The Dark Cave

Mammoth_Cave_EntranceListening to my daughter Mariya’s Healing Hymns, tears come as expected. So many gifts I have been given by so many, and I have not even had the energy to say thank you. Since the last blog post, I have been in a dark cave. I am beginning to emerge but I can’t deny where I have I have been.

What the doctor called “chemo induced gut damage” was hours and hours of nausea and throwing up. I lost track of days. I only knew my body was shrinking in front of my eyes. When I could get past the gag response to food, it stayed uneasily and barely. Round 3A stalked me; the slightest walk made my heart pound, energy was something that seemed like a distant memory. All I knew was fatigue. Steve and Elena nearly went crazy trying to get me to eat and drink. Finally, with my electrolytes out of whack, we resorted to nightly hydration with potassium-enriched saline dripping into my central line.

This helped. I was able to keep food down, though appetite is still something I am working on. I have found out that at 114 pounds, I am rather too accurately skin and bones.

And yes, I lost perspective and hope and no, I wasn’t able to hold onto all that I know can be true. I just curled up into it, and went beyond anyone’s ability to reach me. This was a cruel thing to do to Steve and the daughters, and I knew it. I just couldn’t seem to help it. Full of doubt and confusion, I felt like giving up.

You know how a blue sky can slowly emerge out of rainy clouds while you aren’t paying attention? It’s raining and dark and then unexpectedly, a little bit of indigo nudges the gray over. And before you know it, the day has changed, and the sun shafts down and the difference between shadow and light becomes obvious.

IMG_7232One of my favorite cards strengthened me. I described it in one of my early posts; here it is again: It is of an exhausted Hawaiian in a canoe   surrounded by endless rough seas. As he slumps in the middle seat, two spirit angels take over bow and aft with strong arms and clear direction. All I can feel is being in the middle seat now. But everyone else; my family and friends, my angels and own spirit are steering the boat. And just like that sunny day emerging, I am seeing this again.

So, here I am, recovering from a round of chemo that felt like it very nearly killed me. My doc doesn’t like the weight loss but he still thinks I am doing well. My white blood count has already bounced back. My main job over the next couple of weeks is to recover weight, strength and perspective.

We have been watching Doc Marten. If you have ever seen even one episode, you know how entirely without social graces he is. Well, Steve—my Caregiver, husband, friend and long-suffering nurse, I have been your Doc Marten. Nothing has been fair, and this is just as hard on you as it is on me, but being gracious about that has often been beyond my grasp. I am gluing myself back together. There’s just a lot of little pieces. It might take awhile.

The road ahead is still long and scary. We are going to go with a Haplo transplant. We have been told by the leading expert in the field: “I would be comforted that Seattle is the best place in the world for this and this gives her the best chance of making it through as safely as possible. I think you four are making the right decision and you should go forward with confidence.” Hopefully we will get a date set soon. Of course, I still need to get through 3B.

I am holding the image of healing and health. That I can do this again is a good thing. There’s a place I want to go back to in Scotland with Steve.

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7 comments on “The Dark Cave

  1. We are holding the image of you in good health and healing. That you can do this
    is much more than a good thing it is one of those miracles, More to Come!!!
    Thanks for keeping us so very honestly informed, it is overwhelming for us and
    absolutely unimaginable to even begin to know how it is for you.
    Just received the most loving e-mail from Mariya, she and Scarlet are Sistas!!
    We hope to see her here in Idaho in Sept while here for the wedding. We will
    take good care of her.
    Keep dreaming of even more places to visit with Steve, I’m sure there is NO
    shortage.
    Love from the Caldwell’s in Sun Valley

  2. You are so loved and held! Its ok to let yourself ride those waves of darkness and helplessness. You will be held until you open your eyes to the sun light 🙂 I love you so much!

  3. Shann, I admire your honesty and your ability to convey this enormous thing that you are going through. Darkness was probably difficult to avoid but I am happy to hear that you can see that blue sky as well. The sky has been full of blue here on the island today. I hope it was blue for you, too. Sending love!

  4. Wow, Shann….I so appreciate you sharing with all of us who care about you. Your honesty and self-revelation is so raw and powerful. Thank you for reaching out so we can send you lots of love and healing energy. This certainly is a rough road you are on. I love that card, too! Is that one of Joanna Powell Colbert’s Gaian Tarot Deck cards? I just got that this year and absolutely adore it. Hang in there….and Steve – sending you strength and love. This is so sad for me that you are all having to go through this – it’s hard to understand why these challenges come. Hugs to you all!!

  5. I love the line…. I will be dancing on the edge of the world, walking the line between the Great Unknown and the very focused and detailed regime…. We are all there, are we not, the difference being you have your eyes open and are so very aware. Thank you for sharing this important journey. Blessings to you, Steve and your lovely daughters.

  6. We keep you in our thoughts and cheer for the white blood count…go go go! We are “All in” with you and Steve, Mariya and Elena.

  7. Dearest Shann,
    You inspire me once again, like when I first met and listened to you decades ago. My ruptured coiled brain aneursym is growing again, so I need brain surgery to clip it. The dark abyss tugs at me too, I was very tearful yesterday, forced myself to go to the overlook above South Beach, where a hawk was flying along the fields beside me. I like to think it was my mom pacing me (that’s another story 🙂 Then I see the spectacular landscape, marine birds, and Orcas! out in the flooding strait. First a male and female, then a mom with her two youngsters. They seem to be foraging and share a fish, when the whale toddler starts to breach, repeatly, numerous times over the next hour and a half!! I see a pregnant deer grazing below me and the land birds are singing, and I am filled with joy. I forget what I am going through and what I face, I am truly in the present moment. Nature heals me, and I thank you for helping me start that path. The Hawaiian card touches my heart too, and I hang onto the good memories of my time on Maui.
    I thought of you too, as I am going through massage therapy for a separate injury, and it’s helping me process the range of emotions, wondering if you (and all of us facing death) would find massage therapy helpful.
    I have to make trips to Seattle to for preparation testing before the surgery, and would like to visit you, if you are up for it.
    We are still here Shann, I like to think we fellow fierce spitfires still have a purpose 🙂
    My loving and healing thoughts to you xo,
    Caroline Armon

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