Thursday October 28thYesterday was one of those days. Although I feel I have way too many of "those days" there are some that just take the cake and nearly push me to the edge of insanity....or at least push me a touch closer to the eventual 'big breakdown' I foresee in my future at the rate we've been going the past year. Having William home on Vancomycin infusions every 8 hours around the clock, 2-3 pumps constantly attached to his active, little body all day, trying to interpret William's every change in behavior to monitor for a possible recurrence of the infection, dealing with the repeat error offenders of our 3 homecare companies, attempting to be prepared for Halloween and Nicholas' birthday coming up next week and just trying to manage a busy household is really taking its toll, to say the least. I'm still struggling to find time to transition the boys' seasonal clothes - yeah, we still have closets full of summer clothes and neither boy has a winter coat!
Yesterday afternoon, after hours of numerous frustrating phone calls between doctors, vendors, multiple nurses, many poop explosions resulting in 3 complete clothing changes for William by 9am...the day was not looking promising. To top it off, I received a Caring Bridge update for a little 8 1/2 year old boy I've been following since meeting him and his mother at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. He's been battling Neuroblastoma since he was three. The past many months have been very difficult for him, including a recurrence and complications through treatment. Well, he passed away on Tuesday. It was all very sudden - he went from what appeared to be a hiccup in the road to entering a coma to receiving his angel wings just two months after starting the third grade. Despite missing a few posts over the past week about this little trooper, to see the words, "Vancomycin" as one of the medications he was being treated with somehow made the death of this little warrior even more traumatic for me. I don't know why he was on this strong antibiotic, perhaps as a precaution or even perhaps for the same line infection William is dealing with now....but god, no matter what the reason, it makes the gravity of William's situation all the more real for me.
Basically, this was the end for me. Once again, its the realization that things can change in the blink of an eye. And here I am, struggling to make it through my morning routine with just two kids to take care of....it could be way worse....but still, it feels so difficult right now.
So, at nearly my wits end, I told Fred I needed a break. It's hard to admit and I feel a bit weak admitting it, but yes, I needed a break! Let's face it, I've spent 29 nights in a hospital over a 5 week calendar period. I've been saying for months I wanted a good massage to help alleviate my aching back, my nearly-frozen left shoulder and just for an uplift for my spirit.
Well, Thursday was my day....a quiet drive in the car all the way to Skaneateles, almost 6 1/2 hours at Mirbeau Spa, a delectable lunch at a table set for one and a deep-healing hot stone massage.
Just after checking in, I changed into my luxurious white plush robe when I met a very chatty, upbeat, tiny blond woman with a strong southern accent. I was standing near the sauna and she asked if I was going in. I said, "Gee, I've never been in one." She went into a small dissertation on the benefits of saunas...how they make you sweat out toxins from the inside out, how great it is for the skin and even superb for cellulite. Well, how could I pass down all those healing claims! I joined her and our conversation continued inside the heat box. She asked me if I was there with anyone and I said, "Nope, just me....a day alone! The kids are home with their daddy." She began talking, only like a southern woman can.... telling me of her past three years as a single mom, the trials and tribulations with her teenage son and pre-teen daughter...and on and on.
She referred to her 14-year-old son as once having a terrible "conduct disorder." She attributed this to his many disappointments surrounding his biological father and his step-father's abandonment. She told me that things finally improved between her and her son when she bucked up and took on the tough love approach. She explained how she sat him down and said, "Listen, I know your life has already had a lot of disappointment...we can't change that....we can't control that.... but you have to understand, some kids have it way worse....some have parents who abuse them, who don't have food to eat or a nice house to live in...and some kids are really sick, some even have cancer and are facing death."
The words just flowed off her lips.
My heart just sank.
On one hand, I seemed to immediately think that our meeting was meant to happen. This woman who shared she was in her mid-thirties, seemed wise beyond her years...and it was like she had a message to bring directly to me in this steaming hot sauna....but on the other hand, there I was, frozen stiff with not knowing how to respond. I was almost pissed too, since she seemed to be ruining the beginning of my day at the spa! How dare she!!! I started to think, should I even share that my son has cancer? How terrible was she going to feel? Would I ruin her day at the spa...was that even worth it?
So, after her verbal autobiography, she asked me, "So how old are your kids?" I replied, "My oldest will be four a week from today and my youngest just turned 17 months." I paused, and then said, "Our world has been turned upside down for the past year....my youngest was diagnosed with cancer last December when he was six months old."
I wasn't watching her as the words flowed off my lips, but I could tell her heart sank. I said, "Yes, just like you told your son, the child with cancer is some people's reality....its my reality."
We proceeded to have a very fulfilling conversation on life-changing events, the ups and downs of marriage and how to maintain resiliency despite everything life throws at us....all while sweating off our behinds (and hopefully a little bit of cellulite). I do think we were meant to meet each other. She had many messages to bring to me and if anything, I now gave her the first-hand reality of yes, there are children dealing with cancer everyday.
After my day away from all the stresses of home, I've tried to remind myself of who I am. I do not pretend to be someone I am not....I am me....and I am doing the best I can given the situation and the skills I possess.
Hummingbird Cake with freshly whipped cream
ahhhh, thank you hot stones & Jennifer