Saturday, June 23, 2007

and the rain came down

Last Friday night, I had a meltdown.

I can count on one hand the number of times I have cried since being diagnosed with breast cancer, in late 2005.

I remember crying after my surgery.

And when my dog died.

And I probably cried when I found out about the metastasis but my memory of that time is clouded by shock, pain and the drugs used to numb it all.

Other than that, there have been a few teary moments but no honest-to-goodness meltdowns.

I was due.

It was a conversation with my spouse that set me off. It wasn't his fault. He merely expressed reservations about a proposed getaway.

Every insecurity I have ever felt about being loveable came to the surface, as well as the emotional toll of how cancer has changed my body.

I felt rejected.

And I dissolved into a sobbing, gasping puddle.

But really, I'd been primed for a meltdown for days.

I had had a very busy week, as I usually do on my weeks 'off' from chemo. By Thursday, when I went to see my physiotherapist, I was running on fumes. She made a casual comment about an aunt who had liver mets, and who'd had a wonderful active life, post-diagnosis. She added, "and she lived another eight or nine years."

I am not yet forty years old.

In eight years, my youngest son will only be twelve.

I will be lucky to live another eight years, and I will likely be in treatment right until the end.

She intended her words as a kindness but they hit me hard. I didn't respond or even dwell much on her comment but it stayed inside me. I was cranky with my naturopath and out of sorts for the next twenty-four hours.

Tension built, the clouds broke and then down came the rain.

Like all good summer storms, though, the air felt lighter after it ended. The sky was a little bluer this week and the sun shone brightly.

My step has been a little lighter, too, even with a chemo treatment.

And, can I say how lucky I am to live with a man who knows what to do in a meltdown, understands why they're necessary and never expects either apology or explanation?

He's even come around on the getaway plans.


Flippy said...

I'm glad you were able to clear out the emotional cobwebs with a good cry. You definitely were due. It's nice that you have such rock solid support at home. What a good guy. Your physiotherapist was a dope though. I can't imagine that anyone with cancer wants to hear any kind of social conversations about cancer that don't end in, "And 30 years later, s/he feels perfectly fine." It would just seem to be common sense.

Have you thought about adopting a new dog? A puppy seems like it would be too tiring for you, and the last thing you need is to be dealing with puppy messes...from poop to chewed up things. But a nice 3 year old Golden would be comforting, no?

laurie said...

Thanks, Flippy. Your comment about my phsyio was true - and it was good to hear it from someone else.

As for getting a second dog (we have a beautiful black and white boy of uncertain parentage) - we are thinking about it. My oldest son has been lobbying hard.
We need to look at hypo-allergenic dogs though (maybe a standard poodle), as my younger son is allergic (and already lives with a cat and a dog!). We may have to go to a breeder, although I would strongly prefer a rescue of some kind.
Can you tell I've been thinking about this a fair bit, lately?

LR said...

Hey Laurie,
You are utterly entitled to a meltdown once in a while. Insecurity and anxiety are the ever-nagging bedfellows of long term illness. We can ignore, we can keep going, we can be strong. But once in a while even the strongest must recharge, be comforted and just plain scream it out. Wishing I could give you a hug. As for the physio - I have been thinking lately that one of the more surprising things about chronic conditions are how they force me to exercise forgiveness. People mean so well, they just don't know if they haven't been there. I'm sure I step on lots of toes too; toes impacted by events I cannot fathom. Still, when people say that I'm lucky to park in the disabled spot because it is nice and close, I do have fantasies about what their skulls would look like if I swung my carbon-fibre leg brace at them (mantra: forgive forgive they mean well they mean well). As for the standard poodle: I always thought they were proof that even plain simple evolution is equipped with a sense of humour (highly augmented by groomers that make them look so buff). BIG HUG.

Anonymous said...


You're entitled. You have a dreadful disease, with horrible treatments and an uncertain future. I'm surprised you aren't melting down more often. It's a testament not only to your loving support system but even more to your courage and strength.
Just remember, that uncertinty is on your side -- the knowledge landscape and the treatment possibilities are changing and expanding. And you are here to take advantage of that.

I'm struck by the cosmic unfairness of it all. All you young women have so much to offer to your families, to your society; and your time, your focus, your energy is taken up with defeating your disease. And, Laurie, keep on believing that you will.

(Deep hug),