If I Could…

...I would fix everything, and walk you back to your normal life.  I would take the pain and nausea and put it in a box,  and throw them  into a volcano, permanently removed.  I’d take the fear and confusion, and surround you with nothing but gentle hugs, a warm blanket, and a feeling of safety.  I’d take the frustration and slap it upside the head, and then help you find something to make it all right.  I’d look for something silly to show you how you can still smile, and how you really are still you in the middle of all of the chaos. (You really do have a great smile and laugh).   I’d take away that feeling like you’re dying, and remind you that this is all temporary, and that you are the best candidate to survive all of this.  Cancer doesn’t define you; it shows how strong you are.  And you really are.  But you are not cancer.  You are so much more.

If I could, I’d figure out some way for you to know what is and isn’t normal in an abnormal situation you’ve never been exposed to.  I’d give you all of the information you need to understand what is happening (that I know of), so you know that you have  a solid chance at beating this.  You’re strong, and you dwell in the positive when you’re you, in your normal life.  I wonder if some of the pain is the grief of the life you’ve had to set aside for a while.  I wonder if anybody has sat down and taken your hand and told you that it’s more than OK to feel that this level of vulnerability is terrifying, and affirm that  it’s not going to last forever.  And being terrified, and grieving isn’t going to change who you are. It will create another depth of character you didn’t know you had.  I wish you never had to deal with all of this- but you will come out stronger.

I’d look you square in the face, and tell you that the drowsy feeling with pain meds is normal, and often gets better as your body adjusts to both the pain relief and the medication in your system.  I’d let you know that you’re not going crazy. But I understand how it can feel that way (people who are truly going nuts don’t worry about it  🙂 ). Any bonafide goofy person I worked with  wasn’t concerned in the least.

If I could, I’d stand on my head if I thought it would make you well (and if you can get a visual of me on my head, well…. that should be worth a giggle. I’d probably pass out half way up, and then what?  A  ‘fluffy’ middle aged door stop).  But I’d do it if it meant you’d feel better ❤

You have an amazing support system with your friends/coworkers/family.  It awes me that one person has so many people around for support.   They will help you heal as I’m sure they already have.  Just one more minute of pain, just one more hour of uncertainty, just one more day of STILL being here and fighting this beast that has turned your world upside-down.  Take it in small increments. You’re stronger than a beast who was only brave enough to go in the back door !  You have a life that is waiting for you to get through this.  And that will happen. I wish I could make the journey easier, and speed up the process, but one thing about cancer- you want the treatment that gives you the best longterm odds.  Keep thinking about how mad the beast must be !  😀

You are already a survivor, did you know that?  Seriously, they consider anybody who gets diagnosed to be a survivor- unless you die of shock when you get the diagnosis and fall over stone-cold on the floor.  But you got through that  and stayed conscious !  So, you are surviving.  There’s some work to do on the ‘thriving’ end of things, but you can’t get there all at once.  Chemo is a direct assault on your entire body just to kill the beast.  And, from what I hear, it’s helping. 🙂   You. Are. Winning.

Feeling like you’re never going to get through this is pretty normal.  There is nothing like chemo that I can think of in 30 years of nursing that compares. ( nursing school -2 yrs , working as an RN -20 yrs , and the last 8+ as a patient on disability -I still keep my license to keep my own butt going).  I’ve had a lot of medical stuff, over decades.  And chemo is the hands-down winner for “WTH just happened to me?”.  😮   There are no clear ways to explain how it’s going to feel (and it’s different for everyone).  But,’ lousy’ would be a vast improvement much of the time.  And you can get through this.  Your body can handle this treatment.  You will feel better.

In the meantime, look out of the window (or find one that has a view), and just look at  the trees and birds, the clouds and sky, the people walking around, and the ones taking care of you.  Watch something goofy on TV (I lived on ‘Funniest Home Videos during the first 6 weeks of being in isolation for the leukemia- and I’m sure the nurses thought I was a bit ‘touched’ when howls of laughter would come out of my room).  Find things that make you happy in the moment.  No need to be elaborate- just what makes you happy right. This. Second.  Tomorrow will take care of itself.  Yesterday is gone (though those were some great GF almond cookies Carol made last Christmas Eve !!).

Take a deep breath- and remember you’re still here right now.  And you’ll have the last laugh in the end.  But until then, feel free to cry, grieve, be depressed, miss being at work (that was a really hard one when I ended up on disability- it’s not like retiring when you PLAN on not working, but it’s like it’s TAKEN from you by some rude disease), laugh at silly stuff, and  deal with whatever else is going on.  There are no wrong ways to do this- other than to just get through it.  And it’s all temporary.   Overwhelming, but temporary.

You can do this, dear cousin.  I’m in your corner %110.   And I know there are so many who are there in person and spirit that wish nothing but the best for you. You are loved.  ❤

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Blowing Away Runners’ Legs…. For What?

The Boston Marathon- April 15, 2013 has been bombed.  Cowards targeted an international gathering and celebration of runners.  There is no logical explanation.  This isn’t political. It’s not religious.  It’s a sport,  way to stay healthy, or hobby.  It’s non-threatening from any angle I look at it.

It’s all that’s on regular TV right now, and as with many past horrific events, I am drawn to the news to hear if anything else has either happened or been discovered. And I am horribly saddened by this.  It’s becoming so common for humans to attack other humans for whatever cause- religious and political seem to be the biggies for larger area and well known venue tragedies… nut jobs seem to target single, smaller venues.  It really doesn’t matter; the outcome is the same. People’s lives are extinguished or permanently altered.

