Despite everything happening in my life and the life of those close to me, I very seldom get overwhelmed, depressed, or have emotional meltdowns. When they do happen to me, it’s usually only for perhaps 10 or so minutes and the feelings pass quickly, especially when I call a friend and talk about whatever I’m feeling or what’s happening to create these feelings. Thankfully, it usually passes quickly. I do shed some tears, sometimes lots of tears. It’s okay to cry and feel feelings. I wouldn’t be normal if I didn’t. I have learned from personal experience that it’s a long way from my head to my heart. I might know something in my head and know it’s a reality, but sometimes it takes my heart much longer to realize and accept whatever it is. Sometimes it takes weeks or months. I have been through this many times, including surgical changes to my body due to cancer. I knew the operations and removal of body parts was necessary, but my heart and eyes quite a while to accept it. I will admit that frustration is a word I deal with on almost a daily basis. I get frustrated that I can’t always do what I want due being tired or the intensity of the pain, or other reasons. But when I think of what I am grateful for during that time, the frustration seems to disappear, or at least lessen.
If you have been reading my blogs for a while, you know I have been living with serious health issues for many years, the past five years have significantly changed my life and given me a shorter life span. All any of us have is today. However, with tumors in my abdominal and pelvic areas, according to my doctor, my life span is not anticipated to be very long. At least that’s what she told me in 2013 when she told me I would most probably not live to the end of 2013, and definitely not the end of 2015. Well, we are halfway through 2015 and I am still alive. God has other plans for my life and I guess God is not ready for me yet. Many days I am ready, but I guess my purpose on Earth is not completed yet. Sometimes, I think of what I would have missed if God took me when I asked.
There are so many things I would not have experienced, both happy and sad. I would not have gone up in the Goodyear Blimp, or volunteered or had another ride in a hot air balloon at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. I would have missed being able to walk with my friend on her journey with cancer, or another losing her husband. I would have missed sharing life experiences of my friends, I would have missed seeing double full arc rainbows, exploring National Parks, doing fun jigsaw puzzles, eating ice cream sandwiches, traveling around the USA in my camper van, and so much more. I would have also missed being in pain, and even though I don’t like the pain and what I am going through physically, many friends and others I come in contact with on my journey through life tell me that I inspire them, or that what I am living with puts their life in perspective, or that they enjoy reading the stories I write about my trips and life experiences.
A few people ask me if I have tough days, or if what I am going through gets me down because I don’t write about it often. In part, that is why I am writing this story. I don’t have many of those days and when I do they pass quickly. It’s because I do my best to keep an attitude of gratitude. To always look for the positive and what I am grateful for. There are so many people with more challenges than I have, they have worse health conditions or physical restrictions, or they live with much more stressful situations and tragic losses than I do. When I make a list of all I have to be grateful for, it’s difficult to feel self pity. It’s easier to be a victim and say poor me than it is to be a hero and say this is what happened and now I have to live with it the best way I can. No matter what the situation, it’s easier to blame others than it is to take responsibility for my part in the situation. I choose to look at the positive, to be proactive.
I remember watching the July 4th fireworks in 2013 and thinking these are the last fireworks I will ever see, the same with having my birthday, and holidays. The fall of 2013 was difficult for me healthwise. I wasn’t able to take my yearly late year trip out west. I even went in Hospice from January to May of 2014. Then last year in 2014 I went through the same thoughts that this will be the last time, now here it is 2015. Maybe it’s this time of the year that’s more emotional for me. I don’t really know. So now I am not telling myself this is the last anything. None of us know when it will be. It will be when God decides it’s time.
This past Friday night as I was reading a novel I felt restless and unsettled. A feeling of sadness, grief, depression, and of being overwhelmed came over me rather quickly. I started crying. This happens every now and then, and like I wrote it usually passes quickly. This time it wasn’t going away. I did the usual things… thought of things I am grateful for, I prayed and asked God to remove these feelings. I read many pages in my meditation and inspirational books, still no relief. So I reached out and called a close friend who was able to talk at that time. I was able to tell her what is going on in my life and after a long phone call I felt better. Saturday I spent the day taking my mom on errands since she still doesn’t have her car back from the mechanic. I hope she gets it soon, it’s been three weeks.
Saturday night I was sitting and reading and the same feelings overcame me again. It’s rare for it to happen two nights in a row. This felt as bad or worse than the previous night. I cried for a while thinking the feelings would pass and they didn’t. I reached out to a few friends to see who was available to talk and one of them was home. We talked about what was happening in both of our lives and after a while I felt better. Sharing with someone puts my life back into perspective. Since we are not involved in whatever the situation is that the other person is experiencing, at least most of the time, we can see it from a different perspective and share similar experiences and how we got through them. I am extremely grateful for these special friends who I know save my life and sanity. They feel the same way about me because I am one of their close friends and support group. We feel this connection even if we don’t talk to each other for weeks at a time. We are here for each other no matter what, no matter what time of the day or night.
