Monday, July 5, 2010

Ground Control

So maybe the worst part of this whole ordeal (besides fearing death and future infertility, blah blah blah) is the loss of control factor. I will be the first person to declare I am a certifiable Type A control freak. I am not a mean person (most of the time), I just like things the way I like them. I prefer the word "particular". When I was in college, I made a list of the 257 qualities I was looking for in a man, and then I actually found and married someone who fit at least 200 of them (if not more). I am not someone who settles for anything less than my own personal best (but not athletically speaking), especially when it comes to creating things with my hands or those gosh-darned PSSA test scores, which I enjoy taking credit for when they are good... Over the years, I have gotten better (right, Chris?) at prioritizing which things (at school) are worth managing (behavior) and which I can delegate (bulletin boards) without too much worry.

But with cancer, I have lost a large part of my sense of control. Not all, but more than I'd prefer to part with. It was gone the minute my doctor said there was a mass in my chest. I have this vivid memory of my mind going blank and just asking again and again, "What does that mean? I don't understand. What are you telling me?" And when one scan led to another, and one biopsy led to another, and I had to rely on the doctors at 2 separate pathology labs to give me some kind of results (3 weeks later), I realized that my ability to control this situation is limited to what I can do to handle my own stress and anxiety. How can I maximize my treatment? Or rather, how can I help myself survive this treatment? I often feel like I'm at the mercy of doctors and nurses and alternative therapists and all of the well-intentioned advice they have to offer me. The term "survivor" definitely has a whole new meaning to me now.

My poor husband is now the sole victim of my loss of power. I try to find my comfort zone again by, yes, nagging him, and asking questions and making requests (I do say please and thank you) that bring me some sense of calm. Of course, then he, as the naggee (is that a word?), is miserable right there with me and no one is happy.

Visualization does help. My guided imagery cds are now all loaded onto my iPhone for 24/7 usage and they have been life savers on more than one occasion. They give me the power to relax, which seems rather funny, seeing as how I've always needed my control for more active situations (um, ever been in charge of instructing and motivating 34 8-year-olds?). But now my life requires me to use my inner control freak as a focusing tool. It's almost like being in early labor for a really long time. There's a lot of deep breathing involved. And my happy place is under a lemon tree. To be honest, I don't exactly know what a lemon tree really looks like. It doesn't matter. I have this image of a beautifully fruitful lemon tree (lemons do NOT make me nauseous) standing in the middle of a grassy field that I try to conjure up everytime there's a stressful moment or some nasty KFC commercial is making me want to toss my cookies.

I try to be positive. I use eye glitter to try to maintain some outer sparkle when I'm not feeling very sparkly on the inside and the color purple (sundresses, toenail polish, etc.) cheers me up. The vision of next summer is reassuring - being on the other side of this bump in the road.


PS. Happy Birthday Auntie Rae Rae! We love you and miss you!


  1. MI~
    I'm so glad you found this as a way of speaking freely. You are doing a great job girl, and we are all pulling for you. I love how you are finding ways to make yourself feel brighter. Reading your words gives me a sense of standing with you in B3 having this conversation for real. I read something once in one of those books that said, once you realize and accept you cannot control the situation, you are better able to deal and go with it. Don't know if that helps, but when I was going through fertility business, it did help me.

  2. Mia, As a writer, I know there is nothing better than quick feedback. Your writing is wonderful-- if that's appropriate to describe such an experience-- but you really are gifted at putting it all out there, exactly as it is. You've captured exactly who you are with your trademark candor, humor, strength and vivid descriptions- we're all right there with the amazing Dan with his 200 plus scorecard! Will be looking for all things purple and our Meyer lemon harvest might be ready to ship.

  3. This post is just freakin' awesome!

    May the downhill slope of this bump in your road approach quickly...