Wednesday, July 13, 2016

And then my cat died

It's been quite a spring. There was the brain tumour, then there was the 20-year old cat who had a stroke, rallied, then quietly died 2.5 weeks later on the table at the vet's office while I sobbed and sobbed over her tiny, frail body.

2016 has been a bit...challenging.

But what I'm finding pretty fascinating is that I seem to be handling it all with a shocking amount of competency (for me, anyway). I'm not sure if I'm just immune to trauma at this point, or if Therapist Lady was onto something when she suggested I try EMDR a few years ago. I very reluctantly agreed, and plowed my way through several agonizing sessions from the summer of 2014 through to early 2015.

They were unpleasant (understatement). But I felt calmer afterward - more relaxed than I had been in years. So when disaster struck and I thought I would lose My Beloved, my brain didn't implode; I didn't lose my mind. I went to the specialist appointments, I went to the hospital, I waited during the 3-hour surgery, I saw him lousy with tubes and hooked up to monitors and leaking blood from that precious head. All the hospital sounds, sights and smells - all those triggers.

And I didn't lose my mind.

I did come close to having what I suspect would have been an epic anxiety attack while we were in the pre-op waiting room just minutes before they wheeled him into the operating room. But I dug deep into my bag of "Calm the hell DOWN, Kristin!" tricks, remembered some breathing exercises I could do without him noticing, and managed not to pass out, throw up, or run screaming from the room.

I admit I'm bone tired. My nerves are frayed. If possible I'd like there to be a nice long break before the next crisis arises (because one always comes). But I am still putting one foot in front of the other.

So kudos to Therapist Lady, the family and friends who once again stepped in and offered exactly the kind of support we've needed over the past few months, and to My Beloved for somehow managing to host the best possible kind of tumour in his noggin.

And as for you, Lucy, you were the best kitty that ever lived. Even though you were, in the end, barely 6 pounds, you've left a huge hole in my heart and in our house. Miss you, pretty princess.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Brain tumour? Why not?

So to recap, there were the five lost babies, the failed fertility treatments, the depleted bank account, the busted mind, the therapy, further depletion of the bank account (re: therapy), resignation, childlessness, a little more therapy, fragile peace.

Actual peace.

It took several years to get to the point where I was mostly okay with this life. I mean, never completely satisfied because of all the missing kids 'n stuff, but mostly okay. Happy even. I got into a cool groove with my niece and nephews and felt them filling in little gaps I didn't know could be filled, and I started to relax into this unwanted life in a way I didn't know was possible.

And then on my motherfucking birthday an optometrist told My Beloved that the weird test results from his visual field test could only mean two things: a stroke or a tumour.


I mean really, no fluff in the eye? No mechanical error? No, "I just got my license and I don't really know what I'm doing"?

Nope. Just a stroke or a tumour.

And, to make a long story short, of course it was a tumour. Of course. Because we don't do anything small around here. If we're going to lose babies, we're going to lose five of them. And if one of us is going to have weird vision issues, it's going to be because of a brain tumour. Obviously.

And just like that, we were once again thrust into a situation for which there is no survival manual. I mean, if you don't count medical textbooks. And we handled it with our usual weirdness. After the diagnosis came, we went out for hamburgers and bought Lego mini figures like there was nothing wrong at all. And we sighed and held hands and said how relieved we were to finally know for sure. THAT HE HAD A BRAIN TUMOUR.

I lied my way through the next two weeks telling My Beloved everything would be fine. Side note: I learned I can lie like a rug. It was truly some Oscar worthy stuff. In fact it was so good I almost believed it myself, at least when he was within arm's reach. But every day when he left for work all I could feel was the crushing weight of his absence, and it terrified me. I couldn't bear him not being with me because I was so desperately afraid that soon he wouldn't be with me.

To be clear, there are other very, very dear people in my life who I love and rely on - but he is my person. He is literally my better half (really - I do mean that literally), and he is also the only person who completely understands this weird life I lead because he leads it too. We are parents to the same missing boy and the same four little sprites who were too tiny for us to meet.

So in addition to all the lying, I did some of my very best praying during those weeks between diagnosis and surgery while he was at work. Actually, it was mostly begging and sobbing, but we'll call it praying.

I got so used to saying, "You're going to be okay" with conviction I didn't feel and confidence I didn't have that the lying became second nature. I hardly had to think about it. I'd hear him sigh, or catch him looking pensive, and the words would come. "You're going to be okay."

Because if you say it enough, maybe it comes true.

I did mostly think he'd be okay, but only because the alternative was too chilling to contemplate. All I knew was that 17 years wasn't even CLOSE to enough time to have together, so to think it was going to end in that operating room on that sunny May day was inconceivable.

And it didn't. He is here and the tumour is gone. Best of all, it was benign. Benign, thank God.

At today's 2-month follow up we got the official all clear. Not only is the surgeon very happy with My Beloved's recovery, the interloper is completely gone and no new hitchhikers have taken up residence in the meantime, so it's back to business as usual.

If you don't count all the blinking, staring into space, and muttering, "What the hell just happened!?"

Yup. Business as usual.