Tomorrow morning at 8:40am, a surgeon in Portland, Maine will be removing the tail of my pancreas along with those nasty precancerous tumors that are attached to it. He may also be removing my spleen, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed that won’t happen.
Having a distal pancreatectomy has been frightening to think about, but I’ve felt quite calm about it since yesterday. There’s nothing more I can do now, right? I have my workplace as settled as I can, I finished the password book for my family, and yesterday I ran my last 5K in what I expect to be at least 3 months.
So as they’re prepping me tomorrow, I will pretend I’m back in that sensory deprivation tank I tried out a few weeks ago at Float 207. It was really lovely. I chose the purple light and I’m so glad I did.
But after imagining this calm space, I know I’ll be thinking of my boy, my family, my friends and all the incredibly kind words and thoughts you’ve sent my way. Thank you.
June is a friggin’ minefield of grief. My birthday isn’t much fun anymore without my family. Father’s Day is typically sad, but I try to think and remember good thoughts about my Pop and we celebrate my husband, the father of my child. And today, June 20th, is my brother’s birthday. He should be 54 today and not still 49 like I am now.
Summer is just filled with all of these dates that I used to embrace and enjoy and now just dread. Today though? Today was just a little bit different.
A friend asked how I was, knowing that Father’s Day can suck, but then I told them about Phil’s birthday. I ended up recalling and telling some really fun stories of our childhood. Like the time when that wench of a bully who lived up the street came down to either play with me or be mean to me, and both my brother and sister ran her off, yelling at her and chasing her with their bikes.
Or how we used to swim in the brook out back, the one that our toilet actually flushed into. (I know, I know!) Hell, we swam downstream in this lovely little “swim hole” yet we also used to carry sticks so we could push the poop away while we swam. It was beautiful without the shit and occasional clumps of toilet paper.
It sounds so crazy, disgusting and unreal now, but it was fun!
We certainly were not the Waltons, but rural life had its moments. Of course, there was also the alcoholic parent, the verbal and physical abuse, the fear of not knowing what you’ll find when you get home…like I said, we weren’t the Waltons. But honestly? I’m not sure I’d change much. I wish Phil had born a few years later, because he’d more than likely be alive right now. The technology just wasn’t great in 1968 and he was the only one born at that time with the heart problems he had, to live until the age of 49. No one else even came close. Imagine if he had been born in 1970?
I can’t do that to myself, though. Not tonight. Instead, I’ll just keep thinking of some of the great times we did have, and how Phil’s humor and laughter made everyone around him laugh until they nearly peed their pants.
Or that might just have been me. 😉
Love and miss you, big brother. ❤ Wishing you were here.
No. Wait. Let me say it like you always did. “Hhheeeeeyyyy.” 🙂 You always said it a bit like Fonzi.
My birthday? I’m going to be 49. We often acted like twins and now we’ll actually be the same age.
I hate it. You’re my big brother. We’re not supposed to be the same age. And if I live until at least next year, what happens then? You have to be my big brother. Forever. But your forever wasn’t long enough, Phil. I miss you. So god damned much. My life often doesn’t feel right anymore. Nothing fills that hole that you left. I know, because I’ve tried a lot of things! Food, alcohol, running. Then other things to help with all the feelings–anti-depressants, therapy, yoga, writing. I guess in some ways I’m learning to deal with the fact that I can’t talk to you every day. But sometimes I just can’t deal with it. Those are the days that I just fake it, find a place to cry, fake it some more then go to bed.
Do you remember this song, Phil? You put it on one of the running cds you made me. I wonder about it now. Did you put it on there because of the beat or because it’s about being there for your siblings? And did you know the video was about the brother dying? The first time I heard the song after you died, I sobbed until I nearly threw up.
I know. You’re probably sick of me talking about how much I miss you and how many fucking tears I’ve cried because you’re not here. Fine.
Let’s talk about the kid. I wish you could see him, Phil. He’s your height now. Sometimes he laughs just like you. Even his cough sounds like yours! He’s so bright and funny and mostly kind. I like him. You would, too.
