Superwoman? No, I am not Superwoman. I am simply devoted to trying to be the best person I can be for myself, my husband, and those around me. Each day presents its own challenges. I know that some days I do manage quite a bit. There are days when my body/mind catch up with me. I am forced to take a break even when my plans would have dictated otherwise.
For my blog and social media followers, you know that my husband has a terminal cancer. New readers, welcome. You can read about that journey by searching for the tag “cancer” on my blog. This has been my greatest push to keep going. My goal is to give him normalcy in everything that I possibly can. The dynamic of our lives has changed, and I have been adapting.
Over the past month, in particular, I have been told no less than twice a week that I must be Superwoman. I have been told “I just don’t know how you do it.” I have been told that “You are amazing.” If my life can be an inspiration at all to another person, I am doing my job as a human. A friend recently posted a video that, probably only half, jokingly stated that you don’t know what tired is until you have children. I had to reply to it “But… but… I am tired” and was quickly reassured that I deserve to be tired.
I am physically tired, but I keep going. Every week day I go to work. I am a nurse in a rather busy doctors’ office. Some days, I work with a provider. Sometimes, those days have me literally jogging around the halls to keep the flow going. Every day, I do more than sit in a chair and triage the phone. I am constantly up and down, helping where I am able. Every day, I have housework to do. Often before work, on my lunch break, and after work into the night I am trying to clean or straighten something. Dishes, laundry, bathroom, living room, bedroom, hamster cages, floors, dusting, organizing closets, computer room, fish tank, basement, organizing supplies. I am sure there is something I am missing off of the top of my head.
Every week day, at least, I cook breakfast for my husband (this does not mean I always remember to eat!). I take care of his medication, check his leg dressings and change them if needed, make sure he has everything he needs for the day. Recently, I have started taking him to morning appointments before work and having one of his parents pick him up from those appointments. After work, I am continually checking on him, making sure he doesn’t want for anything if I can avoid it. Only in the past few days has he begun to feel a little stronger and begun to start getting his own drinks, and making some of his own food. I still do any cleanup after. It gives me comfort knowing that he does not need anything, and reduces his stress level of trying to get my attention if he is feeling too weak to get up when he wants something.
Home and work, makes no different. My mind is constantly reviewing something. At home, I keep track of the food in the house so we don’t run out of things that he can/will eat because he eats small amounts anywhere from 4-8 times daily. He drinks tea like a madman and only likes Aquafina bottled water. I track medical supplies for maintaining his PICC line, wound care supplies, medications for both of us. I track the timing of medications, pet care, appointments.
At work, I have to keep track of my daily tasks. Every day is similar but different. I try to keep an ear out for people I can help, patients or coworkers. It is always a good feeling when they are pleasantly surprised that I want to help. We are all a team. It is mostly little things I can manage on top of my own work, but it can feel huge to whomever I help. I have noticed reciprocation, too, which I am learning to accept. It is wonderful to be able to trust that help offered is followed through on. I want people to know they can rely on me.
This is what gets me. I worry about everything! Joe, me, work, hamsters, fish, bills, housekeeping, family, friends, cancer fighters, invisible illnesses, physical injuries, the what ifs, the future, regrets, self deprecation, lists, Facebook groups/admin duties, and on and on.
Most concerning is of course Joe. The fact that he has terminal cancer is definitely a heavy weight. There is no set expiration date for him, which is why we aim for as normal as possible. When he has particularly rough days, it drags me down. I cherish all of my time with him. We have basically been attached at the hip since we became a couple. When I eventually lose him, be it months or years, I am going to be completely devastated. I have seen the pain the loss of your partner brings, especially watching them go ever so slowly, fighting every step of the way.
I always revisit that I feel incomplete without a child. I have wanted to be a mother from a very young age, and always regret that I was not able to give Joe a child for our union. I know in some way the lack of children is a blessing because I can focus my energy and attention on him. Truly does not make that pain any easier, but I try to keep it on the back burner.
I am very empathetic at work. Some patients it is difficult to disconnect from their stories. You want to do anything possible to help them. It can become a challenge to make sure you leave work at work. You also want to make sure you do not forget to do anything for your patients. Every day I am quadruple checking my work at the very least to make sure no one has been forgotten.
It is often hard to shut my brain off at night. I keep going until my brain forces my body to stop and knocks me out. Often, I have bizarre dreams that I cannot remember, and frequently wake up feeling like I have not slept, or at the very least knowing I have not slept well.
His side of the family keeps getting blows that I feel keenly. He has two uncles pass in the space of a few weeks. Both suddenly. Not completely unexpected, but still detrimental to the emotional health of everyone. Every time I go to a wake or funeral, I break inside. All I can think of at those times is that it will be Joe at some point, and I will be the one left bereft. I do not know how I will be able to bolster his parents and siblings when I am broken in half from the loss of my love. I am terrified that they will think less of me (and I KNOW that is not true) after he is gone.
He is not happy that I am taking medications to keep my mind and mood stable. It is needed though. One of the medication suppresses my ability to cry. In fact, today is the first day I have shed tears in a few weeks. I will get the urge and it goes away. It also allows me to function normally. Have had to remind him of how tumultuous the control of my emotions was over myself before. He has stopped commenting on my medication, and does not want to take anything for himself, though I think he should.
Crazy Until I Can’t
I keep going and going until I can’t. Today was one of those days. As much stuff as I still have to do, I needed a break I guess. No amount of Excedrin and Ibuprofen could get rid of the headache that I developed throughout the course of the day. I even still have it now, but am maxed out. I cannot take any more medication for a couple of hours. I tried sleep, caffeine, cool eye mask, ice pack on the back of my neck. It has thankfully tapered off, but still persists. But, all of the cleaning I planned on doing I did not get done. I did manage a few small things. Fixed the fish tank pump. Made sure hubby was good. But for me, I have no energy.
We had a wake this morning for his Uncle Karl. Went to Big Lots after. And that pretty much took all of my spoons after this week. I couldn’t even sit at my computer and sat on the floor next to his computer chair to watch a movie with him. I am starting to feel marginally better and just hope I have more energy tomorrow. Have a few things I really do need to try and get done tonight so I am not overwhelmed later.
So, no, I am not Superwoman. But I am a devoted wife and nurse. I do not want people to wonder how I do it all. The only answer I have is that I have no choice. I have to keep going. Joe does not want strangers taking care of him. He wants normalcy. As long as I can do that for him, I will. I will manage his medical care at home as long as I can. Always grateful to the support I have from family and friends. Hoping that family feels support from me as well.
I love that my husband trusts me to care for him. I love my job, and want my coworkers to know they can depend on me. I love my life, and while circumstances are not ideal, I will continue to try and be the very best me that I can. I will continue on every single day until I can’t. And always hope for a miracle. Anything can happen!