I’m a big talker. I’m full of wonderful counsel and advice for other people and I can wax on eloquently about the things I have learned over the last few years and how I have successfully incorporated those brilliant discoveries into my own life.
Over the last few years with Marty’s illness I have tried to develop a simple mantra for dealing with huge life and health issues: take it all day by day and issue by issue, don’t borrow trouble and never ever climb the ladder of inference making something into a catastrophe.
I had done so well. I had intentionally moved from thinking too far ahead to simply living in the moment. I had made the mental shift from worrying about Marty and her health and her death on a daily basis to rarely ever worrying about what I couldn’t control. I was rock solid and prepared for the vagaries of catastrophic illness.
And then we started the hospital carousel again. I realized I had done a world class job of kidding myself.
My fitness muse, Gretchen (the perfect name for a fitness muse), from time to time, for her amusement and my good health, has me stand on two inflatable discs. They are about four inches high, about the size of a really large plate and only partially full of air. They aren’t stabile for a big guy. She then hands me a 20 pound ball and I’m supposed to sling it from side to side or crouch down and touch the floor with the ball 20 times all while balanced on air filled Frisbees. Theoretically the exercise helps with balance and increases core strength.
I can do this exercise, unless I lose focus or if someone simple pokes me, then I fall off the inflatable discs, Gretchen laughs and I start over again. It’s requires focus, balance and strength. A gentle push and I’m off.
I really thought my emotional core, my psyche, was prepared for our somewhat fluid future. I didn’t really understand how little it would take to push me off of my core principle of not burying Marty every day.
Marty’s daily fatigue and recent multiple hospital stays have pushed me off my core. It feels like I am right back where we were six years ago, worrying each and every day about life and death and focusing on nothing but the end of Marty’s life.
I go to sleep at night worrying about what is going on with her. I wake and before the morning fog in my brain has lifted the worry starts to wrap around my mind. I find myself wondering what’s happening, always wondering in the back of my mind if this is the start of the final decline.
It feels like going backwards. Hell, it is going backwards.
This type of thinking paralyzes, this type of thinking breeds anxiety, this type of thinking creates dangerous and magical thinking.
I find it harder to concentrate, I find it harder to plan, I find it harder to walk out of the door and participate in life with or without Marty.
My daughter-in-law whom we love sent out an e-mail the other day to start planning some birthday celebrations over the next couple of months. She is an organizer and I love that in her, it helps me and my extended family immensely, but all I could think of when I got the e-mail was, “I don’t know”, and then nothing. I couldn’t engage because I couldn’t get past the last couple of months of illness, because I couldn’t erase the overall feeling of dread that has me surrounded.
The feelings surprised me. I thought I had this figured out, I thought I had my core set and steady and ready, I felt like I was standing on the air filled discs with a solid athletic stance ready for any distraction. Turned out all I needed was a little push, a little medical drama, to fall off and drop the ball.
Hey, I’m still full of confident advice. In Texas speak, I got me some knowledge and I’m ready, to quote Marty, to “Let me tell you how to do that”, or to put it another way, I can tell you how to do it, I thought I could do it, I just haven’t been tested in a while and it’s not that easy.
Maybe it’s just a new awakening, a new understanding of our life. Maybe it’s just our life’s way of saying don’t get too comfortable, don’t think you got this shit figured out, because as soon as you do something happens to remind you how delicate life is.
Moving forward is the question, it’s always the question, how do you do it. Clearly the whole one day at a time thing has merit, for us, it really is a key part of living “normally”.
I have to find a way to get back there, but more important, I have to understand that our life will never be without fear, without anxiety, it is a life, that at times, will be full of both. It’s also a life that is full of love, full of companionship, full of many amazing moments.
The key, the core, is to see those moments and embrace them.