When you do chemo, every week in between the actual chemo infusions, you have blood work done to test you levels to make sure that things are where they are supposed to be. And while chemo does make all of your levels go pretty far down, sometimes it goes further down than desired. In the case of my dad, this has happened again, and Thursday he will be having another blood transfusion.
I saw him today for the first time in a while (I have been staying away since I still have a little bit of a cough) at the clinic. He has to wear a mask in public, so I felt it would be ok to see him. His hair is really thinning in the back, he is moving pretty slowly with a slight wobble, and his skin has a light yellow tinge to it. When I think of my dad, it is not the person who I see in front of me today. It is the man taking giant steps, the rest of the family having to run to keep up. It is the man who was a presence when he walked into a room. It is the man who got things done with authority. It is hard to see what cancer and chemo are doing to him.
I suppose I better touch on the new new normal topic that I mentioned before, although I haven't really put a lot of thought into what I am going to write. It will just be stuff I think about the moment before I write it.......
Almost four years ago now, life was so different. We were selling our house, and the world revolved around Claire. Life was normal. We were your average family, getting ready to add another child to the mix. Although it wasn't planned that we would have another child when the first was only 18 months old, the concept had grown on us and we knew it was another girl, so we were hoping for kids that were best friends. I had long straight hair, I had real boobs, my body was not full of scars, I was still able to create life, the words "hot flashes' meant nothing to me.
The it was March 17th. The day that the term normal life was taken from my dictionary. Everything happened so fast that I really didn't have a lot of time to process everything until that first year was done. I remember being told by people that since all of my treatments were done that things could go back to normal. There was no normal. For the first 3 years I didn't feel like things would be normal ever. And to a degree I was right. I had adopted the phrase "new normal" to describe my life. It was a new normal that every once in a while I would think that the cancer is coming back. It was a new normal to look at myself in the mirror and wonder who the hell's body that was. It was a new normal that my cancer was no longer out in the open for all to see when my hair finally grew back. It was a new normal to get phone calls from people asking if I would talk to their friend/mom/daughter about my experience with cancer in hopes of helping them. It was a new normal to participate in the local cancer walk and see my name written in red on the white bags, being a survivor. This past year I have gotten comfortable with my new normal. It finally started to feel right. It didn't seem like I was walking in a strangers shoes anymore. I was feeling ok with not being tested all of the time. I was feeling ok with letting my guard down a little bit. I was feeling ok.
Then my dad was diagnosed. My new normal has come crashing down. I feel like I have been thrown right back to the days of my diagnosis. I hear all of the familiar terms again...biopsy, treatments, chemo, blood draws, PET scans, CT scans, test after test after test. Every day I think of my mom and dad and what they are going through. I think of my mom dealing with the fact that she eventually will lose her husband of almost 51 years. I think of my dad and his napping, knowing how he feels right before he has to lay down to sleep. The wall that is hit that makes you crash. I think about all of this stuff, and try to keep a clear head. There are times when I just want to run away for a bit. Where I need things to slow down a little just so I can catch up with my thoughts. All in all though, I can't imagine not being here to support my parents, and I can't imagine them being anywhere else either.
So I am hoping that the new new normal will find it's way into our lives. I know I have to be patient because it will be a long time coming. But I will be here. Waiting. With open arms.