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Chapter 7: The Roller Coaster Ride
While I waited for the gene test results, I found myself stuck on a roller coaster ride of emotions. The fear and anxiety of all the unknowns sent me rushing downhill at an alarming speed. Then out of nowhere I would receive a tender mercy that would thrust me upwards to the crest of the next hill. That would allow me enough time to smile and catch my breath before careening down to the bottom again.
The emotional ride left me with a constant, throbbing ache in my head. I spent half of my time as a sobbing, blubbering mess. When I wasn't crying, I was trying to keep myself busy so that I wouldn't linger too long on all the possible outcomes that were roaming through my mind.
At times, I wondered if I had just been having a bad nightmare. I kept hoping that I would suddenly wake up and resume my normal life. After all, I didn't look sick. People who have cancer look sick, right? I didn't feel sick either. Other than some fatigue, I felt like I could run a marathon, or maybe a 5K. Yes, let's stick with a 5K. (I detest running.)
I did my best to try and NOT think about cancer, but found it impossible when every conversation I had with people started with, "Do you have any news?"
"Nope, no news yet," I would have to report time and time again.
(excerpt from my journal) Day Nine: "I... am... exhausted. Emotionally, physically, spiritually--you name it. I am tapped out. I just keep trying to stay busy and keep a smile on my face, but today was hard. I snapped at my kids a lot...then I got angry with myself. Our lives could turn completely upside down in a few days. I should be making every moment count. But I couldn't today. I just couldn't put on the happy face anymore and unfortunately my family took the brunt of it. I'm sorry, guys. Tomorrow is another day. I will try to do better...I just want to cry all the time--cry because I'm scared, cry because I'm angry, [and] cry because I just want this nightmare to be over."
I became extremely impatient with the whole waiting process. I needed answers! Because I was a planner by nature, this cancer thing was really cramping my style. I couldn't move forward with any plans in my life, particularly the plans for my upcoming preschool year. (I taught preschool in my home.) My life was on hold and I did not like the music that was playing in the background.
As the days crept by and the turmoil in my heart grew, I started down a dangerous path of self-pity and despair. "I don't want to do this!" my mind screamed. "What if I am not strong enough?"
However, it seemed like every time I started down that dark path of self-pity, fear, and doubt, my faith in Jesus Christ steered me back in the right direction. I found myself craving more spirituality. I devoured my scriptures, prayed every single minute of the day, and scoured the Internet for words of comfort.
It was in those times of reflection that I received some of the most tender mercies. I was led to verses of scripture such as "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
Other tender mercies came in the form of earthly angels. My family and friends surrounded me in a bubble of love. Everywhere I turned I found someone giving me words of encouragement, sending me flowers, or bringing me food--lots and lots of food. That's one thing that we humans do when someone is suffering. We think of our favorite comfort foods and we share them. It's awesome. Especially when it involves chocolate.
My favorite earthly angel was my husband. When he came home from his business trip I felt like I could breathe again. It was so good to have him by my side. He was (and continues to be) the calm to my crazy and my reminder to take things one day at a time. Chemotherapy? Surgery? Radiation? Don't worry about it. We'll cross that bridge if and when we come to it.
He was right of course. Worrying would not change anything. The only thing that the worry was doing was causing me to lose precious hours of sleep, which, in turn, turned me into "grumpy mom." That was when I decided that I needed to find a place of peace and harmony within myself and ditch the roller coaster ride for good.
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I am loving my second chance at life.
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