We are all terminal

Bob has been on my mind more recently.  Ok, ok, I know, he’s kinda always ON my mind…

I made my next follow-up MRI appointment and follow up with the neurosurgeon for the end of this month.  Somehow, just making those calls is enough to spark fear and uncertainty back up to the surface.  Most likely, the report will be the same as the 3 month follow up, no growth.  The two most common types of brain stem tumors in adults are a Grade 1 (very slow growing, as close to benign as you could hope for) Polycytic Astrocytoma; or the extremely aggressive Glioblastoma.  Since it showed no growth in 3 months, that pretty much rules out the Glioblastoma.   And yet… having been told that brain-stem tumors are never considered “benign” and eventually will grow, I’m kinda nervous.

I heard a cool story this morning from a friend which brought me a lot of peace.  My friend worked with a man who was always cheerful, smiling, and making people feel good wherever he went.  My friend found out this man had terminal cancer and was undergoing regular chemotherapy treatments.  My friend asked him how he managed to be so happy and spread so much joy under those circumstances. The man quoted Romans 12:2 from the bible, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”  I forget the rest of the story, actually, but that was enough for me.

We are all terminal.  My official diagnosis does not state that I have a terminal illness, and I’m sure many of you have not been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  But as we live, we are all terminal.  We may not know when or by what means we will die, but we most certainly will die.  A few months ago, a dear friend asked me what I want my legacy to be. How would I want to be remembered after I die. The story I heard this morning reminded me of that conversation, and of my answer.  I want to be someone who delivers a message of hope and joy under all of life’s circumstances.  I would like to share my experience, strength, and hope with others and be a light of love and joy.  I have not been making that conscious choice on a daily basis lately.  Instead I have been conforming to the pattern of this world.  I have been conjuring up anxiety about my future and focusing on what I perceive as missing from my life.

Some Christian friends have told me that they find comfort in knowing that after death, they will be in the kingdom of heaven for eternity.  It’s not death that I fear or struggle with, it is the living day to day that I struggle with, that I am anxious of.  It is in living day to day that I worry about paying the bills, eating enough and the right kind of food, performing well at work, and wondering if I will ever find lasting love. Then sprinkle some brain tumor on top.  It’s like Miracle-Gro for anxiety.

So, yeah, sign me up for some of that transformation by the renewing of my mind, please.  My attitude and outlook need some refreshing and uplifting; only then can I hope to be refreshing and uplifting to others as I so desire.

Thank you for reading… more will be revealed.

Dawn

Deciding to live

It just occurred to me a few minutes ago, after returning home from walking Saffie, that I had decided to live as though I’m living again.  I wanted you to be the first to know!

I don’t understand what happened to me just over a month ago.  When I received the follow-up call from the neurosurgeon’s nurse that my MRI showed no tumor growth, the best possible outcome that I could dare hope for, I spiraled down into melancholy and despair.  Some unseen balloon inside me was popped and my faith and hope leaked out.

I stopped researching, stopped writing, stopped reading other brain-tumor patients’ blogs.  I ran out of energy to care.   I had given up on living, and was just existing.

It did not help that I couldn’t sleep.  I was physically exhausted since I had been doing the most labor-intensive work than I had done in 20 years, cleaning animal kennels 40 hours/week.  However, the anxious little hamsters in my head ran around on their wheel all night long, assaulting me with “what ifs” and “why bothers”.

Last week, I finally gave myself permission to not criticize myself for wanting to do nothing except sit on the couch and eat my non-dairy ice cream and binge-watch a TV series every night after work.  I finally let myself off the hook for no longer giving a shit, for not doing the things on my list, for letting my dishes pile up in the sink, for having no plans for a secure future. I let myself off the hook for not meditating enough, for not eating healthy enough, for not trying medical marijuana, for not visualizing the tumor shrinking, for not praying enough or the right way, for not having faith that I’m going to be healthy, and for feeling anxious and depressed after hearing that this fucking tumor did not grow.

So what shifted? Did I finally sleep enough?  Finally watch enough streaming TV? Spend enough hours scrolling through Facebook instead of meditating? Did all of that not giving a shit finally force me to let go of my insane desire to control what’s going on in my head?

I really don’t know.  Yesterday after work, instead of coming home and binge-watching tv while binge-eating ice cream, I took my dog hiking in the mountains. Today, instead of napping, I hung out with a friend I haven’t seen in a month, and spent a couple hours studying for a course I started a year and a half ago.  Then it quietly occurred to me, a few minutes before writing my first post in over a month, that I feel like I’m ready to live again instead of just existing in fear of this thing in my head growing.

It’s nice to be back.  I’ve missed me. 🙂

Thanks for reading… more will be revealed!

Dawn

 

 

The dirty work.

I am so happy to be officially off my medical leave and back at work!  I was able to transfer from Payroll & Accounting to Animal Care at the animal welfare organization that I have worked at for the past year.  I have received some amusing comments/questions and confused looks from my co-workers who know me as the lady who does payroll.  One told me that I finally decided to come down and get my hands dirty.  Well, that’s what the gloves are for, my hands stay perfectly clean. The rest of me I can’t comment on, but let’s just say that I take all my clothes off as soon as I walk into my house!  I have gone from business casual in a cubicle to khakis and a t-shirt cleaning animal kennels, and they all want to know why. Wednesday, I was even congratulated and thanked for making it through my first day without quitting!

I love my new position, with the exception of starting at 6am.  I haven’t had nearly enough coffee by 6am!  I’m so busy cleaning kennels and feeding the critters, that I only notice the passage of time by my hunger for lunch.  I am definitely getting a work-out.  I’m learning a lot about the different animals, and myself.  For instance, in just two days time, I am now pretty much terrified of chihuahuas. Ok, only the scared or angry ones.  Also, small breed dogs seem to poop a lot more than the big guys . I’m pretty sure that a great-dane snuck into a little terrier’s kennel last night just to go poop.

With all the scrubbing and hosing and chasing of dogs (oh yeah, I’ve had three escapees in two days), I don’t have any time to think of brain tumor Bob.  Except when I think to myself, “huh, I’m not thinking about the brain tumor” or when someone stops me to ask why I decided to work in Animal Care instead of Accounting. The appropriate answer to that question is NOT, “I have a brain tumor, took some time off, then decided that I’d rather work in a less mentally stressful environment and interact with the animals so that I don’t think about my brain tumor all day.”  It makes people uncomfortable.  Which can sometimes be fun. 😉

Six days until my next MRI, but who’s counting?

I think back to when I quit drinking alcohol 18 years ago and remember how obsessed I was about NOT drinking, every day, for months and months.  Eventually, not drinking became my new normal, it was no longer an “issue” that I struggled with.  That experience led me to a faith that I never wanted or considered before. The faith that I have gained gives me hope that there will come a time when I am not obsessed with having a brain tumor, and that I will get to another new normal.

Thank you for reading.  More will be revealed…

Love,

Dawn