After two nights and partial times during the day of feeling these overwhelming feelings and thoughts and doubts, now they seem to be not as emotionally painful. It’s not one thing causing this, it’s many things happening all at once. I think I am giving everything to God, but perhaps I am still trying to hold on to things over which I have no control of the outcome. Then my burden gets heavy and I feel overwhelmed, frustrated, sad, and I feel that life it too much to bear. I tell God periodically that I am ready to die. God says not yet there is still more for me to experience here. I was telling a close friend that knows about everything I am going through about this and she said if I wasn’t here I wouldn’t have been able to pray with her this particular day and provide words which really helped her. She is battling two different types of cancer in two different significant parts of her body.
A friend I left a message for Saturday night when I had my meltdown came to visit me Sunday afternoon, she surprised me with a colorful lollypop. As I am typing this story and looking at the lollypop, I realize this is life. Lots of colors. In nature and life, all colors and textures are needed to complete what we see. For example, grass and trees having many shades of green and many different textures makes them interesting to look at. As I travel in my camper van around the country, the different types of landscapes and terrain makes my trip more interesting. My four pound container of Jelly Belly’s with 49 flavors makes it more delicious to eat, even though a few flavors are not my favorites so I eat them with a flavor I like.
A few weeks ago I had a CT Scan to see what changes there are to my tumors and organs since the scan one year ago. There are many changes, and new things that were not there last year, and they are not for the better. I think that has me a bit upset if I think about it which I try not to do. It’s hard because of the symptoms I live with on a daily basis which are in part a result of the CT Scan findings. Most days now it’s more difficult for me to eat, the pain is getting quite a bit more intense. I often wake up with the pain and find that I don’t even want to get out of bed many days. The pain used to start in the early afternoon, now many days it’s in the mornings. Eating is not something I look forward to either and the amount of food I can eat at a time is about half a cup to a full cup of food. I am trying to be conscious of the amount of fluids I drink in a day because I don’t want to dehydrate. Some days it’s not easy to drink liquids. So, I take sips more often and do my best.
I am still planning on taking my trip to Texas and New Mexico, leaving in about 10 days. Last year I took a trip about the same as this one and it was about 4,500 miles round trip. I am going to have my camper van checked out the end of this week to make sure all is well. Something always seems to happen on the road, and thankfully, it’s where I am able to get it repaired. I hope and pray that this year all goes well, and if there are hiccups that they are minor and in a location they can be taken care of easily and quickly. I have no control over things that happen once I do my best preventive care.
This week I will begin packing for my trip. I have to be honest, even though I should be excited and enthusiastic about it, I am not. I remember feeling the same way last year. Once I left, I enjoyed my trip. It’s the getting packed and loading the camper that is the difficult part. I have to pack for several months, and different types of weather. It’s hot now, but, by October and November it will be cold so I have to pack heavy, warm clothes too. I have very limited space in the camper van which makes it a bit more challenging when I think about what I have to take. I have a small space heater for when it’s cold and I have electricity. Last year when it was in the 20’s and 30’s the space heater worked really hard to keep it at 60 degrees, so I bought another small electric heater. This will take up more precious space. So does taking 6 months of medical supplies. Then there are clothes, food, etc. I know it will work out, it always does.
So, I am guessing that this meltdown is a combination of my worsening health condition and pain, the additional findings in my CT Scan results, my friend walking through a serious cancer situation, another friend being upset with me and not speaking with me, having a splint on my finger again hoping the torn tendon will reattach, the uncertainty of life, not eating as well as I need to, my sleeping patterns being off, the upcoming trip, and probably other things I am not conscious of, all of these things are affecting me in different ways.
I guess it’s like an overloaded circuit breaker tripping a fuse. My tears and feelings of being overwhelmed, and mildly depressed, are my body’s way of letting me know that I am experiencing a lot of things and that I need to just let things go and let them unfold the way they are supposed to. I have to accept, and maybe grieve, the possible loss of a friendship. I have to accept her decision if she no longer wants to be my friend and talk with me. And I also have to leave the outcome of another friends cancer treatment in the hands of God and to ask in prayer that her doctors be given the knowledge and wisdom on how to best treat her cancer.
So, as I continue on this journey through life, I will do my best. Some days my best is better than other days. I have to remember that I am human and therefore not perfect. I make mistakes. I have to apologize, make amends, correct situations, or whatever is necessary, and forgive myself and others. And for those of you wondering if I have times that my life situation is too much for me to bear, you know I do. But hopefully only for short periods of time. My close friends help me navigate this journey with unconditional love, dignity, strength, friendship, support, sanity, faith, courage, and hope. Even laughter and joy. They are my lifeline.
It’s my choice how I decide to look at life and the events that happen. My choice is to look for the positive and for the many things I have to be grateful for. I know that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes I know the reason, sometimes I don’t, or perhaps it’s revealed to me quite a while later. I have learned that sometimes what I have to go through, or should I say grow through, is not always about me. It might be about someone else and the experience that God wants them to have and I might just be a part of their story or experience.
