides hopefully making you smile a bit) Wake up everyday and be thankful. Your troubles are not so big. Money comes and money goes, jobs are a source of income, not a source of heartache and pain. Your children should bring joy to your life, no matter how troublesome they may become. Love them, hold them and try to understand what they may be going through, then show them the right way to deal with life’s little inconsistencies.  Tell people you love, how you feel, tell people who inspire you, bring meaning to your life just what an important role they play in your personal growth and sanity.  Everyday is a gift for you to open, unwrap, be thankful for this gift and enjoy.  Remember it is never to late.

Even when Jacy and I don’t see eye to eye, even when my selfishness helps me to relocate a foot into my mouth. I love her. She is mine and I am hers.  No amount of stress related to this family centered catastrophe will change that! Is it fair? No. Do I accept it? Yes. I hate this disease for what it has done to her, not me, but her.  No person deserves to go through what she is enduring.

When she lies beside me (hospital or home) I don’t see Jacy the chemotherapy patient, I see Jacy, my wife, my partner, my love. When she places her head onto my shoulder and closes her eyes, there is no cancer, there is no gloom and doom, there is only us, our relationship, the warmth radiating from within our friendship, there is peace. All the reasons we married are pushed to the surface for us to embrace, hold in front of our faces, relishing, reminding us there is no mountain we cannot climb, no obstacle we cannot conquer, together. Staring at the ceiling, gently stroking the soft baldness that is her scalp, I am at ease, she is at ease and she sleeps. It’s not much, but its mine, all mine, our little moments together.

It is love….

 

 

 

 

The gift…

Life as of late is holding me down. A weight upon my chest, a hand-held defiantly to my face, paranoia, fear, sadness, exhaustion all playing upon my emotions. Some days are harder than others, most days tolerable, my fortitude is strong, a resolve steadfast, I awake each morning and start all over again.

My wife is worried that my plate is to full, she see’s it written across my face. The new lines forming upon my brow, a redness to my cheeks, a constant itch that travels across my head, face, chest, neck and shoulder when stress becomes intolerable.

Conversations change, today is a “good” day while 12 hours later, no conversation at all, left staring, wondering what I would do if she didn’t come out of the ER alive? Laughter becomes fun, dark humor is everywhere, trying, straining, yearning to pretend this is not happening. A ceiling is my new meditation portal, alone in bed, lying dead straight in the middle, wondering, worrying. Past times would find me reveling in a moment like this, now ashamed to be taking up a portion that is her place.

Why? Why does life go like this for some, yet flows so effortlessly for others? Never was I blessed with any one talent that allowed me the luxury of standing apart from a crowd. My entire life has been marginalized, left in the “average” column.  Average size, average intelligence, average GPA, average looking, average job performance, average minor successes.

Yet for some reason I feel as though God has blessed me with a gift. A gift others would most likely refuse, kick to the curb, drop and run away screaming. I am willing to admit, when bestowed upon me it was not an easy one to accept. But being a man of faith, I knew no matter how hard I fought, in the end it was mine. And so, it has come to pass that with this gift, I have earned a few extra lines upon my face, some unwanted grey hairs, an inability to sleep some nights along with an overall fear of what may lie around the very next corner.

This gift it seems also brought traits I never knew existed within me. Care, compassion, love, patience and understanding. Not just for myself, but for all forms of life. Imagine a gift so powerful it opens your eyes wider than ever before, it ignites your senses to an almost raw irritating state yet you are thankful for the feeling. Imagine being able to stand, while all crumbles around you, seeing an alternative, an answer, a future destination. Imagine knowing when the day is through, no matter what has been thrown emotionally towards you, deep inside you will awaken the next morning to do it all over again! That is what this gift has become and I wish I knew how to share, but I just can’t.

I carry the souls, the faces, the lives of all who have perished before me. Those souls have built me into a stronger man over the years, stronger than I ever was or could have been in my youth. From every response, medical aid, vehicle accident or fire that have gone badly awry; to the losses of those closest around me, ones that I love more than most could imagine. I carry those days, those moments, those instances of life disappearing before us in my head, in my heart, a scar upon my soul. Some moments come with pictures that can never be erased, tales that can never be told, slivers in time trapped for eternity within my dome. Family members never knowing, never seeing, never having to see the imminent demise of those so truly loved. No horrid pictures permanently scarring their psyche, no electrifying screams, no tantric goodbyes. Over 19 years I have done my very best to absorb, deflect, and care about those who have lost someone. Carrying that burden has been my privilege. God allowed me this wonderful gift.

