Friday, June 29, 2012

Owning Well

Summer is entering an easy rhythm.   Our days aren't filled; Greta has a morning camp until noon for two weeks, and Finn does a little golf lesson one morning per week.

That's it.

When I was sick during the winter, I dreamed of long, lazy summer days where I could wallow in my kids, so I didn't over-stuff our schedule.  I wanted the time to piece each day together like a slow, lazy puzzle.

Now those days are here, and while it takes some getting used to, it's such a gift to be with them so much.

Yesterday, Finn scrunched up his nose at me and asked, "Momma?  Do we not have the babysitter every day anymore because you're bettah?"

I felt a cold stone in my stomach as I answered, "Yes, hon. It's because I'm all better now."

He grinned and ran off to play, while I placed a hand over my belly and thought about the cold feeling there.

I need to own being well, I thought.

I don't know why that's difficult, though I'm told it's normal.  I'm learning through therapy and talking to other survivors that it takes time - sometimes a lot of it - to trust the diagnosis of cancer-free. Something about saying it out loud to my children is extra hard - I don't want to promise something that might not be true - but I know that's my fear talking.

Physically, I'm feeling stronger every day. I got the feeding tube out yesterday, and that went a long way towards making me feel like a well person instead of a sick one.

I'm learning to turn the fear around, flip it over to its counterpart: gratitude.  I'm learning to put distance between the thought in my head and my reality: I'm so very lucky. So very blessed.

As we slide into the hot summer days of July - full of beach and friends and fun -  I want to be fully present for the wonderful. For what I longed for during the dark winter of sickness and pain.

I'm okay today.  I'm here now. And it's good.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My Monkey Mind - On Meditation

In the throes of my alcoholism, I found a way to drink everyday.  So I'm doing my best to find a way to engage in self-care every day.

Meditation has always been a kind of scary word for me.  Maybe scary is the wrong word - maybe more skeptical?  And I always told myself I don't have time. I have two young, noisy kids. I have a small business to run...  blah, blah, blah.

But then I remember that I always found a way to get my fix when I was addicted, and that shuts me up.

I read (and strongly, strongly recommend to anyone - even people who aren't in recovery) Lorna Kelly's "In the Footsteps of the Camel" (the Kindle edition is less expensive than the paperback version).  She is in recovery, and has a fascinating life story as an auctioneer at Sotheby's, and then a close relationship with Mother Teresa, and a really interesting blend of studying faiths and perspectives on her own spiritual path.  And she's funny.  Funny is so important to me when it comes to these weighty topics.  (I'll stop here to send a big shout-out to Lisa H. who turned me on to her in the first place by sending me a copy of a CD of her speaking at a recovery convention).  

So, anyway, Lorna talks not just about the fact that she meditates, but how she does.  She uses Vipassana Meditation, which in my very neophyte way I will define as "thought observation".   Every morning she puts her alarm clock across the room so she can't hit snooze.  She then splashes cold water on her face to wake herself up, and goes downstairs for 20 minutes of quiet time (no screen time, no radio, no television). She sips tea, or looks out the window, but no noise.   Then she goes upstairs and sits on her mat for 45 minutes of meditation (setting an egg timer she can't hear ticking down the hall from her room).  After 45 minutes, no matter how blissful she's feeling (or how edgy), when the timer goes off, she stops.

During the meditation, she observes her thoughts, without judgement or fear, and if she gets too deep into some practical problem or daily snarl, she pulls herself back to baseline through breathing.  She also got to the point where she can meditate on her own death, and it brings her peace.  In my Buddhist readings I learned how Buddhist monks consider this ability - meditating on your own death - to be a joyous breakthrough.  I'm not quite there, yet, but I'm curious.

Lorna's practice just makes sense to me. A practical interpretation of an ancient form of meditation (I'm sure long-time practitioners of this are rolling their eyes).  But this is what I love about Lorna - she's totally committed to her recovery, her meditation practice, her reaching out to others, but she's so human, so grounded, so real.  So busy, too.

And she is a cancer survivor.

So I've been trying this.  Every morning.  Watching my thoughts - without getting caught up in them, or owned by them - is fascinating.  My brain never stops and the sheer number of topics it will hit upon in 45 minutes is astounding.  I know I'm not unique in this way, but it still surprises me. 

It's challenging with the kids - getting up before them means about 5:30am, so if I miss that window I have to tell them to find their own quiet activities for 45 minutes while I meditate somewhere in the house where I can't hear them (thankfully, they are old enough that I can do this safely, now).   That's good for them, too.

