Sunday, March 1, 2009

Compassion Fatigue

It has been 15 months since an excruciating compression fracture finally resulted in a correct diagnosis. I had other symptoms for at least 6 months before that. My doctor guesses I had MM for about 2 years before the symptoms drove me to seek medical help. Anyways, I get the diagnosis, and several people assure me this is one of the less horrible cancers. So I think I'm going to be like those breast cancer girls, the rock stars of the cancer world: I'm going to get my radiation and chemo, and be all better.

"Nawt!" I've been through radiation, chemo, a stem cell transplant and spinal surgery. And in a couple days, I have to have a conversation with Dr. A about another round of chemo, with a different, stronger drug.

My point is... I've been sick for a long time, and over the past 15 months, almost everyone has slowly faded out. I don't blame them a bit, and nothing, nothing will diminish my gratitude for all the help and support they gave me for as long as they did. I will forever be thankful for every kind word and deed and thoughtful gesture. Their cumulative kindnesses kept me buoyed through the darkest days.

I'm just that much more humbled and appreciative of my family and the few pals who are still right on the front lines with me. I can count you on one hand, but I doubt I'd be here now without each and every one of you. I don't know why you have managed to resist "compassion fatigue." Every call, every errand, every offer means the world to me. You are absolutely remarkable.


Anonymous said...

Okay, so I don't really remember how I stumbled upon your blog, but I look at it regularly. When I do, I try to remember to say a little prayer for your recovery. I appreciate your honesty and attitude, and I'm sure that your close friends and family are grateful that they can be an important part of your life. Good luck with your next (hopefully last) round of chemo!

tim's wife said...

So true. People who stick around for the tough stuff are priceless.
My heart goes out to anyone who does not have a decent support system while facing illness. You get as much as you give(or more) when you help others. Did ya ever hear that saying, "if you want to be happy for a year, win the lottery. If you want to be happy forever, help someone."

La Cootina said...

Anon, I hope you're right about my friends & family. Thanks for your kind words and good wishes.

TW, I sometimes feel sorry for myself for being spouse-less, but I am so rich and blessed with friends & family. I am never flying without a net. I hadn't heard that saying before, but I like it.

Anonymous said...

you've had a lousy couple years - and really, nobody could possibly be more sick and tired of the illness and all the associated crap than the person who actually has it. i suppose the difference is that you have been "drafted," but the other folks are volunteers. so it gets to be like any other volunteer activity: it feels really great to do it at first, but then something comes up, or they forget, or they have their own crisis or problem that requires attention, or ...

BUT, probably many of those folks who have "faded out" would still like to help or support you. maybe they responded when they perceived an "emergency", and don't realize that you still need them now, especially if you seem to be "coping". or maybe they don't know what would be helpful. or maybe they are wary of making a big time commitment.

two ideas:

for the people who have drifted off because you are no longer together in the same casual way (like work, softball, local hangout, book club, whatever), reach out to them with a call or email! too often, out-of-sight means out-of-mind, but i'll bet they would be happy to hear from you, although i realize that means mustering energy and initiative you may have in short supply. (i'm assuming, of course, that everybody who knows you is aware of your wonderful blog!) is
a free website (created by a man whose wife underwent cancer treatment) that helps coordinate would-be helpers with discrete tasks that need doing, like dog-walks, meals, drive to doctor, etc. it looks terrific; i plan to help a relative in a distant state set this up for a similar situation. possibly this would be a useful tool for you and those that care about you - and a way to re-expand your circle of support.

apologies in advance for offering unsolicited advice ...

best, gina

Ang said...

I'm home recovering for two weeks. So you can email me any bitching and griping you wanna do.

I hope you don't think I distanced from you. I have distanced from the club, but never intended to abandon you. Love you.