Wednesday, 8 April 2009
And I don’t mean the dance.
Limbo is any status where a person or project is held up; and nothing can be done until another action happens.
Enter my head for a moment if you will. “Will the tests show that the cancer has stayed the same or that the cancer has changed? I am surviving between having more time with my family or less time. I face two paths and don’t know which will be forced upon me. So I travel none. I stand entrenched in limbo.”
I visit limbo about every four months. My entry into limbo happened on March 30th when I received blood tests for tumor markers and will continue to the end of April. In between I will have more tests. On the 6th of April I had a cat scan and on the 7th I had a bone scan.
And the tick of the tock will tick tock, tick tock, tick tock until I get my results. Has the cancer remained stable (I pray that it does) or will the cancer be on the move this time (I pray that it won’t)? Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.
The limbo period is the waiting. Waiting for the inevitable and thinking the worst. It is the time that you need to live in the NOW. When your mind drifts away you contemplate your mortality and then you become crazy, numb, manic, crazy, numb, manic. Then you grasp for the NOW like a drowning man; get your cool back until you don’t.
On Monday I went for my cat scan and it went pretty well this time. They started with me bending over the sink with my arm in hot water; then my arm was wrapped; then they poked with the tiniest needles they could that would still allow the dye to go in. And voila, it was in within three shots (ouch, ouch, ouch).
I drink two glasses of water with iodine and feel like I may throw up, but I don’t.
I have to wait for an hour and in that time an elderly man and women start telling me about all the horrible things he has gone through. He is 75 and has colon cancer and it is the worst kind because they found it too late and it has spread. Then his wife and he tell me in tears that his time has been stolen because his and her parents both lived to 95 and now he won’t make it to 95. I sympathize and I must state here that I really did sympathize, they were sweet and heartbroken and it was hard to see such pain in another’s eyes.
They call me, I lie down and the nurse has to come and check the needle because as it is, they didn’t get a good hit at the vein but if one of them holds it, they think they will get the dye in. It is successful.
As I lie there I ask them to check out how many cat scans I have had in three years. They tell me that I have had 15. Each scan is equal to approximately 1,000 x-rays. 15 x 1,000 = 15,000 x-rays in three years.
I read somewhere that modern medical practice has changed cancer from an acute to a chronic catastrophe. (I love the word catastrophe.) And though I am so very thankful to be alive, I am not thankful for the constant gun to the family head. My family lives in a state of limbo where interactions, plans, and hopes are continually imbalanced.
On Tuesday, I go at 12:30 to get my bone scan and they always call an operating room nurse to come and put the nuclear radiation through my PICC. I get there, the nurse gets there and then they tell us the radiation is still at Health Sciences and they are couriering it over so could we come back at 1:15. It is 1:15 and I am back and get the radiation no problem. Leave and go home and go back to the hospital for the third time that day at 3:30 to get the bone scan done. I ask how many bone scans in the last three years and they tell me 10.
You just want to get on with a normal life, for Christ’ sake, if only you could. But over the next month I will feel like I am running in quicksand. I am indecisive over the smallest things. I have nagging visions of the cancer on the move. I bore people around me almost daily with my insecurities. I want to curl in a ball and rot in a corner of the couch.
My Raven sister Laurel stated on her blog “I think most of us make our lives out to be more complex than they really are. I know I do. We get overwhelmed by situations that present themselves to us without warning or invitation. What if we stood on the edge and saw intricate beauty in life’s challenges and shouted Thank you Universe!! Message received.’ Then we could tend the rice fields in baby steps, one paddy at a time.” I love that.
Limbo is where you realize that your world is on hold. Not the world, just your world. It is the month of wondering whether the cancer is on the move that puts me in a daze.
Wahid asked me last night ‘Dearest, how does it feel to have big children but now you are sick?’ Tears start to drip and I say ‘It is harder than I can speak about.’
Limbo is the time that every ache and random pain is cancer. It is a constant battle to remind myself that I feel like this every four months with the tests and that before it wasn’t cancer it was just aches and pains. Unfortunately ever since being diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer every pain comes with an instant thought: cancer.
I am adrift; living without purpose or direction. I am quite literally living in limbo and I don’t fucking like it one bit.