Sunday, July 26, 2015

As We Wait

This was one of those "middle"-ing weeks, a seven-day stretch of less important things between more pressing matters. Last week was brimming with birthday activities for Joey, including a Star Wars marathon and a liquid cheese debacle (his idea, not mine) for the birthday nachos. And next week I have "the doctor's appointment."

I'll admit, it's been a strange and overwhelming week of waiting. I am comforted by long phone conversations and snuggles with my dog. I took one day and went into town while the husband worked so that I could have coffee with friends and browse some craft stores. I have rested my mind with documentaries, a piano app on my phone, and writing and writing and writing. I have done all this, and other meaningless things I can't recall or mention, in order to prepare and try to keep myself calm for the appointment on Tuesday.

But among all those things, attempts to find some sort of peace or at least anxiety-free moments, I found these videos.

The first one includes stories from three women who discovered, at varying stages in life and for various reasons, that they weren't able to have children. I resonated with all three of their stories, the mystery of not knowing why, the struggle of feeling like you can't offer to the world what you want to, and the decision to tell the world.

It's not easy to just come out and say it. I spent nearly a decade thinking I had PCOS, and I didn't say anything most of the time because I was ashamed. I'm sorry I didn't say something sooner, because I feel like it would have been even more of a victory when I finally realized I didn't have it.

In the second video a woman describes her experience with having a miscarriage. I have never been pregnant (yet!), nor have I had a miscarriage, but she also explained that she had a D&C (dilation & curettage). This is the same procedure I had during surgery back in February, and what happened to her only happens to about 1 in 500 women. However, the perspective is helpful--now you know what I was up against. The scarring from a mistake like that (you know, puncturing through someone's body) can lead to infertility.

While both videos were heartbreaking in their own right, and watching them could have led towards a depressed mindset, they were truly more beneficial than harmful. As I prepare for yet another uncomfortable and painful procedure next Tuesday, it is so good... so good to know that there are other people, other woman, with stories like mine.

It seems so odd that the appointment is finally here, and I still feel as if there is not enough time before it happens. It was the beginning of March when I went to see my oncologist for the first time, when I first started the drugs, when I stood in the waiting room and stared in befuddlement at the receptionist who said, "You need an appointment three months from now? Okay, let's see... July 28th." She handed me the little reminder card and I thought, I know I'm an English nerd and not a math genius, but this is almost five months away.

FYI, I just paused my writing to play with bubble wrap. This sort of thing also helps.

Often life hands us situations where we don't know what to expect. However, I find that those situations usually involve a handful of possible outcomes, perhaps a whole list of options for things that may or may not happen. Right now I don't have a handful of outcomes. I have two. I just don't know what they'll lead to.

They're going to do a biopsy. (When I say "a" biopsy, I really mean it's a singular experience, because there are actually about 6 biopsies taken.) I don't need to tell you I'm not looking forward to it, but I'll say it anyways. I'm really not looking forward to it. Once it's done, I'll wait a few days for the results.

Outcome #1: All the cancerous cells are gone!

Outcome #2: The cancerous cells are still here!

There is nothing in my mind or body that knows how to move forward from either of those circumstances. I think I know what the doctor's want, if all the cancer is gone. They want to put me on birth control (barf) for a few months and "see how that works." I am not on board with that plan and if I can conjure the courage I will tell them, with all the fierce facial expressions I can come up with, that I want to skip the birth control and get straight to the fertility drugs, since that's our end goal anyways.

I'm all about efficiency, you know.

But if the cancerous cells are not gone, and I don't know why they wouldn't be, I have absolutely no clue as to what the next step is. More of the same drugs? Higher doses? Different drugs? Something scary, like chemo? Something terrifying, like a hysterectomy?

These aren't things you can prepare for. I can barely prepare myself for the biopsy, something I'm already very familiar with.

So it essentially feels, all the time, like I'm waiting for something in order to wait for the next thing.

I'm waiting for Tuesday so I can go to the doctor and wait in the lobby, then wait uncomfortably on the table with the stupid paper towel blanket, then wait for the procedure to be over, then wait for the doctor to shut up and leave, and then wait for the results. And heaven knows once I get the results I'll have to wait for another appointment to figure out what we'll do next.

And whatever we do next, I'll have to "wait and see" if it works. Or doesn't.

Waiting is hard. Sometimes it's the hardest part of life. Sometimes it's the only thing you can hold on to--I don't know much, except that I'm waiting. I don't have what I want, but I'll keep waiting until I do. And most of the time we wait because we don't have a choice, or because choosing to wait is the right thing to do, even if it's the most difficult.