And so now the gift hits home. What better human being to handle this very situation than myself.  I have been trained well, prepared for all contingencies through mentorship and experience.

Yes I am tired, yes my worrisome self is working overtime, standing on high alert, yes my heart stops, skips a beat every time she proclaims not feeling well or becomes clammy and pale.  But my gift churns onward, allowing me an ability to focus on the good things and recognize in the end all will be ok. Teaching me sometimes one needn’t seek all the answers, but instead too know deep down in their heart things will be fine.  My gift tells me there are those in much worse shape than we, and to be thankful for all we have before us. Constantly reminding me how precious life truly is and to awaken every morning with a smile, because you can.

So as my wife worries about me, as my friends ponder over my ability to handle this very situation, as our own parents fret over the unknown, do not worry, like a ball player riding the pine all season long, all I ask is this, put me in coach, give me a chance, this gift could possibly be the one thing I am actually good at! Becoming the Abbott to her Costello, Jerry Lewis to her Dean Martin, the Sigfried to her Roy, and then when my time comes, my moment here on earth is finished,  I will finally be a success and wont have lived an uncaring, callous, self-centered, marginalized, average life…

Now I think its time for some sleep.

Goodnight Jacy I love you and thank God for you everyday… Relax, all will be just fine..

 

 

Unknown-3

Nothing about cancer! Lets talk horse trading!

Jacy made me promise my next posting would not involve her, Leukemia, the kids, our family and everything we have been going through! Being a man of my word (amongst other irritating habits), here is what crossed my mind while reading through a few Craigslist classifieds this evening!

images-5

When purchasing a new horse many words are tossed about setting the “tone”or ‘describing” to the utmost accounting of accuracy every aspect of said for sale animal.  While many, many sellers are indeed honest people looking for a good home for ole Mr. Ed, one must remember a single persons description is another interpretation. With that being said I have taken it upon myself to help everyone with an honest breakdown of the most common terms or descriptions used to date in the horse sale arena.

 This horse is sound!

Meaning: You can hear the sound it makes as its hips, cannon bones and hocks all creak, crack and snap while walking on by.

 

Greenbroke: Yep every green (never before broken) bone you have in your body will now experience a new feeling of pain after buying this little gem. Hope your insurance is paid up!

 

For experienced riders only!Unknown-2

Meaning: No person with a brain in their head should even attempt to ride this horse! By stating this little excerpt the sellers feel they have exonerated themselves from any liability.

 

Ready for what ever discipline you desire!

Meaning: We tried to get this horse to do everything, it wants to do nothing therefore good luck! 

 

As you can see by the breeding this horse is worth twice what I am asking!

Meaning: Breed two MENSA card-carrying geniuses and the odds are still there for a Sponge Bob Square pants kid to arrive! Just because the parents are awesome doesn’t images-4mean the baby is too! This horse is the dumb-ass! It is worth exactly what you are asking..

 

Horse moves off the leg!

Meaning: with two spurs and a crop!

 

Trailers, ties, bathes with ease!

Meaning: Runs away from, pulls hard on the post and dances like a chicken on a hot roof! 

 

Dead broke: One foot in the grave! images-3

 

13-year-old with no papers!

Meaning: 18-year-old: prove it!

 

This horse is very intelligent!

Meaning: Must be because it has the owner fooled! images-2

 

This filly was born to cut cows!

Meaning: this filly was born to eat and poop, until it sees a cow for the first time it could just shiver and run away, the choice is yours.  

 

You will never find another horse like this one!

Meaning: Yes you will, its freaking Craigslist! Just look two ads down. 

 

She can sit in a pen for a month, then go out and win money!

Meaning: She is obviously the exception to the rule, because any other horse I have ever seen who has sat in a stall/pen for more than a week is a tad bit testy upon exiting! 

 

Drop dead gorgeous!

Meaning: most likely average looking?

 

Never kicked or bucked anyone off!

Meaning: no one has tried hard enough!

 

Stands still for the farrier!

Meaning: after several kicks to the gut. 

 

Comes with trailer!

Meaning: we can’t get this piece of crap out of here fast enough! 

 

Every one of these are straight out of Craigslist advertisements, so remember buyer beware. A horse is a one of a kind delight, make your new horse the very best experience it can be! 

 So there you have it! Nothing about cancer! Wait? By saying “nothing about cancer” am I really saying something about cancer? Darn it! I think I broke my promise!

Oh well….

 

images-8