Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Remember the Fights, Remember the Fun...

One of the suckiest (is that a word?) things about this whole mishigas is the frayed nerves. Mine, Gerry's, the kids, the dog's - everyones.

We try not to let stuff get to us, but it does. Gerry's pissed off because - well, wouldn't you be? Suddenly the guy who was the tallest in his family (average height, 5'2") has shrunk. And that's the easiest part of this thing to deal with.

I'm pissed because - well - because I'm tired and at the end of my rope half the time. Luckily, I know how to tie a big, fat knot in that rope. I can even knit a little hammock-y chair to sit in, so the end of my rope is a relatively comfortable place to be. I'm settled in for a long swing.

Stress sucks. It would be so nice to live in a made for TV Hallmark movie where everyone deals with tragedies with tears and hugs. But that's not always the case. I used to say my mom worshipped at the church of Hallmark.

Now we're on vacation - and I'm taking a little mini-vacation from the guy I love more than anything, who can't seem to see anything good in what I'm doing these days. A little positive reinforcement, fella...

I can't blame him - all he can really see is the pain and the black fogginess that is our immediate future. I hesitated to post this, but I figured, if someone's in the same boat we're in, perhaps it would be nice to see that just about everyone has the days and moments they're not too proud of. Or when they let stress get the better of them. Like me, this evening, when I sounded like a reject from The Sopranos.

I got hailed on today. There was a bad storm as we were driving along Lake Superior. I'm sure that's where some of the stress came from, too - it was pretty scary, I pulled over and prayed that the hail wouldn't crack a window (it was pretty big) and haven't had the heart to inspect the PT to see if there's any tiny dent-age.

And a teaching engagement that I'd planned on briefly reneged (they were fearful of Gerry's illness - that I may have to back out - totally understandable) But then they came through and we're back on. Yay.

I'd done so much planning to make it work, it was very odd to feel that if it went either way it would be okay (but I'd rather be part of the decision making process as to which way it should go...) I'm babbling.

Maybe tonight would be a good time to try out that jacuzzi? Maybe a glass of wine would be in order, too...


Erika said...

First -- breathe...
2nd -- I'm perscribing a soak in the jacuzzi to get rid of the stress from the hail storm and then a nice glass of chilled wine for the black eye.

You're doing an amazing job. Just don't forget to breathe.

June 26, 2007 9:21 PM  
Lisa said...

yes, breathe! savor each breath. enjoy each day as much as you can, love and forgive, and let the rest go.

June 26, 2007 9:53 PM  
B. said...

If we're on the highway and want to air out the car, my husband says we should crack a window, meaning open it a crack. So when you said that you prayed that the hail wouldn't crack a window I imagined the hail was so big it had learned to drive.

June 26, 2007 10:15 PM  
Kathie said...

The jacuzzi sounds like a great plan. Sending you a big hug! It's always hard to watch people go through crap and wish you could carry part of the load and then feel so helpless. Hang in there, lady!

June 26, 2007 10:54 PM  
Anonymous said...

When you are in that hammock-y chair
swing baby swing


June 26, 2007 11:42 PM  
Rob said...

GLASS of wine? darlin' you deserve an entire BOTTLE (case?) for holding up as well as you are. Hang in there and know that Lansing (MI) is waiting with bells on--just for you!

June 27, 2007 12:02 AM  
Beverley said...

Annie, hang on in there, you are doing fine, the rest of the world can wait. Please remember that the meds Gerry is on will not only help him but they can mess with your mind and your mood. If you have a bad day, tell yourself its the meds talking not him. Hugs to you all from over the pond.

June 27, 2007 3:48 AM  
PJ in NY said...

Suckiest is most definately a word. Use it when ever you think appropriate (frequent and loud use releaves stress by small increments)

I think someone forgot to tell you and Gerry that you are SUPPOSED to be pissed off! You have every right to be mad. This is a very hard thing to deal with and you are doing a great job (pat self on back and repeat: I am doing a great job). There are no rules as to how you go through this illness.
The only thing to remember as you find your way through the rough days is that you have a many friends (old and new) who are there for you.

June 27, 2007 6:07 AM  
knitting chaos said...

