It’s not often that I share publicly the bad and the ugly – most of the time I just go for the good, or nothing at all. But it’s 2 a.m. and pain is tearing through my right foot as a dull ache creeps its way up my ankle.
I feel somewhat helpless as my sleeping husband slumbers next to me. In not wanting to wake him up because we have an impending apartment move coming up in 4 hours, I feel powerless and weary, lying here with my own thoughts of fear.
When will this pain end? How long will it last? Will it ever get better? When will I feel like my other self – the one who is strong, somewhat fearless, and can get stuff done! When will my mind not seize with fear at the thought of transporting myself to investors meetings and conferences? And for that matter, when will my brain not be cloudy as I sit in meetings forcing myself to concentrate beyond the pain.
And then I think of all of the Facebook groups I’ve joined over the past month with women with breast and ovarian cancer and their caregivers to learn how they feel and what kinds of help they need. I think about all the posts I have been reading and the conversations I had.
And I begin to understand it – not out of sympathy – but out of empathy. Because these feelings are real. And they are scary as hell.
And yes, I know it is different. Staring at cancer is not comparable to my broken bones that will eventually heal. But the feelings of helplessness in the middle of the night, I think, are similar, as are the kinds of help we need to persevere and come out the other side with dignity and grace.
And so, at 1:30 a.m., I texted my sister who is 10 time zones away: “Make me laugh.” and she does. And then I make a list in my head of everything that I am grateful for:
- My husband humoring me by pre-packing before the movers come
- Him changing the clothes from the washer to the dryer before we went to bed – without me reminding him
- My friends checking in on me from near and far
- The delivery guy who brought my dinner – just before I began to wonder if the brown/black avocado was really too ripe to stuff in my mouth, without even taking off the shell
- My mother-in-law who will come to replace my husband during the move so that my husband can accompany me to a specialist
- My friend who has invited us to Shabbat dinner so that I don’t even have to think about what we will eat on our second night in our apartment
- The fact that her building (and our new one) both have elevators
- The fact that I didn’t budge on the requirement for our new apartment to have an elevator – even if it’s on the 2nd floor
- The movers – who will appear in 4 hours – to cram all of our stuff into boxes and whisk it away to our new home without me even thinking about lifting a box
- My sister-in-law and friends who have offered their help in coming over to help us unpack – which I may actually accept
- My colleague who forced me to back out of a conference tomorrow – when I was too stubborn to realize the damage I would cause to myself
- My business partner – who told me that I should “feel good – it’s more important than anything”
- Whatever powers-that-be that have arranged for me to meet a potentially fantastic intern who could really help our company at this critical juncture
- And, honestly, my company, which when up and running will be able to help people just like me – who really need to build up a ‘hood of caring to make it through what seems like insurmountable challenges in the middle of the night
Who knew that I would be the first to need CareHood? I’m grateful we are building it.