As a last result, I'll go for a walk.  No music, just walking and mindfulness. 

I can feel it helping, although I can't really put into words why.  Maybe getting used to observing some of my scarier thoughts without obsessing about them is helping me embrace fear more.  Because a lot of my thoughts revolve around fear.  

And I'm learning that it's okay.  That my mind creates thoughts like my heart pumps blood, or my lungs breathe air.  There are no "bad" thoughts - and it's not my monkey mind's fault that it is a thought-making machine. I'm just trying to learn to make peace with it.

One day at a time.

P.S. - I don't recommend many books.. only when I really feel they are unique or impactful in some way.   This endorsement of her book is all me - I was not paid or asked to write about it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Daily Reprieve - Working on Panic and Anxiety

I've been thinking a lot about my dual diseases - alcoholism and cancer. For lack of better terminology, I'll say I'm a survivor of both, at the moment.

The anxiety I have been grappling with since my last post is reminiscent of early sobriety in so many ways, not just the physical symptoms (racing heart, difficulty breathing, racing thoughts, feelings of impending doom) but the emotional symptoms as well.

As an alcoholic, especially one in early recovery, I fought these bad feelings hard.  I'm sober now, this should be gone, I shouldn't feel this way, maybe I'll always feel this way, what if this never goes away.  The harder I fought the feelings, the louder and more powerful they became.

It has been the same with the cancer anxiety.  I keep thinking I shouldn't be feeling this way, I'm in remission, I should be on-my-knees-grateful all the time.  I'm pushing and pushing at the panic and anxiety, feeling guilty that I have them at all, because for the moment I'm okay.

Because I'm hard-headed, stubborn and like to think my way out of problems, it took me falling off a cliff in a heap before I applied the same things I did in early sobriety to my current problem with anxiety/panic.  I finally picked up the phone and asked for help.  I talked to other cancer survivors.  I joined a cancer patient/survivor group.  I joined a yoga class for cancer survivors.  I'm doing a lot of reading of stories of others that have gone before me.  And I'm going to see a professional oncology psychiatrist as well.

When I met with the cancer survivor counselor, he helped me see how I was trying to push the fear away, how hard I was working to avert my eyes.

"I'm afraid of a cancer support group," I told him.  "It makes me feel afraid to think of sitting in a circle with other women whose cancer has come back, or who aren't going to survive their disease, because that could be me some day."

"Yes, it could," he replied.  "You have a choice.  You can keep averting your eyes, keep pushing it away, or you can face it.  Embrace the fear.  Lean into it. And give yourself some time.  It can take a year or more to get over the daily fear of the cancer returning, and you HAVE to talk about it."

This is when the bell went off, when I thought about early recovery and how hard I pushed to keep the fear at bay, to push away thoughts of a drink, to think I should just be better already.  And how it wasn't until I opened my stubborn mouth and told a roomful of strangers who totally understood how I felt, that I started to get better.

Anxiety and fear are my biggest triggers.  Thoughts of a drink pop into my head with regularity these days.  I find myself thinking "I HATE this. I should be beyond this. Why am I thinking this way?"

Of course I'm thinking about a drink.  I'm an alcoholic who doesn't like emotional pain, and I'd much, much rather go around it than sit through it or talk about it.  I am prideful and want to be strong enough to manage it on my own.   I finally realized that the core of my suffering lies in this prideful unwillingness to face fear.

So I'm talking more.  I'm trying to pick up the phone and call people when I feel itchy, but I'm still terrible at that (I don't want to interrupt them, what if they tell me they can't talk, I don't want to impose) but I'm working on it.   I'm meditating again.  This morning I got up at 5:30am (the house is so peaceful, beautiful and quiet at this hour) and meditated for half an hour - just watched my thoughts go by.  What I observed were a lot of thoughts about my treatment, how scary it was, and I realized I have to give my mind space to process these things, but without fear or judgement.

I'm reading a lot of Buddhist literature, learning about meditation techniques and accepting, even embracing fear and panic.

It's all helping, little by little, but I know it will take time.  As I was walking the dog this morning I realized it took months for the thoughts to calm when I got sober, for me to accept, and it's going to take months again.  And that I can fight it, or accept it.  And get help.

