Waiting

It’s been a challenging week.

Last Saturday, we got our first snow of the season. It was beautiful to watch the ground become blanketed with white. Christian and I took Felix outside for a snowball fight, and his laughs and rosy cheeks were positively life-affirming. But, like so many activities, these days, I was also reminded of all of the limitations in my life. My bone pain acted up quite a bit after an afternoon of snowball throwing and toddler chasing. Then our basement flooded. Ultimately, we are fortunate to be able to call a good plumber and resolve it quickly. We are fortunate to have family here to be able to help us, and to have the equipment and knowledge to clean it quickly.

But really, we didn’t need the extra stress.

I was scheduled for a bone biopsy on Wednesday, December 13th. This biopsy will identify the pathology of the bone lesions identified from the PET scan, and confirm my diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer. Once this procedure is done, we should hopefully have enough information to finally form a treatment plan and begin whatever drug therapy is thought to be best. We will, hopefully, have some answers after a long and challenging road of tests, imaging, and appointments that left us with more questions, more heartbreak.

I took Felix to see Santa on Tuesday, in the hope that I could distract myself a bit from the anticipation of my procedure. While the Santa visit was a bust, we had a wonderful morning with friends, and it felt great to get out of the house and do normal things, like a normal family. Not a cancer family. It was a great day to go to the mall, since it was pouring rain all morning. On the drive home, I kept feeling unsettled; I had a feeling that something bad was going to happen. Drive carefully, I kept thinking to myself. I couldn’t shake the feeling and it unnerved me.

As we took the highway interchange, the rain pounded harder, and I scrunched my eyes in concentration on the road. In a moment, I noticed a large, angry pothole yawning up from the center of the lane, and started to swerve to avoid it. As I started to swerve, I saw the car in front of me cut sharply sideways, out of control. The only way I could avoid a serious collision was to drive directly over the pothole. I felt the sickening jolt of hot, jagged asphalt, and used everything I had to keep control of the car, but missed hitting the car in front of us by mere inches. Immediately, I felt my tire go flat, and our little car limped sadly to the road shoulder to wait for help.

We waited in the car for over an hour until roadside assistance showed up, and were able to change out the tire and get to the dealership by the end of the day. By the time we got home it was dark and we were exhausted, but we were in one piece and unhurt. I was shaken up but had avoided any major damage to the car, other than the flat tire. We were fortunate to avoid more damage, more injury, and more inconvenience.

But really, we didn’t need the added stress.

My biopsy was scheduled for the next day at 12 pm. I spent the morning trying not to think about food, my lack of coffee, or lack of ibuprofen. I wasn’t sleeping well and my bone pain was fairly intense, making me a peach to be around. Once we arrived at the Cancer Center, we discovered that the interventional radiologist was running nearly an hour behind. This didn’t help things. The procedure itself went off without a hitch: I received sedation via IV and was positioned in a CT scanner to direct the biopsy needle into my hip bone. The nurses were pleasant and I only remember waking up asking when the procedure was going happen, asking for more warm blankets, and then immediately falling back asleep. I woke up again 90 minutes later to find out that we had yet another flat tire. REALLY?!

It all got resolved, but by the end of the day, we were all so completely spent. I slept from 6 pm until 7 am the next day, then took a 2 hour nap. I felt so utterly defeated. My body hurt. My tank was empty. It was one of the lowest points I have had since receiving this cancer diagnosis. At one point, I curled up into bed and just cried. When would things start to get better?

It seems like we have been waiting for answers for an eternity. In reality, it’s only been five weeks. Five measly weeks of scans, blood draws, consultations, biopsies, examinations, poking and prodding and hypotheticals and more and more bad news, over, and over, and over again. All of this uncertainty has been utterly exhausting. I’m not someone that easily just sits with a plate full of unknowns. I like answers. I like to take action. I’m a do-er. Sitting and waiting is not my forte.

I keep wondering: who am I beyond this challenge? What does all of this reveal about how I handle adversity, uncertainty, waiting? I think it’s completely reasonable for one’s patience to wear thin, as mine has, in this situation. Is it patience I’m lacking, or grace for myself, to accept the waiting, and discomfort, and the uncertainty? I don’t really have many answers. Just a lot of anxious anticipation, fear of the unknown, and grasping for hope in what feels like a very dark and uncertain time.

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