You know there’s a new David Sedaris book that just came out. I’ll listen to it for you, ok? A new Batman movie just came out, too. Haven’t seen it yet. I have difficulties with some things still. There will always be films or books or events that remind me of you. Some I’ll be able to handle, and others not so much. I’ve been watching a show on Netflix, “Sex Education.” It’s a freakin’ riot and it’s something I would love to talk with you about. We’d have the best laughs and conversation over it.
But…yeah. I guess we can’t. You know, someone will read this and say, “But you still can, Holly. You can talk to him and he’ll be listening.” *insert your scoff here* People mean well, Phil, they do. And sometimes I DO imagine you listening to me, laughing with me. I have to. Otherwise I’m not sure I could continue to put one foot in front of the other.
My distal pancreatectomy is in two weeks. In the past month I’ve had scans and blood work and so many phone calls about anesthesia and what to do the night before and the morning of. But I’m also prepping my staff and my family and trying to do everything I can to make this absence be as smooth as possible. I’ve ordered extra supplies for work and have made a crazy-ass schedule with part-time staff and substitutes galore and volunteers. I’m training some of those people next week, but like I’ve said before, I do have confidence in everyone. I’m just trying not to stress anyone out more than absolutely necessary. Except myself, of course.
It’s been hard to focus on one thing lately. As I typed that last paragraph? I actually stopped and emailed one of the new subs to update them on their schedule. Why? Because I’m afraid if I don’t do things as soon as I think of them, they’ll be gone from my brain and by the time I remember, it’ll be too late.
Here at home I’ve also been prepping, but more like prepping for my death. I pay the bills in this family and although we have a password notebook anyone can consult to pay said bills, it’s kind of a mess. I know most of the passwords by heart, but if my husband would have to pay a bill, he’d have no idea where to pay or how. We do have a budget and bill payment schedule on our refrigerator, but he doesn’t know which things are automatically paid and which you have to pay online or that one thing we actually have to send a check to or pay in person. So I’m in the process of re-writing our password notebook and have re-done the budget with AUTOMATIC written on certain things. I’ve added all of our passwords to various streaming services to the notebook along with bank info that he probably doesn’t know. I’ve dug out my living will to bring to the hospital and to send a copy to a friend because I want to make sure several folks have it.
When I started doing this a few weeks ago, it made me feel good. I like to be prepared. Remember that post about preparing myself and my home if my husband were to die tomorrow? That shit just helps me cope. But this week? Oi. So not good.
The stress at work felt insurmountable yesterday. Like a child, I actually closed my eyes and put my hands over my ears at one point and told a co-worker to please stop talking. I could feel a full-fledged anxiety attack coming on and I just couldn’t answer one more question. It scared me. Their questions were valid and they should be asking them, but I just COULD NOT deal with them at that moment. I took a few minutes to breathe and we talked and then I was able to answer them again. But that anxiety lingered into the evening and I ended up eating three brownies trying to make myself feel better. Instead I nearly hyperventilated when it came time to go to bed. I put my head between my knees and tried to breathe. I was finally able to lay down, but it took effort to not think. (One of my cats snuggled in on my shoulder and purred away, so that helped.)
Today was a bit more of the same, but not at that same level. I still don’t feel like I’m breathing normally, but I am able to take a deep breath. There’s definitely this level of worry and concern of the unknown–as in how my surgery will go and what my recovery will be like–but also anxiety of the incomplete tasks that still need to be done.
And did I tell you I’m turning 49 next week? The same age of my brother when he died? And that he died at the hospital I’m having my surgery at?
Yeah. I’m freaked. I’m scared and sad and angry and worried and all the damn things.
So…I told my husband last week that I want a session at a local sensory deprivation tank. I have been doing all the things I can to try and relieve stress. First I did the bad things–drink alcohol (which I can’t do anymore until sometime after my surgery or never again) and eat junk food or just eat non-stop. Then I did my usual schtick–run, read with mellow music or nature sounds, walk near the woods (there are so many ticks right now that walking in the woods stresses me out), take my usual anti-anxiety med, chat with friends. But sometimes all of the good things are just not enough.
