Did you watch the game? Men's college basketball? A week ago Wednesday? Michigan State Spartans were down in Durham, North Carolina duking it out against Duke University. Funny huh? I think so too because I didn't watch the game either. The day before we had arrived home from a four day tour with Yooper. We were down in Durham as well you see. And sadly enough we missed seeing this game, live, in Duke University's basketball court by one day. Oh the thought of it makes me throw my hands up in the air. What were we thinking? Our favorite MSU Spartans playing against Duke? And we missed it by one day. 1!
But that doesn't matter anymore. What does matter is how his appointment turned out. Monday, Novemeber 29th was a big day. No, huge! Weeks building up to it were stressful. Highs and lows. Wondering how his MRI and Pet scan would turn out. Good news? Bad news. So unsure. Your mind begins playing tricks on you. I watched Tim like a hawk wondering if him asking me where his wallet is or if he had already taken some medication or not. Or the night he called me asking me where Maddy and I were because he was waiting for us at the ice rink and me telling him she had skating the next night I would ask myself if he is just tired or is something affecting his memory? Should I be concerned? Are these bouts of memory lapses due to chemo brain or lack of sleep or anxiety? Or all of the above? Or is there tumor progression, affecting his every function.
Tempers were flaring days leading up to his appointment. Sleepless nights. Impatient with one another over littlest things. I was becoming resentful. Towards Tim. Towards this cancer. This resentment was tampering with our marriage. Scraping and scarring with sore words to one another. Accusations. Painful distance. I was building up this wall around me. A wall of protection maybe. And I had no idea I was doing this. A wall to escape what might happen when Tim's doctor gave us his scan results. It was a wall of anger too. Was I toughening myself up for what may be bad news for us? Was I in a way sort of preparing myself for a letdown and to let go?
When we arrived to Durham on Sunday we each held on to hope and sought to remain positive. But inside we were failing miserably. We were both terrified. I saw it in Tim's face before we went to bed and prayed together. I really saw it in his eyes. And while I kept telling him it would all be good and his scans would be clear, I felt the fear in my voice. An unwavering fear for Tim, for me and our future. I dreaded Monday. I wanted the day to be over. I wanted to be back home, safe in my familiar surroundings.
Monday morning began very early and it wasn't until around 1:00 we finally saw his doctor, Dr. Reardon. I was holding my breath too thinking "Here we go. Let this be good news." I tried to read Dr. Reardon to find out what he was about to tell us. But I couldn't. My mind was far too distracted to tell whether his smile was genuine or he had just stamped it on his face seconds prior to seeing us to appear positive for our sanity. It wasn't until minutes after he told Tim he could find no metabolic activity on the scans of his brain that I finally let out a long sigh. A sigh of relief. Weight lifted off of my shoulders. And for Tim too. Fear left his eyes. Happiness and peer joy appeared on his face. His scans were clear! There is no cancer activity going on in his brain. No cells reforming. No tumor progression. Only healing. Healing of brain tissue. Some scarring here and there. But he is well. He is here. He is beating this damn cancer!
Now that we are back home and brought wonderful news back with us, I am seeing changes daily in Tim. His mood is better. He is joking around more. He feels better. His spirits are soaring. But up until last Friday mine weren't. Even though we were given such positive, relieving words about Tim's health, I was still not myself. Very distant. That wall was still there. And I was becoming emotionally exhausted. I would watch Tim tell friends over the phone about his news. Hear the excitement in his voice. Except I wasn't in the same mind frame he was. I was numb and going through the motions. Sure there is no cancer there but we still have a long way to go before he is truly "better" and more himself. More ourselves. What about us? The two of us as a whole? How were "we" doing? Truthfully I didn't feel like "we" were doing all that well. The distance I had brought in between us made me feel empty inside and lonely. What happened to my husband? Where was he? What was happening to me as a person? The past 16 months had taken its toll.
It was last Friday night that is finally hit me. And it hit me hard like a punch in the gut. Those big tough walls finally broke down and crumbled. I was lying in bed waiting for Tim to crawl in beside me and that is when I let the flood gates open. Months of holding it in and hiding my sadness and pain rushed out of me like a raging river. Tim asked me why I was crying and I simply told him " I am so overwhelmed". I didn't need to explain anymore than that. And I couldn't in between sobs and choking on my tears. He knew. He felt it too. I was completely emotionally overwhelmed. I realized as Tim held me that I wanted and needed to be taken care of. With months and months of taking care of him and constant demands to his requests. Always paying attention to how he was feeling physically. The tough wall I had built up around me to stay in control, in order to keep my two feet on the ground, to make sure every daily chore had been done, every bill was paid and on and on. This was my life. Nonstop running in circles yet feeling inside like nothing was really getting done. And I didn't want to keep going at that pace and live like this anymore. Looking back to last Friday night and letting those tears fall and snot drip on Tim's shoulder, I know it will be better now. Weeks leading up to our travels to Duke University truly had beaten us down. Stress and anger and feeling helpless as to how to overcome those emotions hurt both of us. It is all behind us now. We are starting over. We can breathe in deep now and let out a relaxed breath. The holidays are here. Snow has been falling. Spirits are up. There is more happiness in this house. A better connection. Feeling thankful and feeling blessed.