Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cancer is the asshole~



Today was the first time in a long, long time that I’ve called Bruce an asshole—and the first time since his cancer diagnosis.

How can you call some one with cancer an asshole?

After all, cancer patients don’t feel good--they’re dealing with a deadly disease, there are all sorts of worries, frustrations, and side effects and changes to their bodies, quality of life issues... and all the other little quirky symptoms that I only find out about about when Bruce tells his nurse.


I’m pretty patient and understanding by nature, and all the more so now when he vents the inevitable “cancer anger” a little (or a lot).

Today he got impatient and snippy, frustrated that we couldn’t merge our iCalendars—he hates when technology goes awry. Who doesn't? For him, it's one more thing out of his control.

He started to tell me what I’d done incorrectly in the attempt to merge, and kept cutting me off when I tried to show him what I did...which, by the way, was correct!

“You’re being an asshole,” I hissed. Not to his face, but I’m sure he heard me. I meant him to hear.

He didn’t react. He knew he’d overreacted. Later he apologized.

But still, it’s such a balancing act. In “normal times” a little healthy anger has always been part of our relationship. Isn’t that the way with many? It’s a spark that’s over as soon as it flares.

But cancer moves in, and when the shock and horror of the diagnosis wears off and you get back to daily living--enough to express anger, no matter how petty--it’s kind of feels weird.

Really, how can you call someone with cancer an asshole?

Because sometimes he just IS.

And sometimes I am, too.

And so goes the battle--with “cancer anger” tossed into the mix.



Anybody can become angry--that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way--that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.  ~Aristotle.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Leave my dream alone~

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Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake? ~Leonardo da Vinci



During lunch with friends, one offered me her bag of potato chips—she knows I’m addicted. I must have been in one of my rare and transitory healthy phases, because I said no.


“Then take them for Bruce,” she urged.

“No, he doesn’t eat them any more...” Then, because of the looks on their faces, I added “Oh, he stopped eating them before...” meaning before his cancer diagnosis.

They knew what I didn’t say; one told me she was sorry to hear; the other asked a couple questions... and all this prompted me to go into my “We’re fine, he’s fine, I’m fine” mode.

But I decided to share my owl dream, and how it had revealed to me that I was angry and feeling out of control--even though I’m fine, for all practical purposes!

I started in about seeing the owl, wanting to take photos, not having my camera...but Lin interrupted me with a question: “What kind of owl?”

Now I like details, too, and tend to interrupt to get them sometimes, so I told her: the head was a barn owl and the body was a snowy owl.


I resumed my dream-telling, but noticed that she looked sort of alarmed: she pinched her mouth shut as if she were holding back a river of piranhas, and her brow went all squiggly.

I got the feeling that dreaming about owls when one’s husband had just been diagnosed with cancer was... maybe not such a good thing.

As I continued the dream, Lin still looked tense. I touched her arm and said, “What? Is that bad? Dreaming about an owl?”

She sighed and shrugged and opened her mouth.

“Don’t TELL me! DON’T answer that.” I sounded a little deranged, but I subscribe to the head in the sand approach—what I don’t know can’t scare me.

She kept quiet for a while as I continued the dream—my frustration at not having my camera, the futile attempts to get a shot with my iPhone.

“DID you get a picture?“ she asked.

“I couldn’t,” I said. “Everybody got in my way and the sun was too bright.”

“Oh, well that’s good, then, GOOD that you couldn’t get a picture of the owl,” Lin said,” relaxing a little.

I felt both relieved and, well, to be honest, a little angry.

Really? I thought it was a dream, not a prophecy! It was my subconscious telling me that, while I thought I was okay, I’m frustrated, sad, and angry. I needed to realize that, and it took an owl to waken me to that truth. I LIKE owls. I once collected owl figurines.


Later, I looked up “owls in dreams” and saw why she was concerned. But I choose to think the owl was a conveyor of wisdom, rather than a harbinger of death, because I think the best interpretation of a dream comes from the dreamer.

And I haven't dreamed about owls since. 
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For more stories on my  blog, click the title "Upstream and Down" and scroll down to see more of the cancer journey...


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Dreams Do Tell~


I had a dream last night that stuck with me all day. 

A friend and I were driving somewhere--she was a photo friend of mine—Lisa R—who moved away several years ago.

 
She was driving and when she slowed down to turn into wherever we were going—a zoo? I yelled, "Stop, because LOOK! There’s an owl!"  A barn owl with a snowy owl’s body—so normal in a dream. 
I was so excited, until I realized I didn’t have my camera... even though the sole purpose of our trip was picture taking.

We got out of the car, and I watched Lisa take pictures. I pulled out my iPhone to at least capture something, but people kept bumping into me and stepping in my way. And when I COULD see the owl clearly enough to snap a picture, the sun was like a fireball behind him and he was only a black shadow on my iPhone screen.

I cried a little in frustration, but stuffed the feeling down. I told Lisa I was so glad she had her camera and was able to get good pix.

But then I said, “Who am I kidding? I’m so mad!” And I let out a deep, long, angry bellow. A dam let loose and the flood waters roared. I felt better...
 ....

When I’m asked these days, since Bruce’s cancer diagnosis, how I’m doing, I always answer, “We're fine.”  It wasn’t until Bruce was diagnosed with cancer that I referred to myself as “we.” It just happened. I follow his lead. He tells me he’s fine. He’s not worried or anxious; he’s taking one day at a time. 

So I am too.

At least I THOUGHT I was until I had the dream. But the dream showed me how sad I am, and how frustrated at having no control. And that I’m just plain angry!

I have no other public face but “fine.” 

But my dream told me the truth.

Cancer is NOT fine!
 
"When someone has cancer, the whole family and everyone who loves them does too." ~ Terri Clark