My husband is the worst gift giver in the world, even when I tell him exactly what I want. And trust me when I say I don’t ask for a lot. I don’t have particularly expensive tastes, and I’m not into jewelry or flowers. Yet typically, even after 25 years of marriage, the old man sometimes just doesn’t quite get it. But this time? This time he came through.
In a few days I’m going to give this thing a try. I’ll float in a tub of water with 1200 pounds of salt. I may have lights and music, or I’ll skip all of that and just be. I have no idea how this will make me feel, but I’m looking forward to giving it a shot, to trying something new, to try and find a little peace.
May you find your own bit of peace this weekend, too. ❤ Hugs to you, my friends.
“Showing your vulnerability is how we get stronger, right?”
I was at a library conference last week with loads of other Maine librarians. For me, it was one of the best Maine conferences I’ve attended due to a number of factors: I was on a panel with folks I consider my new friends and we discussed having community conversations (yup, we were talking about talking and I loved it), I got to hug and chat with some colleagues and friends I haven’t seen in person in some time, and I met new colleagues and did my best to welcome them into not only the library conference world but into librarianship and some of the beauty of it. (Which is kind of funny since I’ve been thinking about changing careers at some point. But that’s for a future blog post.)
The commonality among everything I loved about the conference, were the people. Meeting new people, getting reacquainted with others, talking about our libraries–both the successes and challenges, but also just talking about our lives–our interests, our children, our families. And in these conversations– sometimes in hallways or at a table before a session began or over a drink and a meal–many of us were vulnerable with one another.
Now, maybe this happened because this is me. When you “wear your heart on your sleeve,” it means you often advertise how vulnerable you are–you show your feelings even when you could be hurt. You’re willing to say “I love you” first, even if it feels like you’re stepping off a cliff. It’s scary shit, but my word, it can be exhilarating. And if you’ve read many of my blog posts or if we’ve been friends for a while, you know that I tend to put most of my feelings out there for the world to read about. But maybe people were willing to share more because we’re living in frightening times and we were willing to say, “Hey, my friend died of Covid last year and I really miss her,” or “Thank you for saying you don’t think you know what you’re doing as a librarian, because I think that every day” or if you were me, in front of a large group of people in a session that you were attending, you admitted that you cried in a meeting with another colleague because you felt overwhelmed and lost and needed help.
Because, you know, I REALLY put it ALL out there.
But after that session, the person leading it came to me to say, “Thank you for being so vulnerable. And showing your vulnerability is how we get stronger, right?”
I think I nodded my head and thanked them but then walked away thinking, “Really?!? Then emotionally, shouldn’t I be freaking She Hulk by now?”
I let the phrase “showing vulnerability begets strength” simmer in my brain this week. (And yes, I’ve read and/or listened to a LOT of Brene Brown, but for some reason it never quite clicked like this.) So, I tried it out. I shared some information with some people that I might not typically and was happy with the results. I felt more connected with them then I had in some time or ever. A few friends have also shared some deeply tough issues and emotions with me recently, and besides feeling that wonderful connection it has created, I feel so much gratitude towards them for trusting me, for letting me really see them.
I know this isn’t for everyone. And I’ll be honest, it hurts like eternal papercuts when you open yourself up to someone and they don’t want to hear what you have to say or see who you are. But my friends, when someone DOES finally see you? To me it’s like taking a bite of a pie that you’ve been dreading because it sounded awful but you knew you should because it’s supposedly healthy and recommended by a friend and it won’t kill you so just friggin’ do it already. So you take that bite…and it tastes like the best ice cream you’ve ever tasted. You’re so happy because it made your mouth and tongue sing and you’re relieved because you can tell your friend that you ate it and it was delicious.
Yeah, that was a stupid analogy, but I hope you get what I mean.
Just a few days ago I wrote to y’all about my anxiety, my frustration and my helplessness. Since I began therapy a year ago, I’ve been trying to not compartmentalize my emotions as much and instead attempt to actually feel them and deal with them at the moment they happen. Well that turned out to be a mess! As I told a friend today, it’s like I’m trying to stop a waterfall with my hands. Every feeling and thought overwhelms me until I feel like I’m drowning.