I would like to relate a personal story... My father loved to argue. He would argue with anyone about anything. I always prided myself on the fact that he could not provoke me into an argument. There was one exception to this rule... NAFTA (don't ask). Anyway, he had cancer and after one particularly bad session of chemo, I was down visiting my parents and he bought up the NAFTA thing. I ignored it because I didn't want to fight with him, but he kept bringing it up. So I finally figured out that he wanted to argue. So I started arguing with him. My mom told me to stop, but I said it was what he wanted. My point to this story is that he was still my dad and he wanted to be himself, not the sick guy.
Gerry is still your husband and as Hank Williams said so eloquently in one of his songs, you two “have a license to fight”. Let him be your husband. Fight with him if that is needed, love him and never let him just be the sick guy.

June 27, 2007 7:29 AM  
Jane said...


I am a Web editor for Mayo Clinic in Rochester and an avid knitter. I saw your post about spending August here, and I thought you might be interested in knowing that there are two very nice yarn shops within walking distance of the Clinic. Kristin's Knits is on 2nd Street SW between Saint Marys Hospital and the Mayo Building. They are just moving into a new space in a Victorian house, so I don't have the address yet.

Also, Just a Little Something is a yarn and quilting store that is just south of the Mayo Building at 304 6th Street SW (about four blocks).

I know you'll be very busy but I also know sometimes it just helps to take a break and fondle some lovely yarn.

I hope this is helpful to you, and that your visit with us goes well.

Best wishes,


June 27, 2007 8:19 AM  
jenifleur said...

Last year my mom was ill with lung cancer and I cared for her here at my house. I just want to tell you that everything you're going through is normal. My mother and I had horrible fights about stupid things and it was extremely painful for me, even knowing that it was her fear, the drugs and the unfairness of it all. I wanted that hallmark movie, too. With not much time left, I thought every second of it should be happy and meaningful. But it's not. Most of it is stressful, exhausting, painful and frustrating. My mother didn't even want counseling, she *wanted* to be depressed, and I suppose she had a right, it was just such a helpless feeling for all of us. I'm so very sorry for you, your husband and your children. I hate that you have to go through this.

One thing that someone said to me definitely helped: you have to take time for yourself if you're going to be a good caretaker. Even if you'll only go for a walk, do something alone. Something just for you. And do not feel guilty about it. You may have already figured that out, but just in case I wanted to pass that on. I'm thinking of you all.


June 27, 2007 9:27 AM  
Cape Cod Kitty said...

Give yourselves permission to feel the anger, the annoyance or whatever feelings are evoked by where you are right now. It is OK.
Your ability to write out your heart wrenching emotions rising from what is happening in your life is beautiful and, I am sure, cathartic.
From my own experience as a two-time cancer survivor, I can only say that nothing has ever stirred my emotions to the levels they were during the process.
Many wishes for peace, for healing and for dealing go out to you and Gerry and your family.

June 27, 2007 9:31 AM  
Milly said...

I feel so badly for you, but I know exactly how you feel about the stress, had a somewhat similar situation about 12 years ago when I lost my in-laws, both parents and two grandparents a span of about 14 months. My hubby and I were so stressed and there was no one left to take it out on I guess so we had to vent at each other.
All I can say is...your human, Gerry and the kids are human, it isn't anything to apologize for, you would explode from the stress if you didn't let it out.
You sure wine is strong enough? I might take a shot of something a little stronger and hit the hot tub!
hang in there! We are all here with you!

June 27, 2007 9:44 AM  
susanc said...


I personally do what I can for people and don't expect to be thanked for every little thing I do. I do it because I want to; not for the recognition. I don't think anonymous realizes how much stress you are under right now and I wouldn't pay much mind to it. I think most people realize that you and Gerry are extremely grateful for everything people are doing for you, financially and otherwise. Telling you that you should thank each and every person is a little much. Time is extremely precious right now and you can thank people all you want in the future. People realize this and would rather have you spending time with Gerry and the kids and taking care of your family rather than spending hours and hours writing thank yous. There will be time for that later.

I just wanted to put my two-cents worth in. I think anonymous needs to get over it.


June 27, 2007 9:58 AM  
Janet MF said...

Dear Annie,
Most of us stress out on piddling little insignificant issues. You guys are dealing with an enormous issue, so stress will be part and parcel of this, and stress is an emotion just like love is. Gerry probably feels somewhat emasculated by his illness; he needs reassurance that you're in control and yet doesn't want to feel that you can make it without him. I suppose it's a little like breastfeeding. When my son no longer wanted the breast, I felt somewhat redundant - I knew he could survive without me and I wasn't quite ready to accept that!!!

