Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Day #1 - 30 Day Writing Challenge.....Life after Surviving Childhood Cancer

I've been debating the challenge of this writing experiment for days now.  The battle in my mind is going on like a war zone and I can't stand it anymore.  I was debating whether I wanted to make myself vulnerable again.  Debated whether I wanted to possibly be judged.  But I'm putting all of that aside.  I'm going to do what I know how to do best....write.  I think the breaking point for me was today's visit to the doctor with Bridget.  It took me right back to the day that I first discovered Gabriella's tumor, although I didn't know it was cancer at the time.

After G's treatments were finished, we wanted to "start over" in the world of our daughters' pediatricians.  Find a new doctor....try to recreate memories of good visits at the pediatrician...just get away from the beginning of our journey through (essentially) hell.  We were finished with the treatments at Packard and needed a doc for regular check-ups.  As it was, we somewhat neglected Bridget's visits for her "well child" check ups as we were so bombarded with doctors, hospitals, appointments, and all that just one more appointment might have put us over the edge and we knew Bridget was pretty healthy.  With a mom who sometimes thinks she's a doctor, not via degree but via years of experience and an otoscope and stethoscope in hand and a dad who is a paramedic, we had the basic needs covered.  We found Dr. Walker through a friend and started to see her in Capitola.  Yes, a fresh start.  It was good.  Relieving.  Just about two years into our visits, she let us know that she would be starting up at PAMF...where our journey began.  It was a very hard decision to return there but we knew how great of a doctor she was and wanted to continue with her.

I didn't realize how hard today would hit me.  Driving up to the clinic for an actual appointment started giving me this uncomfortable feeling.  It was like something bad was going to happen. I honestly can't remember going there since the whole diagnosis happened but today was different.  Bridget and I walked into the clinic, checked in and waited a few minutes while being entertained by a young mom trying to put her very young misbehaving 2 year old on a time out while her baby was crawling around on the floor.  I did't envy her position.  I was never a great mom with little babies but somehow we all managed to survive.   Once we got called back, I started feeling more anxious remembering the last time we were there was the day after I noticed Gabriella's mass for an appointment.  As we were walking down the hall, I thought to myself, "oh god, please don't put us in the same room" and what do you know, we ended up in the same damn room.  I remembered the walls, the little shelf of books on the floor in the same position, the bulletin board of christmas cards to the left of the exam table where G sat and the two chairs to the left where my mom sat with Bridget, only 20 months old.  Anxiety continued to creep through my skin and I had to hold back tears.  I didn't want Bridget to know how I was feeling because this visit was about her and her big stepping stone in life getting ready to start kindergarten.  So I had to compose myself as best I could.  And that I did.  Dr. Walker walked in and it was like a fresh start.  Bridget was amazing.  Truly amazing and I'm so proud of the little lady she's becoming.   Then I just had to mention to Dr. Walker that this was the original room we were in.  She shares the same exam room as our previous pediatrician.  Go figure.  She was very understanding and is so compassionate about the situation.   That is why we followed her back to PAMF.  Back to the place where our terrifying journey all started.

Part of the reason it is so difficult is that I haven't gone back "there".  Wherever "there" is, I have been afraid to go back there.  It's too close still.  Too painful.  And I have a survivor.  I will never pretend to even grasp the pain that a grieving parent has.  I have my daughter (both of them) to relish in every minute of the "now".  Maybe I am just trying to grasp all of what is now and what is normal but I still don't think I'll ever know what that word means.  Every once in a while, I will glance at it to read a paragraph of this blog and think to myself, "did I really write this?".  The words are so pronounced and the writing is so impassioned.  I don't recognize it to be my own.  To read it is to relive it.  And I'm not ready to do that yet.  

January 24th, 2012.    


Gabriella's scans are coming up next Monday.  I'm not as anxious as I used to be...or am I.  Maybe I'm trying to hold my anxiety back.  But in my mind, its totally not working.  I'm all over the place.  It's again, like there is a war in my head.  She'll be fine.  Then she tells me before bed the other night that she "feels like there's something in her stomach and it's hard to take a deep breath".  Whoa child. You can't say these kinds of things to mommy right before scan time.  I'm frantic in my head feeling her stomach at the same time trying to get more information from her as I calmly reassure her that we have scans next Monday and we will be able to see anything on the inside that shouldn't be there.  Ugh.

1 comment:

  1. Great post and so very real. I think anyone who's been to hell and back doesn't want to retrace steps. I drove through my hometown last Friday where my dad and step mom were murdered and I swear to God (it's been 35! years) and I still got a shiver and felt weird inside and knew, just knew, I would have strange dreams that night (and I did - always freaking happens). Of course, that's the point of life right? To have these memories and all these feelings and it makes us who we are (and freaking better people too). So I get how hard that must have been but you damn well did it. And that brave little muffin didn't have your history and helped you get through it. Nicely done.