I was wondering what angle I was going to take with this morning’s update when I saw a “challenge” offered by WordPress. I must confess that it is a bit of a cheat to take a prompt from an outside source – but what the heck… it helped me to ground my thoughts enough to begin processing my feelings. The challenge was a title: The object of my dejection.
Here is my story:
“Stacey LePage?” the oncology nurse both inquired and announced at the same time.
I looked up to acknowledge my presence and readiness (sort of) to accompany her to the chemo chair to which I had been assigned.
Rather than waiting at the door, however, she came towards me.
This is never a good sign.
I knew instantly that this was not to be good news. My blood-work on Monday had indicated that m neutrophils were too low and Dr. Singh suggested I may need to wait a week for my 5th round of chemo-therapy. I did NOT want to delay chemo, though, fearing the cancer would have more of a chance to grow… unmitigated. She agreed to book the chemo anyhow provided I came in earlier on Wednesday (today) to have my blood re-tested. I had done this once before and it was successful. Not today.
“Stacey,” the nurse began gently. “Your blood-work has come back and we have discovered your neutrophils are too low. We are going to have to delay your chemo for a week. We won’t do chemo until your immune system can take more. We have you scheduled for Christmas Eve day.”
Have you ever felt that “overwhelming” feeling that kind of washes over you when you hear bad news? It is a very isolating feeling that freezes time and changes you into a bit of a zombie while you process the information. I was “dejected”. No chemo. Oddly enough – I was devastated to not be poisoned on that day.
“Are you okay?” inquired the nurse ever so gently.
“Yes. I am happy that you are making decisions in my best interests.” I added hoping that my voice did not shake outwardly and wanting to crawl into a hole at the same time. Why punish the nurse? “That’s okay. I’ll just have to get stronger over the next week, then. Thank-you for telling me.”
And off she went – the bearer of not-so-good news.
I couldn’t even look at Kevin. I felt the tears cresting and wanted only to get the Hell home.
Smile at the receptionist, “Thank-you”.
Smile at the volunteers, “Too-da-loo!”
Smile past the other patrons…
Smile at Kevin.
And then Kevin did the unthinkable! He held my hand.
That was that – I couldn’t hold in my tears anymore nor hold back my thoughts of failure! “Did I not rest enough? Did I not eat well enough? Did I not exercise enough? What did I do wrong? I’ve wrecked the kids’ Christmas! Like they want to live my cancer culture on Christmas Eve day! What a rotten mother … I’ve spoiled Christmas – and delayed my CT scan and surgery!”
“It’s okay, Stacey. That just means you have another week to prepare yourself. It’s okay to cry.”
Dejection! How dare he be kind! How dare he give me permission! No, wait, that’s what I want. I just want to cry!
We made it to the car – and that was that! I let loose. And off we went in silence to go home.
“Do you want to stop and get a treat – or to get your prescription?” Kevin inquired.
“Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes…. yes, please. Argh. I don’t know. Yes. CHIPS! They always cheer me up. I feel better already. And maybe if you would fill the prescription so that I can feel secure that I am READY for the next attempt! Yes, chips. Thanks, Kevin.”
And off he went. My hubby. My rock. How does he stand it? Never complains. Never wains. Never flinches.
Being alone in the car gave me time to reflect: “Both the doctor and I had forgotten the pre-chemo prescription for today’s treatment and so I was nervous to receive it differently anyhow. It is always better to go with the beast you know. So – all in all – being rejected was really not a bad thing. And I would be finished chemo in time for dinner and in time to read, “A Christmas Carol” to the kids, and in time to watch them open their Christmas pyjama gifts. I will have more energy for wrapping and preparing snacks, for making antipasto and other treats. I will… hold it… slow down… GEEZ – old habits are hard to break! I will slow down.”
And almost as quickly as it had begun, I was coming out of my mood. Good grief… “Fickle, thy name is woman!” thought I. I always hated when my Dad quoted that – but today it felt like it applied to me. I would not allow that to apply to me for long. Nor would I allow my mood to stay with me for too long. It just wasn’t going to happen. Fake it till you make it, right? Cry, then smile, then cry some more. As long as you end with a smile.
And so – I ended up with two bags of chips, a day off, and a week of chemo reprieve. How can that be so bad? Smile.
Besides, who in their right mind should feel dejected when given a break from chemo?