Tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I will be beginning my first of 30-days of radiation treatments.
In my recent scans, there have been several spots of regrowth, and I’ve been awaiting information until recently when they confirmed I will be doing radiation treatments.

It’s all very frightening.
It’s all very stressful.

I’m trying my best to deal with it all as best as I can while processing the million other things on my mind. It’s not exactly calming when the information they do give you is the possibility negative side-effects while stringing in some of the worst of worst-case scenarios.

The most unfortunate of it all is the waiting – and then the overthinking – and then the waiting again. It generates some sort of unique anxiety, but the interesting thing is telling people about it and seeing/hearing their reactions. It puts things back into perspective, whether it be them sharing their personal stories or their lack of reaction possibly from disbelief, either way, it’s something. It shows how situations like this aren’t simple to deal with. It shows me how, fortunately, it isn’t a common thing and people just don’t know what to say or what to do to help. Unfortunately, this means that I, myself, don’t yet know how to deal with it yet either.

I contemplated sharing this on a more public platform but knew that it would cause more discomfort than good. So for those of you who still periodically come here (for whatever reason), I hope this gives you some insight into what’s going on and hope you appreciate this post. It took me a lot of emotional energy to write it, but I’m going to need even more emotional strength to make it through this, and I’m glad I got a chance/a platform to at least put these thoughts out there.

But hey, wish me luck, and don’t be too upset about it – let me take care of that.

Random Thoughts #5.

I’ve been feeling down.

It’s not something you think about when you’re happy, but when you’re sad or anxious, that’s all you can think about. Which lately has been how I feel more and more often. Between the stress of university selections, upcoming math exams, not feeling physically great, and juggling the underlying thought that “something may still be wrong with me”, has been wearing me down.

And I mean down…

Down straight through the ground – so far down I think I feel my butt starting to warm up.

All jokes aside, it’s not easy feeling this way. Especially when you read a post on the confessions page (of the school that I’m thinking of going to) talking about how they don’t believe that people should blame anxiety and that “everyone can get a 4.0”. I replied sharing my knowledge and understanding of “mental health” and personal experiences with people who are trying their hardest, but their obstacles are just too much to overcome. I have been trying my best to talk to people about it (my own fear). I talked to people I believe know me well, but it’s hard for those few voices to overcome the voices of many – society, the education system, and other voices that we place at a high significance.

Between fearing that I have not applied to programs for my highest potential or not even getting into the programs that I did apply to, you come to a crisis of “where do I even belong at all?” I am being pulled to believe that “I’m dumb because I didn’t apply to _____”, but also people making me  think “Why didn’t you apply to ________” because “you seem like the type to apply there.”

Between people who are discounting me too much (including myself), and people forgetting that this huge incident happened to me like just over a year ago (also including myself), it’s really difficult to see which side is most correct in their assumptions, or where the truth is along that scale.

When I get home, I feel down, I feel sick, I feel cold, and I feel tired, but above all, I feel afraid. Afraid that thing that I believe took a huge part of what I considered myself to be, took something that I cannot replace sufficiently anymore. I honestly feel robbed. Robbed by my circumstance. Robbed not of my future, but of the future that people expected of me. Maybe the choices I make now because of it really allowed me to get to my future earlier, but right now, I feel judged. I feel ashamed, and despite knowing what I think I really want, I still fear that that’s just not good enough for me because that’s what people and society have been telling me.

As much as we like to mock certain programs or schools, the people in those programs/schools/campuses are still people too. People with emotions, situations you may not be aware of, and as much as we love to generalize people these days, I find myself realizing the tone that gives off.

When people say ________________ is a waste school/program/whatever, that immediately downgrades everyone in it. It disregards specific circumstances, it disregards specific interests, and it turns these huge decisions (life decisions) into mathematical calculations. We may be investing in our future, but this investment isn’t something monetary.

Remember: we can’t all be CEOs, we can’t all be lawyers, we can’t all be doctors, some of us will just have to be other things that aren’t are prestigious and we will just have to be happy with that (that includes themselves too)- there’s no need to shame anyone.

So now, even after saying all of that, I still am having a difficult time with my decision (not that I even need to make one yet, I haven’t even gotten the official acceptances from the two choices that I’m debating between). At the end of the day, I’m not sure if I’m just saying these things because it represents how I really feel, or if I just got really good at making myself feel better.

Warmth.

