Angels Among Us

Yesterday we had the first “family outing” we have had in a while. My husband, our dog and I walked up the street 7 houses and back home. Then we stood on our front porch and looked for our goldfish in the man-made stream that runs along the front side of our house. I have made it a personal goal to get outside and listen to the water for 3-5 minutes a day (weather permitting).

Unfortunately I woke up with a fever today so I am not certain where this day is headed. I am posting an update and will warn you in advance: it is a little sad because I feel sad.

The gravity of everything that has happened since November is beginning to hit me. I am hoping that this is an indication that I am starting to get well because until now I was too sick to really process anything. These days the bone pain is much better and the overall feeling of having a very bad case of the flu is diminishing.

I am still exhausted beyond words and that is discouraging.

Over the weekend I thought of the gazillions of times that I have told my patient family members to keep a notebook and make quick daily notes on the status of their family member. An easy, not fancy, simple way to track progress, to note if it was a good day or a bad day: what were their vitals, did they sleep all day? were they able to move a certain part of their body or follow a command?

I repeatedly told them to take notes because healing is so slow that it will happen before you and you won’t be able to notice that it is happening.

Have I followed the very education I provided almost every day of my professional career? Of course not. Thus, I don’t have short notes to reassure me that I am making progress. When I am shaking and tired or when everything is hurting, all I have to fall back on are statement/questions like “a week ago I was out of my mind in pain, that part is better”…”I don’t have nose bleeds anymore, remember how awful they were?”….you get the drift.

Healing takes time and there are still hard days.  At this point, there are still more bad than good days; however I am having good days (plural). For every 2 good days, I probably have 3 hard days. That is progress.

I looked at the calendar yesterday. In early November I had a fun reunion trip with some of my college girlfriends. A couple of weeks later, the nose bleeds and fatigue hit. I cancelled the check-up appointment with my oncologist in late November because I was just too exhausted to drive to the hospital. Which, I learned, is just a foolish decision for any person with a history of cancer. Somehow, get to your appointment, especially if you are too exhausted.

I did see the oncologist on December 5th and that is when he was surprised at how exhausted and disheveled I looked.

The events cascaded from there and some of them are documented on this blog.

Ever since we met, my husband has known that seeing Fleetwood Mac in concert was on my bucket list. It just so happened that they were coming here in mid-December, so in a matter of a week, he did everything he could to make that date happen for us (and he stuffed his pockets with paper towels in case of nose bleeds, which is one of the most endearing things someone has ever done for me–that vantage point thing, totally changes your perspective on what matters).

We went to a Christmas concert at our church and to my sister’s house for Christmas Eve.

Other than those 3 outings, December trips were to the hospital and once to the ER.

Basically, since we moved into our new house mid-November, we have been out 4 times (Thanksgiving, concert, church concert, Christmas Eve).

The rest of our time has been: nose bleeds, fevers, blankets, pain, trips to the hospital. We have forced ourselves to find joy and strength by maintaining focus on the comfort of one another’s company, soft blankets and pj’s, our screened porch, our dog, our cozy fireplace, endless chick flicks, faith.

God BLESS my husband. He has not seen me, looking like a healthy me, in such a long time. And yet Saturday evening, when I started to cry as the gravity of it all hit me, his response was love.

I was curled up on our couch with a pretty crushed spirit because it had been another hard day and I was sick, I did not want to be sick but I was and there were 2 options: sleep alone in bed or on the couch where I was around my husband and our dog. I went with option 2 because it is healing to be with others.

I was wearing a pair of pj’s that I bought in 2010 for the first Christmas I spent at my mother-in-law’s house. My husband is from a freezing cold part of the country…

…I am talking sub zero temps, where blizzards are a normal thing. Where they drive in the snow and just kind of know when it is snowing hard enough to pull over…? I had no idea. In my Deep South world, people don’t drive when it is snowing (especially THAT much snow).

So, in 2010, this southern girl had her first TRUE white Christmas in my husband’s hometown (which meant that I needed to buy cute & warm winter pj’s).  And it was a really fun Christmas. We had a blast and gracious it was Gorgeous.

So, those pj’s that I got for our trip…they were so cute, back then. That was 5 years ago people.

And because all I wear right now is a rotation of pj’s and robes, those were the pick for the night (all the others were being washed). It was not a very good look.  I said “I am so sorry for all of this” and his response was so kind that I wished I had a recorder on me, I wanted to seal every word into my memory. He told me that it has really not been hard, that he loves me, that I am his wife and that the hardest part has been watching me hurt. He told me that his favorite thing to do is to spend time with me and that is what we have been doing. He said that he does not really like to get out during the winter anyway so I do not need to apologize for anything.


A few minutes later a big box arrived, totally unexpected, from a girlfriend I have not seen in decades. She had done all kinds of research on how I might be feeling right now, and put a care package together with items to help me through the next few weeks. I was blown away. Between the love of my husband and the love that my girlfriend put into that package, my spirit lifted.

I recently heard a term that is new to me “Angels with skin”…God has put a lot of Angels with skin in our lives over the recent months. I think that is the only way we have made it through all of this.

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