As I meditated this morning it also occurred to me that with alcoholism, in recovery we get a daily reprieve.  All I have to do is not drink, for one day, and I get a reprieve from my disease.  I started thinking about being a cancer survivor the same way - as a daily reprieve.  I'm here now. I'm healthy now. If I can stay in today, like I learned to do in recovery, and be grateful for my daily reprieve from cancer, maybe the peace of mind and gratitude will replace the fear with time.

It's hard to admit vulnerability.  I write about it all the time, and it does help me feel better, but I realize that writing about it isn't enough.  I have to put into practice these private actions - like counseling, yoga, support groups and intimate conversations with trusted friends.

For a while I thought I had to stop the blog; that it was too ego-driven, too externally focused, and that it was endangering my peace of mind.   But now I'm not so sure, although I'm still open to the idea that maybe the blog is too much and I'll have to give it a rest at some point.

I think, though, that if I can maintain a balance between the writing and the private, soulful things I do to care for myself - put my own oxygen mask on first - that the two can coexist.

I guess we'll see.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I think it has been building for a while.  But like most quiet storms, you aren't really sure it's under your feet until the ground is unsteady.

I made it through cancer (so far). I made it through the anniversary of my Dad's death.

And I find my walls slowly crumbling around me without my permission.

I'm struck with paralyzing panic attacks (NOW?) and lack of sleep and lack of appetite and I know I need help.

I'm reaching out to local cancer support groups and recovery friends and old-time friends and anyone I can think of to, ironically, get me through this next patch.

I barely made one phone call for help during my cancer.  Now that the dust is settling, I am feeling really, really fragile.  Maybe this is normal? How would I ever know?

I have felt the ground undulating under my feet for a while.  I thought getting the "all clear" from the biopsy would make it stop.

It got worse.  The anxiety, that is.

So I'm pulling in and reaching out.  I'm pulling in to to the people who know me best, who can give me advice that isn't part of One Crafty Mother and has everything to do with Ellie.

I think it may be one of those things where you can be strong when you need to be, and then when the horn sounds you collapse.  I bet soldiers, and cancer survivors, everywhere know what I mean

At least I hope you do.

So I may go quiet for a while.  Or I may not.  I don't know.  I know I need my people around me, some quiet introspective time where I actually stop typing and pick up the phone and ask for help.  I'm doing that.

And, my kids.  Summer starts soon. We've all been through the wringer.  I have a Teddy Bear picnic in half an hour and then a play day here and all I want to do is cry and sleep.

My kids deserve more, so I am saving any extra energy I have for them.

Knowing me, I'll be back here tomorrow babbling away.

But maybe not.

Whatever this is, it's deep and rumbly and scary and I need to pay attention to it..

ALL of you, each and every one of you, has helped me in some way.  Which is why it's hard to pull away for a bit.  I keep wanting to say thank you.  So, thank you.   See you soon

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dad - One Year Later

Yesterday was a hard day.  Today is too.

A year ago my father died unexpectedly of a blood infection, related to having his spleen removed years before when he successfully beat Lymphoma.  If you are new to this site and you want to read about that day (I can't bring myself to write about it again) click here.  

Instead, I want to write about a conversation I had with my six year old son last night.

I tried not to let them see me cry during the day. I kept unexpectedly breaking out into tears. I'm pretty sure they saw me anyway at times.   We were at the beach; it was a sparkling blue day, and his spirit was everywhere.  This is the same beach I grew up on with him, searching for minnows to use as bait, fishing for flounder out of his trusty aluminum boat, which is now our boat.

I did my best to think about his spirit; his aliveness.  The one year anniversary of his sudden passing is full of little knee dropping moments of something close to horror.  The things I saw that day, the memories I wish I could wipe from the screen.

By 6pm I had had it, though.  I wasn't feeling well, my throat still hurts a lot, I couldn't eat much all day, and I collapsed into my bed in a ball of self-pity and tears.  And missing Dad. Missing him SO MUCH.

I didn't hear the bare feet pad into the room, or sense someone climb into bed next to me; that's how hard I was crying. Only when Finn started to rub my back did I realize someone was there.  I thought it was Steve, so I didn't curb my crying. Then, a couple minutes later I hear his little sing-song voice say, "It's okay, Momma," and I rolled over to see his deep brown eyes staring into mine; my own eyes in this little-boy face looking back at me.  

"Do you miss PopPop?" he asked.

"Yes, Bud.  I do. I miss him a lot."  And, because I couldn't help myself, and I know he's only six and this is unfair but I was so desperate for love and attention I said it anyway:  "It's been a long, hard year, and I'm feeling sad about having to go through all of it without my Dad."

