Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Breaking Point

My port had stopped working, so they needed to start an I.V. The first nurse had blown two veins and had called in a replacement who was on her way to blowing a third.

In the grand scheme of things, a few needle pokes were nothing. I had been through worse before, and there would be much harder days ahead. But in that moment, it was too much. In that moment, the months of treatment, the endless hospitalization, the constant nausea, and the helplessness were completely overwhelming.  I burst out crying. I can't do this anymore.

My sister, who had been sitting in the chair next to my hospital bed, stood up and walked over to me. She cracked a smile. "Remember that day when we were little kids and we were swimming at the lake, playing Jaws?" I stopped crying and looked at her, confused. She went on to recount in exquisite detail a day years earlier when we had been swimming and had gotten our legs stuck in the weeds and muck at the bottom of the lake and I had thought that a shark was attacking us. She ran around my hospital room, with her fin/elbow on her back, singing the theme from Jaws. Da-dum … da-dum… da-dum…

She had always had a knack for timing, and could change the energy of a room in an instant with her incredible ability to spin a tale. Somewhere between her imitating my 5-year-old squeals of fear and acting out our parents' response, I started laughing so hard the nurse gently said, "Could you please stop shaking the bed?" I toned it down to a hearty chuckle, and before I knew what had happened, the I.V. was in and the fluids were flowing.

Twenty-some years later, my sister is a midwife and every time I think of this story, I know how lucky those women are to have her by their side. In those moments when they feel like they just can't keep going, I am certain that she finds exactly the right words that they need to hear.

People ask me, "How do you cope?" I don't really know the answer, other than I just keep putting one foot in front of the other. But of course, it is not all my doing. I have had times when everything felt like too much and I can't imagine how I could go on. I have been incredibly fortunate to have people in my life, like my sister, who have helped pick up my foot when the next step seemed impossible.

If you read my last post, "10 Tips for Coping with Scanxiety," then you may recall that I just had my every-three-month scans.

And the results were great!

My amazing targeted med is still going strong after 16 months. There was one little hiccup, in that they found two small blood clots. To treat those, I will be giving myself twice daily shots of a blood thinner for a month, then once daily ad inifinitum. All these needle pokes made me think about the above "Jaws" story from my childhood cancer treatment, and how the cumulative stress of illness can make something as simple as a an I.V. push a person over the edge. Right now I'm feeling healthy (relatively speaking), so I'm fine with some extra needle pokes. But it is easy to see how quickly a lot of little nothings can add up to too much.

Everyone has a breaking point. If we are lucky, we have someone who can guide us through it and help put the pieces back together again.

Originally posted at: http://www.curetoday.com/community/tori-tomalia/2015/02/breaking-point


Linda Rogers said...

I can so relate to this article on the 'breaking point' of cancer. I will never forget mine. I was so sick from chemo and was puking all the way to my next chemo treatment. When I got there, the chemo nurse who was use to seeing the strong woman who never complained; saw me break. When he called me back, I just lost it and told him through my streaming tears that I couldn't go on anymore with the treatments. He have me a couple crackers, cracked some jokes, and the next thing I knew, I was in my chair getting my chemo cocktail. My thoughts and prayers are with you as this cancer journey is beyond hard. Keep up the good work.

Lil-Lytnin said...

Linda, I'm sorry to hear that you have felt the breaking point too, but it is nice to know that someone else understands! I'm so glad the chemo nurse got it, and was able to help you through. Best of health to you!!