Wednesday, April 14, 2010

normal |ˈnôrməl|

Our last few days have been rather uneventful. Patrick is pretty weak, but he is getting stronger every day. When we got to Krista's house after checking out of the hospital Satuday, we walked in to find two little girls sitting on the couch. Krista's mom (Donna) and step-dad (Foy) are very involved at their church, and while the little girls' older sister was helping Donna work at the church, the girls were watching a movie. Patrick can't pick up anything more than 5 pounds, I had to bring in our luggage. While I was dragging in our suitcases, Patrick sad down in the living room, and the little girls started jabbering away about the movie they were watching. "Wanna watch a movie with us? It's about a princess, and she is magical, and Ohhh, this part is really funny, and her magic spell isn't working because of the evil witch." Poor guy. After getting settled in, I went downstairs, had dinner, and then we all went outside. The weather here is beautiful, and after a week of being stuck in air that had been hepa-filtered to death, breathing in fresh air was better than a cold drink on a hot day. The girls were bubbling with the excitement that can only come from an 8 year old. They asked if we knew how to play charades to which I replied "I think so, but remind me of the rules." As soon as they were done giggling out the directions, they commenced to pretend to be unicorns, frogs, fairies, and trees. They we too cute, and were more than willing to "Take my turn acting. You girls are so good at it, and I am much better at guessing." After they left, Patrick and I video called Cameron. She was wound up tight as a drum. "Hey Momma! Hey Daddy!" was quickly followed by her singing her ABCs, Jesus Loves Me, and Mary had a Little Lamb (all without stopping for a breath). It is always so wonderful to see her. Modern technology is so great. It makes it a little easier to be away - a little.

I hadn't realized how much weight Patrick had lost until we woke up Sunday morning and he had lost his wedding ring. I noticed that it was a little loose when I put it back on him in the hospital. "Oh no, my ring is gone!" I was so worried we wouldn't find it. We had spent Saturday checking out of the hospital, getting something to eat, sitting on the deck, and doing other odds and ends. I was so relieved when I found it amongst the bed linens. After the excitement of the morning (and by morning I mean afternoon seeing that we didn't wake up until 11:45), we had wings for lunch and went to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. Understandably so, Patrick's 100 or so staples draw a bit of unwelcome attention, so we got a few hats for him - a black pageboy and a Texas Longhorns baseball cap. I'm a big fan of the pageboy. He looks so handsome in it.

Monday I tried to get some work done. The Forget-Me-Not ball is quickly approaching, and there is SO much I need to do. I sent out a few emails, called some of my volunteers, and then said that Patrick needed me to help him do a few things. After dinner, Patrick and I sat outside again, and then we went upstairs to go to watch a movie. After the movie was over, Patrick got out of bed to brush his teeth. When he came back in he said "My eye is swelling." I took a look at his right eye, and sure enough he was right. My adrenaline went through the roof. I went downstairs, got him an ice pack, and watched his face. After about an hour the swelling hadn't gotten worse, so he went on to sleep. I continued to watch his face until 3:00am. We woke up Tuesday morning and both of his eyes were swollen, and I panicked a little. We called both of his doctors, but had to leave messages. After an hour or so, Dr. Kupferman's nurse called, talked with Patrick, and said that he thought the swelling stemmed from the fact that Patrick has been sleeping flat in the bed. They told Patrick that he is going to need to sleep sitting up for at least a few more weeks, if not a few months. Whew! We had planned to meet Michelle and Mike for dinner, but we decided to reschedule so that we could get Patrick's eye situation under control. We spent the rest of the day making sure that Patrick's head stayed elevated. I am really looking forward to having dinner with Michelle and Mike later in the week.

I was talking to a friend today, and she said "I know you are ready for things to get back to normal." Normal - that seems so long ago, but then I thought; what is normal? According to Webster:

normal |ˈnôrməl|


conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected

She was right, there is nothing normal about cancer. Surgery, long hospital stays, radiation, sickness, weakness, more surgery, more hospital stays - for our family this was far from the expected. However, we have had to learn ways to get aspects of our life to conform to the standard. This has become part of our normal. That may at first blush sound like a bad thing, but it keeps me on my toes. For example, one of the hardest things about being in Houston is being away from Cameron, but part of our present normal is using the webcam call to see her. It goes to show that we decide what is normal in our life. Sometimes that has meant incorporating unwelcome things into our usual, and other times it has meant that we make those unwelcome things conform to our standard. Yes, I am looking forward to when our normal is comparable to everyone else's idea of normal, but right now I will make the best of my normal. Our circumstances are different, but we have some things that have always been the standard, usual, typical and expected: we have so much love around us from friends, loved ones, and family; we have the drive to do whatever it takes even when the road is hard; we have the determination to beat this intruder; and we have each other. That is my normal.

She also said that she didn't know how Patrick and I could be so strong. I don't feel strong. As a matter of fact, sometimes I feel like I am doing good just to keep my head above water. So like the true geek that I am, once again turned to Webster:

strong |strô ng |


1 having the power to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks

2 able to withstand great force or pressure

We will move this heavy weight. We have withstood the pressure before, and we will continue to do so. Mahatman Gandhi wrote that "Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." We will overcome this battle.

overcome |ˌōvərˈkəm|


Defeat, beat, conquer, trounce, thrash, rout, vanquish, overwhelm, overpower, get the better of, triumph over, prevail over, win against, outdo, outclass, crush

Sounds about right to me.

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