Monday, November 30, 2009

After driving for hours through storms where you sometimes couldn’t even see the highway, we have made it back to Little Rock. I’m surprised it only took an extra hour to get here. I was going to update the blog after we settled into the apartment, but with all rain, the cable (and the internet) are down so I’m just going to type the blog in Word and will upload it tomorrow.

Our appointment with Dr. Barlogie is at 10:00 a.m. so, thankfully, we won’t have to get up too early. It was quite a stressful drive getting here.

I couldn’t ask for Tanner to have a better attitude. He seems ready to face treatment again and told me before we left “The faster we go the faster we can get back home”. He seemed to have a good break with plenty of time spent with his family and friends.

He told me not to pack his Latch and Hook Rug this time because any time that he has where he isn’t feeling sick he wants to spend on his school work. With the home school program, he knows that if he hadn’t gotten sick, he would probably have already graduated. I told him there’s quite a bit of difference working on a rug when he isn’t feeling quite normal and working on school work where he has to concentrate but we left the rug at home and I guess we’ll see if he can get his packets finished. It will be a day for celebration when he gets his High School diploma!

I personally found the trip home to be more stressful than I could have imagined.

Lauren (our friend whose husband John is also going through treatment) and I talked several times about how “simple” life is in Arkansas. Your life is so focused on treatment and going back and forth to clinic every day. It’s actually a very isolated life. She told me that she was nervous about going home and back to her “normal” life and after this trip I have to admit it was a hard thing to do.

What was “normal” before is no longer an option. I’ve found that I am sort of adrift; trying to function in my daily life but that person I was before isn’t there anymore. I’ve lost that sense of security.

As I’ve mentioned several times, I’m having difficulties sleeping and find that most nights I can’t rest more than a few hours unless I take some sort of medication.

This past weekend I went to the lakehouse with my cousins after our Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. I had been so looking forward to it. Some of my best times have been spent with my family at the lake.

We had the most beautiful fall weather and, after a few margaritas, Kathy and I relaxed and laughed and had a great time Friday night. Then everyone went to bed and I came face to face with some of my darkest emotions and I had a breakdown on my cousin Kirk. I didn’t sleep at all that night and by the time dawn came around, I decided I couldn’t face the idea of having to interact with anyone. The thought of having to talk and function was just more than I could bear so I told Kirk that I had to go home and he said he would explain to the family and I left while everyone else were still asleep.

I know that was a horrible thing to do. They were there for me and I just left without a word and I owe them the biggest apology. Kathy called me while I was driving back to Fort Worth and wanted me to turn around but I persuaded her that I just needed to go home and get some rest so that I would be ready to drive back today. She seemed to understand and I hope she did because they all mean the world to me and I don’t know what I would have done without them for the last several years.

In these last months I’ve had to deal with more emotions and fears than I’ve ever had to handle my whole life and I’ve come to a point where I realize that I need some help.

When I was 15 my oldest brother was killed. When I was 25, my mother acquired sepsis blood poisoning and slipped into a coma and after several weeks watching her body slip away, we had to agree to take her off life support. A few years later my dad died of COPD and shortly afterwards my Memaw passed away. Then, after battling drugs, my youngest brother shot and killed himself. I’ve watched my oldest son deal with his addictions and mental torments. I’ve had my share of heart ache but in the last months, I’ve come to some of my darkest days and I keep thinking tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow keeps coming and I’m still struggling.

I know that everyone says I need to be positive, that I need to have faith - and I do. I do feel positive that things will be okay and my faith and hope are sustaining me but I have to admit that I also have bad days with fear and despair.

My mother’s assurance of her child’s health is gone - that feeling that a parent often gets when they see someone else whose child has endured much tragedy or sickness and think “Thank goodness my children have their health”. It’s that old adage that you never think it will happen to you or yours.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to ask for help. I’ve seen in some of the information given to us from MIRT that there is assistance available to patients and caregivers who might be facing some emotional problems and difficulties sleeping. I think it’s time to look into obtaining some of that help.

I apologize if this is more personal information than some people want to read about. I know this blog was started in an effort to keep family and friends updated on Tanner’s daily treatment and progress while we are here in Little Rock but I’ve found that I’ve turned to it more and more to “unload” some of my thoughts and fears.

I talked to Kirk while I was home about the fact that Tanner hasn’t read the blog since the first week we were in Arkansas (I read or print for him all of the comments) and he said maybe since he’s living it he doesn’t feel the need to read about it.

I am not a very outgoing person. Over the years when I have sought counseling I’ve found that I can’t seem to open up even after weeks and months of seeing someone but there’s something about just being able to sit down in front of the computer and write. I’ve found that I can put things here that I would never dream of talking about so please forgive me if this has turned into more of a blog about a mother who is dealing with her emotions and fears as her son is undergoing cancer treatment than just a log of his progress.

I do truly believe that Tanner is getting the best care available and that he is going to be okay and will have a long and healthy life. I’ve just come to the conclusion that it’s time I sought some assistance for myself as I help him travel this journey. There’s a “me” before diagnosis and a “me” after diagnosis. No one can walk this journey for me and I think it’s time I work on getting myself stronger so that when Tanner and I next come home (hopefully on maintenance by then) we can build a new “normal” life where I can be the person I need to be for myself and the mother that Tanner needs.


  1. Angie try to stay strong for yourself and Tanner. Don’t worry about what you don’t have but what you do have. You still have both your children, two precious grandkids, your health, a great job that supports what you’re doing with Tanner, a home, friends, family, etc... I believe everyone can turn a negative into a positive. Years from now you and Tanner both will look back and see how bonded you two got with each other during this chapter of your lives. I pray all this has put Trevor and Tanner both on different paths. Remember God works in mysterious ways. Keep your faith and if talking with a counselor will make you feel better I think you should go for it. Join all the family support groups you can and type away on this blog if it helps you. Even if people are not commenting on it I believe they’re lurking. Most of us can’t put our feelings to words as well as you. Feeling your pain. Love, Cathy

  2. My Dear Angela: You never have to apologize for being normal. I am glad you are able to express yourself in any way you choose. There are so many people out here who love and care for you and Tanner and Trevor and most precious of all is the fact that Jesus loves you too. And it is His love that will see all of us through this extremely difficult time. I don't profess to understand why these things occur, but they do and we will SURVIVE. May you have many many blessings bestowed upon you and the boys. We love you. Granny and Pop

  3. Anyone would be sad in your situation. Anyone would have difficulty staying positive. It's ok and normal that u feel this way. U need hugs (and some Valium). Lots of them. My heart And a hug goes out to u and tanner and Tim. And u really should try and go to counseling u have been strong for tanner, but everyone needs a release and to cry. It doesn't mean u are giving up or losing hope. Much love

  4. I read this a little while ago without commenting...but your blog is going round the UK as an inspiration to many of us! You have been so strong for so long and shouldn't worry if now is the time for you to get some help. I think that it it is underestimated what the carers have to go through with this awful disease...and for you, that is on top of a lifetime of difficulties. From your blog, I would never have guessed that you have had to go through so have been such a tower of strength to let someone else do that for you!
    And keep blogging however it helps you...I don't know if it helps to know, but it does make such a difference to different people in different ways!!
    Thank you for your time in doing it, and I hope that you can get some rest and support.
    All the best