Thursday, November 09, 2006

My days are numbered...and I'm an owl

Jared and I were always big fans of the comic strip series, Calvin and Hobbes, and one of the many funny moments I remember is when Calvin (age six with a vivid imagination) thinks he has turned himself into an owl. He walks somberly into the kitchen to see his mother, and simply declares, "I'm an owl."

As I lay in bed at 4 am, no longer able to sleep (despite being exhausted all day yesterday), I was tempted to poke Jared and tell him that I, too, am an owl. But I got up and decided to blog instead (my marriage is important to me). Insomnia isn't new to me. I come by it honestly. I could probably call my mom right now, if it didn't mean interrupting her morning walk or her Christmas decorating. When she visits for an overnight stay, I usually awaken early to find my oven cleaned, my kitchen restocked with groceries, and Mom either walking the dog or absorbed in a book, dressed and ready for the day ("What can I do for you, sweetie?").

Being a nocturnal animal has its drawbacks. By day I manage to get things done, but sometimes people have an alarmed look on their face when I look like a zombie. It's not the kind of reaction I try to get when I enter a room. I'm usually too hyper and focused on my "to-do" list to take a nap. My husband offered to get me some ether, but I declined. At bedtime I tend to fall asleep quickly (no surprise there) but after a couple of hours the little hamster wheel in my head starts spinning (let's hope glioblastoma cells can't handle the centrifugal force).

Those first waking moments are always interesting. During the initial shock following cancer diagnosis (and recurrence) I would awaken to a sickening feeling in my gut. However, more often I awaken with a prayer of gratitude for the abundance that I have, starting with the warm and cuddly person next to me. Last week my son (an owlet) wandered into our room and crawled into our bed, so (before transferring him to a beanbag chair at the foot of the bed) I awakened with my two favorite people flanking me on either side, and the nice realization that I was (literally) surrounded by blessings.

My thoughts then turn to all of the things that I need to get done. I have amazing clarity and organizational ability at that point, but as soon as I step out of bed these thoughts disappear and I kick myself for not having written down the fruits of that mental harvest (although I think part of our eighteen years of wedded bliss are attributable to the fact that I don't turn on the light and sit up in bed scribbling notes).

And then sometimes I start dissecting what I know about glioblastoma, as though it is some lame attempt to try and solve the problem myself. But it's a big and complex problem that I can't solve myself, so I struggle to fight off such thoughts. Fortunately, I sometimes hear a voice reminding me that I shouldn't "trust in the arm of flesh..." " thoughts are not your thoughts..." and stuff like that. I also remember what the Lord told the prophet Joseph Smith when he was undergoing intense persecution: "Thy days are known and shall not be numbered any less."

I'm sure that goes for all of us. We know that there is "a time to be born" and "a time to die." Maybe all of our days are numbered and known and appropriate to our purposes here. I've decided that my diagnosis doesn't necessarily change WHEN my life will end here. It's just a creepy, grim insight into HOW my life might end here. Like the Wizard of Oz, it's both "great and terrible" to have some advance notice.

I'm getting sleepy as the dawn rises - it's time for Mama Owl to get the owlet off to school.


bryny said...


I went through a lot of nights getting little or no sleep after the second resection. We got that worked out though, first with sleep aids, then with minor adjustments to my treatment. Steroids early in the day and no later than 4pm, anti-siezure drugs later at night and melatonin. All the energy spplements in the morning and none in the evening. It helped a lot and one day I was ready and just stoppped the Restoril and never looked back. The biggest part may have been getting moved from decadron to hydrocortizone. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

It was good catching up on your blog. I asked Vicki how you were doing at chemo and she said you were doing just fine - easy for her to say. Just wanted you to know that we have thought about you and prayed for you. Jon, after being on this therapy for almost a year, is feeling quite exhausted with it all. It sometimes is hard to keep the spirit up even though we know that God is in control. Jon will have his next MRI on 11/27 - we will go from there. 11/27 will be just a little over 18 months since those first stabbing words - "you have a brain tumor" came into our lives and have continued to be uttered way too much. Almost every conversation on the phone starts with "Well, how is Jon doing?" So, "how is Krista doing?" You know the routine. Your Frat Sister-in-law, Susan