He nodded sagely, his wisdom belied only by the careworn paw print blanket thrown cavalierly over his shoulder.

"Maybe now that da cancer is over, at least for now, it will help," he stated.  Not a question, a statement of fact.

I nodded, rubbing my face with a Kleenex and trying to pull myself together.

"But, PopPop is in heaven, right?  So that's not sad." 

All I could do is nod.

He was quiet for a bit, his head on my shoulder, still rubbing my arm, when he said, "when I go to heaven I'm going to shut my eyes, because I'm afraid of heights."  Another pause.  "But not that it will really matter, though, because it will just be my spirit, right?"

I nodded again.

More silence, and then this bombshell, said in the quietest of quiet voices:  "How do we know heaven is real?  What if it's just dark?"

I sat up, and in my most authoritative voice said, while stroking his hair, "Buddy, we know heaven is real because heaven is love.  Think of all the people that loved PopPop, right?"   

He nodded, listening intently, his blanket now crammed in his mouth for comfort.

"Heaven is being surrounded by all that love. All the people who came before you, and all the people still here on earth who love you.  It's beautiful.  It has to be, because it's LOVE."

He thought for a moment, and said, "And God is dere, right?" 

"Yes," I said. "God is there, and he is love, too."

He nodded again, thinking it through.  "Does God let you down for visits, do you think?  I'm the last in the family, so I'll probably be the last to die, and it will be lonely here without all of you."

"Oh, Finn," I said, pulling him in tight, "by then you'll be a Dad and have a family of your own.  It goes on and on and that's what makes it so beautiful.  There is no end."

He smiled.  "But I still hope dere are visits.  Maybe we don't even know about them.  Maybe he sneaks down in the form of a bird or a butterfly and just watches." 

"Yes," I said, "that would be nice. And sometimes I feel his spirit really strongly, so I know he's here, cheering us on.  It's just hard because I'd rather have him - his body, his person, here.  But you can talk to PopPop whenever you want to.  Just close your eyes, and picture his face and say hello.  I bet he can hear you.  I bet he can."

And with that he scrunched up his eyes and fell back on the pillow, silent, talking to my Dad.

I miss you, Dad, with all my heart.  You are in our hearts and minds all the time.   We love you.

Dad and me, circa 1975.

Friday, June 8, 2012

What Did You Think About Today?

What did you think about today?

Did you think about all the things you had to get done?  The endless To-Do list?

Did you miss a loved one?  Or, perhaps, love a missed one?

Did you obsess about a dark secret you've been harboring deep in your heart?

Were your thoughts full of anger, injustice and annoyance?

Or maybe love, gratitude and peace?

Did you have to fight hard to stay sober today?

Did you think about that 5 o'clock drink starting at noon?

Did you plan a trip to a fabulous beach resort?  Or did you spend some time wishing you could afford to?

Did you speak sharply to your children in "just-a-minutes" and "not-nows"?

Was your inner dialogue - the one you speak just to yourself - forgiving and loving?  Or was it full of harsh words of ineptitude, shame and not-measuring-up?

Did you take a moment to sit and put your feet up?  Just sit, motionless, for five minutes?

Did you hug your husband or significant other as you parted ways this morning?  Or did you forget?

Want to know what I thought about today?

I spent most of the day obsessively making jewelry and watching episode after episode of "Touch" on Hulu Plus, so that my brain didn't have the opportunity to think.  It passed through my mind that I forgot to kiss Steve as he went out the door, and I fleetingly thought, with a furrowed brow, of Greta's increasing headaches and sinus troubles, but mostly I tried not to think.

Until the phone rang at 3pm and I saw it was the doctor's office. Then my brain exploded into thought - answer it, don't answer it, take one more second of not knowing, have a little faith, Ellie, PICK UP THE PHONE.

It was my surgeon on the other end, and he dispensed with any and all pleasantries and simply said, "Your biopsy was clear.  Congrats.  Now go get that feeding tube out."

I hung up the phone and got down on my knees and thanked God for yet another reprieve.

And then I thought about my non-day.  How tired I am of fear, of numbing out, of hiding.  About how I vowed to Live Out Loud after I got sober, after so many years of living in the dark with a terrible secret.

I don't want to spend my days hiding anymore. Even from fear.

So I'm going to think about where my mind goes - where my thoughts take me.  I'm going to make a conscious effort to follow them along, without judgement, and learn from them.

And then I'm going to hug my family tight tight tight.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pilot Light

I have had four surgeries in six months, so you would think I would be getting used to it, at least a little.

