Fear and why it can’t win

If the last time I wrote was the side of me that could see all the reasons to be grateful, now I’m feeling the fear creep back in.

My husband got his chemo port put in yesterday, which made everything all seem more real. Now in addition to the other limitations we already had, we can’t even easily hug or snuggle without having to worry about the port. I hope that will change as the port heals.

But between the port and the colostomy and the surgical scars from a month ago, it seems like there’s so much of him that I can’t touch anymore. It’s a hard adjustment for me and I know it’s harder for him.

It didn’t help that I’d had so little sleep before the surgery that I felt sick. It also didn’t help that it was at a different hospital than I’m used to, where a lot of things seemed pretty subpar.

I am trying so hard to stay optimistic and hopeful, both for his behalf and for mine. I’m usually focusing more on the likelihood that the chemo will cure him and the overall percentages than I am on the oncologist’s description of his prognosis as “guarded” or that my husband’s case is the worst that he’s seen in a couple years.

Most days, I’m really good at keeping things positive, keeping it in perspective. I’m a big believer in beating difficult odds. But the port placement was unexpectedly really hard on me.

At one time since the cancer discovery, my husband made some off-handed comment drawing parallels between him and Cammy, my beloved cat that we tried so hard to save. I’m pretty sure that what he meant was that he felt some empathy for what Cammy went through, since it’s likely that Cammy had undiagnosed cancer.

But in my worst and darkest moments, when I’m sobbing in the closet, I draw the same parallels in a different way.

Cammy went from seemingly fine (though looking back, we can now see subtle clues) to very sick, very fast. And he never got better. Once we took him to the emergency vet and he got a feeding tube, it was a rapid decline from there.

He got sick and then he got sicker and every day I felt more helpless, as I started to realize his premature death was inevitable.

This feels like that. I know a lot of it is that I am incredibly deficient on sleep and am working too much and barely staving off an MS relapse, so that makes everything feel worse.

But in moments like these, it feels like I’m on the same speeding rollercoaster to the death of one of my greatest loves. I don’t have much experience with death but what I do have has been pretty traumatic. It’s hard for my mind not to go there.

It’s been exactly a month since we got my husband’s diagnosis. Nothing has been the same since. Even though there were subtle clues, I miss the old “before cancer” days so much. I’m sure he misses them even more than I do, since he’s the one going through it.

But as he pointed out on our 25th anniversary this past week, sometimes it’s hard to tell where he ends and I begin. And I feel like the part that’s him has been cut off from me.

Because I’m worried and not sleeping well, I’m also getting sicker. My balance is declining and I’m walking worse, so now I’m using a cane. That increases my fear about myself. Then I feel ashamed of being sick, because I need to be helping him. I need to not be sick. If I didn’t have MS, I would be able to take over all the things for him and get less sleep and be just fine.

He officially starts his chemo next week. I don’t know what that’s going to be like.

I just need to dry my eyes, brush myself off, and get back on the optimism train. Yesterday was just one really bad day. My husband needs me to be strong for him.

Hopefully, six months from now, he’ll be cancer-free and this will be just a memory of something scary we got through together. But for the moment, it’s hard not to hold my breath.

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