Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lessons Learned 1

This observation will be ongoing because no one appears to think that it's necessary to have a cheat sheet when you're young and find out that you're a damn widow. Let's add that you're a damn widow who had less than 30 days to prepare for your husband to die. As if you can prepare. Welcome to my ongoing cheat sheet on shit no one tells people when their spouse dies.

  1. I feel bi-polar even though I know I'm not. I can swing from pure happiness to silent sobbing in a span of 10 seconds. Although I know it's normal, I don't like it. Fuck it. It's horrific to feel like this and not know when my emotions are going to get the better of me and take control.

  2. Although they'll ask you to stop cursing, you don't have to stop cursing at customer service reps who have the audacity to tell you, "I understand." I have told a slew of those fuckers the following:
    "No. No, you do not. You don't understand. Don't utter that phrase to me. Make notes in your sytem and tell you fucking supervisors to use MY RECORDED CALL to train fools who work for your company because you DO NOT UNDERSTAND. You are not 43. You are not a woman. You don't have two boys. And your husband did not just die in the span of one fucking month. You do NOT understand."

    I always feel smug after I've let loose on them because there is a slight span of silence as the idiot on the other end digests the fact that I'm right and they're wrong. Dead-ass wrong. I also never apologize for these fits of crazy. I feel like people who have their spouses die like mine did have carte blanche to do and say whatever the fuck they want to for at least a year with absolutely no repercussions.

  3. Don't you dare tell me that God wanted him back. For real? Really? Do you think God wanted him more than his son does? Fuck off. God didn't do this shit, and you're stupid for bringing him into the conversation with me. Never say that shit to me again.

  4. If my new diet consists of Special K breakfast sandwiches, coffee, water, and crabcakes, don't bother me about it. I don't want to explain that I have no appetite even though Richie will have been gone four months tomorrow. Four fucking months of no appetite. And I'm so irked when people tell me I HAVE to eat. You think I don't know that? You think I don't understand self-care and basic caloric intake? I get it. I get it more than you know. But getting out of bed, taking a shower, and taking care of my kid and pets are about all I can handle right now. Don't preach to me about eating. I don't want to hear it.

  5. Don't ask me when I'm going to date again. Really? It's none of your business whether or not I'll consider dating - and if I do, I'm certainly not going to notify you. Nosy mutha fucca.

  6. Time alone. I crave it. I swear I haven't truly been alone just to breath by myself in so long. I can't recall having time just to myself. I love my son. I love him so much. I worry about him endlessly. But being around him 24/7 is driving me crazy. It's not even like he's a distraction. People always talk about how lucky I am to have him and D to concentrate on. Listen up - don't you dare fucking tell me how lucky I am. I'm fucked, ok? There's no good way for me to have my husband dead. With kids. Without kids. Either way, it fucking sucks. I've learned to take some time by myself at night. Robert still sleeps with me. My goal is that he'll be in his own bed by June, however, I don't have it in me to make him be alone at night when he misses his father and needs my presence. For two weeks now I've put him to bed after reading with him in bed. I leave the door halfway open with the light on. The cats and dogs can come and go as they please. Me? My ass, no matter how tired, sits on the couch because it means I am ALONE. No one's talking to me, talking at me, talking about me. If I want to sit with no television, no noise, I can. I can watch whatever I want without worrying about some sex scene or crazy murder scence popping up on the screen. I savor that time at night more than anything else at this point.

    Wade through my angry ramblings and find the lesson here: Carve out some along time or you'll lose your damn mind. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How Do You Do It?

So it begs the question. How do you pull your shit together, drive home, look at your kids, lie about their dad, and go back to the hospital?

You just do it. You have to. I'm so tired of people saying, "How do you do it? I have no idea how you're acting normal. I wouldn't be able to do that."

Well, here's your update: You. Just. Do. It. Some do-gooder said, "You DO have the choice to not go on." Hmph. Guess what, dummy? I don't. I have never entertained the idea of not going on. Shutting down. Calling it quits. Throwing up the white flag. Nope. That's just not who I am and I refuse to give in to the tide that tries to overtake me every minute of every day. I refuse to give my sons the impression that Richie dying is going to beat us, drive us into the ground, destroy our lives. Do I FEEL like that sometimes? Fucking absolutely. However, I will not allow cancer to not only take my husband from us but also steal our lives.

That night, I went home, packed up clothes for Richie in his  hospital room, and grabbed his CPAP machine. I lied to Robert and told him that there was only some medicine that can be given to his father in the hospital but that he would be home. It wasn't a lie at the time. I was certain Richie was going to die but just as sure that he would come home and be able to live for a while. In my head, I'd already thought that we'd have six months. In retrospect, that seems like a lifetime of opportunities for us to talk, laugh, hug, and love each other. I had no idea what we were truly up against; neither did his oncology team.