It’s clear what happens to those who die. But when there are injuries, we never know exactly how severely injured the victims are, whether it’s a car wreck, or something covered by hours of news. Will they get bandaged up and sent home?  Will they spend some time in the hospital, maybe do some time in a physical rehab center, and then be pretty much back to normal physically? Or are their injuries going to cost their limbs, requiring major rehab and learning to either use a wheelchair or prosthetic limbs? Or will they be brain damaged to the point of never being aware of the world around them again?  Some of those outcomes are worse than death.

One photo I saw had two versions. There was one ‘general publication’ shot that was cropped to show a seemingly fit man in a wheelchair with obviously devastating leg injuries. His skin was a disturbing gray tone. And he was still conscious- though undoubtedly in considerable shock- and he was holding one knee. The uncropped  version of the photo showed that both of his lower legs were essentially gone. There was one bone still attached to one leg, but muscle and tissue were stripped away, leaving a large blood vessel and what appeared to be either a large nerve or tendon just dangling below the stripped bone, along with some remaining shreds of skin. He had a tourniquet on. The other leg was gone, and just a bloody nub- but it was almost unnoticeable because of the horrific image of the other leg.  I’m an RN. I’ve seen terrible injuries, as well as textbook images of injuries.  This beat them all.  In part that’s due to the disturbing level of awareness on this guy’s face. My prayer is that he was more numb than aware.  I wanted to holler ‘get his head down (to get blood shunted back to his brain)’ but they were obviously doing the best they could to get him to help.  There were three people with him, doing all they could. They will never be the same  either.  PTSD happens to responders as well as victims.

After hearing about how many lower leg injuries and amputations there were, it struck me as being even more cruel. It’s dreadful when that happens to anybody, but these are runners.  There’s an even greater level of evil that targets people who are peacefully gathering from around the world to engage in a sport or hobby.  This wasn’t a political or religious event.  It was a premier gathering of the world’s best runners.  For some, it may have been the first time out of their home countries.

One of the dead is an 8 year old boy.  There have been reports that eight children have been taken to hospitals with injuries.  The youngest I’ve heard of so far is three years old.  There are many who still have a very good risk of dying.  And, there are countless people who are not residents of Boston, who are now either trying to see about their friends and family in one of the 9 hospitals that have taken most of the injured, or trying to get out of there and back home- to whatever countries they’ve come from.

The winners may be forgotten on tomorrow’s front page.  Lelisa Desisa Benti- 23 years old from Ethiopa won the men’s division.  Rita Jeptoo, a 32 year old mother from Kenya, won the women’s division.  I hope they are able to appreciate their accomplishments in some way in spite of this tragedy.  They did something very few have done- they won.  Many go just to finish- and that is also an amazing accomplishment- but face it.  It’s a race. There are winners.  Maybe this year, another level of accomplishment is to have finished unscathed by either seeing the carnage, or being hit by shrapnel.

Then there are the conspiracy theorists who think that the government did this.  If I actually believed that my home government was responsible for the things they blame on it, I’d be long gone… according to them, Sandy Hook, 9/11, and other high profile tragedies are nothing more than the government doing horrendous things just because they can.  Maybe that’s how some people cope with the fact that ‘regular’ human beings are capable of such devastation.  They are just another flavor of nut job in my book.

For now, I just wait to hear of any news that someone has been caught and is being held accountable for this terror attack.  If it’s domestic (mad about Tax Day), or international (who knows what they’re pissed about now) doesn’t really matter. I don’t even care about their names.  I just want them taken care of.  Get the proof, be damn sure, and eliminate them.

How is it possible to even relate the concept of feeling safe in this world to a generation who is growing up with such regular occurrences of the senseless waste of human beings?  How is it possible to let them know that there really was a time when things like this were pretty rare- most people had only heard of a few things- the Kennedy assassination, the University of Texas at Austin Tower shootings, the Jim Jones cult suicide… and those were years apart.  Sure, there have always been local murders that become legends in their home cities.  Some other crimes may be brought up in criminology classes.  But it’s not one thing after another nearly on a monthly basis on the nightly news.  It’s ‘now’… not history.  It’s wasn’t part of ‘the norm’ to hear of these types of things when I was young.  Now it is.  I’m not sure this type of decline in humanity can be reversed.  Especially with 24/7 news and the sidewalk reporter with a cellphone.

Tonight, my prayers go out to the victims and their friends and family.  I pray for the people who travelled to Boston from around the globe, that they understand that in the US, we like events like the Marathon that bring the world here for something that is generally a celebration and source of accomplishment.  I also pray for the government and law enforcement personnel (and the K-9 dogs) who are trying to figure out what (and who) did this.  And I pray that whoever did this is ‘dealt with’ in whatever way necessary to hold him/her/them accountable.

And for the rest of us, God help us all.

UPDATE: As of 4/16/13, the man who was photographed in the wheelchair, with both legs left in shreds has survived two surgeries, and is in critical condition, but doing better.  His name is Jeff Bauman Jr.   The man in the cowboy hat who is helping him in the photo has a sad story as well. Mr. Arredondo lost one son in the war in Iraq, and another son to suicide following the death of his brother.  He was there to support veterans who were running.