So I began my extra anti-anxiety/depressant med a few days ago. I truly felt like a zombie the next day and ate a lot of sugar and salt throughout the day just to function (and comfort). But Thursday was a little better. I got to talk with my sister and a few friends and it was doable.
And today? Today was pretty ok. I didn’t go to work but had a meeting via Zoom. I got to laugh with some of my colleagues, ask questions, offer a little assistance, and generally felt good when it was over. I felt…worthy, competent, maybe appreciated in a weird way? Then I had to race to my appointments at the hospital, tests to have done before my distal pancreatectomy in June. The tests were not horribly unpleasant, but I wasn’t able to drink coffee or eat until 3pm, so I was a little fuzzy. It did remind me of what it feels like to have pancreatitis again, though, and not being able to eat or drink coffee and having your brain be foggy and just wanting to eat absolutely anything. I started to think about the upcoming surgery (and knowing I won’t be able to eat for several days then) and decided I just couldn’t. Back to stuffing shit into my brain boxes so I don’t have to deal with it!
As soon as my CT scan was done, I decided to go directly to the hospital cafeteria for coffee and a gluten-free blueberry muffin (which are especially delicious when you haven’t eaten in 20 hours). Normally I immediately leave the hospital after any kind of appointment. I’ve been there so much in the past few years for myself and my family that I don’t like to linger. I always have this feeling like if I stay for a bit, Fate will think I should stick around and something will happen to someone I love. I know. That makes no sense but my brain often doesn’t.
But…Dad died in this hospital. I’ve been thinking of him so much this past week, missing him SO much, desperately wanting to talk to him and be hugged by him again. I needed him. He’s not here. The last time I heard his voice and said he loved me was in this hospital. So today….today I lingered. I got my coffee and muffin and sat down in the eating area. I didn’t read my book or look at my phone. I just tore my muffin into bits, popped them into my mouth and washed it all down with Snickerdoodle coffee. I didn’t think of anything in particular. I didn’t think about the fact that this hospital was the last place I had a conversation with my brother, the last place I saw and touched my father, but also the place where my son was born and the place that saved my husband’s life. There is so much grief and joy for me associated with this hospital that it’s difficult to even know what I’m feeling.
So instead of trying to identify what I was feeling or thinking, I just sat. I watched a few people, but mostly I enjoyed what I was eating and drinking and concentrated on the tastes and textures. I lived in the moment. It’s something I wish I could do more.
There’s always tomorrow I suppose.
Here’s wishing all of you more times of living in the moment. ❤ Hugs to you, friends.
Anxiety: “The state of feeling nervous or worried that something bad is going to happen.”–Oxford Learner’s Dictionary. The Mayo Clinic defines anxiety as an “intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Fast heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, and feeling tired may occur.”
Have you ever had an anxiety attack? Not a panic attack–where you truly feel like you’re dying–but a sudden feeling of anxiousness and worry and maybe have trouble breathing? For the past few days, since we came back from our “vacation,” I’ve had a few of these attacks. This “vacation” was time away from home, but not nearly enough relaxing. There was a LOT of stress between the actual traveling (slept in an airport, spent 7 hours in another one) and visiting family and honestly…me being me. Trying to make everyone happy at least some of the time is what I tend to do in ALL situations–family, friends, work. And this was a visit to some family we haven’t seen in a while and I knew it was bound to be stressful but…was it really any worse than any other visit?
After arriving home (10 hours later than we were supposed to) and enjoying sleeping in my own bed again, I felt a bit off. Again, that’s to be expected. Post vacation blues are a real thing, hence my large brownie for breakfast that next morning. I spent several hours doing laundry, emptying suitcases, vacuuming, and feeling productive. Then I headed to my scheduled therapy appointment…and completely lost it.
I’ve been told that sometimes when you completely relax, emotions and memories and pain can all rise to the surface because your body and mind are no longer going at top speed. And although I didn’t get a lot of that relaxing time, I did have at least a few hours where I just swam in the sun or dozed in a dark, cool room or walked along a secluded lakeside path. But I thought about so little during those times nor did I think of much again until I sat in my therapist’s office. And even then I just FELT everything. I was completely overwhelmed with grief and confusion and loss and maybe wishing for something I can’t have?