I recall that night at home with bursts of clarity. I lied to Robert and told him D needed to talk with me privately because he'd had a bad day. My friend was with me. She'd followed me home that night after I'd lost my shit in the hospital parking lot. She and Robert went outside so I could talk with D. My D. Basically abandoned by his mother and father. How was I going to tell him that we were going on an unscheduled roller coaster ride through hell? Just because he's strong and resilient doesn't mean that I wanted him to show his depth of courage and toughness.

When you look up at a young man who is over six feet tall and hovers at around 300lbs, it's sometimes difficult for people to remind themselves that the young man is really a child. D had never seen me cry more than a few tears. Sure. I cried at his graduation. Happy tears. Crying through laughter. This though? This was different. This was odd. I told him through tears that Richie had cancer and that it was bad. He was a silent, immovable wall in front of me for a moment until he quietly asked, "But he's going to be ok." And this is where my body had a visceral reaction to the truth I'd utter to him. "No. He's not going to be ok. He's going to die." I don't want to think that I gave up on my Richie. I was ready to fight. Yet, I've always been a blunt straight-shooter. Nothing that presents itself that quickly is going away. One of my proudest moments is the fact that D was able and willing to comfort me while I cried in his arms. I remember apologizing to him because I'd never allowed him to see me truly lose it. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

And The News Came, Fast and Furious

What do you say after your husband dies? What is it that's going to make things better?

I miss him desperately because he knew me. I hate him horribly for not taking better care of himself and dying so soon.

And I hate myself…for not being more understanding.

My husband was told he had a sinus infection on May 23, 2014. Just a few days later he was feeling so poorly that I took him to an urgent care on Memorial Day. They told him he had an infected parotid gland in his neck, gave him an antibiotic and some Lortab and said he'd feel great in two days. "Take off the rest of today and Tuesday. You'll feel so much better and be ready to go back to work on Wednesday."

He never complained about being in pain…when he got to the point that he was feeling so poorly and asking for relief, I knew something was wrong. Like clockwork, I went to work that Wednesday. He did too. 20 minutes into his shift, he couldn't stand up without being dizzy and unsteady on his feet. He couldn't stand on his own and was weak. He did the one thing he'd never done in the 15 years we'd been together: He called me at work and told me to come get him because he couldn't drive.

I left and immediately took him to the ER of the hospital where he worked. Within two hours, they found a mass on his lung, had him on an IV, and had taken x-ays, a CT, and an MRI. The ER doctor made it clear that he was sure my Richie had cancer; he just didn't know what kind. Richie was admitted to the oncology unit from the ER that day, had four biopsies, and a PET scan. The PET scan revealed that the cancer was in his lung, all lymph nodes, and his neck. He'd had a chest xray three months earlier which showed none of these masses. How in the entire fuck do you go from nothing to mass destruction?

I feel like telling this story is a report rather than the emotional hell it's been since day one. I was nothing short of stoic as I sat there in the ER and then the hospital room asking questions about PET scans, CT and MRIs, blood work and biopsies.  I recall being asked by one of the ER physicians what field of medicine I practiced. He truly thought I was a doctor based on my questions and understanding of the babblespeak to which I was subjected. I remember giving a jaded chuckle because the only way someone knows what I know yet isn't a medically trained professional, is because she's seen it happen before.

I'm used to people leaning on me, relying on me, depending on me. I'm not used to being the weak one who asks for help. This road has been the toughest every because of that. I want so badly to isolate from everyone and never speak or think of this again. Magical beans and all that shit.

That night as I walked out of the hospital room, that first night, I had a call from a dear friend who said she was on her way to the hospital. The last thing I wanted to do was talk. I wanted to get home, get clothes for Richie, his CPAP, toothbrush…the real life things that would keep me sane. She cornered me in the parking lot, and I bluntly told her he had cancer and was going to die. I don't know why, but I knew that first night that he would die and it wouldn't take long.

My big mouth. My large, loud, brash mouth lost its shit in that parking lot when she tried to hug me. I knew I would crumble if she hugged me. I remember screaming at the top of my lungs and hitting my car over and over again. I'm sure I looked like a lunatic. Some dumbass do-gooders called security on me. Three different rent-a-cops came at me. All I could do was laugh through my hysterical tears and tell them to go to my husband's room so they could verify that I was losing my shit because my husband was dying of cancer. Yup. That's what I did. To say I wanted to strangle them and everyone else standing around staring at my meltdown is an understatement.

Life as I knew it was no longer normal. Predictable. Happy. Even. Smooth. Calm. I had the monster of cancer looking me in the face every time I glanced at my husband. The tumor on his neck huge, bulging, taking over his body by the second.

That's it kids. That's all I can muster today.