“I’d Rather Feel Joy and Pain”

THURSDAY
May 28 2015

Stayed up all night last night to write one page for work. I am feeling the effects of sleep deprivation pretty acutely. I am sleepy and jittery at the same time. My stomach has been feeling unsettled, but thankfully I had no leaks, volcanoes, or blowouts today. But I need to make sure I take better care of myself, to do whatever I can to make sure I’m around for my boys. I have to do it for my love for them and their love for me. 

Fatigue is overwhelming me like a slow, dirty storm. My brain is in a fog and I can’t really tell how I feel. One final week of radiation. I hope the last leg doesn’t hit me like a sucker punch. I should try to do more to help my body and immune system withstand the toxins. Nutrition, exercise, and rest. It’s not rocket science. What is, is figuring out how to generate enough motivation to do what I know is good for me. How to cross the enormous chasm between knowing and doing.

FRIDAY
May 29 2015

I look good today. Does that reflect how I feel? It certainly has an impact. I have some minor pain in my belly, nothing sharp or serious, but really localized like pin packs right in the center of my abdomen. My sleep deprivation or the treatment or both have turned my brain into Swiss cheese today. I was unable to come up with words or names that I should have been able to access easily. 

MONDAY
June 1 2015

“Mommy, I wish this didn’t happen to you,” said Griffin as I was lying on the bathroom floor, putting mercury-based medicine around my stoma to replace the disc for my ostomy bag. I was explaining what I was doing completely matter-of-factly when his unbidden show of most endearing empathy emerged. He is such a sweet and tender soul. Even more than his “I love you more than every grain of sand/ leaf/ tree in the universe,” this was the sweetest thing he has ever said to me.

Having cancer and having kids have one clear thing in common. Studies seem to suggest that people who do not have children are generally happier than people who do. The theory that makes the most sense to me about this counter-intuitive tidbit is that parenting brings with it higher highs and lower lows. When your happiness is closely bound up to another human being’s, with all their complexity, it can be unpredictable when you will experience elation or fury or sorrow.

Cancer brings with it a more profound appreciation of life and the beauty and simple joys all around, when I am open to it. On the flip side, having to deal with poop, daily visits to the hospital to get blasted by radiation, bouts of diarrhea alternating with constipation and general uncertainty when a bowel mishap might occur, and coming to grips with the fact that I have a potentially life-threatening disease bring lower lows than life without cancer. But I’d rather feel joy and pain than be numb. 

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