Back from the Brink*

One panicked call to a babysitter, two liters of saline, and three visits from my onc's Number 2 guy, I am home and feeling quite a bit better. While I'm far from 100% (ah, that elusive 100%...), I am no longer feeling nauseous, desperate and pathetic...well, at least not as much of an ineffectual failure as I was earlier.

Seriously--What is the most basic, biological need we as animals have? Water**. People can go weeks without eating but deprive them of access to clean water and they're dead in a matter of days. The thirst drive has to be incredibly strong, because without it, we're a goner.

And then there was me. My body's homeostatic mechanisms were so out of whack, they couldn't even get me to do the simplest yet most important thing in the world: drink a damn glass of water.

So, after exchanging several emails with my onc of me running my litany of side effects, I got a call from a nurse at the clinic today, asking how I was doing, which I responded to by bursting into tears.

I am not a person to ask for help. To a San Andreas fault. In my long-held, personal opinion, not being able to keep all your shit in one sock is a weakness and I am nothing if not a smart, independent, take care of business, take no prisoners/bullshit kinda lady***.

But even if you've got intestinal fortitude coming out the wazoo, when your wazoo gets all wazon't and your fortitude gets eroded with every sickening intestinal roll, there comes a time when you have to stop defining yourself by some over-blown bullshit pride of having iron-clad ovaries and accept help.

This is going to be a long, long process of undoing decades of stubborn self reliance and practicing taking people up on their offers of assistance. I am just so grateful that I have offers to accept and that so many of my neighbors are genuinely invested in my health and my family's well-being.

I will say that it is a lot easier to accept help than ask for it, and so this is where I run the risk of both repeating myself and doling out the universally disliked dish of unsolicited advice:

If you have a friend, family member or neighbor who is having a rough go of things, the more specific you can be in your offers of help, the easier it is for the person to plan for and accept the help.

It is not enough to say "O hai, let me kno if u need NEthing, kthxbi!" That puts the ball in the other persons court, where it will more than likely stay.

A better approach is to say something along the lines of "I would like to make you dinner sometime this week, would that be ok?" or "I don't leave for work until 10am and would like to come over and do a little cleaning, what is too early for you?"

Then, when you get there, make sure that your friend/family/ neighbor is settled. Come in with a totally relaxed but take-charge attitude, and get a quick run-down of what needs to be done (if you can't immediately see it), only asking questions of where to find things or how s/he likes things done if you're absolutely flummoxed.

If the helpee frequently pops up to check in on you, gently shoo them away with a calm and capable "I got it taken care of--you go back to what you were doing" (which takes the pressure of the command of "Go get some REST!" off of them).

This is what my microwave guy did, and I don't know what it was about what he said or how he said it, but I felt like the situation was handled and I totally relaxed.

So, I am making a commitment to Jody, my parents, my neighbors and all of you dear, concerned readers, to be better about accepting help and working on asking for it before I need it. At least before my planet spins right out of orbit.

The corner is...well, right around the corner.

* And I'm not talking about the bar on the other side of town.
** Ok, so I'm pretty sure that shelter outranks water.
*** Yes, even ladies can say "bullshit."


Ed said...

Hear, hear! It is so humbling and totally amazing to realize that you do not have to go the course alone.

I am glad that you got some fluids, too.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the blog - your writing is terrific and it adds a "human" side of things - rather than clinical that you so often get when facing cancer.

My ex-husband (we are still friends) was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last December. He's not talking about it much ("I'm fine", Chemo is going great, blah blah blah") which I know CANNOT POSSIBLY be true since he was given 12 months - and the diagnosis of inoperable - mets to the liver already. This helps my daughter and me "deal" and understand this awful thing called "CANCER" and all of its many faces.

I wish you well and pray for your 100% recovery so that you spend the remainder f your days here on earth living and loving your family and friends and watching your beautiful daughter become a remarkable young women. (There is no chance that she won't be a remarkable young woman with you as her Mom).

Texas, US

Megan said...

I think you and I are made of the same cloth, Sugarmouth. I've also had to learn the "no (wo)man is an island" lesson hard core. I'm still working on it, and I have to remind myself all the time but I think it's good for me *and* those who care for me.

Also, whenever I'm out to dinner and someone offers to pay the bill I don't fight anymore (no, you shouldn't...let me...no, really...) I just accept graciously and get a free meal. So that's been a good side effect.

Steph said...

Clap, clap, clap!!

Anonymous said...

You are a total bad-ass. But even bad-asses have only two hands, two feet, and one sanity. I really wish we were closer to you to be able to help like that. A few things that definitely have not suffered during all of this are your sense of humor, your wit, and your writing ability. \/

Anonymous said...

You should read the book 90 Minutes in Heaven...talks a lot about accepting help from others and puts it in a way I had never thought about before. It's also a really good book and a quick read.