Monday, 17 February 2014

A little perspective

Things are slowly starting to return to normal around here.

After about a week of drowning my sorrows in wine, homemade french fries and chocolate, I realized that a) junk food wasn't actually making me feel any better and b) I had put on three pounds.  So last Monday I started working out again and slowly weaning myself off my newly reinvigorated sugar addiction.  Work was busy, which kept my mind occupied, and the pity party crying jags have steadily become fewer and farther between.  While we're both obviously still sad about what happened, and pretty far from making any kind of decision about what we want to do, we've started laughing and joking again too.  Valentine's Day provided the perfect opportunity to go out for a nice dinner and remind ourselves of how we used to be before all this.  Not to mention giving us the little nudge we needed to...ahem...resume our marital relations (which were prohibited post-FET, and then just didn't happen because no one wants to have sex with a snotty red-eyed mope).  It was sex without pretense or purpose other than to be close to the one you love, and it was wonderful.

Then, something else happened that could (should?) have knocked me back down.  A few weeks earlier my mom had had surgery to remove a suspicious lump in her breast that had been inconclusive after a needle biopsy.  While everyone in my family had pretty much resolved ourselves to getting the bad news that it was cancerous, we hoped that the doctors would tell her that they had gotten it all and only minor follow-up treatment was required.  Unfortunately, it turned out that the margins weren't clear and although the cancer is small and low-grade, they will need to operate again to either remove more tissue, or possibly the entire breast.  Radiation and/or hormone therapy will follow.

Admittedly, when Mom first told me the news I had a brief moment of thinking "nothing goes right for our family, I can't take much more of this, when will something good happen for us?"  But then I strangely started to realize that, in the grand scheme of things, it could be an awful lot worse.  So far we have no reason to think that this won't work out much the same as it did for M's mom, who went through a very similar diagnosis in the fall and just last week got the all-clear from her radiologist that she doesn't need any more treatments.  Hopefully my mother's situation will be much the same.   But even if it's not...being miserable isn't going to help anyone.  Right now the last thing that my mom needs is to worry about me when she should be focusing on herself.  And I can't support her if I continue to be so self-absorbed in my own problems.

I also started to think about people who get really bad news, like a terminal cancer diagnosis.  I found a few blogs of people who have been living with terminal cancer for years, and who are still doing everything they can to extend their lives even if it means painful treatments and surgeries and pretty much daily agony.  I wondered how I would ever cope if I was in that situation.  Would I just give up and wait for everything to be over, or would I somehow find it in me to forge ahead and wring every last drop of enjoyment out of life while I could?  

At the end of the day, what's happening with my mom provided me with a pretty much-needed lesson in perspective.  I hate to use the old "other people have things so much worse" argument, because infertility brings its own unique kind of loss and grief that no other condition does.  It's world-shattering and life-altering in an incomparable way.  Being miserable is the easy thing to do in response.  It's so much harder to force myself to look beyond it and appreciate all the things I do have to be grateful for.  A wonderful husband, a beautiful home, a loving family, a cuddly dog, a solid job, and the health (mostly) of people I love.  My mom's news was the slap in the face I needed to look at these things again and really see them for the gifts that they are.  I guess that's what they call a blessing in disguise?

22 comments:

  1. Sorry about your mom, Aramis. I have to agree with your perspective--mainly because before my infertility struggles, I had to do 3 years of elder care for my paralyzed mom (she was not even elderly, but that's the situation). I basically gave up my own life and my career as a structural engineer to do that, & had to spend months at a time away from my husband. I understood quickly that no matter how bad things are, they could always get worse for me, and that I should always be grateful that they're not. Because yes.... I'm infertile (duh), but I could also be infertile with no legs...and that would be worse.

    Glad to hear you had a great V-day & that you got some action!

    --Rosina

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    1. That sounds incredibly tough. I'm so sorry your family had to go through that.

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  2. I'm glad you had a good Valentine's day, but so sorry to hear about your mom. And yeah, still, I do hear you on the perspective aspect. I've had some moments like that since October, too. Hoping that your mom's treatment goes smoothly, and that you guys find some peace with the situation you're in.

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  3. I will be praying for your mom and for your family!! XOXO

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  4. I am deeply sorry to hear about your mother...My Mother went through this 10 years ago, and it was a very difficult thing for her, and the rest of the family...But she made a point to stay sooo positive..I was JUST talking to my Mom about this yesterday! I have my days where I feel so utterly sad, but you know, it def could be SO much worse, and I started to realize that...It doesn't negate what anyone of us have endured, but it does give a bit of perspective...I am glad I am not the only one who has received this small revelation recently...

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    1. I'm so glad your mom came through things OK. My mom is a pretty positive person, but she's been shaken for sure. I just hope the rest of our news on her situation ends up being better.

