Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Big C

Finding out that you have cancer is a shock.  It's a smack upside the head with a two by four that you never see coming.  I've had "pre-cancer", those moles that have to be removed because they could become cancer, but that was the extent of my personal experiences with the disease.  

Sitting in my car, alone, and finding out I have cancer was a hard slap.  I decided it was time to immediately start bawling my fool head off.  I called my husband to deliver the news, sobbing uncontrollably.  Then I got smart and texted my parents and my brother instead of trying to talk to them, all the while crying hysterically and loudly in my car, in the parking lot of an elementary school.  I was just a complete hot mess, and I didn't care who knew it.

I hate crying.  It makes me look all puffy and bloodshot and not quite right in the head.

I finally calmed down enough to drive, and I followed my usual routine of picking up my son from school. Routine usually helps me calm down.  I was even able to call the surgeon, once I was at my son's school, and make an appointment to see him. Except I never really stopped crying completely, so the poor receptionist had to ask me to repeat myself several times. 

I had difficulty talking to the school secretary to let them know who I was there to pick up, and I mumbled something about getting some bad news.  The secretary was kind enough not to pry, and she gave me some tissues.

Zane, being a six year old boy, took awhile to notice that his mother was leaking.  We made it home before he finally started asking questions.  How do you explain cancer to a six year old?  I finally sobbed out that I had something growing in me that wasn't supposed to be there, and it was making me sick.

"Why don't you get someone to take it out?" That's my boy--a problem solver. I was still crying.  I made Zane and his dad keep their soccer practice appointment, while I continued to cry at home by myself.  I certainly didn't want to have to explain anything to the other soccer moms.  Not yet.

I was still bawling when my brother called to tell me that we would get through this, and I would be all right. I had a shot of Jack Daniels, reserved only for serious stuff, and that calmed me down a bit. I had had enough of bawling, but the tears kept coming.

And then my parents came over. 

My parents never come over, because my house is always too messy for my mom's OCD.  But there they were, at the door.  That wasn't the worst part.  The worst part was that my mother voluntarily hugged me.  My mother never hugs anybody

So of course I kept bawling. I probably bawled in my sleep, because my pillow was damp the next morning.

I thought that going to work would be the best thing for me.  Work doesn't have anything to do with cancer! I'd be fine.  I wouldn't think about cancer at all, because I'd be thinking about other people.  That's what I've done with other past traumas.  Keep moving, focus on helping others, one step at a time.

Except that I kept crying. I was typing a report, and I was crying.  I was answering an email, and I was crying. I started to worry about shorting out my laptop. I went through almost an entire box of tissues.

I called my doctor's office.  He was still on vacation, so I talked to the "have a nice day" guy.

"I want some Xanax,"  I said.  I had to repeat myself, because I was crying.  Of course.

"How about some nice antidepressants? Xanax isn't really indicated in these situations, blah, blah, blah."  He went on for several minutes about the antidepressants.  I'm sure that he's a very good doctor, but I wanted the punch him in the nose.  I gave him the benefit of the doubt, because he hasn't known me for 20 years. But really, my doctor should have at least left a note for the poor man, a note that read "JUST DO WHAT SHE SAYS AND NOBODY GETS HURT."  If a crying woman is on the phone demanding Xanax, just give it to her!

"No," I was very firm, if blubbery.  "I want Xanax.  I am not waiting the two weeks it will take for an antidepressant to start working.  I want Xanax.  I don't want more than ten, and I don't want any refills.  I just need something to get me through the next few days without the waterworks."  My tone must have finally got through to him; he said that he would take care of it. 

Not that I planned to actually take the Xanax; I just needed the idea of it being there. Still bawling.  I start to think that maybe my tears could solve the drought problem, while simultaneously starting a tissue shortage. 

I finally just randomly started thinking about the show Supernatural, and one of my favorite characters, Dean Winchester.  In an effort to distract myself I started reading quotes from the show.  That's when I found it, the quote that finally slowed the waterworks. I even remembered the episode where the quote was said.  Somehow the words about dealing with trauma got through that part of my brain that needed to hear it:

"Decide to be fine until the end of the week.  Make yourself smile because you're alive and that's your job.  Then do it again the next week.  Do it right with a smile or don't do it at all."

So that's what I'm going to do.  I don't have any answers, I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but I'm going to do it right with a smile.

And maybe one of these days I won't be crying when I do.


  1. I wish I had words of wisdom about "crying it out" is good, but you can't go through the next few days waterlogged. It's good to talk it out though. Here, and with close friends and family. Let them know what you need, even if it's just a chicken casserole so you don't have to think about what to make for dinner. You're not alone.

  2. oh dear God, I didn't know! I must have missed something. I agree with Tara, always talk it out here, I am always reachable via email, facebook (if you ever want my phone number just say the word!!), Tara is sooo right! Sending you much love and positive vibes!!! xoxo

  3. You are fine and is it okay if I smile about the house being too messy for your mom? (Oh and you ARE fabulous!) xoxoxox

  4. While I had a different end result, and I can't relate to what you're going through, a few weeks back when I had my thyroid biopsy and was kind of a mess, I cooked... A LOT. Every comfort food I could think of and even some new variations. I couldn't eat most of it (I mean, who felt like eating?) but the house smelled fantastic, despite the giant mess I left in my wake.

    Deep breath, don't be afraid to pop the Xanax, and if all else fails, another shot of JD...


  5. You have a dear friend, Andrea, who is gathering up an army of love and strength for you. xo

  6. I'm so sorry you're going through this. I want to smack "have a nice day" guy. "How about some nice antidepressants" my ass! Ugh!
    After I was sexually assaulted, an overly cheery doctor with a red nose kept trying to prescribe me Prozac. He wouldn't listen to me that I'd had very negative experiences previously with antidepressant medications. What I really needed was someone to talk to. Personally, I can't tolerate Xanax, but medications are not one size fits all. What is hell for one person's system may work well for another, and you know your body better than Have A Nice Day Guy.
    I hope that this situation turns out well in the end. I don't know you very well, but I like you.

  7. I want you to know that you haven't been far from my mind for more than a few minutes since Friday and I am going to continue to hold you here in my heart for as long as you need.

    Look, Fuck Cancer (sorry I cursed on your blog) but honestly Tina, I am so angry about this. I am worried and angry and frustrated that a human being that I truly like is going to have to go through this and feel all these feelings and there is little I can do about it beyond holding your hand, praying and yes, cursing.

    (As for the Xanax and it's very real psychological powers...I have Xanax in my purse that I never take, but when that bottle is empty, every year and half or so, I demand the refill just the way you did. I might not take them like candy but I damn sure want to know they are THERE, inside my control, my just-in-case)

    Never apologize for the feelings, never apologize for the worry or the fear or the anger. Just know that I'm here with the rest of your internet world and ready to kick Cancer's ass with you.



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