Oct 13, 2011

When even a planner can't plan...



My mother had an emergency hysterectomy in mid-August.  They're pretty sure they got it all and, at the time they looked at the at-surgery biopsy (a cryo-slice), thought they'd not need to do anything else but...  isn't there always a but?  Turns out the kind of cancer that was swarming her uterus is one that spreads easily through blood veins and it's virulent.  A single cell that got free during the surgery could be enough to start a new tumor elsewhere in her body.  It's a rare form of cancer - so rare that the largest study of it involved no more than 60 patients simply for lack of patients to include.  She starts chemo next Wednesday - 3 rounds, then several weeks of radiation.  After that, if enough of her bone marrow has survived, she'll do 3 more rounds of chemo.  Clear cell carcinoma has a 5 year survival rate of 40%.

My husband went for a routine blood pressure check last Friday.  He mentioned to the doctor that he hadn't been able to pee fully nor had he been feeling all that well.  He had a more-than-walnut-sized growth and his left testicle removed this Tuesday morning.  His cryo-slice came back clear.  We'll get the full pathology report back in about a week.  I want to feel relieved.  I want to relax.  I just can't.  It seems too good to be true - even if they find nothing in the full pathology report, how long will I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop?  I was so good during the immediacy of the crisis - ok, just do what needs to be done... just keep swimmin', just keep swimmin'.  Now?  I can't focus on anything but that I could lose my husband to the same accursed disease that's stealing my mother.

In general, I'm an optimist.  I plan for the worst but expect the best. (I'll leave debate on whether that's the best way to approach life for another time.)  This time... I'm having a hard time with the planning for the worst.  How can I possibly plan for a life without my mother or my husband?

My mother and I have a complicated relationship.  It is not... mutually supportive.  But she's my mom.  And everyone, everyone needs their mom.  (Well, or someone to act the mother role.)  My husband... I cannot even begin to imagine how I would go about life without him.  From the emotional abandonment to the simple practicalities of raising 3 kids on my own.  How would we manage to live without John's income?  How would I make it through the coming years or, Lord in heaven, the teen years, without his emotional support?  How could I possibly get anywhere without his solid 'of course you can do it' behind me?  How could I possibly emerge sane at the other end?

This time, God, I'm not sure I've got this.  This time, God, it may be just too much... even for my little planner soul.