Two of them were fairly major surgeries: a tonsillectomy (at 42 this is a pretty big deal) in November, and what they call a neck dissection (awful word for it, but it essentially means the removal of the remaining lump in my neck and surrounding lymph nodes) in April.

Two were more like "procedures" - the insertion of the feeding tube into my stomach, and then yesterday a biopsy of something suspicious in the back of my throat, near the base of my tongue.

For the first three I was absolutely terrified.  I remember sitting in the "pre-surgery" room at Mass. Eye & Ear before my neck dissection with tears just pouring down my face.  I couldn't stop them, no matter how hard I tried.  I prayed, I breathed, I used all my tools, but nothing could stop my pounding heart.

Yesterday, for the biopsy, I went through the regular admittance drill with the usual fear gripping my heart.

For me, the worst part of the whole surgery experience is always when they push you on the stretcher down the chilly corridor to the operating room.  They haven't given you an ounce of sedation, so your nerves are on full tilt as you watch the cold lights go whizzing by overhead.

It feels endless, when in fact it probably only takes a minute or two.  Your loved ones are not with you - they are nervously awaiting the outcome in the waiting room - so it is just you, half naked, scared with a bunch of masked strangers in full operation garb whisking you down the hall.

I had been feeling more nervous than usual all morning.  I don't know why, exactly.  Everyone is very nice, very professional, and of all my surgeries this was the least complicated.  But I couldn't stop my hands from shaking, the fear from gripping my heart.

"Okay, here we go!" I heard a nurse chirp, "just lie back and relax and we'll be in the OR in a jiff!"

I braced myself for the dreaded roll down the hall.  Halfway there, there was some kind of hang-up - a stretcher jam or a confusion about which OR to bring me to - and we just sat there, unmoving, for several minutes.  I felt a panic attack start to rise up from deep within me.

And then the most amazing thing happened.  It just stopped.  I thought of all the prayers coming my way from friends and family, I thought of all the well wishers and people who have helped me through this journey, and I was overcome with a sense of gratitude, of peace.

I started to say a little prayer, too - I don't remember the exact words - but it was essentially a "Thank you" prayer for all the goodness that has been in my life even in the midst of all the strife and pain.

And, of course, I thought about my Dad.  I pray to him a lot.

A warmth passed over me - it was so strong I looked down to see if they had given me any medication through my IV.  They hadn't.   I felt a sense of lightness and peace like I have never, ever experienced before, and it was incredible.

I am more of a spiritual person than a religious person.  I talk to God, but my notion of God is a very personal, private one that doesn't have anything to do with any traditional religion.  

All I know for sure is that He was there yesterday in that hallway with me.  I feel odd saying it - like it will be perceived as flaky or self-serving, but I guess I don't care.  Because I know He was there.

As they finally rolled me into the OR, I looked around with a sense of wonder. I asked a bunch of questions about what each machine did, asked the nurses their names.  I had absolutely no fear.  I felt grateful to be surrounded by such sophisticated technology, instead of being afraid of it.  When they put the mask over my mouth and told me to breath deep, I had a smile on my face.


Last night I lay in bed, wide awake and in a LOT of pain, and trying to recreate the experience I had in that chilly hallway.  I was full of fear, wondering about what the biopsy results would say, and having trouble breathing through my swollen throat.  It was a long night.

I lay there wondering why I can't have the feeling I had in the OR all the time.  Selfish me, like a junkie, you give me a little taste of something incredible and I want more more more.

I'm not sure what it all means, really.  I'm grateful I experienced it at all, and I'm hopeful it will come back.  I'm pretty sure the key is to stop trying, to let go and trust in God, or the Universe, or the Energies, or whatever faith sustains you.

That experience shifted something in me, though.  Something good, something peaceful, sprung to life, deep inside - like a little pilot light. I hope that I can keep it burning over the coming days - no matter what news I get from the biopsy, no matter what happens next.

And, as always, thank YOU for all your prayers and well wishes, my friends. You were all there with me, too, in my heart.  I read and re-read your words of comfort and support when I'm feeling low and scared, and it helps me so much.  Thank you.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Little Something

It's a gorgeous, sunshine-y  day; I've got the windows rolled down and the radio turned up, and I'm singing along to U2's Beautiful Day at the top of my lungs.  I'm heading into Boston for two doctors appointments:  a routine check-up with my head and neck surgeon and then on to my oncologist to get the feeding tube out.  Finally. I'm thrilled about this milestone and my spirits are soaring.

