Wednesday, October 5, 2011

23 days to go & I'm already a ball of nerves

This is my creation for a blog I
contribute to called Catholic Sistas
 for Respect Life/Breast Cancer awareness month
 If I wasn't afraid I'd lose my curls, I'd be pulling my hair out over my upcoming surgery. << That is my weak attempt at humor for this post.

For some reason this surgery is causing me more stress than ANY of my others (that I remember). I think at least a portion of the stress is caused by vanity. I have nightmares of waking up with gaping holes in my chest while the doctors just shake their heads and say, "It looks fine." Really though, I know that is the least of my concerns. I know this surgery is fundamentally more risky than my previous surgeries. Even the bilateral mastectomy was less of a risk simply because its pretty simple to amputate. The difficulty comes in trying to transplant to an area already fraught with inflammation and scar tissue. Part of the difficulty is rooted in the vanity side of the operation -- afterall the entire purpose of this type of surgery is to *look* normal. However, infection of both the donor site (my belly fat) or transplant site (the new foobs) is a significant possibility. Its also possible for the transplant to just not 'take'. I'm also paranoid that going this drastic is not going to affect my pain levels significantly. Well, I *KNOW* the surgery is going to immediately cause an increase in pain level. The chancy part is whether my chest, neck, shoulder, & arm pain will decrease, stay the same, or even possibly increase. The true purpose of this (final?!?!) surgery is to relieve my pain, but so far, no one is willing to give me odds on a positive outcome.

Another aspect of this surgery that I've hinted (ok, ok -- I outright asked/am asking for donations) is the financial considerations. In my previous post, I outlined that I am the *only* income for our household of 4. My husband & I figured it out last night: by the time you subtract the mortgage & my gas money to commute to work, we have approximately $250 per person for the entire month. That has to cover groceries, car insurance, diapers for two large kids (Simon's pretty good during the day, but nights are a whole 'nother story), toiletries, medical needs, incidentals, and the unexpected costs associated with life and having 2 worn out vehicles ('88 Ford Turbo Coupe & '95 Jeep Grand Cherokee). Even with coupons & savings cards, our grocery bills typically reach $200 twice a month. Then you have to factor in getting *to* the grocery store when driving aforementioned worn out vehicles. I didn't realize it as much when Simon was younger, but diaper boxes really do contain a whole lot less the larger the child. To be completely honest, things have gotten so bad that Andrew & I are taking steps toward bankruptcy. I wake up every morning for work and feel nothing but dread; not necessarily because I hate my job, but more because I know I'm stuck working to *barely* support my family. When I sleep my dreams are populated with the horrors of surgery (including my death) as well as financial ruin (my family being homeless). That makes for a bad attitude, panic attacks, and exhaustion (even though I know perfectly well that my extended family would never let us be homeless or go without necessities).

Going through this surgery requires me to put a LOT of faith in my doctors and our Merciful God. I'm not very good at turning the reins over to another. Hence the panic attacks, hot flashes, and overall flipping out I've been doing lately. I've always felt like I need to protect others from unpleasantness. I hold my emotions in so someone else can have me as their support and/or so someone else doesn't have to support me. I work really hard to try to reassure everyone that everything will be ok. My cheerful facade is just that -- a facade. It's no more real than the old-timey movie sets in our favorite movies.

Sometimes I can trick myself into believing my facade is my truth. Then something happens to reveal a crack. The crack slowly becomes larger & larger until I feel like I can no longer withstand the whirlwind of emotions coming toward me. I've been told to "let go and let God." Oh, how I wish it was that easy! I pray to God to lift the burden from me. I've been told, "Just like the footprints in the sand, God will carry you if you'll just let him. He already, is in fact." I turn around to look, but instead of footprints at all, all I see is the whirlwind obliterating all the progress I've made. I look at the image of Christ on the cross and I Faithfully know that my burdens and sins were nullified by His Act of Sacrifice. However, I can't help but also see the cross I'm carrying and nailed upon. Christ's was the Ultimate Sacrifice for me and you. However, when the winds overwhelms me (us?), it is so difficult to see how His Selfless Act could *really* take away my sufferings. Maybe I'm looking at it wrong. Afterall, Christ did tell us that we had to pick up our cross and follow Him. Maybe I have picked up my cross, but I'm not yet to the path in the road where Jesus takes my "yoke upon His shoulders". Maybe its because I'm willfully (even if subconsciously) turning from His path by pridefully creating my own.

Even as I type this, I know that without Christ's help I'd have already succumb to my life's troubles. So, even as I question myself and God, I Faithfully *KNOW* that He is watching over me. I'm in that odd state of acknowledging God's help but still requiring so much more. Neither the grief counseling books nor the cancer help books have accurately described this place I feel I'm in. I don't doubt God nor do I blame God. I don't ask Him "Why", but I also don't ask Him often enough for help. I'm not angry or belligerent. I know that somewhere inside this mess of my life is a message from Him to me and to everyone who has been touched by my life. I just can't see that message to me. I can see the message to others and that's another reason why I have such a cheerful facade. I want everyone to know that it *IS* possible to keep the Faith while going through trials. I want everyone to know that it *IS* possible to carry your child to term and receive treatment for cancer. I want everyone to see the positives of my situation -- not the negatives. However, behind the facade the negatives build.

This, my journal, is a release of these tumultuous emotions I have. Althought I'm speaking "to" an audience (you my readers), in reality I am speaking to myself. I am reassuring myself that if I can put my troubles in black & white (well, my draft is black & white) then there *must* be a way to resolve them. Plus, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit from your prayers is ALWAYS a welcome addition to problem solving!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10/05/2011

    Oh, Erika! Wanting to be normal is not vain! You seem to be very hard on yourself. It sounds like you are doing a fantastic job with the hand you've been dealt. You and your family will be in our prayers. God bless!


My Chemo-Jane hair-style

My Chemo-Jane hair-style
I just had to have my mom buzz my hair because it was falling out so badly.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.
My loving husband is watching me distract myself with a game on his iPhone.

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs
I even have a fashionable belt to hold up my drains.

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE
The smile is fake because the TEs were irritating!