Wolf at My Door

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
My ongoing journey through a brain tumor diagnosis

Submitted: June 17, 2008

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Submitted: June 17, 2008

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Wolf at my Door

It felt worse then a punch to the mid section. Worse then a nightmare from which you couldn’t wake

What I did feel was an icy cold ,sickening feeling. The type where you are hot, but clammy at the same time.

I had just been diagnosed with a brain tumor. My youngest daughter was only 10. My God, I’m going to die. I’m going to die, I’m going to die.....

The physician’s mouth was moving, but I was deaf to it. My mind racing with the diagnosis ringing through my mind and along side it those words I’m going to die.

Within the space of a day, less, I had gone from a healthy full-time working Mom to a walking corpse. Everyone knows the words brain tumor mean "death". Usually, in a short period of time. How could this have happened to me? Me! I might not have been in perfect shape, but I didn’t drink, smoke, do drugs. I ate fairly healthy and my husband was healthy. Oh, my God I thought. My children, my two beautiful smart happy children. How do I tell them. I can’t even accept this myself. I cursed God, I cursed all the happy unknowing people around me.

I knew I was being irrational, but I didn’t care. I was scared. More then scared. Terrified, petrified, pick your own adjective for it.

I was placed on an anti-convulsive drug and a drug to prevent brain swelling.

I saw more Physicians in the space of a couple of days. I had more CT scans, MRI’s and was told my tumor was operable, but the type of brain tumor that can’t be gotten rid of. Even if they get everything, it will keep coming back. Right parietal the surgeon had said. Good place to have one, he said. Only affect short term memory, he said. Tears welled up in my eyes continuously. I couldn’t stop crying. My life had been reduced to Doctors, drugs, tests and tears.

I yelled at a poor young hospital staffer, who came in and asked about my kids. "Why do you want to know!" I was screaming at her. "Am I going to die!" The next Specialist who saw me asked if I would like to see a psychologist to talk about my "feelings." I screamed at her, gagging on my tears. "The only person I want to see is the person with a CURE!!"

I thought, I’m not having any Doctor benefit from this thing I have. I die, they get rich off it.

To anyone not diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, I must have sounded like a maniac on speed. In short, I guess I was. I guess I still am. I am carrying the spectre of death on my back every day.

In short I had the surgery. My tumor was very large. 6-3 centimetres..

The surgeon was ecstatic. They had gotten all the tumor they could see. It was benign. Hopefully with Chemotherapy and radiation I would have no recurrence for 10 years.

Maybe I should be grateful, I thought. I wasn’t though. Now I’ve been given a sentence to be able to carry on my shoulders to accompany the spectre of death.

I work in a hospital myself. I code these types of diagnoses on people. I have always despised having to code those charts. I feel too much. Maybe it was a premonition.

Now I had two oncologists. One specializing in radiation.

Another specialist who had specific interest in brain tumors. Both women. Both pleasant.

I hated them both with a passion my first number of visits.

Imagine hating the very people trying to help you. Sorry, but I did. I blamed everyone in my path for the "friend" ,the shadow of death that only I could seem to see walking beside me.

I had to have radiation on my brain. I could expect to lose up to twenty five percent of short term memory and I was to have chemotherapy. I was told I would lose hair where the radiation hit me, but not from the chemo. Apparently they dose you heavily with the radiation.

It’s the main form of treatment for this. I did lose hair from the surgery. The cut must have been wide. The hair has never grown back there. A big slice of pink skin down the middle of my skull, much like skunk’s white strip. Except a skunk is supposed to look like that.

I had a "death" mask made of my head. This is done so you can be clamped down on the radiation table, preventing movement of the head.

I had no hair after surgery, so I didn’t suffer the emotional trauma of losing chunks of it

like women who have other types of cancers whereby the chemo causes hair loss.

The radiation took only a few minutes, no pain, nothing except my constant irrational fear that the technicians would aim at the wrong areas.

The chemo sessions started first. Not usual. They like to start with radiation, but being backed up, the chemo started first.

The chemo didn’t make me ill, but was scary nevertheless. We have 2 bathrooms. I relegated myself to one. Apparently the medications go through you and are still "active". You don’t want to come into contact with it. My sessions started by taking 6 huge pills. They nurse came with them in a cup. I couldn’t touch the cup. She didn’t handle the pills, but held the cup to my mouth while I swallowed each pill with a sip of water. That should tell you right there. They are feeding you poison, no mistake. If you can’t touch the pills...

The remainder of chemotherapy was intravenous meds. Mine was short. Half an hour. Some go much longer then that. Cold saline is pumped through your vein and then the medication is very slowly pushed in the line. They leave you on saline drip. Apparently the drugs are harsh and must be administered carefully.