Winter is coming, and I’m getting cold. The lack of proper circulation makes my right side feel numb and my toes feel like ice cubes and my fingers feel like popsicles. As I cozy up into my layers of sweaters and hoodies, I find myself heating up really quickly – feeling almost feverish at times when I am not dramatically shivering and chattering. It’s really hard to find an in-between. And as I am not comfortable with the temperature, I start to notice the many other things that just do not feel right.

I haven’t really noticed this until now but I love spending time alone. I haven’t even really noticed the fact that I am alone a lot, but as it’s been a couple months now, the feeling of being alone is sort of sinking in. Not having a band class to go to where you can just take a period to laugh at some silly jokes and make some beautiful music, or having a class with friends you have known for years. It’s really different, and although I’m doing alright (for now), I have no idea how long this can last. Clearly, with the number of times I’ve needed to see guidance and social work, I’m trying really hard to figure it all out, and I am finding the help I need.

My mom microwaves these heat pads to help with the aches. It seems that the idea of “warmth” is a large part of the healing process. Whether it be the warming laughter of friends, a comforting hug, or a heat pad settling onto a pair of tired shoulders, sometimes all we really need is some warmth. In many ways, I’ve begun to find new sources of this warmth from teachers, counselors, social workers, and new friends, but sometimes it’s never enough. And it seems almost unfair that I am needing all this help – taking time out of the schedules for these important people that can be using that time to help someone else. It’s just really hard to ask for help – even when I really need it. I feel like I’ve started to find that balance, but I can’t help but feel bad. I never used to look for shortcuts, I looked for more efficient ways to get to the same spot and definitely never actively relied on help from others (maybe pestered them with questions, but never additional help). However, as it seems to be a mile of roadblocks ahead, I may need to look for both. Even if that means losing out on part of the journey, I still need to get there eventually, and who knows how long it will take me now if I continue down the path I would have taken.

So…

Yes, you need help, Jessica.

No, this doesn’t mean you are stupid, it means you are struggling.

No, this won’t necessarily last forever.

Yes, you can do it – just keep trying.

Yes, even when you are very tired and want to quit.

Yes, now and forever.

 

 

Letting Go.

I had to make some tough calls this week. It was like I held all these balloons and one by one, they were deflating. I too was getting tired of holding them, they were tired of keeping themselves up. I just didn’t want to lose all my balloons…nor did I want to lose all my marbles.

I want to say that I did the right thing (I really hope I did), but no matter what, I think I will make it work. I like to think that the world is not one way or the other, and through whatever decisions you make, there are roads that can eventually lead back to wherever you feel you made the wrong turn. Unable to understand that concept before, I am beginning to realize that now.

Letting go of thoughts and plans you had for ages isn’t easy. Right when I feel like I haven’t put in enough work or haven’t tried hard enough, I have to remember that a little over a year ago, I couldn’t do basic math. I couldn’t remember how to speak, and I could not transfer myself to the chair next to my bed. Let alone be doing Advanced Functions, writing these blogs, and being able to wake up in my own bed not worried about forgetting how to walk, talk, and be me. Well, I’ll be damned. It seems we have a miracle here.

So sure, I can’t do things as well as I hoped, nor am I able to pursue some of the things I once dreamed of doing, but I can do others things. I can do new things that I never imagined myself doing, and there’s a sort of insight that people always seem to say I have that helps me understand and help others. And hey, shouldn’t that be everyone’s final goal: to be able to make the world or even just the people around us live happier? Live better? I think it should be.

A basket half full is better than a basket so overstuffed that the bottom breaks. In order to prevent myself from breaking, I chose to take things one step at a time and continue to develop my insight and adjust. It’s really difficult to try to know yourself, but it’s a good thing that I tried to figure things out early on. Things could have gotten a lot worse for me, and I’m glad I reached out. At the end of the day, you’re not gonna get anywhere unless you take the first steps yourself.

It’s never easy saying goodbye, but in addition to the goodbyes I’ve said to my friends, I had to say some extra goodbyes to parts of myself that I never thought would just leave.

And in the words of Natasha Bedingfield…

… the rest is still unwritten.

There may be some difficulties in your path, but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. Sometimes, there is beauty in the difficult times/paths. That’s why it’s harder to get through, so for those that do succeed, it’s really, really worth it.

Me, myself, and I.

I need to take time for me.

I need to take time for myself.

I need to take some time to be who am.

I had a dream, a dream to be the best me I could be. As I was neared what should have been my projected “peak”, I was suddenly hit with something that drove me all the way down – crashing through expected new levels of low.