I don’t know.
All I know is that I couldn’t leave my therapist’s office. I could not stand up. I did not know how to leave, how to take one step in front of the other and walk out her door. I was sobbing and asked her to give me an assignment because I knew if I had one thing to focus on, I could at least leave her office and get to my car. So she did, and somehow I left the building.
The next afternoon I was on my way to drop my son off at the mall when all of a sudden the noises I could hear were literally taking my breath away. The radio was on, my son was talking, his phone might have been playing something, we just passed a bunch of kids on bikes…it all became too much. I had to pull over, shut off the radio and asked him to just stop for a minute so I could breathe. I closed my eyes, took a few breaths, and I was better. He asked if I was ok, and I said not really, but would be. I cried a few miles later and we talked about how this trip, this “vacation” affected us both. The horrible traveling really got to my son, as well as the heat and possibly a bit too much visiting. 🙂 He then played us some 80s music as we continued on to the mall and we both felt immensely better.
On Sunday I had planned to run and boost up my endorphins. But a friend called and needed my husband and I, and honestly, I was glad he did. Focusing on someone else’s problems and/or pain is a great way to distract you from your own! It also resolved some issues that have lingered for nearly 30 years, so I’m grateful for that and the fact we were able to help and be there for our friend.
But today, as I drove my son to school, anxiety overwhelmed me once again. There was no music, no noise, no talking even. I didn’t need to pull over this time, but I did need to take many deep breaths and try to just focus on the road. Once I dropped my son off, I called my doctor and asked to double my antianxiety meds. (I’m currently on the lowest dose possible and have been for nearly two years.) He said I could, so tonight I’ll give it a shot and see how the next few weeks go.
I started to write this tonight to try and figure out what is going on in my brain. I don’t know if I’m much closer to any answer, but it felt good to get something out on “paper.” Although my therapy can be tremendously helpful, my secondary form of therapy, aka blogging, can also clarify situations, problems, ideas or emotions enough for me to at least carry on until I can figure things out.
So…as always…thank you for listening. If you ever feel this high level of anxiety, please reach out to get some help, ok? Even if it’s just to talk to someone for a little bit. You can always reach out to me, too. You don’t have to know me but know I can listen. I’m not a professional so please reach out to a counselor or therapist if that’s what you need, but if you need a sounding board, I’m happy to help.
In a few days, my family and I will be going on our first vacation together in at least four years, and our first flight together in 8 years. Our son was two feet shorter back then. Now that we’re all over 6 feet tall, we will not be sitting three in a row unless there’s an aisle between us! To say that I have been excited to go somewhere warm and away from work for a few days is an understatement. BUT, I am also trying to tamp down my expectations.
This is the first week I’ll be away from my work without having a full staff at my library. I take my responsibility as the director of a small library very seriously. This community counts on me and the library to provide them with not only a place to “be” and go to, but to provide a wide range of services. That, in itself, can be problematic since our role as the library has increased responsibilities or rather increased expectations from the community, yet without an increased staff or budget. But you know what? That is a discussion for a different day. Instead, let me just say that I’ll be worried about my staff and volunteers while I’m gone. They are incredibly good, kind people, but as many of you know, working with the public can be very stressful–even with kind, well-intentioned patrons. I have supplied the staff with loads of candy, lots of instructions for weird things that could happen, and my cell phone number. Really that’s all I can do, right? That and have faith and confidence in their abilities.
Which I most definitely do.
So why the hell am I worrying?
Now as the actual vacation goes, that’s a crapshoot. There will be lots of visiting my husband’s family, a little sightseeing, and hopefully some relaxing alone time, pool time and running time. But again, I must lower my expectations. Some plans have already changed and I need to just let it all go. Deep breaths, go with the flow, at least I’m not in a war zone, first world problems, etc.