And while I'm waiting, while we wait together and work long hours and agonize over what will happen, we still have hope. We hope for and imagine the joyful sound of that bursting heartbeat, a reluctant first cry, tiny hands grasping for us, a pair of enormous blue eyes. While we wait, we hope, we walk aimlessly through the baby section at Target and sometimes it makes us sad... and sometimes (like yesterday morning) I walk through, proudly and courageously touching tiny baby shoes and admiring innovative baby toys, because my hope is bigger than my fear.

These are so many hopes and dreams rolled into one and it is the thing we strive for, regardless of how implausible it might seem. I hope for this and ask for what I want. I could simply ask for health. I could be waiting just to "get better." I could hope that my body would be healed and never expect more.

I'm scared, but not so scared that I'll hope for the lesser things. I'm brave enough to know what I want, and to ask for it, to really beg for it, brave enough to hope for it... because it makes the waiting easier.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

That Midsummer Life

For the lack of bustle in my business, I haven't written here often. At least not lately. It's been nearly a month and you might think I just became busy, or was overwhelmed with some project. None of that is accurate--not entirely.

The truth about writing, for me, is that when I have appropriate sources for support I am less inclined to express my deepest feelings on the internet. It means that even in the middle of an emotional crisis or some sort of trauma, if I have enough outlets in real life then I don't feel I need an outlet anywhere else. My blog (and even sometimes my journal) can grow dusty during those times. 

Basically I have beautiful friends. I have had enough people to talk me through things that it didn't seem like my blog was my only chance to vent. Thanks, friends. 

Nevertheless, I have a loyal audience somewhere, albeit a small one, and my summer has been full of excellent adventures. 

Last month was full of love and laughter. I celebrated four years of marriage to my wonderful husband. We celebrated at Six Flags, because the whole, "eating at a restaurant for every special occasion" thing can get old pretty quickly. 

We also finally got smart phones. (^That pictures was taken with Instagram! I'm so cool!) I know, some of you are probably recalling all those times I said, "I don't have a smart phone, and I probably never will." Well, it finally became cheaper for us to switch, rather than stay with our old, broken phones at our old, pricey phone company. We now pay a fraction of the cost, but get so much more. We agreed not to download and/or play endless games and really only use the phones for talking, texting (a feature we didn't actually have before), and taking pictures. The husband uses his to obsessively play music. 

Shortly after that I celebrated Independence Day with some friends. Joey had to work, so I hooked up with some of my favorite Parsonage House people for a David Crowder concert and later some fireworks over Lake Michigan. 

I also opened an Etsy store last week. It's called Foxwild Studio and so far it's been fairly successful. I've really enjoyed learning about business tactics--the first being that if you put physical things into your store's name, it will be more memorable. It's also given me the chance to really branch out creatively. Over the years I've accumulated a lot of beading materials and supplies, but aside from gifts for people and things I make for myself, I haven't had much opportunity to make anything. It's been such a blast. Check out the shop, if you haven't already!

Here's an example of some of the things I sell. (I promise not everything is fox-related.) The pendant on the left sold literally an hour ago! Business will hopefully really get going in the next few weeks. I've been making new items all week, and I just made a lightbox, which should make the photographing of items easier and therefore the items will look prettier. 

In less wonderful news, I'm finally up for another visit to my cancer doctor. I just finished round four of my super fun cancer drugs, and now I get to wait (ever so patiently) for my appointment on the 28th. There will be a biopsy this time, as the good doctor promised. I am not looking forward to it. I know it might not be anywhere near as painful as the first time, but I'm still a little scared. However, in light of my fear, there is also hope. I also know that if the cancerous cells are nowhere to be found and the biopsy is all clear, I can move on from cancer drugs and begin fertility drugs. 

I'm going to just put it all out there. I actually thought I was pregnant last month. In fact, I had several positive pregnancy tests at home. I had all the other crazy symptoms, and was so sick on our anniversary that we actually left Six Flags early. Knowing that false positives are extremely rare, I went to the doctor. She confirmed I was not pregnant. Surprisingly, I am not heartbroken. Confused, but not defeated.

So inside all the anxiety of thinking I was pregnant and then not being pregnant (and a new doctor basically accusing me that if I was pregnant I didn't care about my baby because I shouldn't get pregnant while taking this certain drug) I am hopeful. Whatever the outcome, I am hopeful.

And August isn't even here yet, so we've got lots of time to just sit around and hope. :)