I normally share a lot. A lot a lot. But there are times in my life of uncertainty and absurdity when I circle the wagons. This is one of those times.
She has cancer and it’s bad. He has cancer and it’s bad. If they knew we were sitting around praying for a tumor? Very bad.
My mother-in-law is opinionated and stubborn. The fact that she’s profoundly deaf makes it easier to deal with the personality traits that are less than great. Even so, I love her. My interactions with her have taught me patience and acceptance. You can’t be with her and not possess patience and acceptance.
I’ve learned a lot of other things from her and am grateful for the patience she has shown to me as I stumble through her language. I met her when I was 14 years old, and ever since then I wanted to learn American Sign Language so I could talk to her and the Mr. She used to come through my check-out line at our IGA because she knew that I would take my time and speak directly to her so she could read my lips. In 2007 I dove in, spending two years of Wednesdays attending St. Rita School for the Deaf to learn ASL. I enjoy talking to her, even though remembering the signs in my current cognitive state is rough. She’s 79 and has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. We’re going to lose her.
My husband’s most very remarkable best friend from childhood has cancer. I met him when I was 14 years old. Catch a pattern here? We love him like crazy. A cancer that took up residence on a mangled fingertip is greedily taking over like it owns the place. He’s 51 and we are going to lose him.
Last week, at the same time mom was taken to the ER, my husband and I were talking about my most recent medical fiasco and how a tumor or vascular anomaly diagnosis would be a good thing. The other freak-out-mode inducing alternative? Scary-ass shit Alzheimer’s disease. (Long story short, my mom was diagnosed at my current age and would have been in a nursing home at age 62 had she not died at age 61.)
We reached the absurd, and it’s not lost on us that we have two incredibly wonderful people in our lives who are praying for their tumors to shrivel up and disappear so they can live. We’re not horrible people. We’ve just had enough of the years and years of medical mysteries that are me. Alzheimer’s is at the top of my genetic list titled “Please dear God, don’t let this happen to me.”
Two days after mom’s diagnosis, I had a CT Angiography on my head. I only told a few people it was happening, circling my wagons. And as the whooshing pulsatile tinnitus pounded through my ears, my mouth grew quiet. It takes a whole hell of a lot to move me to quiet – to not be a sharer. At this time, my list of emotional adjectives is long. I am sad, desperate, lost, and so on. When quiet happens, my coping mechanism of choice is to do absurd stuff like replacing the nasty tub drain (girl power) or finding the mates of lonely socks, even if it takes a few hours (things the girls should be doing). I even spent an entire day sitting in the bathtub re-caulking it. It had to be done, and it was what I could control. (You don’t have to psychoanalyze me, I psychoanalyze myself just fine, TYVM).
Today the results came in that my head is a thing of beauty. The deliverer of said news knew it wasn’t what I wanted to hear and offered a sincere apology. I hung up and cried. HARD. I apologized to my sympathetically huggy husband who was apologizing to me. ME! Really? The man who has to handle all my shit and he’s apologizing? When I finally got my act together I did what I do best. I made a plan. I made an appointment. I will delve. I will dig. I will do tests. I will pay the money. I will get answers. I will deal. I will live as long as I can live.
I am absurd.