Every day I made the journey to the city for radiation for 6 weeks, excepting weekends and holidays. I refused to stay in the city. I wanted to get home to my children. I just wanted some normalcy in my life. What a joke! Nothing will ever be normal for me again.

Every day, my poor husband drove me up. A tower of strength he refused to feel sorry for me. He was the best therapist I could have had.

The worst part of the radiation was waiting for it. I would sign in at the desk and receive well intentioned pitying looks from the girls registering me. I wanted to scream at them too. Don’t look at me like I’m already dead. I should be behind there doing what you do. I would sit and look at the pained, sick, bald and yes, burnt patients, my tears always threatening to flow for them as well as myself. Young mothers with younger children then mine, the small ones with them they waited patiently for their turns. All different kinds of cancers, all different people, different ages, different walks of life.

I got so emotionally upset that I refused to go into the place until my radiation appointment was just about due. Then my husband would fairly drag me in. He would read the paper and I would try to sit and read, but could concentrate on nothing.

Then one day it struck me. Struck me suddenly and like a ton of bricks. People treat you

how you expect them to treat you. What did they see when they looked at me? A patient with a life-threatening illness. I didn’t want to be seen like that. I wanted to be me again. At least that’s what I wanted them to see.

One day, I showed up for radiation with a stylish wig, a smile as big as all outdoors. Always the consummate actress and buffoon, I sauntered in like I was shopping for the perfect dress and approached the desk. I could almost see the difference in how I was treated. I asked them how they were doing, commented upon how busy they were today and registered. I sat down and made myself browse a magazine I brought with me, had my treatment, casually tossing my wig aside and made some joking remarks to the technicians to be careful where they aimed that thing and settled down to my "tanning" session.

While I still was having chemo treatments after radiation was finished, I was still down in the dumps severely. Still hated going to Cancer Treatment Place. Every 4 months another MRI and I would go through hell, worried how the MRI would look.. Visit the specialist for what Peter called the "monkey and pony show". Finally, 6 months and now I go once a year. It has been 6 years and all is stable. I still go through hell waiting for the results.

I still hate the place, still can’t come to terms with what I supposedly have. People tell me everyone dies sometime. But "sometime" is a magically sweet unknown. To have your possible demise mapped out ahead of time for you is horrifying.

I have been told that because of radiation I have a 10 percent greater chance of developing leukemia and a 20% greater chance of developing a pituitary tumor. My brain tumor is one type of Primary that does not spread to other parts of the body. Can it spread to other parts of my brain? I don’t know. I prefer to know as little as possible.

I was offered my death mask from the radiation girls to take home, but I refused. I refuse to acknowledge that I have this. Positive thinking works wonders people say. I tend to be an anxious, negative minded person at the best of times. I tell people this will not come back because I’m too scared to have it happen again. I was assured that they could probably do more surgery, but when I mentioned more radiation and chemo the silence was deafening.

Some people call these things a test of faith. Some people say if you have enough faith you wouldn’t get these things at all and still others believe prayer will cure you. I can’t help but think of all the innocent children who die of these terrible things. Where is God? If it’s all part of his plan, I wish he would change it. A God like that is a very cruel God to me. I choose to believe this is all our doing and it is up to someone who God graces with knowledge and skill to cure these horrible cancers. I just wish he would hurry up.

I have to admit I gave up on God for a good long while. Spent a whole year depressed. I now know the difference between anxiety and depression.

I know that I know nothing. I know I still wake up each morning with my diagnosis whispering in my ear. Some days I feel I can cure myself by positive reinforcement, some days I feel God close to me and some days God isn’t around at all. My faith always wavers. I am not brave, I am not a pillar of strength. I make a poor Christian I can tell you that. I envy people who have no doubts about their faith, but then I sometimes wonder how they would react to news like I got.

We’ve all got to go sometime, but I just don’t feel my time is now. Does everyone feel that way?

Is anyone really ready to leave the comfort of their life and family for the grave? Suicidal people maybe. The very devout maybe.

I do not look forward to judgement day. It probably won’t go too well for me. I enjoy the life I was given. I have everything. Husband, children, home a land blessed with peace healthy good food, a good workplace.

Everybody bears a cross. Mine has been my life-long anxiety. I remember my dear family doctor asking me one time what I was afraid of? I told him I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. He looked at me closely and said, one day the wolf will be at your door and you will regret not having enjoyed life as you might have.

The wolf has come. He is at my door howling and scratching to get in. He is large and black and his jaws are dripping with rabid foam. Death rides on his back and I only have a stick to fight him with. But fight I will. If the stick breaks I will throw rocks. If the rocks miss, I will run and run and run.....


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