But for just a minute, I’m going to whine and bitch and wish that for the first vacation I’ve taken in years, I could truly relax and not think about much except myself and my own joy. Am I selfish? Not always, but sometimes yes damn it, I am! And you should be, too. For a day or a week, it’s ok to think about JUST yourself so you can think about and take care of every other fucking person around you for the rest of the year. Call it self-care or survival, but it’s something we all need to do sometimes.
So…maybe for one day in the next week, I will do just that. I’ll take a day for me and only me. And if not? I have a therapy session all set to go the day I get back from vacation.
Cheers to all of you, friends. Thank you for listening to my bitch post, because that’s really all this was. If you take nothing else from it, just take my gratitude for being here. I know there are so many horrible things happening in the world and this country and to my friends to be honest, but sometimes it’s also ok to just sit in your own shit for a minute. Then you pick yourself up, clean yourself off, and keep going. ❤ And now that I’ve sat in my shit for more than a few minutes, I can move on. Hugs to you all.
“My house Is out of the ordinary That’s right Don’t wanna hurt nobody Some things sure can sweep me off my feet Burning down the house
No visible means of support And you have not seen nothin’ yet”
When David Byrne wrote the lyrics, “the title phrase was a metaphor for destroying something safe that entrapped you. I envisioned the song as an expression of liberation, to break free from whatever was holding you back.”
When I first started to write this post, I couldn’t say that Byrne’s definition was what I was feeling. I was feeling burnt out and broken for sure. But breaking free? Maybe. I did want to burn everything down but not necessarily to start again. Just burn it all down and walk away.
I had several nightmares last week, which I haven’t had in a very long time. In one dream I was a passenger in a car that was going too fast and about to crash (easy to analyze that–I felt and feel like everything is out of my control), but I don’t know what happened in the other dream. I just woke up at 3:30am scared with my heart pounding. You know, the usual. Then I had a very unsatisfying therapy session on Friday. I just felt like I was spinning my wheels, talking about shit I had talked about before but won’t do anything about. I even felt like my therapist was a little frustrated with me, although she tried not to show it. (Of course, I was also her last client on a Friday evening and I bet she just wanted to get the hell out of there and go home!) That night I ended up burying what I was feeling in a bag of guacamole-flavored chips. I’ve been very good about not emotionally eating for months, but I blew it out of the water that night.
But now it’s a few days later. I finally finished a few things at work and let a few other things go. I know you should never try to be everything to everyone, either personally or professionally. But I suck at it. After all of the trauma my family has faced in the past 5 years, and all the kindness we received during that time, I do make an effort to help my friends when they’re hurting or even if they just need someone to listen. Does it take its toll? Sometimes, but it’s more the combination of being a good friend while trying to run a library that also tries to be everything to everyone—which you just shouldn’t do. Take it from a librarian of a small, rural library who has kept committing to programs and events and being on committees and boards while still running the library with a temporarily smaller staff. It’s nuts and things have fallen through the cracks. Don’t do it.
We all have to implement boundaries in our work, our relationships, and within ourselves. How many committees are you willing to participate on? How late in the evening will you keep texting or talking to a friend? Do you really need to get up at 7am on Saturday to fit all of your chores and errands in while still squeezing in a run? Or can you skip sweeping the floors and sleep in?
Tonight I can finally start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I go on vacation in four weeks. I have one large report to write still, but only two more programs to facilitate before then. I don’t have an exact date for my upcoming distal pancreatectomy and possible splenectomy, but I know it will be in June, and my body scans and extra vaccines are being scheduled. Life is moving along. Not always in ways I want them to, but that’s what life typically is, right?
Just hang in there, everyone. The world is shit right now I know. I have to stop watching the news and read about what’s going on instead, otherwise I end up crying every morning. Stay informed but if you have to distance yourself then do it. Don’t beat yourself up about it. You have to put on your oxygen mask before helping your neighbor, right? So do that. Take care of yourself then you’ll be able to help others.
