I can no longer watch a St. Jude's hospital commercial. Or read a book, magazine article, blog post, etc. that has pictures and details a child's fight with cancer. I can no longer read a book about a child with cancer.
I'm living with and taking care of a child with cancer, so I no longer have anymore emotional space for any other.
When I write this, it sounds cruel - like I have no heart left. The truth is, that my heart is so full of Dave, Natalie and Sophia - anyone else entering the picture is going to make it burst. It already does a little sometimes - my tears leak out.
But what happens most of the time is what doctors call the fight or flight syndrome. The way I understand it - when your brain is presented with enormous stress (real or imagined), your pituitary gland kicks adrenaline production into high gear. Some people get high off of this - hence your base jumpers and that French Spider-Man guy who likes to climb buildings.
For me - when this stress reaction kicks in, I get tunnel vision, I hyperventilate and have an overwhelming desire to run. And I don't mean a nice jog. I mean get as far away as possible, as fast as possible. I want to get the hell out of dodge.
I always thought I would fight. I have a short-temper that burns out fast, I'm as likely to punch someone/something as anything when I'm really mad. However, the first time I experienced the flip side of this reaction, was when they told us the tumor was malignant. I was shaking with the desire to run away - to get in my car and drive to the south pole if I could. My brain was screaming, "ESCAPE OR DIE!"
I didn't, but it is a hard sensation to forget. Thankfully, it doesn't happen very often.
Although Monday night I started to feel it creep in. We were watching the Saints game when a St. Jude's commercial started with a bald-headed, sunken-faced little boy. I literally had to plug my ears and shut my eyes to fight the urge to vomit or cry or run (or all 3.) Dave had to tell me it was ok after the commercial ended so I could rejoin humanity. (Thankfully, he doesn't think I'm totally nuts yet, I've asked.)
Then yesterday, walking around the 9th floor, looking for Holden's room (new friends, will post on how we met this wonderful family later), reading all the names, seeing all the "do not enter without gloves and a mask" signs on doors - I started to feel it again.
My heart pounded, my breath got short. I got really, really scared we could be in bad shape real soon. The longer we go through this chemo, the larger the toll it takes on her little body.
Insert panic attack here.
Yet - this was another example of how The Lord is still working in me, despite my lack of attention to Him as of late. I never run. I never yell. I never take it out on others, very often.
Yesterday - I didn't have a panic attack. I just said "Help me, Lord. Please. I can't help myself. Please take over. I can't do this."
He did. He has every time.
A dear friend, Christine (who is going through her own health struggles), always posts Philippians 4:13 on either my or Sophia's Facebook page, usually on the days we go in for treatment. I can only attribute any strength I have right now, plainly, to the truth of that Scripture. And the fact that so many of you pray it for us EVERY DAY.
So, I guess, despite my natural desire to flee - The Lord is giving me the strength to stay and fight. We are in the fight of our lives against this cancer - and a lot of times against the side effects of the chemo. But I am confident it is for His glory and Sophia's healing.
I will not accept any other result. And neither should you!
P.S. Round 10 (4th inpatient) is 2 hours away from being done. My WONDERFUL, SWEET, MARVELOUS husband took this one for me (and the team). It was rough. She got sick and had a lot of pain, more than ever before, during the night. She is better today, but not eating - just drinking water, milk, sprite - whatever. They are both exhausted.
But they fought through it and she is coming home today. I anticipate, because of where her hemoglobin count was yesterday, she will need a transfusion again next week. The chemo, while on our side of this fight, is still taking its toll.
Now - I must make sure Sophia's new Hello Kitty outfit is clean. That is my job today or she will have my hide!!