Getting Real

Well, the good news is my hair is finally growing back and I’m feeling more and more like myself these days. I’ve still got a ways to go on both counts, but with each week that passes by, I’m a little better than the week before.

The maybe not so good news is that I might, possibly, maybe, definitely, for sure, get a little emotional from time to time. I am so feeling the feels these days.

I know it’s surprising to hear but this experience has not been quite as easy as I make it all look. In fact, it has been really, really hard. Physically. Emotionally. Ego-ly.

My youngest asked the other day which was harder: chemo or dialysis?

So, umm, both. I cannot recommend either for a good time.

One of the great perks of dialysis is that NOBODY anywhere, in any capacity, has any clue what it is on any level. Or what end stage renal disease is. Or how incredibly bad you feel when kidneys don’t work. How exhausting it is to face the day, every day and make it through. I mean, the kidneys are there to cleanse toxins from your blood. No biggy.

As a result, you get a lot of people critiquing that you sleep too much and are too tired all the time. These experts then feel the need to tell you how to take better care of yourself. Take vitamins! Exercise will give you more energy!

One of my co-workers never let up about all the ways I could improve my health and wellbeing until I finally asked him, quite pointedly, “What part about my kidneys are failing don’t you understand?”

I wasn’t making excuses. I was living through major organ failure.

But with the cancer…

One of the great perks of cancer is that all people everywhere understand, to some degree, what cancer is. As a result, people, from good friends to complete strangers, are so unbelievably kind and encouraging. So not what I’m used to.

These days, I am often told what a warrior I am. How brave. How strong. What an inspiration.

I don’t know how to respond to those words.

Would you still say those things to me if you knew how much I want to crumple into a sobbing heap before you? I am not brave. I am not strong. This is just what has to be done.

But how many more times before I don’t make it through?

To get through, I’ve developed a fairly good, albeit maybe a bit dark and bawdy, sense of humor, learning to laugh at myself and circumstances. I’ve learned to find the positive in the negative. I’ve learned to minimize — to make the really big thing small. I’ve learned to put aside so much of what I want in life, because now is obviously not the time. I’ve learned to live with it, but I think I’m entering into an era rebellion against that. That can’t be good, can it?

I often wonder what it’s like to do whatever you want to do in life, go wherever you want to go, buy whatever you want to buy? There are actually people out there who get to live like this. Darling, I would love to go on a cruise. What say you? Why yes dear. That sounds delightful. Let’s do that. What must it be like to live a life where you don’t have to push the pause button one more time for a stupid illness?

Right now, I hold it together because I’m afraid if I start to cry, I’ll never stop. If I were to be honest about how hard it’s been, everything from the kidneys to the latest, I’ll start to cry and I will never ever stop.

Then the exhaustion passes. I wake up again. I get up and face the day. I go to the gym and work out. I thank God I made it through one more attack. I pray for healing of my body. Of my emotions. Of my courage. I will not crumple and fall because God holds me up. Jesus reaches out His hand to me and says, “Start the music, it’s time to dance.”