10 years

Well, folks, we’ve hit double digits. Today marks 10 years since the day we found out Tim has multiple myeloma. This was not a day either of us thought we would see. We are grateful, make no mistake. To see Olivia grow up, well, it’s nothing short of a blessing and a miracle, considering how things looked on this date, 10 years ago. It is impossible to explain any of this to a person who is not dealing with cancer, or another deadly illness. For those of you who do deal with it, you know. There was no exhaling or relaxing in those 10 years. We did not know we had ANY of that time, let alone 10 years of it. We lived our lives in month-long increments, later it was 2 or 3 month increments, but, even then, we were always on guard. Not having an appointment for 3 months does not mean something can’t happen in between, and, at times, it did. Tim has been hospitalized 4 times since his diagnosis. Strep sepsis in the beginning, which led to his dx. Another infection a few weeks later, that I know was caused by the first hospitalization. He had disseminated shingles about 4 years ago, and pneumonia in Nov. of 2015. He had pneumonia at Christmas of 2010 too but was not hospitalized. All of those hospitalizations were hell-ish, for varying reasons. Being in the hospital just SUCKS. He’s also had a handful of other trips to the ER.

It’s a strange thing, being grateful whilst in the midst of this nightmare. The only reason you can be at all is because everything is relative. First and foremost, I know lovely people who did not get 10 years, so you must recognize that and feel blessed somehow. I have also recently heard of 2 beautiful young children, one living in my neighborhood, who were diagnosed with aggressive, high risk forms of leukemia. Despite being able to easily recall the hell we lived in for those first 2 years of ’07 and ’08, it does not compare to what these families are going through now. But, and there is always a “but”, the fact is, compared to what most people are dealing with, our life is still a nightmare. There are times it’s very hard to be grateful for this hand that we’ve been dealt. It’s still unfair. I still feel cheated out of a “normal” life, for Tim and Olivia, and for myself. Some days, I am still angry over this burden we were saddled with.

Today, ten years later, our daughter is in college. I am grateful that we all made it through her high school years and I did not have to raise her alone. Liv LOVES her school and has made many friends, but, it has not been without its stressors for all three of us. There have been lockdowns and other stressful situations she has been, and still is, involved in. And, we don’t know, now that Tim is back on treatment, how long he will be able to work and hang onto his business. If the college does not give us some financial help if he has to stop working, it’s not affordable for us. It’s hard for me not to worry about what the future holds.

So, now, we are not living in 3 month increments, or 2 months, or even 1 month. He is at the cancer center every week, for treatment or a blood draw. We live in week-long segments now, and struggle to take things one day at a time to make it the most manageable. The pressure is back on me full force, to be on guard and watch him for symptoms. What’s “normal” and what’s not and demands a call to the doctor. So hard to feel so responsible for someone’s life when you’re not a medical professional. One screw up and the results could be catastrophic.

But, we move on. What else can we do? We find out this Friday if the first month’s treatment worked. I sure pray it did. It was hard enough for him to work on certain days while dealing with the side effects, I can’t imagine adding more to them with more drugs. My own health has been acting up. TMJ seems to be back. I’m exhausted all the time. I think it’s all stress related. The other day, I thought, “these last few months have been stressful, wait, then there was “that.”. Well, this last year then. But, then there was THAT. OK the last few years. But, oh yeah, then there was THAT. And I can keep going back, and back some more. Truthfully, my life has had very few intervals that were not impacted very badly by health issues and high stress levels. And oh yeah, then there was THAT. I have a sister that made my life a living hell for some time in our teen years.

People say, “nobody said life was gonna be easy, or fair.” Well, truer words were never spoken. It isn’t either of those things. And I sure wish that more of my life had been spent really LIVING instead of just coping. The overwhelming majority of it was spent dealing with very difficult things and trying to make it through them.

This weekend, Tim and I are taking our dog and going to Cape May for a few days and picking Liv up from a friend’s house on the way back for the rest of her spring break. We’re going to try to do some LIVING. I suppose a lot of that being successful depends on the news we get the day before we leave, so, praying hard that it’s good news.