It took away everything I knew about myself, and all the years I took adapting to being in school and finding what worked best for me was suddenly irrelevant. I was introduced to a whole new world; one that I cannot seem to find my way in.

How I process the environment around me, my ability to multi-task, and my usually keen ability to focus on one specific task now just seems to drown out in the war zone that is my mind – my new broken mind. It’s weird to think that the dreams you had for the at least 5 years of school are suddenly so dramatically affected, and not by choice. So now, as I focus on my notes and my agenda filled with many and multiple brightly coloured reminders, I wonder if I can keep this up forever. How long will it be until I go completely insane? Or will it last until almost forever?

I think I need to start listening to myself more. Taking the time to somehow block out the bad thoughts, negative emotions, and assignments, tests, or presentations and somehow find something within me that will answer all these questions. I need to stop trying to predict the future and try to find a way to begin creating my future. I must make choices that I wouldn’t have made two years ago, and somehow convince myself that it’s okay.

As I double-checked my alarm before bed at 1:20am, I feel a deep, dark feeling of dread – something that is telling me to stop. To be fine with not doing exactly what I wanted to do, but also realize that some things are better to realize sooner than later. I’m trying really hard to realize it sooner.

Currently, I do not know what I am going to do. I am very lost, and there isn’t a recipe to create a better future or a guidebook to living, nor is there a map to your destiny. My fears go beyond forgetting something I need for a test, it’s forgetting how to get home one day because something went wrong in my head. It’s about the fear of forgetting who some of the most important people in my life are. My mind was already complicated and loud, but now I cannot seem to separate out the thoughts that are important from the ones that are irrational fears.

I looked at myself in the mirror today and was confused at who stared back. I stared at a girl who was lost in herself and lost in her world – fearful of what’s to come and tired of being this way. I hope she finds her way. I can tell she is trying really, really hard.

 

Anniversary.

It’s been exactly a year since I was hit with the biggest news in my life. It would be the last morning I would wake up in my own room for a couple of months. When I would go back I would see the whiteboard of my daily to-dos still say the date of my optometry appointment – seemingly dried so much that it was almost staining the board.

I can’t believe how long this year has felt. It has felt like honestly a lifetime. A lifetime of suffering, a lifetime of changes, a lifetime of amazing moments good and bad alike. I’ve changed so much. I’ve grown so much. And yet, I am still the same me I have always been.

It’s odd how pain works. It can make you irritable. It can make you sad. It can make you wish it was all over, or it can make you dream of a better place. I’ve been through all the range of emotions, but recently, the pain keeping me from blissful dreams has led me to beautiful creations. It occurred to me tonight that it has been almost exactly a year since I published my “first” post on the 30th . It would be exactly a year since it all went down.

I was reminded it would be soon when WordPress sent me a message congratulating me on opening the account a year ago, and that reminded me that I started this blog a couple days before things went south. And I’m not talking about geese migration…

Honestly, I’m kind of happy that it’s been a year since I was hospitalized. It means that I’ve survived a year after the biggest scare of my life. I should have really kept track of all my other milestones (e.g. first shower again, first words, first movements, first steps…). But would I really want to remember? I’m not sure.

It seems all those haunting memories a year ago somehow always keep me up at night, but I have forgotten the specifics of my progress. But I haven’t forgotten all of it.

The first night at the hospital I got a TV, I recall watching “Just for Laughs: Gags” and laughing like a maniac. I just wanted to laugh (but also the drugs I was on made me extra loopy I would think). I remember getting bags of chips from the vending machine and limiting myself to a handful of chips a day. Even getting Hickory Sticks so I could pick them one by one to make it seem like it was lasting longer. I can recall walking laps around the hospital before my surgery to get my exercise – not knowing that it would be my last steps for a long while. I recall my nurses being amazing people and one in particular that I loved. She would bring me down to the MRI room wheeling me down the platform with a partner. It was like a safer rollercoaster ride. People like her made it bearable. I remember my PT + OT in the hospital. I was ecstatic to see my PTs as they called the rehab gym just a “gym” and that made me feel like I was working out at the L’amoureaux CRC gym again. The OT sessions were important but so frustrating. I had to do these exercises that felt impossible. Squeezing a sponge? Sorcery. Holding chopsticks? Impossible. Opening and closing my palm? Intense workout.