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  5. "It could always be worse" statements used to make me so angry and indignant, but not any longer---now I find myself thanking my legs and my heart when I go for a walk, thanking my voice when I sing, thanking universal forces for brining me and my husband together and think: yes, this is a good life, what if I didn't have those things? It truly is the gift of infertility, this wise perspective-taking. (And I know how maddening it was to hear anyone call anything about this experience a "gift" once upon a time and totally understand when people have that response.) I'm so sorry to hear about your mom, and also happy to hear that it has provided perspective at a crucial time. You are healthy enough to be a support for her right now, and even that alone is such an amazing thing.
    theunexpectedtrip

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    1. Julia makes a great point below that you have to come to your own "it could be worse" moment, and that hearing it from others (while it may be true) doesn't help at all. I think I would still be pretty pissed off if someone else tried to tell me how much worse my life could be, while they get to go home to their three kids. That said, taking stock of what's good in your life is always a smart idea.

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  6. So sorry to hear about your mother. I'll be praying. Glad to hear things are starting to turn around for you. Yay for V-Day fun :-)

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  7. I am very sorry to hear about your mom. It sounds like she also is a fighter and a strong woman. Something like this really stops us in our tracks to see that others also suffer (like you said in a different way) and helps you realize what you do have in life.

    Hang in there. Always thinking about you.

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  8. Hugs to you. I'm so sorry about your mom's diagnosis; that is not an easy road for anyone to walk. Not easy for the family around them either. You are right though; there is so much courage in people facing cancer. And so much courage in the people who face infertility. I loved reading about your Valentine's date with M. If you have to handle the tough stuff, it sure helps to have the right people around you.

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  9. I'm sorry to hear about your mom. Thinking about you and wishing you the best.

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  10. Oh, I'm so sorry about your mom. What a difficult thing for you and her to go through. I'm glad, though, that it's helped you get through your own grief. Perspective is good to have, and can be difficult to come by, especially when, in the throes of grief, you can't imagine a worse situation. I feel like our little DOR cohort has been given the rotten end of the stick lately and quite honestly I'm wallowing a bit myself. Torthuil's good news has certainly been a ray of light and hope in a rather dreary winter season. But I hope we get good news from Isabelle and that you'll get through your mom's illness and be a peace with your next steps.

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  11. I am so sorry to hear about your mother. What tough news to get on top of what you've already faced. Good for you for finding a way to see the positive in all of this difficulty.

    In my mind saying "things could be worse" is something that you can only say to yourself. I too have thought this (after finding out about our infertility my sister had a massive stroke changing her life forever). However, if anyone else this says this to me, there is wave of anger and frustration that comes over me. I feel like other people who say it are just trying to help. But, unfortunately they are not.

    If there's a silver lining in all of this infertility stuff for me, it's that I am now a lot better in being in someone else's grief. Before my sister's stroke and our infertility, I had no clue. Now, I'm a lot better at showing up for someone in their time of need. I've got a long way to still go, but I know I'm better than I was.


    Sending you well wishes as you support your mother through her journey.

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    1. I think this comment is spot on. As a few other commenters have noted, hearing "it could be worse" from other people is the exact opposite of comforting. It sounds condescending and dismissive. I think we all have to come to that realization ourselves, and it might feel truer on some days than on others. Very well said.

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  12. Hey girl. Sorry about your mom's diagnosis and the need to do additional surgery. I hope and pray that she is going to be on the road to recovery very very soon. So glad you and M had the time to enjoy each other's company and have some fun in the intimate department. Love and hugs to you, girl.

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  13. I am sorry to hear about your mom... I used to be a breast cancer nurse and from the details you shared it sounds like she should be okay after treatment. Not that treatment is fun... Im sending her my positive vibes.

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  14. Sorry to hear about your mom. Sounds like it's been caught early, though. Sending good healing vibes.

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  15. Can't get you out of my mind the last few days. Tried to email you, but the link on your blog didn't agree with my computer. Hrmph. How else can I get in contact with you? You. Me. We're overdue for a girls-date (even if in message form).

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  16. Isn't that so true…sometimes we need things to pull us out of our pity parties. I'm at about a 3 lb weight gain myself right now. Sorry about your mom but glad she's on the mend.

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  17. Aramis, I misssss your posts, although it's only been a week since your last one. I hope you're well.

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  18. Sounds like your mom's got the best-case-scenario-if-it's-going-to-happen-at-all type thing going. I'm sorry you and your family are going through this rough patch, but so glad you've been able to find a silver lining in all of this. Sometimes it's a challenge to see the blessings we do have when we are in the midst of suckiness. You've been in my thoughts Aramis.

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I'm needy and your comments validate me. Help a sister out!