Tuesday, November 8, 2011

This Week - Ordination and Cancer

1.  I am in trouble.  I had no idea about ordination gifts.  No expectation or anticipation whatever.  Apparently that was extremely dumb.  I have received such personal, thoughtful, creative presents ~ I am astonished.  And grateful.  And I thank so many of you, and I WILL do so, personally and for real  ~ but it will take a little while. And if  "a little while" is after surgery ~ well, so be it. 

This is nothing like after Josh died ~ when every thank-you note was an exercise in anguish, and I would have to take breaks that lasted for weeks. This time, I look at these wonderful gifts and I am filled with joy and gratitude.  But I'm still pretty slow.

2. This cancer thing?  It's tough, although not in ways you might expect.  I continue to struggle with the reality that it, too, is not Josh ~ and so where do I put it?  The other night, my husband said, "It IS breast cancer, you know."  "Right," I responded.  "Right; I keep forgetting."

All of us in our little family have acknowledged: This is not the death of our son and brother.  But everything for us is about life and death, and for me about mothering and bodies.  So what is this, exactly?  How much mental attention and energy does this warrant?  I guess it gets what it gets.  Some times a lot and sometimes none.

3.  I've been reading a few blogs, trying to retain my equanimity where some of the descriptions of the week after surgery are concerned, and trying to pick up practical information.  Some of them are incredibly helpful, full of tips that are obvious once you read them, but are not things that would have occurred to me on my own.  So I am wondering, in an unimpressed and sarcastic kind of way: Ten days away and I've received nothing from the hospital about what I might need for the day and night I get to spend there and for the days immediately following. Helloooooo?

4.  Best tips worth sharing: Pajamas that open in front (for ~ ahem ~ gross and messy activities) and have a front pocket, for a phone and ipod.  In the hospital, said one woman, I couldn't do much, but when I was vaguely alert, I could send and receive texts.  Second thing, if you want to do something for a friend facing this, or any other major surgery: Target (or whatever; Target is the one closest to us) gift cards.  There are a lot of little unexpected expenses, things you need that you might not usually buy.  Too late for me ~ I now have leggings and socks and men's t-shirts ~ but in case you want to help someone else out and ESPECIALLY if, like me, your cooking skills don't extend beyond grilled cheese, those little cards would be a godsend.

5.  I have some really, really bad moments, and hours, and longer.  But today I was muttering to myself (no, not out loud) that sometimes I really do get sick of how people just do not "get" certain things, like for instance the confluence of the death of a child and breast cancer, and then I thought, "But I do.  I have now become a person who gets it."  I can't say that I consider that to be good news.  But maybe , for someone else one day, it will be at least helpful news.

6.  I could, of course, write thank-you notes if I stopped blogging!


  1. Robin,

    Waiting for the surgery has GOT to be one of the hardest things about this. No matter how you try to prepare, there's no way to know in advance how the experience will be and how it will affect you.

    Once the unknown becomes known, then you'll have a chance to take some control back. And you know how we love us some control!

  2. Hello,
    Thank you for your deeply honest sharing on this blog, which I continue to enjoy. I wonder if you might be interested in the recent book "Knockout" by Suzanne Somers, which is exceptionally-well written and researched about cancer treatments and options. She is a breast cancer survivor, and this has been one of the most helpful books I've found on the subject. Truly eye-opening.

    Thanks again for your blog, and congratulations on your ordination.


  3. What I really wanted was a bed jacket--something to wear on my upper body to keep me warm while I was in bed. And wool socks--those things the hospital gives you are totally worthless, you won't be able to walk in wool socks though. I bought cheap housedresses at WallMart (yeah, I know) that snapped down the front for wearing at home.

    I don't know what UH is like, but my experience in Memphis is that you need someone with you 24/7 while you are in the hospital. My sister came to be with me, but friends spelled her. She needed a night off after a couple of nights in the hospital. (A nurse tried to give me the wrong meds and was really hassling me until she realized she had the wrong room.)

    And by the way, I have grown to love morphine. It makes having surgery something to look forward to!

    Keeping you in my prayers.

  4. Oh, and I don't need a thank you note.

  5. I'm so sorry that you have to "get" all the things you do... but you not only "get" the atrocities very well, you share them with the rest of us in a most generous way. Thank you for doing so.

    ps muttering is good for you
    maybe not quite as good as morphine
    carry on

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  7. I would also recommend another set of eyes/ears/voice both pre-op and post-op. When my brother was in "big well known hospital" it took the pharmacy three days to get his meds (that he was already taking upon admission) correct.

    Friend...family member...you will know what works best for you.

    Question everything. One of my very best friends works in the MR/CT department and the stories...just ask, ask, ask.

  8. No surprises on #5 and, while I wish it weren't so, I must say THANK YOU once again for your grace in sharing so much with us. You are a teacher extraordinaire.
    How apropos--the word verification is "britin".

  9. It's f-ing hard. I hate this for you.
    My list of things I can't believe I have to know about is different from yours, but I suspect more people have those lists than we can even imagine. My prayer is always that my experiences will make me compassionate in the most spiritually useful ways when the moment comes. (Since I am worthless at casseroles, but like you, good at grilled cheese.)