Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Ambien dreams

…though I may have had them anyway:

I’m not sure whether they were two separate dreams, or there was a segue between. In the first, my advisor was running me around to surgical appointments—only I was never sure what time they were. I’d be at home, and not know whether I could eat or not. Then I’d leave my purse in her car. I was wearing a tie-dye dress, Tevas, and one wool sock. I tried to take it off, to be even—and found another sock beneath it. She kept hugging me and making me laugh, but I was purely disorganized.

Even then, she couldn’t take me all the way. They didn’t allow cars, or we weren’t sure where to go, or something. I got on a Kaiser shuttle, and ended up at the hospital—but as a chaplain, not a patient. There was a huge group of us in training, milling around and asking questions, and nobody knew what to do.

I think you can see what I’ve been going through. Lizette’s hugs and laughter are real. (The driving is other people.) I haven’t asked her for anything other than her time, and the liturgy last Friday, which she was more than happy to do. The community’s been great—and it was she who reminded me that they know me, love me, can walk through this with me. I feel like I’m falling to pieces, with all the details I have to take care of. My best friend is coordinating (and doing, mostly) my care for the summer; I only have to get through the next three weeks. But even though I’m swimming in support, my body and I are really in this alone.

The chaplain thing may be related to this blog. It’s work I haven’t done in real life, and wouldn’t know how to do if I were dropped into it. But I know that this conscious witness is teaching. Someone came up to me in chapel, and talked to me about the things I’m teaching them. It was really an incredible compliment. (She also said she was afraid to inundate me, and I said, Please—I told the school for a reason, and I need support.)

I worry a little, that I’ve set myself up as some kind of an example. I don’t have any idea what I’m doing. I got the diagnosis, then the reprieve from the worst, and the knowledge that I’m going to be sick and incapacitated anyway—even as I’m unspeakably grateful for being alive. I told her thank you, and I don’t remember what else. But I was thinking, “You would also live through this, the best way you knew how.” The only exceptional thing I’m doing is writing about it.

She went somewhere else for lunch, and I walked back toward the refectory alone. I’ve been really wound up, even with the reprieve. I was thinking to myself, “You’ve known your body’s clean, for almost a week—why are you still so wiggy?” [This has NOT come from anybody else.] The answer’s easy: you don’t go where I’ve been, and not be.

This is a spinning-teacup ride. Your world changes so fast that you can’t keep up, and keeps changing. I’m okay, if I’m rested. Yesterday sucked rocks on toast. I woke from a nightmare at 3:30 in the morning. My mind started racing, and I stayed awake. I tried to take a nap, later, and couldn’t. It’s not even existential mind-races. I’m thinking about everything I need to get done, before my surgery next week.

I e-mailed my online instructor, in the morning, about incompletes, dates and deadlines. I now don’t have to finish my final paper until 8/1, because we know I’ll be sick at least through June. (I won't be randomized until the end of this month. Yes, that not knowing is stressful.) He wrote back, “It sounds like you’re really well organized about this!” I could have kissed him. I feel just like that dream image: incoherently dressed, notes everywhere, losing track of everything. This, even with all the grace that school has given me. There’s just so much little stuff, and some big. And I know that what doesn’t get done before the 12th, likely won’t. After that PET scan, I’ll be fully in riddance-of-cancer mode. And I will need to be.

I was excused from my morning class, because I had a horrible headache. I went to school in the afternoon, because I really wanted to. And was fine for the first half. The group I’d been assigned to, and had worked with until the diagnosis, was presenting our project involving a fictitious inner-city parish, Catholic church, and coffee house down the street. They kept us all in stitches; I couldn’t stop laughing. Class right now for me is community. It’s staying in touch. I need care, one-on-one, and my friends and faculty have been good about that. I also need to be where I can be more-or-less normal, part of the whole.

I should have gone home at the break. I was really tired, later—and when someone flashed the lights for our attention and it set off my headache again, I snapped. I ended up crying, walking out of class, and coming back. I wrote an apology to my faculty, afterward, and asked for coping tips. She gave me some good ones, and here they are. I’ve bulleted them for mental Post-Its:

• Don't push yourself.
• Make sure you eat well and keep your body moving – it will help the sleep.
• Small doses of all things.
• And do fun stuff!

Not bad to remember when I’m well, really. Particularly if you’re reading this, and going through something similar—these all point to being gentle with yourself. Another teacher wrote me earlier, “Take walks. Breathe. Focus on God’s love for you.”

Let yourself be where you are.

It’s 7 and I’m really hungry; being up a lot of the night will do that. I’m going to stop, and have breakfast.

Peace to all, and know that your touch and e-mails make a difference. I started to say that my body is betraying me; in truth, it and I need lots of love. I deeply appreciate my friends for sticking closer. Thank you.


eileen said...

K - does benedryl make you sleepy? I've actually been finding two benedryl better for sleeping than lunesta...

Might not hurt to try...

Kirstin said...

It does, and I might. Thanks!

How's your first week back?

johnieb said...

Yes, we want to know, Eileen.

If I dream with Ambien at all, they are often quite good.

"Howz yer medications? Lemme tell you about mine" Old Fartism sneaking up on the left side: beware!