Sunday, August 10, 2014

Keeping Calm through Craziness and Cyclones

Everything happens for a reason.  That doesn't mean it's good or fun or that we don't have a say or that we do have a say- but if we can find the purpose, sometimes it makes the roughage a little more palatable.

After week one of chemo-lite- I was feeling pretty good. Running here and there getting the kids ready for school.

spending time with Bella, who I had promised just mommy and Bella-time.

Then the icky hit. I had overdone it. I knew at dinner- twice having to leave the table of leftovers and certain smells were making me nauseous.  When I feel ok, I feel the clock ticking the loudest. My lists are full, the checkmarks are few.  So the days where I feel ok- I take deep breaths and do what I can. Later that night the unrelenting nausea set in. I wasn't expecting it- after all I had only done the "lite" chemos. Maybe it was something I ate. It hits furiously- Phil comes in- not sure how to possibly help- there is no hair left to hold back- I guess that's a perk. I'm tired of finding the bright side.

As I get all four kids off to school, the news hits- not one but 2 hurricanes are on the way. GDMFCSSOB. Phil says they won't leave. He is reassuring himself, not me. He is kidding himself, not me. I am.  I know what this means. It means he will pack up and leave. He and the rest of the available pilots will escort millions of dollars of precious flight power over the ocean to dry land while those left behind prepare and protect our priceless treasures. Ultimately ironic as one of the primary missions of the unit is to protect the island, just not from this kinda threat. I know this drill- it's been many years since I've done it in earnest, yet it doesn't really differ from the living with cancer drill. You wait, you hope, you prepare the best you can- but you just don't know if or when it will hit and how bad it will be until it does.

I go about business when the realization hits. Lily's scans. The hurricane is supposed to hit the night of Lily's scans. OH mother of GDMFCSSOB. The familiar PTSD scanxiety sets in. He still thinks they aren't going. I ask my sister in law to be on call to take the kids to school the morning of scans. I know he will be gone. He packs a bag, because superstition dictates if you are prepared- it won't be as bad. That's bullshit. Sometimes it just doesn't matter how prepared you are- it still is bad. But I plug along with mental checklists- start doing laundry. Get out the huge lemonade jug for water, grab a few supplies from walmart and safeway. There is no water or bread to be found in the stores. People are expecting the worst.  The last two hurricanes that hit hard were Iwa and Iniki. We are due. It doesn't help that the beyatch's name is Iselle.  I secretly hope she is graceful as her name and not a force to be reckoned with like my Belle.

I look through my supplies. Somehow my emergency radio and can opener are missing. I hit amazon and overnight some supplies. I know they won't be found in stores. The thing about hurricanes is you have time to prepare- it's not like a tornado that just pops up or an earthquake that sneaks up and shakes you. Phil comes home with three cases of water and a metal suitcase. The one that fits in the jet. He rallies the kids to help him put all the patio furniture in the garage.  I feel lost. I am grateful that I didn't have abraxane.  We barely speak.  I know he has to go. Part of me finds the bright side. For months he's gone out of his way to cook for me, make my load easier. Part of me worried that he thinks I can no longer do it. Part of me wonders if I can. He wouldn't have left if he thought I couldn't handle it. Not exactly the way I wanted to rally that vote of confidence.

I am at the sink washing dishes when a thought hits me.  If she were still alive, my grandmother would have been calling asking how we were. She'd be praying up a storm and keep the family updated. A calm settles after the tears. What will be, will be. I know my angel of weather will look out for us. Phil shaves my head and I take a cold shower- because in the flurry of events- no one noticed that there is no hot water. He resets the water heater and we cross our fingers, we go to bed.  Phil and I get up at 4am. I see him off and get ready for a long day. I wake Lily and we begin our adventure to scan land. It is just another morning in Hawaii- sunny, breezy. No hint of the impending danger on any front. I hear a wimper from the back seat and my heart breaks. It's going to be ok monkey- I tell her.

Did you grab the movies?  She sobs.  Oh no. 2.5 hours in the tube and she forgot her movies. I'm wondering what exactly is in the 35 pound backpack she is lugging around.  I take a quick detour to walmart. This could be an epic bad decision. epic. News stations had been feeding images of crazy lines outside stores, people waiting for water. The parking lot is nearly empty. I sigh. We jog in- grab the latest Barbie flick and are out of there in a flash.

We are the first car at the valet and the first to check in at MRI.  They allow me to come back with Lily as she gets ready. She hands off the movie and the tech scans the length- Barbie movies aren't particularly long. Ideally titanic or dances with wolves would be better suited for today's scan- but she wants to watch Barbie- it's her hospital visual comfort food. She is prepared that they have to stick her.  She gets settled, her movie goggles on and I make my way to the waiting room. It's hurricane coverage. This is not helping my calm. I have to move. I let them know I'm going to get some tea- they let me know it's going to be awhile.

I stop to visit one of my favorite nurses on the way. We chat for an hour. I decide I better check back. I grab my tea and as I get settled in the waiting room- Lily bursts through the door wearing a ridiculous hair net and strikes a grand pose. She declares that she has gone to the bathroom and wanted to check on me. I sneak her a big bite of purple flower cookie that I grabbed for her. She jumps up and down, then heads back in to finish her MRI.