It truly amazes me how much I’ve improved. I would like to believe that is courtesy of my undying efforts to get here, but it isn’t just me, it takes a bunch of people! And the most miraculous thing is that these people that make the biggest impact on you don’t just do it for you, they do it for many others. Every life that they touch – no matter for how brief a time – are changed for the better. That to me, is something pretty miraculous.

I must also take this time to realize and understand that such anniversaries of tragedies haunt people. It doesn’t just hurt the person that it initially affected, but it once again hurts those that love and care about that sufferer – which only makes it MORE vital that we take these anniversaries of events to be there for one another. It’s a time we must stand together and offer love and open arms.

I am guilty of this as well. I always wanted to be the “woe is me, feel bad for me” person – often leading me to brush off other people’s personal obstacles.

Looking through my old books, I picked out the ones that were the most memorable. There were many books, some dystopian, some more realistic. They were books that outlined the journeys of others. The fictional stories about people going through real-life problems like drug-addiction, self-harm, mental disorders, etc. were the ones I remember most. I guess that was where my interest in psychology and helping people started. As I read the novels, I could hear them calling out to me. I wanted so much to help them – which is why I got so good at asking for help. Well, I try. This might be the “insight” that all my therapists say I have. The reason I am so insightful is because I’ve read stories about others. I’ve analyzed their issues, and I’m only beginning to analyze mine.

 

I guess, this is it.

Happy anniversary to me. It’s been one year since the most traumatic day of your life.

How has it been? – Hard

How do you feel? – OK

Are you sure? – I think so.

Okay.

Alright.

Keep on keeping on.

“This could be serious.”

My name is Jessica.  I’m a full time worrywart,  student, and I also apparently have a brain tumour. As an avid watcher of dumb television,  I feel like I belong in some sort of soap opera or drama; in which case I would end up bald, dead, or a more realistic approach would be I end up fine.  Two family members with cancer and a decent biology mark later, I still don’t understand much other than the basics.  Yes,  I know what an EKG is, how a tumour develops, and the components of the blood you’re drawing out of me, but what does that really mean?

I started the day with a normal summer schedule of doing nothing and then a regular eye exam. After telling him a few of my symptoms that I thought were normal and having a few tests behind my eyes, I somehow end up in need of a brain surgery due to abnormal amounts of pressure behind the eyes caused by a tumour. Turns out the little things I thought I was just being whiny about was actually serious. I always thought  my problems revolve around my emotions and stress.  I was “that girl”. The one crying about a 90 and freaking out because of something completely ridiculous and meaningless.  This blog was meant to be my way to share my feelings, and it turns out I will have something interesting to write about. Maybe the hardest year of my life was just starting. The post I wrote yesterday and deleted now seems even more petty when I just had a team of 4 neurosurgeons and 2 regular doctors stand in front of me. Ouch. And I thought my stye was the problem.

Hospital rooms seem too familiar to my family and I. Cells like to become abnormal too often, and I apparently also like to get sick a lot.  Last time someone I knew was in the hospital, they died in around two weeks. That’s hard. You’re telling me that doesn’t happen often? You’ve got to be bluffing, and even if not, I only know two people who needed to come into the hospital recently. One’s dead and one still is recovering and lost a husband.  If you ask me,  I’d say this an unfair trade for someone that worked so hard all her life. We’re not sure what I have,  but tumour is generally not codeword for “you’re healthy go home”.

Now it’s the waiting game; actually,  it’s always been the waiting game for hospital visits. I can’t tell if writing all this is helping me or upgrading my worries. Either way, I’m doing something productive while I wait.

I was worried about my fitness in terms of how fast I could get some sick biceps and my 6-pack abs, but before I could really get there, I was spending hours at time in the hospital for my grandpa’s cancer and by the time of his passing I just never went back. Who could have guessed my laziness and headaches had their own reason as well? I’m not even in my surgery yet and I’m thinking, how fast I can get back to school, get back to my teams, get back to my clubs. Everything happens for a reason, and I feel like the way I felt in the last few months was a way to prepare me for the last few days. Besides, I have some sick white stickers on my head (kinda like a massive science experiment. I was a 5th grade science fair winner you know). The good thing is that I’m passing all my tests they give me (maybe not my CT or MRI…), but if all goes well, it will be a good story to tell. Maybe if I stopped cursing myself every time I made a mistake and stopped being mean to cancer I’ll be okay. Sorry cancer, I take back the fuck you, but we all know you’re just really terrible.

NTS:

PRO-Saline is an effect time-saving method instead of eating.
CON-Not as tasty.