Category Archives: illness

>the fog just got a little thicker

>In my last post I talked about the difficulty in seeing the light at he end of the tunnel, the longed for EOT (end of treatment) date. I thought that date, for me, was in early February. Throughout my treatment I have avoided keeping close track of the timing. I know myself well enough to know that would lead me into familiar old patterns of obsession, frustration and the lovely bind of self indulgence;  picking at the wounds and wallowing in self pity for the scar that was created. So knowing this about myself, my penchant for teenage like angst, I decided to take the high road and simply get through this without minding the calendar.
Until recently that is… I’m really ready to be done with this. The physical and emotional toll is like being under a pile of rocks which each day has one more rock added to the pile. So at my last visit for my procrit shot I asked the my nurse for the actual EOT date. We had both thought it was sometime in February, but the news that it’s actually one full month later was, well like having a couple of wheelbarrows of rocks heaped on the pile all at once.
To get through this, I bargain with myself, and I’ve been telling myself, Self, it’s only a little over a month, we can do this. That day in the nurses office that part of myself I coddle and and bribe and cajole along pretty much collapsed into a pile of tears like a little kid. You know how they do it, as if their bones suddenly dissolved and their tear ducts have an automatic “drama alarm” which sets off an instant prolific flow. Meanwhile, Grown Up me ignores the kid having a fit in the corner, puts on her Mommy “everything is going to be ok face” and drags the snot faced boneless Little Jenny home.
Fast forward a couple of days and as is the course of nature the inevitable push and pull between Little Jenny and Mom Jenny gives rise to Angsty Adolescent Jenny! Ta Da!
My Therapist once described me as The Eternal Teenager. I was not offended at all, and not because of our youth oriented, plastic surgery obsessed culture. I admire teenagers, I’ve spent most of my life working with them. I love them for their defiance, their mistakes, their question authority attitude and their fierce quest to find themselves. Individuation, they call it, and it drives parents crazy.
One of the things that gets teenagers into trouble is they have a limited capacity to see the future, they live in the  moment, be it good or crappy. Sound familiar? Remember that fog that has been obscuring the “after treatment” possibilities? Well on that day in the nurses office the fog just rolled in a little thicker as Angsty Teenage Jenny took  over.
That’s where I’ve been the past couple of days. Pissed off at the world. I watch the news and not only am I pissed at what I see, but I’m pissed at the way it’s reported. I try to watch some videos of some of my favorite music and I realize two thirds of the musicians are dead…overdoses, car accidents you know the life.
I think I need to let go of the angst and just let that little kid cry and cry, but I’m afraid it won’t stop.
I know this will pass, it always does, but for today I’m going to indulge my misery for a bit…I haven’t decided how, but I don’t have it in me to watch pretty little Marc Bolan and remember how his life was cut short by a car smashing into a tree. He didn’t even drive.
© 2010 Jennifer Hazard


>Coping with limitation-a lesson from Granma Marge


For much of my life I’ve been one of those people referred to as “people pleasers” or co-dependent” whatever the term of the day happens to be. In my, and all caretakers, defense most of us are oldest children who came from homes where we needed to take on responsibility or at least learn some really clever coping skills at an early age. I’ve had more therapy than most people and even went on to earn my Masters degree in Counseling so I’ve made a little progress in “setting boundaries” and standing up  for myself (that learned behavior runs pretty deep, my friends). Having this disease and being on treatment is really challenging my growth in that area.

First of all I think it’s really difficult for people who haven’t been through this to understand the toll it takes physically, emotionally and cognitively. I have been accused of exaggerating, I’ve been told that if get out and exercise more I’ll feel better (this is true but within limits) and, probably worst of all I’ve seen the disappointment in my granddaughters faces when they want me to do something like go to the park and it’s 90 degrees with 90% humidity and I know I just can’t do it. The other day in just such a scenario I had a bittersweet epiphany.

When I was growing up my Maternal Grandmother had cancer. In those days treatment was much less successful and usually involved a lot surgery. I remember seeing my grandmothers belly, criss crossed with scars where she had been sliced open again and again as the doctors fervently chased the cancer throughout her body. It seemed to be always one step ahead of them. There were times that I just wanted to cuddle on her lap and smell her perfume and feel the softness of her cheek against my face, but wasn’t able to because of a recent surgical scar. Or times I just wanted her to come outside and play or walk with me and she couldn’t. Fortunately it wasn’t always that way, I have many fond memories of going with her to the small town one room library where she worked on occasion. Or going to service in the simple white clapboard Congregational Church. I even remember times we’d all drive down to East Beach and spend the day at the ocean, Granma sitting under her big canvas and bamboo sun umbrella.

Anyway, back to the epiphany; my granddaughters had come up with a plan during a short walk to stop at home, pack up a picnic basket and walk down to the nearest park for an outdoor lunch and a hike along the river. I wanted to go, I really did, but I just knew I couldn’t. I was already overheated, nauseous and aching all over. I felt so sad at the loss of the opportunity to do this with them my eyes began to tear up and at that moment it was as if I could feel Granma, sitting alone in her dark living room after I’d gone out to play alone because she couldn’t come with and I know that at that moment she was feeling the same sense of loss, remorse, guilt and sorrow.
I have never resented her for not being able to do something with me. Part of it was my own mothers gentle explanations of what Granma was going through, and part of it was Granma herself making the best of the good days and even the not so good days. I never for one moment felt that she didn’t WANT to do the things I asked of her, and I never for one moment doubted her love for me. Now I pray that I can have the strength and faith to do the same for my Granddaughters.
© 2010 Jennifer Hazard

>I am not Immortal…..


…at least not in the flesh. I won’t preach on the afterlife, we all have our own views on that. Fortunately I’m pretty comfortable with mine.
The more time I spend with doctors, taking meds, experiencing side effects from meds and learning about this disease the more my inner teenager is forced to relinquish her firm belief in immortality. Funny because in many ways I was always a rather neurotic kid. I was terrified of illness and death and yet I lived a life style that tempted harm on a pretty regular basis.There came a point in my life when this paradox suddenly made sense. I perceived my actions as some kind of protective ritual for me, a way of knocking wood. You see if I challenged Death and won, it meant two things: a) My existence was validated, I obviously deserved to be here, and 2)I didn’t have to feel so vulnerable to every potential disease, accident or fatal mishap that I had spend my childhood obsessing over.

One thing the young and daring fail to realize is that although they may survive one incident and lived to see the sunrise the next day, “validating your existence” and all that; there is a good possibility that something could come back to bite you in the ass 30 years later. For some of my friends it was HIV, then AIDS, most of them are no longer with us. For others it was overdoses, car accidents, liver failure and other alcohol/drug/brain damaged induced mishaps. You can only tease Death for so long before He gets weary and drops the old sickle on your head.
Others of us do the best we can, struggling along, eating healthy, taking vitamins, exercising a little, trying to maintain some level of sobriety and, like me, doing battle with the sneaky little virus that that set up shop in my liver some 30 years ago.

So, no, we are not immortal, but some of us are the “lucky ones” and we have the opportunity to appreciate life and to cherish the time and the people we have been blessed with.

© 2010 Jennifer Hazard