Ugh...wouldn't it be nice if our brain came with a shut off switch? Or, when things get really bad, a shutdown system like power plants have. If I had one of those, sirens would have blared like 3 Mile Island last weekend.
Joe surprised me with a puppy last Saturday. This dog could melt anyone's heart; small and sweet with huge brown eyes and a fluffy white coat. He had us at hello. Watching Sean cuddle and play with him made me imagine how he would be with his own children and that thought was enough to open the flood gates of fear. All weekend my mind was stuck in 'what if' mode. What if this treatment doesn't work...what if the next scan shows something new...what if I'm not around to see Sean grow up? I constantly felt like I was 10 seconds away from a total meltdown. I tried talking to my friends about it but when a few of them said, "I feel the same fear about my own kids" my mind screamed, "NO YOU DON'T! YOU DON'T HAVE A FUCKING CLUE HOW THIS FEELS!!" I became enraged, sick of people trying to relate to my problems, sick of hearing people complain about their bullshit issues. So I did what I always do when I'm feeling down and sorry for myself; I went shopping.
Still wallowing in my own misery, I walked around the store hoping for something to grab my attention and get me out of this funk. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed an extraordinarily handsome man. Umm...ok he's not the pair of shoes I was hoping for but I'll indulge myself for a moment. As he stepped out from behind the table I noticed he had a titanium prosthetic leg. We locked eyes briefly and smiled at each other. I began to wonder what happened to him. Is he a veteran? Was it an accident? Was it cancer? Then I understood. Ok God, you got me again. Everyone has something going on in their lives which makes them fearful or angry or deeply sad. Cancer doesn't trump everything. I was so wrapped up in my own self that I forgot about others. I had forgotten my pre-diagnosis life when I still had problems that devastated me and they had nothing to do with cancer.
Yesterday showed me another example of how we never know what someone is going through. While out to breakfast with friends, a woman walked in kind of stumbling and dragging her right leg. As she sat down to eat with her friend she began nodding off a bit and was slurring somewhat. My friend made a comment about how she was possibly on drugs. Having been in her shoes several times, I said, "She may be on medication for whatever is causing her leg to drag." Many times I have been out to lunch with Joe a little too soon after treatment and have nodded off at the table and needed his assistance to walk. You can never, ever know for sure what is going on in someone's life just by looking at them. I've been guilty of it myself many times.
I have judged people too quickly without stepping back and wondering why. Why is the person on line so short tempered? Well, maybe she has an ill child at home she needs to tend to. Why did that person cut me off in traffic? Maybe he was rushing home to his wife, like Joe does for me on chemo days. Not saying this is always the case; sometimes a person is just an asshole. But, I'm going to keep these things in mind as I go about my day. Maybe you can try it too. That person walking slowly in front of you when you're in a hurry might just be me on a bad treatment week.