Monday, July 2

Not Listening...

Some years ago, the Doctor sent me off for a chest Xray. I had had a persistant cough, that wouldnt seem to go away.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the Xray, & discovered I had a mass in one lung. I hightailed it straight over to the Doctor's surgery. My file was not in the drawer. I knew he must have it in his room. I knew the hospital must have notified him of the Xray outcome.

He looked very grave when he saw me. He told me they were unsure what it might be, but had recommended physio therapy to see if it was a 'plug of mucous'.

I duly endured the physio, which left me unable to walk most days, after the treatment, as it seemed to really upset my back. The Physio therapist told me I needed physio for my back!

Next step was a repeat xray of the lung. No difference.

In the beginning I had laughed off the thought it might be cancer. The Doctor did not laugh. He was a measured, kind, cautious, very thorough man. He sent me off to see a Specialist.

That is when I began to feel frightened. Thoughts swirled through my head. Disbelief. Denial. I had given up smoking. I couldnt have cancer.

But the fingers of fear kept chilling in my soul. Little veins of cold, slivering unexpectedly, catching me unawares. I would lie sleepless. I tried to tell myself it wouldnt matter. I could afford to die, & it wouldnt matter.

GOM refused to talk about it with me. He just scoffed, & seemed to laugh it off. My daughter rushed about in her life, not listening, not seeming to care how disturbed I really felt.

The day of the Specialist appointment came. I had been for CT scans, dyed scans, further Xrays. Armed with all these I set off to see the Specialist.

I was terrified, though I kept telling myself not to be. But I had so badly wanted someone to accompany me, to hold my hand, to assure me it would be alright.

The morning of the appointment, my daughter picked a fight with me. She was furious & nasty. She stormed off out. She left our granddaughter in GOM's care. He used it as excuse not to accompany me. He claimed he needed to stay home, & look after her, she was a toddler.

And I took myself off to the appointment. I shook as I drove the car. I told myself I needed to stop being silly. But the small frightened piece inside me felt utterly betrayed. Bereft. Alone.

It has shaken me to write about this. Surprisingly, it has brought tears to my eyes. I had thought I was well over it. What a shock....

My mother was very supportive, but she lived in another country. She believed my daughter, & GOM were in denial themselves, & ignoring it was their way of dealing with it. Perhaps...

The lung tumour is thought to be benign. It must be, because 18 years after they found a trace of it on an old Xray, it has not killed me. I am still ok.

I have had 2 other cancer 'brushes', for want of a better word. Both would have certainly killed me if not for surgery. I discovered the existance of one tumour while I was caring for my mother, in her last days. I did not want to worry her, or frighten her, so didnt tell her about it. And I didnt let myself think about it really. I just felt it could all wait. I did not then know that it would be my mother's final days.

I had the surgery after she died, & they 'got it all', as they say. It frightened me also.

I think the thought of cancer is a process, or processes. I can still remember the processes, so clearly. The anger, the disbelief, the denial, the welcoming of it almost, at the end. All seem to be steps on the way to dealing with it. Rationalising it. Trying to make sense.

I dont think that anyone can understand those processes, unless they have experienced it themselves.

No matter how much support you have, or how much you are told you are cared about, it is essentially a journey only you can make. I have not had to have any treatment long term, I have been lucky.

I am sure the treatments must prolong the processes of a mind trying to make sense of it all.

My Best Friend J, has had to deal with all of that. One day, I must ask her about that journey.

A friend has been diagnosed with a cancer. I can only offer support from a distance. I know in some small measure, perhaps, what she is dealing with, in her mind.


This is a photo of my first ever little school case. It is 58 years old! I can hardly believe I still have it. As you can see, it is battered & not unscarred from it's long years of faithfully containing, & carrying. My mother kept it for a lot of those years, & it has had a chequered life, as far as contents go.

Once I got a new bag for school, I used this one to store the dolls clothes I made for my doll family.

I think my mother used if for keeping knitting patterns, & sewing odds & ends. After my mother died, it spent some time at my brother's house. My SIL cast a wishful eye upon it, for decor purposes. My brother said NO. He sent it to me, filled with copies of old family photographs, bless him.

Now it serves as a storage case for the junk jewellry I use to make doll jewellry. And carefully holds button treasures, & braids, my son B gave me. Salvaged from an old clothing factory beneath his attic flat, in the mid-city, he shared with his lovely partner.

The stories & memories that can be contained within an old object are sometimes amazing.
When I look at the old case, it takes me back to my first terrifying day of school.

There was a Polio epidemic, sweeping the country. The schools were closed the year I turned 5, which was the age most children began their school days, in New Zealand. So I had led a sheltered existance up to my first day at school.

There was no Kindergarten, or Play Centre or Pre School in those days- well not in our small, rural town anyway. And I am sure they were all closed for the Polio days too.

Bob Dylan, Not Dark Yet.


Henri said...

Lovely post Meggie ,
Much love from a distance

tracey petersen said...

The fear of the unkown is always so much more terrifying than dealing with a problem. Our imaginations can do nasty things to us. Glad that your 'brushes' didn't eventuate.

I love your suitcase. I can see why others covet it. I covet it too.

Jeanne said...

You've touched my heart, Meggie.

I went through a bout with breast cancer a few years ago, with a similar experience of absolute aloneness. My husband loves me and said appropriate comforting things, but I went to those teatments every single day by myself. He just couldn't deal with it -- couldn't be there, physically or emotionally. My sons were young and absorbed with their own youthful lives. My parents were not living nearby and were not available. That was the most alone I've ever felt.

