Friday, December 19, 2008

The real status: the one I don't put on FB

I don't think I've ever been so tired in all my life. I wake up every morning, marveling at how tired I am, and just dragging my ass to the coffee pot for sustenance. And this coming from a Morning Person. What up? Part of me worries that I am depressed or that I'm feeling my age or something. Another part of me resists the temptation to pop a pill to just get through the day and the frustrations of a job that has passed its shelf-life for me. Then there's the stress of Joe's business in this economy and keeping everything afloat and covering the tuition and never feeling like I have a moment to do nothing. Except when I'm at yoga. That's when I feel some space and the support of my friends. I can ride on that high for a few days, then invariably will crash out (generally in the morning, when the energy is low). The mania of swinging between these extremes is exhausting too, so I'm looking for a middle path. But the serious and true exhaustion and anxiety of this economic time is real and deep for us. I alternate between ignoring the anxiety or being possessed by the anxiety - I know there is a better way. And if I weren't so dang tired, I could probably access that better way!

And shit, I forgot to mention the whole issue of my sister's possible cancer diagnosis and shortened life expectancy. Right, there's also that.

So for me, this Christmas feels like the hardest one I've ever had. I am so looking forward to some total, 100% down-time this weekend to think and feel without running around and doing and fixing and leading... I truly want some Xmas spirit. Santa, help me out here!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Great Big Glittering Party

My sister Carla is in the intensive care unit, has been since last Wednesday night when she blacked out after getting out of her car. She'd been having, apparently, severe headaches for about 7-8 weeks. These were not ordinary headaches by any stretch of the imagination, though I suppose if you'd never had a migraine, you might think that's what they were about. But no, these would come out of nowhere, like a bolt of lightning, and come on blindingly strong. To the point where she'd be awakened from her sleep by the pain, then have to feel her way along the hallway walls to the bathroom, too dizzy to stand on her own, fumbling for ineffectual tylenol. They were working with her doctors to figure out what it was. Then the black-out came and she wound up in the emergency room.

Where they did a battery of neurological tests and discovered the headaches were caused by a back-up of cerebrospinal fluid in her skull caused in turn by an obstruction at her brain stem, a mass of something. Two days ago they installed a drain on the right side of her skull to relieve the pressure of the backed-up fluid. They're testing the fluid to see what it might contain that could indicate what is happening in there.

All of the possibilities are bad. They've mentioned multiple sclerosis, lymphoma, glioma. The glioma is what they keep coming back to. Of course, I've googled and read everything I could find about glioma - none of it is good. All of it is bleak.

After a few hours at the hospital Friday afternoon with my dad, keeping Carla company, doing what we could to keep her spirits up, I found myself out with friends at a club, listening to music and dazzled by the sparkle of the holiday decor and the conviviality of everyone in attendance. And it struck me, as the music washed over me, as I leaned into the sound of everyone singing lyrics they knew by heart, their voices louder than the singer's on stage, that life is a glittering amazing party that we are so privileged to attend. It's so easy to forget how remarkable is the body we walk around in, how sweet the friendships and food and colors and everything else. And it breaks my heart, absolutely and utterly, that my baby sister might have to leave this party early.

Carlita's prognosis, at least right now, is bad. Because it's the weekend, we are in a holding pattern. And in the absence of information, she is terrified, and we all breathe, trying to go moment to moment until we know something for sure. And when we know something for sure, we will keep breathing, moment to moment, figuring out this new situation as we go.

Meanwhile, the party is still going on and we are all of us, even Carla, still there. Every breath, be grateful.