Today I can walk, talk, breathe, see, hear, taste, smell, and so much more all at the same time. There may be a day that is not possible and if that happens, I will deal with it then. During this sometimes difficult and challenging time in my life, I am trying to remember to reach out and say I need help, or I need someone to talk with. It always helps me. I know that the path my life has taken over the course of my lifetime, and especially the past five years, is the one meant for me. It’s shaped me into who I am. If one thing was different, I would be different. How would I be different? I have no idea. I doubt it would be for the better. I like to think that the difficulties and health issues I have had are experiences that I learned from and shared with others to help them when they go through their life experiences. I remember once in the hospital when an IV medicine was burning as it went into my body that a nurse put cool compresses on my arm and it helped. Another time, I was in the hospital and a roommate was having her arm burn from a medicine, I was able to put a compress on her arm to ease her pain. Sometimes little things mean so much. I have a few friends that currently send me cards and emails to let me know they are thinking about me, it really touches my heart.
I know that by people sharing their life experiences with me, they give me hope when I don’t have any. They give me a new way to look at the situation and help me to not feel alone. They tell me that I can survive whatever it was that is or was happening to me because they did. People that had an Illeostomy helped me learn to deal with mine, people who had a spouse die got me through that when mine did, when I had cancer there were people there for me too. No matter what I go through, if I reach out there is someone who had the same or similar experience and they give me the strength and hope that I can too. It’s my responsibility to give it back as it was so freely given to me. We don’t have to know someone to help them. Sometimes someone I just met and I are talking and one of says something that either one of us needed to hear. Maybe they provided an answer to a prayer or question I was thinking about, or maybe I said something that they needed to hear or it answered one of their questions or prayers. We might never know the importance of our contact with another person, or the impact it might have in someones life.
One thing I know for sure is that without a strong belief in God, and many prayers, over the years I would not have been able to survive my journey through life and it’s blessings and challenges. Sometimes it’s difficult to handle good things happening. Yes, we deserve good things in our life. There have been and still are so many loving, caring, and supportive people in my life that continually help me and others. I know that if I didn’t have these special friends that I can tell anything to, no matter what it is, that I would be having a more difficult time handling not only what was in my past, but as importantly what I am going through now. The close friends I talk with don’t say don’t be upset, angry, cry, or whatever else I am feeling. They say they understand and that it’s okay for me to feel this way, that it will pass, that things will work out the way they are supposed to and the way God wants them too, even though it might not be the way I want it to. They tell me with all I am dealing with it’s normal to have these feelings. I can feel feelings, even though they might be uncomfortable. Thankfully, I don’t have to act on feelings or thoughts or let them take permanent residence in my brain.
I have lived with a medical time bomb in me for most of my life that I can remember. After my first bout with cancer when I was 21, I was told I had to be checked often because it will come back. The doctors did not say might come back, they said it will. I was checked closely over the years. Every time I went to the doctor when the doctor said “we need to do a biopsy” I felt like I was living Russian Roulette, one bullet in a gun chamber, when would the click of the trigger be the real bullet. The cancer returned 20 years later, when I was 41. So now with inoperable tumors growing in my body the past few years, I still have a time bomb in me. When will my last day be? I have no idea. I might even die by some other cause such as a car accident, heart attack, a fall, or any other cause. None of us know when it will be our last day or how it will happen. Live each day fully. Let people know how you feel about them, or how much they mean to you.
Friday night trying to get out of my meltdown before I called anyone, when I was reading a meditation book called Night Light, these words helped me: “There are things beyond our control. One of them is the outcome of any circumstance. We cannot expect that if we do all we can, all will be well. Even the most skilled surgeon loses patients. The surgeon knows the grace of God is with the patient, no matter what the outcome. The grace of God is in our lives and the lives of those around us. Though we strive to do our best and to make everything better, we need to remember the outcomes are not in our control. How we accept them, however, is in our control.”
Another book I read that night, The Simple Truths of Life, had words that were also meaningful, in part talked about that we will not receive an email with the subject PENDING DEMISE. “It is unlikely that we will know our “Expiration Date.” “…the days I am living now ARE my final words; not just the “words,” but everything I am currently doing and saying to, or for, others. These are the things that will be remembered by my friends and loved ones. The way in which I am living my life, my actions, my relationships with them on a regular, everyday basis ARE my final words, which epitomizes the old adage, “Actions speak louder than words.” I realize that is true. I never know when I talk with someone if I will be able to talk with them again. When I had a friend dying, I treated every conversation as if it would be our last one. I knew sometime it would be and I wanted to leave that person with the words of them knowing how much they meant to me.
As I travel on my trip, I will write stories when I get Internet service. I will also try to keep my Travel Map tab updated as to what part of the country I am in.