I'm OK now physically, but it left a scar on my soul.

Hugs ~ Jeanne

Fiona said...

You write so eloquently, Meggie, such a heartfelt post.

Stomper Girl said...

Well, I'm glad the brushes with cancer have been only that. I hate the thought of you being scared to death and having to do the specialist appointment alone. You were very brave.

That school case is great.

Ali Honey said...

No Meggie I can't imagine how awful that must be.
I have lost a school friend to cancer, my 1980s tennis partner to melanoma and another friend exactly the same age to the day as myself to cancer. Visiting with these dear friends as they fought that journey was always a draining experience. There was nothing that you could really do for them that changed the outcome. You could listen and support but not live it for them; it is a helpess feeling. I'm so glad you are still with us . You are fun! You share yourself with us readers in a lovely honest way.
Hugs from Ali.

Mary said...

Im sorry that you had to live those experiences alone without your family close to you. Having looked after a huge number of people with terminal disease over 40 years I found that the person their family and friends deal with events so differently.May I wish you good health for the future and I am sure people reading about your experiences who have similar times will be comforted Mary

Leigh said...

I agree that some people deal with these things by not dealing with them at all. I guess we all have our ways of coping, but it must have been terribly hard for you.

Pieces From Me said...

I too had a lung scare a few years back. I did not say anything to dh but only to my sister. She reminded me that many years ago my doc told me that I had a nodule in my lung and just to know it was there. Comparison of reports showed it had not changed so I had relief. I know that feeling for a fleeting time. My heart broke as I read of your experience. I will not judge GOM or your daughter as I think your mother was correct. It didn't help at the time though. You are a strong woman Meggie!
I am grateful you are healthy! I LOVE the school bag. What a treasure and such beautiful work on the jewelry, That is a talent. Thank you for sharing it with me! Bren

Sheila said...

I'm sure writing this brought those awful memories to the surface again, and I understand you would be upset. I think your mother was right too, but it was still selfish of them not to support you.
I went through a cancer scare after I came back from Portugal this year, and spent 2 months under going tests and the like.I am so fortunate that it wasn't cancer, but I was mentally planning my funeral for weeks.
Your little case is sweet, I'm so glad you still have it xx,I had a leather satchel for school, but it was discarded, like so many of my treasures when we emigrated.

ancient one said...

Meggie, again we have something in common. 1989 I had my bout with cancer. My husband was so supportive, as were my children, friends, family, and church family. My husband accompanied me to my biopsy, surgery, and all my treatments.

I will not say too much about this, as I have found as you did, when I speak of it I feel all the emotions returning even now. I give God all the Glory for keepin me well this long. Thanks for sharing.

Thimbleanna said...

Another great post Meggie. And enlightening for me -- I tend to be very private and not want the "company" at appointments. I had a VERY minor scare once and my husband insisted on going with me -- I couldn't understand it at the time. So, thank you -- your post is something I'll have to remember for when someone I love might go through the same thing -- I would always want to be there for them. Love your little school case!

joyce said...

Thank goodness it was only a "brush". Close enough I'm sure. It's too bad that everyone around you was in such denial but I think that is common enough. I do think that you are right though. Some things you do alone no matter how supportive the people around you are.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

You were very brave. It must have been tough facing it alone.

Lucy said...

I hope writing about it has helped. We can accept those hurts, go on loving the people who hurt us actively or by omission, especially when we see ir was their own fear and helplessness that caused them to, but still go on carrying the hurt around, forgiven but not forgotten.
though I haven't been through what you have, I've found writing here though is very helpful in all sorts of ways, not only all the support and nice things people say, but just the act of writing it, putting it into clear words, looking it in the face and realising you could say it all and let it see the light of day and you're none the worse for doing so.
Better in fact.
Keep well, Meggie.

telfair said...

I echo all the previous commenters who discussed how brave you were to face that experience on your own. It must have been very frightening and disappointing, in some way, as well.

I hope you never, ever have to face anything like that again.

crafty said...

Hi Meggie, sorry I missed your previous post, I've been away from the computer for a couple of days. Thanks for posting your patterns. That lion mane poncho is beyond words, and the trouser suit is one I haven't seen, the posing is hilarious!
My mother had breast cancer, when I first found out I just holed myself up in my bedroom (I was living at home at the time). Thankfully my mother survived. I feel for you having to attend the appointment alone. I once attended a scary appointment re one of my kids alone, everything turned out fine, but that moment of not knowing is a terrible thing.
I just feel so fortunate.

Tanya Brown said...

I felt weepy for you, reading this. I'm sure your loved ones were dealing with the situation by going into major denial, but you deserved much better treatment than you got.

I hope all goes well for your friend, and I hope you never have to deal with a situation like this again. (Of course, you now have about eleven million people in different countries who give a damn about you. Imagine the chaos at your airport if everyone jumped a plane to keep you company!)

Emma said...

Oh Meggie, I am sorry you went through that. My best friend's mother is having a very similar experience at the moment. She had most of one lung removed a couple of weeks ago, the surgeon 'couldn't get it all', and her husband, my friend's father remains adamant that she is just always complaining. It's heart rending to see. I am thankful that you emerged unscathed from your lung scare!

Take care, Emma.

My float said...

Oh, what a beautiful post. It brought tears to my eyes. Your daughter and GOM must have been out of their minds with fear. Lots of hugs.