I had a complete ugly-cry breakdown on Tuesday afternoon. I was at a birthday breakfast for two of my sisters-in-law Tuesday morning when I got a call that the local surgeon does not handle this type of skin cancer and that I would have to go to Portland for the procedure (it's scheduled for January 6th).
It felt like nothing was going right...and if nothing was going right now, how could it possibly be okay in the end?! I freaked.
I think that one of the things that was helping me stay relatively calm was being able to tell myself that it was just a basic in-office procedure that could be done here locally, and no big deal. I'd be home in my own bed that night. But then when I was told it had to be in Portland, suddenly we were talking cancer centers, big teaching hospitals, making arrangements to leave Lizzy overnight (which we haven't done yet), arranging for Justin to get time off work--unpaid, as his work no longer gives vacation or sick time. It meant being given info for patient advocates, The American Cancer Society, and places that give assistance for medical-related travel expenses. It meant calling places and saying, "Hi, I'm Meredith, and I have an extremely unusual form of skin cancer and I need to _______." It meant letters from my dermatologist, which she said were meant not to freak me out but to allow for maximum assistance from some local nonprofits that assist with out of town medical expenses (though, I'm not sure I should read the letters at all, because I have no doubt that they will, indeed, just freak me out). It just felt like it became so much bigger in a matter of minutes, if that makes any sense.
[I can see now that since this is a rare form of skin cancer, it's probably better that I'm in a larger city, with a larger hospital, and doctors who have more experience with looking at this specific type of cancer, since the key part of the procedure is making sure that none of the cancer cells remain. I didn't see it then though!]
Because of the nature of where I received the call about having to go up to Portland, it also meant explaining the whole situation over and over again, which was a little hard for me. I know it was simply because my friends and family care about me and wanted to know what was going on. But saying it out loud is still hard. I don't like to breakdown in public, and I don't always trust my emotions with this yet. Then, over the course of the day, a few well-intentioned people voiced concerns and statements like, "How do they know that this cancer isn't everywhere already?" I can understand the heart behind those statements, but at the time, they just freaked me out even more.
And I feel kind of crappy even mentioning this, but I was also overwhelmed with offers to help--cooking meals, watching Lizzy, everything. Normally, this would definitely be a good thing, but I was already so overloaded with information that it just didn't feel like the good kind of overwhelmed at the time. I felt like I couldn't make any decision at all, and the idea of possibly hurting anyone's feelings by saying 'Thanks, but we've already got that covered,' just sent me over the top. Like I said, I feel a little terrible for even writing this, because obviously having more help than needed is a great problem to have, and I'm so thankful for my family and friends. I'm at the point now where I *truly* appreciate all the offers to help...and to all my friends and family--I'm sorry if I didn't seem to be appreciative at the time. I was just overwhelmed with information at that point, and didn't know how to handle it all.
And then on the way home, I felt like every song on the radio was of the I-can't-wait-to-be-in-heaven variety, and I found myself shouting "No! I DO NOT want to be in heaven right now!!' at inanimate objects in the car. I'm sure Lizzy must have thought I'd lost my marbles.
In a way, I guess I had.
I called Justin and told him that I was bringing him Taco Bell for lunch. The day called for fake nacho cheese, you know? Justin is a wise man and sweet husband, and said okay even though he had packed himself a lunch, and it wasn't exactly in the budget. Once I got there, I cried so hard I fogged up all the windows. Asking silly questions that felt so big in my mind at the time, like 'I thought we'd have Lizzy's birthday party that weekend--when will we have it now and what if I don't feel up to throwing a party?'
Justin was great. He listened. And then he laid out a plan for what we'll do--which was exactly what I needed at a time. I needed someone to delegate for me. He told me about the quiet car ride we'll have with adult music. That it can be a fun(ish) weekend away instead of just a trip for the procedure. Maybe I'll even be able to convince him to eat at Cafe Yumm ;)
Then, I went home and had an afternoon in my pajamas browsing Pinterest (thank you Dad for the router that makes Pinterest browsing possible!).
I say all this because I think it's important to be clear that however the last few posts may have come across, I'm not without worry or fear about all this. The worry and fear come sneaking up, especially at night. However, the worries don't feel as all-consuming as they have. I'm trying not to dwell on them as I have in the past--I'm trying to nip them in the bud. Pray about them. Surrender them. And then move past them. But let me be clear--I don't do it right all the time. Not even close.
I'm doing okay again now. Feeling more positive, but a little frustrated to not know more--the nurse from Portland acknowledged that this is often the case with patients who have the more rare forms of skin cancer because their local dermatologist often doesn't know a ton about it other than that the patient needs to be referred to Portland. And since we're out of town, we don't sit down and talk with the doctor ahead of time--that all happens on the day of the surgery (though she did assure me that I can always call if I have more questions). For now though, sometimes it's a little hard to balance what my dermatologist has told me (essentially that this is NOT a big deal) with some of the stories and info that I initially read online. Does my doctor really know what she's talking about? But then again, how do I even know that the stories I initially read online are accurate and/or reflective of my situation?
It's a little hard, sometimes. Everyone tells me that they are sure that I'll be fine...but they were all also sure that it wasn't cancer in the first place, so...
No. I need to stop thinking that way. It's a logical fallacy, and I know it. Don't ask me which one, because it's been far too long since I've taken AP Comp.
I think I've also decided that I'm going to try to limit writing about this on the blog to no more than once a week, if at all possible. I'm kind of tired of writing about it, just as I'm sure you're all tired of reading about it. I know that sometimes I'll need to get things out and just vent, but I also don't want my blog to become a place where I can drown myself in worries and obsessive thoughts. I need a balance. And, I need to force myself to do and write about other things too.
Tomorrow? I'm writing about Outlander :)