Just Write: He’s Okay…Mostly, I Think

“How’s Jack doing?”

I’ve been asked this question at least five times so far today. Each time I give the same answer in the same way, “Yeah…well, eh, mostly. He will be okay, I think. He’s just not feeling well after chemo yesterday.”

He was doing just fine last night. In fact, he was very energetic and LOUD, humming or squawking while playing with his Legos. It was overwhelming to me, as I’d just come home from my trip to Type A in Atlanta. I wanted quiet.

This morning, though, it was too quiet. Jack crawled on the floor from his bedroom to the living room. He laid down on the couch while eating breakfast and I covered him with a blanket while pushing play on iTunes so he could listen to The Postal Service at low volume. He ate his waffle slowly, and afterward he leaned on me to get to the bathroom to halfheartedly brush his teeth. Then I picked him up and carried him back out to the couch.

He talked in hushed tones and complained of stomach pain. I smoothed his hair away from his face as I took his temperature – 98.0 degrees. I asked if he wanted to try to go to school for a bit and see if he felt better. His big brown eyes squinted up at me and he said, “I just don’t have any energy, Mom.”

“Okay, honey. I’ll tell David to come home from work. You just rest,” I replied.

I looked at our finances while I waited for David to come home from work. I wondered if we could somehow make it work on one salary so that I could stay home full time with Jack. I worried this was a pattern that would not go away. I added and subtracted and, with a knot in my stomach, acknowledged that it was impossible – we have too much debt and a large mortgage payment.

I called the clinic to get confirmation of Jack’s ANC. The nurse told me it was sitting at 690, which is fairly decent but not great. She asked how he was doing and then said, “Call us if he isn’t feeling better by the end of the week.”

I called the school and answered the question again. Then I drove to work, where I told a few more people that Jack wasn’t feeling well. I got a call from my sister in the afternoon, and I spoke to one of the care providers at Jack’s after-school program – both asked and I explained in that halting way.

Jack’s okay…mostly. I think. We’ll see.

****

This post was inspired by Heather’s Just Write – an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments.

Coping With Challenges

The coffee isn’t waking me up today. I’m unsure what to do about it.

This morning started off okay and then Jack got grumpy – he didn’t want to change his clothes. He cried while I changed him into a fresh set of pajamas (they still seem most comfortable right now with the soreness of the recent lumbar puncture). I held and hugged Jack and then he took his meds and was happy again. I think when I left the house I took his bad mood with me, though.

Most of the time now I walk around feeling like I’m just on the verge of panic – like there is a tide rising and threatening to wash over me at any moment. I feel raw, as if my heart is on the outside of me and I’m waiting for it to be crushed. I guess I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. I can’t get over the feeling that there isn’t more bad news coming.

I want to believe that Jack’s cancer will not relapse. That we’ll be able to keep infections and colds at bay. That his treatment will continue to be like it is now with very few side effects. But the more I read on the subject, the more unlikely that all seems. What if his chromosomes come back abnormal at the end of the month? What if the chemo causes neurological problems or physical issues? What if that constant ache in his abdomen is more than just a symptom of the disease he is fighting?

I want to hide from it all. I probably won’t pick that book back up. This seems to be one of those unusual instances where I think I’d rather be ignorant. My ignorant thoughts were, for once, brighter than my informed ones, which doesn’t make much sense in our situation. This is the best cancer, right? The most treatable and curable? But where the FUCK did it come from?

I seem to also be stuck on the thought that I must have been a gigantic asshole in a past life. Holy hell, my life has been hard and it just doesn’t seem to stop! I felt like it was finally getting better – that things were on a more level path and I was letting go of so much angst. And really, I can see the progress I’ve made from therapy in how I’m handling all of this. I can see how much stronger I am and I can even appreciate that about myself. But life is dealing us a low blow now that it is smacking my kid around – the very person I’ve been desperate to protect these past 5+ years.

“I hate challenges,” Jack told me this morning. You and me both, kid! I’m tired of them. So very tired.

We’ll come out of this stronger; I know this. But I don’t want more strength – not if it means the shit is going to keep coming. I’ve had my share of shit and I’d like to pass on more.