I even mange to eat a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on an English muffin on the way in.

Life is good.

For once, the long wait at the head and neck surgeon's office doesn't bother me, because I'm not anxious, not waiting for test results, not thinking about anything except being tube-free in approximately two hours.

Finally, he comes in, asks me the usual questions and then starts poking around in my mouth.

"Has there been a spot that has been bothering you in your throat?" he asks. "More than usual?"

I think for a bit, and reply "well, there is this one spot on the left that has always hurt more than the rest of my mouth.  But I wouldn't say it's worse.  It's not better, either.  I've gotten kind of used to it, I guess."

His eyebrows knit together and he gets out his ultra-bright light, magnifying glasses and the scope.  My stomach does a little flip-flop.

"Hmmmm," he says, unhelpfully.

Then he looks at it some more, calls another doctor in to look at it, and by now I'm shaking and sweating; trying to make eye contact with him over my stretched-wide-open mouth is hard.

Finally, he sits down next to me, and exhales a little sigh that I've come to dread.

"I'd like to biopsy that," he says, shaking his head slowly.  "It's probably nothing, but I want to be sure.   We have to put you under for that, briefly, so you'll need to schedule a ride, but it's a day procedure.  You can't get the feeding tube out today, I'm afraid.  In case we do find, you know, something, you'll still be needing that tube."

I gape at him in a stunned silence.  This was not part of today's plan.  Today he was supposed to tell me how awesome my scar looks, give me a fatherly pat on the back and send me on my way to get the tube out.  Now we're talking about somethings?

A nurse comes in to give me a pre-procedure check-up and blood work, and they tell me someone will call to schedule the biopsy shortly.  I beg him to make it as quick as possible, because the waiting is hard for me.  

My voice sounds very far away and business-like to me; there is no note of the hysteria I feel welling up inside.

I make it to my car before I burst into terrified tears.

This is what cancer does to you; it never goes completely away, even if you remain in remission for the rest of your days.  There will always be tests, knitted brows, scans and waiting.  Always.

I clench my fists and shake my head back and forth and sob and sob.  I know I need to accept this, surrender to it, but for now I'm angry.  I'm pissed.  And I'm really scared.  What if they find cancer? What then?  I can't do it anymore, I just can't.

After ten minutes or so my sobbing slows to hiccuping sniffles, and I take a deep breath and start my car.  On the ride home I stare at my fellow drivers, wonder what they're thinking about.  Dinner? A big meeting the next day?  Someone honks and gives me the finger because I'm driving too slowly, lost in thought.  I gape at him - you think that's important? Being late?


When the kids get off the bus and pile through the door a few hours later, backpacks, papers and shoes flying in all directions and chattering away about their day, I feel that old urge to run and  hide.  Don't love me, I think.  I have a something.  I may always have somethings. I'm damaged goods.

"Hey Ellie, do you know what?" (that's Finn's latest thing, calling me Ellie).   He runs up and throws his arms around my legs.  "You're awesome and I love you!!'

My heart sinks and tears come to my eyes as I say, in what I hope is a convincing cheerful voice, "You know what, Finn? You're awesome and I love you, too!"  I manage a smile, listening to Greta going on about her day.

This is my new normal.  I can fight it, or I can accept it.  Those are my only two choices. I know which way is easier, more peaceful, but man sometimes it's hard to accept something you desperately don't want to be true.

"Oh, Momma!!!" Greta exclaims.  "Let's see your tummy!  You got the tube out today!!!"

I give her a small smile and explain that I didn't get it out because they are still checking something in my neck and I may still need it if they have to do more procedures.

Her face falls.  "Is that bad?  That's bad, isn't it? How bad is it?"

"It's not bad or good or anything, yet.  They are just going to do some tests and then we'll see what the next steps are.  I'm trying to tell my brain not to think about it until I know more, because worrying doesn't get me anywhere."  I pray I sound convincing.

"Just like when I worry about Spelling Challenge at school?  You always tell me to tell my brain not to worry about how I did until I get the test back.  That worry is just a waste of time."

"Yes," I smile.  "Just like that."  

 I slip upstairs to my room and get on my knees. Take it, please, I pray.  Can you carry this for me for a while?  Because I can't.  I whisper this over and over until I feel a little lighter.

I make my way downstairs to fix a snack for the kids.  My hands still feel a little shaky, but I feel better.  More present. More free. Less angry. Almost accepting.  Almost.  I'm getting there.