I had a friend who had cancer (a long while back) and he was very impatient with his wife. He was very fussy about food and would eat any food that friends brought round but always complained there was something wrong with whatever his wife made. Life was very tough for her at times, and we all knew his behaviour was often very unreasonable. I should imagine the internet is giving you a great outlet for venting, as some people think they don't wish to vent on their close friends all the time.

My thoughts are with you all. Enjoy your family break.

Janet MF up in Yellowknife

June 27, 2007 10:18 AM  
Kristina said...

I can totally understand the funkiness that happens when stress intrudes on a usually loving relationship. For the last few years, my husband has spent nearly every day off going to his mother's house to help his siblings care for her in her home, rather than send her to a convalescent home. He was so tired all of the time and we didn't have alone time, so that put a lot of stress on the relationship and brought out some fighting, something we never really did before. You seem like such a loving, wonderful person, and so does he...it will get better!!! Good luck!


June 27, 2007 12:01 PM  
Knit Me said...

Sister Knitter-hugs and prayers seem inadequate. I ache for you all. As you have moved into a role that you never wanted, asked for, dreamed about or anticipated, so has your husband. The man who has always been your partner, cheerleader and chief of the Divine Mrs. M Fan Club is not providing for his family, is the source of this new ground that your family is walking. He can't change it or fix it or make it go away. But as husband and father, on some level, he feels that it's his responsibility. The sticky bit is remembering that his diagnosis is not an umbrella covering you life but a weed in the garden. Always there, but not the center. It is the two of you against the world just as it has always been. He trusts you enough to be exactly as he feels with you. He is crabby with you and less crabby with your kids.

Do whatever you have to to take care of yourself. It's OK to take time for yourself. It's smart. Whether it's a regular manicure or a coffee date with a new MN friend or an additional house guest from NJ with whom you can rant, laugh and cry. The diagnosis is not going away-it is a a rude relative that will not leave. Learning to live with it is unbelieveably difficult. As cliche as it sounds, make a commitment to yourself to attend one of the support groups that the Mayo hosts. Promise yourself that you will go three times. Even if you are sure that you don't need one, perhaps you have something to share with someone else living their journey. You may be happily surprised. Hugs, tears and a cup of tea-Lisa G

June 27, 2007 2:39 PM  
Arianne said...

My thoughts are with you and your family.
So so much.

June 28, 2007 9:55 AM  
Sarah said...

Your mention of the hail reminded me- I thought of you the other day. I went shopping at the mall with my mom. Mom drives a PT Cruiser, and she is part of the cult as well. Parked in the lot when we came out, Moms car was flanked by PT Cruisers on both sides. I laughed, but Mom was unsurprised. "I always park next to another PT if i can." Wha? You PT folks are a breed apart.
Keeping a good thought.

June 29, 2007 9:08 AM  
Anonymous said...

Annie - I met you at the Midwest Masters. I'm a two time survivor and am doing well. The most important thing someone told me was "take one day, sometimes only one hour, at a time". Also, "Today is a gift, that's why it's called the present". Take care of YOU. Support groups seem depressing at first, but then you hear other people talking about exactly what you're feeling! They share coping skills, you cry together, you laugh together. Please know that the knitting world is holding you in their arms.

Carol in St. Louis

June 29, 2007 9:20 AM  
Dana said...

Oh Annie. Biggest hugs and much love being sent from here in Michigan. Sometimes we abuse the ones we love the most. Patience is the hardest thing to hold on to in times of stress. Don't lose yours, and his will come back. You are all in my prayers!

June 29, 2007 11:31 AM  
Ruth said...

Annie- I'm so sorry that your family has to endure this. Your honesty and openness about this illness goes to my heart. My husband has a terminal illness, fortunately advancing very slowly, and I can empathize with everything you said. The caring and love of friends and family is a huge support and I hope that even those of us who don't know you personally can be a part of comforting and supporting you and your family.

June 29, 2007 7:29 PM  
Katinka said...

Hi, Annie -- Delurking to say that I think I can, on some level, relate to what you're going through. A few years back, right after a cross-country move and the birth of our first child, my husband developed a thyroid disease that just about knocked him flat (he lost over a quarter of his body weight in about two months -- eep!). He wasn't exactly a cheerful patient -- extreme irritability is one of the chief symptoms of hyperthyroidism -- and I discovered that in spite of my love for him, I wasn't a very good Florence Nightengale. Dealing with the serious disease in the family can, frankly, really suck sometimes -- Lifetime Television doesn't always show you that part. ;) So, please don't beat yourself up.

Best wishes to your and your family.

June 29, 2007 11:27 PM  

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