One of the biggest stressors in life is illness, and in the past few months we have all learned how true that is. Since Trevor was diagnosed in May, we have been through different stages of highs and lows. I hoped that once the surgery was over, we might be able to breathe a sigh of relief and find some normalcy again. Not so much. At least, not yet.
Don't get me wrong: I'm thrilled that the surgery is over and T is back home. It's comforting to have my crew back together again under the same roof. Even though that has happened, things aren't exactly status quo again. As part of T's treatment, he temporarily has an ostomy bag while his bowel is healing post-surgery. As with most things in life, it's easy to think that it isn't a big deal when you're not experiencing it yourself. He still has months of chemo left to do. He's tired and not regaining his strength as quickly as he would like. Having a serious illness changes a person; no one can face his own mortality without coming out a little different on the other side. There is a learning curve, and we're still figuring out how to deal with everything.
And just as much as he is trying to figure out what his new normal is, the kids and I are trying to do the same. Obviously, I am better at dealing with the change than the kids are, and I spend a lot of time reassuring them and trying to make things as relatable as possible. I don't think they fully understand that we still have a long road ahead of us, and quite frankly, I don't have the heart to tell them that the surgery wasn't the end of all the tests, treatments, and upheaval. I know it's difficult for T because he can't do the same things he was able to do before the diagnosis. Truthfully, it's hard on everyone. But that's marriage, you know? I remember my mom telling me that marriage is rarely exactly 50-50. Sometimes it's more like 30-70 or even 88-12, but as long as each spouse takes turns giving more or less, it's all good. This is just one of the times that the percentage is tipped a bit more my way, and when it's all said and done, I'll have my turn to breathe.
Even if it were 0-100 right now, which it most certainly is not, I have had plenty of people who are willing to help. It was pretty difficult for me to say I would accept the help at first; no one wants to admit that he/she can't do everything alone. I thought I could take care of every little thing with no help from anyone else. I mean, I probably could have, but I guarantee that I would have ended up in the hospital myself from sheer exhaustion. I also don't know half of the time what I want or need to be done because my mind is constantly spinning in a thousand different directions. Selfishly, I suppose I thought that if I personally could keep everything rolling, nothing could fall apart. Ever. I truly felt like I was handling everything okay until I had a day when I couldn't remember smiling once, not even when the kids were around. I spent that evening beating myself up, and I vowed that I wasn't going to let that happen again. It was a total Scarlett O'Hara moment in my own mind. Plus, Dr. Mike, my awesome frieneighborist (that's my friend/next door neighbor/dentist at The Centre for Contemporary Dentistry) informed me at my checkup last week that I had been grinding my teeth so hard in the night that I had managed to crack a tooth. Dude. I guess if I'm gonna do something, I'm gonna give it my all.
It took T having cancer for me to realize that asking for help or even accepting the help offered to me didn't make me a weak person; it made me stronger in the end so I could continue to take care of my family. I mean, if we're going to go through this whole craptastic situation, we might as well learn something. AmIrite?? Sometimes I feel a twinge of guilt because I don't know how I will ever begin to repay people for their kindness and generosity, but feeling guilty isn't going to do anyone any good. Learning to say yes has been a very humbling and freeing lesson for me. From the bottom of my heart, I thank all of you who have helped us along the way.