Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I talked with a Hospice Social Worker yesterday. Had a long weekend with George out of pocket again, this time on call at the hospital. GaGa asked for an outing and I knew I needed to oblige especially if she was feeling good enough to go. She requested the mall. GaGa loves to shop and takes her time looking at every item intently, but you can't do that with a five and eight year old in tow and you can't promise them a treat and not follow through either. I had such a myriad of emotions, dread, hopefulness, excitement, then annoyance and finally, let's get this over with and get her home. Going out to eat was not good either. The god's honest truth is that GaGa even though she is dying can still be annoying. But you don't want to say that out loud but I just did.

I called the social worker because I felt at a loss. On Monday afternoon, I get a call and GaGa is in pain and it seems to be only an hour and a half after taking some pain medication. And then she starts crying. This rips me up for several reasons. First off, she is in pain and GaGa is very stoic. Secondly, I had been complaining about her. And I know it is okay for me to complain one day and then turn it around the next and have utter compassion. There is no perfect way to handle this situation. She is stoic but her feelings seem to come out complaining about unrelated things like at a restaurant...

She has been getting confused and forgetful along with the ever present pain and anxiety. So it is hard to know exactly what is going on and a few phone calls later between the hospice nurse and the nursing home staff, more drugs are given and she is on her way to a medicated relief. My loss is that I don't know what to say at times (or really the loss is just that CANCER SUCKS). By the time the social worker returned my call at the end of the day, I had figured out how to handle it. I just needed to reflect back what she was saying to me. Everyone wants to be heard and acknowledged.

The overwhelming feeling of being responsible for someone who has a terminal illness, hits me at different times. I was describing to the social worker that this journey since September has been up and down and the emotions are all over the place but with periods of stability. The social worker then utters the statement that resonates with me deeply and that is cancer and grief are very similar, they come in waves.

I'm so glad I took the call with her.I know this to be true.

I had been wondering for a while how I had been feeling okay even though GaGa is still dying (like we all are) At first with GaGa's metastasized cancer diagnosis, it seemed like she was going downhill fast at the end of the year, losing weight, in pain and then she became stable. And it was like okay, she's going to be around for a while longer. The term Living with cancer came to my mind. And then there is another setback, a fall, a trip to the hospital. And then stability. Waves.

The social worker said one more thing that was another huge aha moment. I shared briefly what I have been doing in my own therapy- learning to process my emotions and not block them and know that any feeling is not right or wrong and learning to just be with the feelings (and not eat!). She said that learning to live with uncomfortableness is a lifetime journey for most people. It takes practice. It felt SO true as I heard it come out of her mouth. I needed to hear that right then. There are moments that just stick out in life and this will be one of them. Although I almost didn't answer the phone, God, the holy spirit, the higher power, knew I needed to and gave me the nudge. It is not comfortable telling a complete stranger intimate details of my life but I needed that cellular hug and wisdom from someone who understands this process to carry on. My ability to handle it will come in waves as well. Sometimes I can handle it, sometimes I can't. And that is okay. Waves.

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