Friday, January 23, 2009

How I Deal With a Crisis.
A Screenplay in Two Acts.



Curtain opens on a stunningly beautiful 38-year old woman sitting in a meadow full of wildflowers balancing a butterfly on her finger.

Bombshell drops, center stage.

Silence. Then -

(freakout freakout freakout
tearful snotty blotchy breakdown
cry some more cry some more)

and then...


Me: Deep breath. Focus. Pull it together.
Ok, we got this. Now what?

Act One was yesterday, and today I'm slowly moving on to Act Two.

I had a small breakdown at Rip's last night. Rip's a member of that elite Inner Circle who gets to see the Raw Me, and R and I thought it best that I not cry in front of the kids. Rip, along with most of you, thinks I should tell the kids what's going on. I don't disagree, but my mom thought we shouldn't tell them, and I want to be respectful of that. R thought maybe we should just tell the Beeb, but that would put her in the same unenviable position that I'm in now - having to keep it from her brothers - and I don't want to do that to her. So we'll either tell all of them or we won't say anything.

Of course I don't want to lie to them. Of COURSE I don't. But I don't agree with the argument that they'll be pissed at me for not telling them right away. I think my kids know that my intent would be to take the entire burden onto myself and shield them from the worry and pain. I'm an big advocate of Ignorance is Bliss.

R will be the one to break the news, on that we agree. He's very calm. I'm don't think I would be able to be, especially if they start crying. I can't stand to see them sad. It's one thing when they're crying out of frustration or anger, like when they want me to buy them some Star Wars legos and I'm just not going to do it, I can handle that, but when they're overwhelmed with sadness, it breaks my heart. So maybe it's selfish reasons why I don't want to tell them.

Pie's reaction is really the one I'm most concerned about. He knows just enough to worry about worst case scenarios. Oh, and get this, I found some schoolwork of his in his backpack yesterday morning, before I got the news:

That first sentence is "What will you do about Cancer?"

And get this - I hadn't even told the kids about the biopsy. This is a worry that's in his head already, and we don't even know anyone with cancer. He is so sensitive and compassionate, he takes on everyone else's worries and because he's only almost 7, he doesn't know how to handle that emotionally yet. Hell, neither do I. But he's smart enough to know plenty of bad things that are possible.

There's a Ben Folds song that I love called Still Fighting It in which a dad is singing to his son. I listen to Rockin The Suburbs in the van a lot, usually when I'm by myself so I can sing out loud, but one time Beeb was in the van with me driving home from a friend's house, and as I listened to her tell me about what happened over the weekend, a particular lyric that I sing in my head all the time just struck me really hard.

"You're so much like me, I'm sorry"

And of course I choked up, and she caught me, and asked me why I was crying. So I said the lyric, told her I feel that way all the time with her and her brothers, like I pass along some of the things I hate most about myself and sometimes it makes me sad to see those things in them, and she said,

"That is really sad for you to feel that way. But it's okay, Mom. I like who I am, and I like who you are."


Ok, so about my dad, here's what we know.

His Gleason scale score was a 7. Not sure what that means, but I don't think it's good. I don't know anything about stages or whatever. The first course of action is putting him on Flomax for three weeks to see if any symptoms can be relieved with medication.

They're considering this treatment option, which I found on WebMD:

Radiation is a treatment option that may be less traumatic than RP and appears to have similar results when used in early-stage patients. Radiation also produces side effects, including impotence, in about half of patients. It can be applied through an external beam that directs the dose to the prostate from outside the body. FDA also has cleared low-dose radioactive "seeds," each about the size of a grain of rice, that are implanted within the prostate to kill cancer cells locally.

Called brachytherapy, the seeding technique is sometimes combined with external-beam radiation for a "one-two punch." Studies done at the Georgia Center for Prostate Cancer Research and Treatment show that 68 percent of men treated with both radiation methods applied simultaneously are cancer free 10 years after treatment. Intel Corporation chairman Andy Grove, who was last year's Time magazine "Man of the Year," underwent the combined radiation therapy three years ago. According to company spokesman Howard High, Grove, 61, is "in excellent condition" now.

I know it's not an automatic death sentence. I know I can explain it to the kids in age-appropriate terms. I hope I can express the gravity of the situation without scaring them, but I don't want to go Pollyanna and say that everything's going to be all right - because what if it isn't?

I'll tell them, I just think it might be best to have more information first.


Helen said...

I think you just have some of the most wonderful kids! They will understand.

Stickyfingers said...

See now, I didn't mean tell them right this second -- tell them when you're ready . . . but do tell them. And seriously -- who the fuck are we to tell you how to handle your bidniz? You know your family infinitely better than any of us. Fuck Us! We don't know what we're talking about!!

We just want to be there for you.

Amanda said...

Don't ask me why I know these links:

I second what Helen said - kids are resilient, and because they are YOUR kids, they're tough cookies!! Hope this info helps a bit...

Michele said...

Ed and I are sorry about your father and will keep you all in our thoughts. Please let us know if you need anything including a drunk day/night out.

And, about your wonderful kids, go with your gut. Be true to yourself. You know best.

much love...

Guinifer said...

You'll do what's right for you and your kids. I am wishing the best for you and your family.

On a side note - my girlfriend's dad was Dr. Gleason of the Gleason scale - I went to his funeral over a week ago. He lived to an old age and passed from a heart attack.

Disco said...

Wow, Guinifer!

Well, of course, tell them when you've taken in the whole thing yourselves. Then when you've got a lot more info yourselves you'll be more ready to tell and help them too.

It really does say a lot about you(good) what your kids say - and write :0)

Batty said...

Why can't things ever be easy and rosy and peachy and fucking stay that way? Feeling sad and angry on your behalf. I know you'll find the right moment to tell the kids when you're ready and they're ready, but this sucks and nobody should have to do this.

Anonymous said...

My FIL had "the seeding" and had no more problems, my own dad was too far along for it and had the radiation- he was later killed in a car wreck- no relation at all to the cancer. I'm with the give it a few weeks and see what happens and what the doctors say school of thought. Then you can have the big talk. Right now, they only know cancer as "the big bad wolf" that kills everything in its path and it will only worry them. When you yourself know more you can talk about it and will able to answer the questions they will have and hopefully ease their worries. From reading your blog I believe your kids are pretty well grounded and will be able to handle this. It just breaks our hearts as parents that our kids have to face these things.

amylovie said...

I'm so sorry. I had no idea.

I know my parents went to see your parents this weekend. I hope that it helped being surrounded by people that love them.


Kashmir Knitter said...

Hello! Flasks that say "Grandpa has cancer." When it comes to life threatening illnesses, you're never too young to start drinking!

I make light because I have no idea what to say or do and suck at anything _real_.

I think I might market those cancer flasks though, my aunt has an engraving business...

Kay aka dkswife said...

Your father will be in my prayers PK. ((Hugs to you all))