They call me back. My heart lurches and sputters, settling somewhere in my ears- a pounding drum.  She just wanted to say hi- they were taking a quick stretch break.  She wanted to make sure I was still there. I'm still here. Her leg hurts. Try and stretch it.  They only have 15 minutes left- you can do it Lil.

She finishes up and practically drags me out of there- lest there be a chance they call her back for more. I know that feeling. Overall it was less than 3 hours. That's a good sign. The tech seemed fairly chipper as we left and told me how great she did- I'm hoping that's code for - nothing to see here- just nice pretty boring organs.  We won't find out for days, the official report. I hope with the hurricane- they don't get lost in the chaos.

We stop to get gas and ice on the way home. Drop the ice in the cooler and grab celebratory Panda on the way to get Bella from school.  The post scan migraine I always get is starting to creep up behind my eyes- but I just don't have time for it today.  We detour to the beach by school since we are 5 minutes early. Lily collects shells, I collect thoughts- tally lists in my head. Phil texts that he made it to Vegas.  One more worry to check off the list.

We head home and finish preparations. Phillip calls to tell me wrestling is cancelled because of the storm and can he go work out with his friend? I give him an hour and a half. I lay down for an hour then head downstairs to wait it out. Then I remember we were supposed to go to the Ballet. Well I remember because the girls are asking incessantly. As of yet, it's not cancelled but there is no way. There is just no way. The girls are in tears. Phillip flies through the door at 4:59. A whole minute to spare before Hurricane mom knocked out all his electronics. I shoo the girls to the park- as of now it's still partly cloudy- they need to enjoy the weather while they can.

Phillip is staggering around the kitchen. At first I don't pay attention- he usually comes right home and forages for food- he's 14- its what they do. I have no discernible dinner plan, so I allow it. I realize he is drenched in sweat and pacing. GDMFCSSOB- his blood sugar is dropping and fast.  What's your blood sugar?  He looks right past me. I yell at him to sit the hell down.  He moves towards the chair and mumbles 32. THIRTY TWO?!? Its supposed to be above 70. Usually people lose consciousness around 20-something. He is fumbling with an applesauce packet- that won't do- straight sugar is needed. I grab a juice box- empty it in a cup and dump in two spoons of sugar and hand it to him.   I go to his room and get his glucometer.  It's still dropping he says. I start rifling through the pantry- where is our emergency dr. pepper?  I finally found it. He takes his blood sugar again- its 36. shit.shit.shit.damn. I hand him the pop and he sucks it down.  We are dangerously close to needing the glucagon shot and that means possibly riding out the storm in the hospital. GDMFCSSOB. We wait 10 minutes and he takes his blood sugar again- my sister in law texts to see if he's coming over for dinner. shit- she was going to feed him for me while the girls and I were at the ballet.  He takes his blood sugar again. 56. We are at least on the rise. I hand him another juice box. I text an apology and that we are dealing with a tanked blood sugar.  I think for a second- what if we had left for the ballet? Would he have been able to get through this alone. I decide not to think about it. Everything happens for a reason.  She texts asking if we want pizza- oh dear this woman is a god send. Absolutely.  Pizza.

We sit around watching the news, eating pizza. My adrenaline stores depleted, energy gone. I bleach the bathtubs so I can fill them with water. I plug both the kids bathtubs and run a hot bath for me. The girls' tub is draining and the faucet is leaking. Hmmm. I invert a bowl and put it over the drain- it suctions down. I think I have fixed the problem, so I go to turn my faucet off and it spins to off- yet it is definitely not off. It is the opposite of off. I spin the knob back and forth- it finally grabs and I get it turned off before I have premature natural disaster flooding. The par on this course sucks. I refuse to say it could be worse because according to the news- worse is still barreling towards us.  All I can do is try to relax in the bath and then crawl into bed, expecting to wake up to the roar of wind and the crash of trees.

I wake up to quiet. It's cloudy but the sun is poking through. I turn on the news- still waiting but its not looking too bad. I check the tubs- both drained. Add that to the honey-do list.  I make breakfast and take a walk with the girls before the storm officially blows over us.  We go to the beach to check out the waves. A few surfers are out tempting fate- but it doesn't look too stormy. We go visit with the cousins for awhile and head home for lunch. A big sigh of relief. The world has now heard of the storm and I get a couple texts from afar. I assure everyone we are fine. Although fine seems to have taken on the meaning -perpetual state of crisis with a background of paradise.

I hear the kids grumbling how we did all that work and getting ready for nothing. I explain to them that it's not for nothing- that is exactly WHY we do this. I know it's hard for them to understand. We feel a sigh of relief because we are lucky, the storm did not hit us. But there are many on the Big Island who weren't so lucky. It could have easily been us.  It is amazing to me how scanxiety parallels waiting for a hurricane that's on track for you. It's a lesson in being prepared and faith and control. And sometimes you just have to take it an hour at a time. You don't know what could be around the corner- it might just be sunshine.

1 comment:

  1. Seriously!! I cannot believe how all this happens at once! Really glad all was "ok" so to speak! Love you guys!


Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)