Hugs to you all, friends. Let’s try to survive another day. ❤
Picture this: You’re running through the quiet streets of rural Maine. You can hear the occasional bird chattering in the distance, a snowmobile driving through a nearby field, your footfalls on the pavement or splashing in the slush and puddles. Now picture your neighbor out puttering in their yard or shoveling their walkway as they hear snippets of “Mein Herr” from Cabaret or Pink telling them to “Raise Your Glass” or maybe even Rihanna & Eminem talking about the monsters and voices in their heads. Then they see this giant bumblebee of a woman running by, possibly smiling, possibly gasping, with that music emitting from her body. It’s a glorious image, isn’t it? 😉
Saturday was very warm for central Maine–in the low 50s on a February morning. The sun wasn’t shining throughout my 10K run, but it still felt like spring. I was able to wear my orange running shoes instead of my trail runners I have to wear on the snow and ice-covered roads, and I felt so light with those beauties on my feet. Yesterday it was either bare road or mud puddles, and I loved them both.
During the first few miles of my run, I just enjoyed each moment. My music made me smile, there was little traffic, I felt strong and swift. My thoughts started to drift towards home, towards my son who was getting ready for his first date as I pounded the pavement. He was nervous but excited. My husband was having a good morning with no body pain. It was a good morning.
I started to think about my therapy appointment from the day before. How overwhelmed I’ve felt this week. My need to prioritize my workload, yet how stuck I’ve felt all week. I got the call on Monday that I’ll need to have a distal pancreatectomy–removal of the tail of my pancreas. The cysts that are present are precancerous, so it’s time to take care of them. I’ve done so much of my own research that I feel like I know what’s ahead of me, yet I feel like I am completely clueless all at the same time. I meet with the surgeon in a few weeks with my long list of questions (thank you friends!) and I think I’ll feel better at that point. Or I’ll feel worse.
I know for a fact that the recovery will be awful. Hell, the removal of an internal organ or part of one is no easy thing for your body to heal from. It’ll take time. There’ll be a lot of pain and fatigue and who knows what else? Probably loss of weight, which normally I’d say “Alright!” Maybe I can look at the weight loss as a positive?
Yeah…maybe not. That’s my eating disorders and poor body image talking.
These thoughts flitted in and out as I kept running. The Beatles’ “All Together Now” came up on my playlist and I focused on the song and nodded along. I thought of my brother who introduced me to this song. I thought about the library and my work and how long would I need to be out for this operation and recovery? I love what I do but I also feel a lot of pressure to continually justify the library’s existence. We do great work and we provide MANY services to our patrons and residents, but sometimes it feels like too much, especially with just a handful of staff.
I had to push all of that out of my head and keep running, placing one foot in front of the other. Jon Batiste’s “I Need You” started to play and I could feel my face light up with that happy, fun music–just like my friend, Denise–this is her song and I love it! It makes me want to dance or run faster, which I did. It helped push me up a small hill and past the cemetery where my Grammy is buried. I blew her a kiss like I do most days and couldn’t help but think of Mom. If she were here, she’d be sick with worry about my upcoming operation. And Dad would reassure me that all would be well but worry as soon as I left the room.
As I neared home, I thought about what will happen during my recovery. What will I be able to do at home? I’m fortunate that my son is a teen and could do nearly anything we need him to. I worry that my husband will not be well enough, but currently he’s ok. And like many women I know, I currently do WAY too much of the work at my house. That will all have to change.
And I’m going to have to let some things go. I absolutely hate losing control over anything, and this all feels like a damned tornado ripping through every aspect of my life. Yet if I don’t go through with it? Pancreatic cancer will surely rear its ugly head at some point in my future.
So….yeah. I think I’ll take my chances with the tornado.
When I arrived at my house and tiptoed up my icy driveway, I was still in the same good mood I was in when I left. Actually, much more so. Even with all of my worries unraveling, I didn’t need to deal with them right then and there. I just finished running 6.2 miles at a much faster pace than I had run in weeks and with my body still feeling decent. I was smiling as I started to stretch on my front steps, and I asked my husband to take my picture. I wanted a record of how I looked, while I felt as good as I did.
I looked good. Happy. Satisfied.
It was a good day.
The future is uncertain, but isn’t it for all of us? Let’s just try to celebrate those good moments and good days right now.
Tomorrow I’ll work on my plans on how to control the universe.