Saturday, July 28, 2012

Honest Confessions

Man, what a week. 

Kevin's surgery was last Thursday and it's now the following Saturday (I thought today was Thursday, which should tell you something about the time distortion you experience when you're in a hospital). Professor Rolle is very pleased with Kevin's progress and his lung is expanding at normal capacity again (mayhaps a wee bit too normally; the doctors think that might have contributed to Kevin's pain as the damaged lungs kept expanding against the tubes in his chest and against his broken ribs). We budgeted for 15-18 days between surgery and our departure date, but it looks like Kevin may be discharged at the two week mark (next Thursday), which is great news! If we can leave the hospital earlier, we'll probably head to Dresden and enjoy a few more days there before finally coming home. When I get home, I'm going to hug every puppy I run into and snuggle my geriatric pooch until even his needy little self is satiated. 

It's been a tough week, much tougher for Kevin than it was for me, but let's just say there have been a lot of mental ups and downs for the both of us. It is so hard seeing someone you've always known to be full of life and energy experiencing the worst pain of their lives. It's even worse knowing you can't really do anything about it. Not to mention the mind-numbing monotony of hospital routine: wake up, drag self to hospital, shuffle up something to eat, sit in hospital room, leave for cafeteria when it opens, come back, sit in hospital room some more, go back to the dorm and sleep when visiting hours are over, rinse and repeat. 

The first few days Kevin was either so drugged up he couldn't do anything, couldn't focus on a screen, couldn't draw, didn't want to be read to--nothing, except maybe some light conversation. And it's so hard to rustle up light conversation when you're sitting in a hospital room and have been sitting there, worrying and waiting. The hospital chairs here are also very uncomfortable, which adds insult to injury. I don't see many people attending their loved ones here, small wonder why! 

It was really hard for me, especially the first few days after surgery. Kevin has always been my best and most favorite companion. We almost always find something to talk about and his positive energy and fucked up humor always makes me smile and gives me the energy to move forward in life. But this was a very major surgery, more than most people experience in their entire lives, and Kevin quite possibly now holds the world record for number of tumors removed from a lung in a single surgery. It's crazy to think we'll probably have to do this a few more times. Man, Kevin really is fucking incredible.

It was so hard to see him going through what he had to go through, especially once he was removed from ICU and put back into general populace and the painful process of healing began in earnest. It took the light out of him. The pain made him fretful. I'd never see Kevin like this. Sure, sometimes he'd come home from work and be down about something that happened, but Kevin is an even-keeled fellow who is a world-class problem solver. I just had to listen and he'd fix things himself. 

During those first few days, I didn't know what to do at times. I didn't know how to deal with my companion who up till now had always been healthy, vigorous, and full of mental strength. Other times, I didn't want to be there. It wasn't that I had anywhere else I'd rather be, I just wanted to not be there. I just wanted to be somewhere else, alone, away from it all. Then I would feel horribly guilty for nursing these thoughts, I felt disloyal towards Kevin. He was in pain, suffering, alone in a hospital where nobody really spoke English. All he had was me, and sometimes I wanted to not be there. 

It's really hard to write these things, but you know, I think it's really important to. Kevin and I have always tried to be honest, about our feelings and our thoughts. I still harbor guilt over certain things from these last few days, but looking back I don't want to be ashamed, I want to be stronger for the next time we are here. I want to be stronger, period. I wish I could say I had been super strong and had stayed by Kevin's side 24/7, radiating cheerful energy the whole time. I wish I could have been that strong, but in the end, I could only do the best I could. I still came and saw Kevin every day, sat by his side for the majority of every day. But inside I would be upset. All sorts of thoughts went through my head. I can't do this. I'm tired of this hospital room. I don't want to wait on Kevin, he's got nurses for this shit. I want to go for a walk, I want to talk to other people. It's too much of a burden to have to be here for Kevin, all the time. It's not fair. Is this what my life is going to be? Is this what my marriage is going to be? I thought I could deal with this, but I can't.

When it got too much, I would say goodbye to Kevin and go back to my dorm and stare at the ceiling. Sometimes I'd try to read. Mostly, I'd sleep, because at least when I was asleep I'd have a break from these thoughts and I'd be able to get up with renewed energy and could once again look forward to seeing Kevin.

Even though we had a courthouse wedding and everything was really rushed, I thought a lot about those words, " sickness and in health." I'd only ever known Kevin in health, and I loved that Kevin. I wanted to be around laughter and happiness, not sickness and depression. I didn't want to be dragged down. But in the end, I knew Kevin needed me. Oh sure, he'd survive if I didn't show up at the hospital. He could even tell, sometimes from my face, when I needed to get away, and would tell me it was fine, to take some time for myself. That made the guilt worse, but it didn't make how I felt better. Maybe I deserved to suffer, for having those thoughts.

But now that Kevin is much better, I'm trying to sort through everything I thought and felt these last few days and come to terms with it. I don't want to make excuses, but I also don't want to feel guilty. In the end, the most important thing is Kevin. I want him to be healthy and happy. I want him to be able to rely on me. Even when I was feeling my worst, I wanted those things for Kevin. I've said it before, there will be good times and bad times, but I think I was just saying that before. I don't think I really understood what that meant until after this week. I guess you could say I learned a lot about myself. You just don't know. I don't want to ignore all the bad things and only talk about good things, because that wouldn't be real. Kevin and I have so many good times, it's only natural there are bad times too. 

Ok, all of this was pretty hard to admit openly on a public blog, but I wanted to do this for myself. Cancer is fucking hard to deal with. But I think next time will be better. I think I can be a stronger person, for myself and for Kevin. 


  1. I'm stunned, I really had no idea how much Kevin is going through, and you too, Constance. A marriage forged in these conditions is bound to be a strong one. Thanks for writing this, kinda snapped me out of my own complacency.

  2. These are powerful words written by a strong woman. Kevin is truly lucky to have you by his side. The tough times will always create the tightest, everlasting bonds.

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  4. I had a similar experience, even though way less intense, while waiting on my grandma after she suffered from a stroke. You are a brave, brave person Connie. Just remember that the world is waiting out there for you guys to come back.

  5. Connie, thanks for writing this. In my opinion you are doing as good as it can be in given circumstances - this damn Dx and the fast track "Cancer for Dummies" plus "Thoracotomy for Dummies" education course. It takes awhile to process all the new emotions and information and I have to say that based on what I read you two are very stable and constructive persons, you just need to sort it out and to figure out how to deal with it. Take care of yourself as well, your health and well being are equally important and it is for sure a very big emotional shock for you.

  6. The role of supporters is sometimes overlooked in situations like yours... I know Kevin has seen how strong and amazing you've been for him, and through his eyes, we who read these posts see it as well. Pain is never local. It travels from nerve to nerve, as we are connected person to person. Just as we all wish Kevin the best care and speediest recovery, we wish you peace of mind, appropriate distraction, and restful times of recharge. As part of the emergent 21st century community, I feel this from the bottom of my heart and my deepest prayers. Great job, Constance. Take care of our boy, we'll take care of you.

  7. Connie, it's not a crime to feel how you did. Your amazing selflessness is so, for lack of a better word, inspiring. The Down moments remind us how ineffable the Ups are in the long run. Life threw 100 soccer balls onto the field during your game, you're doing the best you can to take care of the matter, one at a time. You are both constantly in my thoughts.

    xoxo sarah hoist