April 29, 2012

Sunday Thoughts

march 6 023-sb
I’ve been having stomach issues for two weeks now, and it’s gotten to the point that I’m sort of a wreck… tired and lethargic all the time due to lack of nutrients, and grumpy and quick to anger because I’m always hungry.  Earlier today I was sitting on the couch with Gracie and Cooper, when Cooper took off running and barking towards the front door (as he often does, for no reason… I joke that “he heard an earthworm moving a mile away”), and then Gracie, who was partially on my lap, followed suit and bolted after him, knocking my water glass out of my hand and sending its icy contents flying.  Well, an event like this one would have normally pissed me off, but this time it sent me into a rage, and I was probably screaming expletives and definitely slamming kitchen drawers unnecessarily as I went to find a towel.  Point is, some stuff’s not right inside my body at the moment (and don’t worry, I’m going to the doctor again tomorrow).
However, during these last couple weeks of mild suffering and my first time ever experiencing real, lasting hunger, I’ve been humbled to think of just how my problems stack up to that of others’.  Yesterday my mom tearfully recounted an exchange between her and Edd in their bathroom, when he was just so overcome by the effects of his chemo, which included intensely painful mouth sores on his lips, inside his mouth, down his throat and, we learned later, also out the other end.  The cancer and the treatments were merciless to Edd, and this was just one of the many horrible side effects he endured in his last months.  It made eating very painful and obviously no longer enjoyable, if not impossible.  Another of life’s pleasures snatched away from him.
Edd was saying to my mom, “I just don’t know what to do… I don’t know what else to do.”
And since he never seemed to, ever, bring this up or even consider it a possibility, my mom said to him quietly, “you could stop taking chemo, you know.”
She said Edd blinked a few times, and slowly some sort of realization washed over his face.  Like he’d never thought of that before.
After a moment, he said, “…But then I’ll die.”
And they cried there in the bathroom together.  It was the first time they’d considered that possibilty—giving up—letting the cancer win. 
That story touched me so deeply, and like I said, humbles me.  The things that man endured.  The reality he lived. 
And the things we complain about! It’s disgusting. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve found myself praying the feeble prayer that God will take away my stomach virus or bacteria or ulcer or whatever the hell it is that’s causing my issues, but then I caught myself.  I don’t know if I want to pray for God to take away my suffering anymore, now or in any other area of my life.  Or maybe I still will, but I think I’ll understand a little better if he doesn’t, and I’ll be a little braver.   People all over this world are experiencing far more unthinkable pain than you or I will maybe ever feel, and it puts things into perspective when you see that.  When you watch someone live it.  When you know it could happen to you, or someone you love.  It helps you to not take things for granted, and to live a little more in each moment. 
I have a feeling that Edd’s cancer and his suffering and his passing will be teaching me things, and also giving me courage, for many years to come. 

42 comments:

  1. life. will we ever get it? i cant imagine how surreal and sad that conversation must've been between your mom and edd. I'm glad he's pain free now. and here's to hoping YOU feel better soon, jenni!

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  2. This is beautiful Jenni, we forget how good we have it sometimes. What a great reminder to be thankful for our health when we have it.

    www.lovecleansing.blogspot.com

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  3. my sweet Jenni. I'm always touched by your words, your strength (even when you feel weak) and your courage...traits that you seem to have picked up from Edd. :) Like Bridget said, I am thankful he is now pain free.

    I hope you feel better soon my dear! xxx

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  4. This is so very true - and I tend to fall into this trap of complaining about trivial things very often. It's funny (but not really) how it takes something horrible to happen before we realize how good we have it and how much worse it could actually be.

    I really hope you start to feel better soon! Stomach issues are no fun :(

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  5. We all live our own lives, and of course attempt to glimpse into the suffering of others. So when comparing cancer to severe poop shoots, it seems small. I felt the same way when I had all the health stuff last summer. I couldn't shampoo my own hair that was falling out at an alarming rate, but at least I had arms. And hair. So, my problem could have been worse, but it was my problem and my health, and my suffering didn't make my illness any less relevant.

    I watched my mom lose all of her hair and nearly all muscle control of one side of her body. She was terrified and in pain, so when I compare my situation with hers, its trivial. But it didn't make me any less scared. So keep your head up... And stick close to a toilet. :)

    Also, we joke and say the dogs can hear a canary break wind down the street. Amazing what they pick up.

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  6. In that way and in many ways he will always be RIGHT HERE... with us. Love you Jenni.

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  7. Such a beautiful post. Thanks for the reminder.

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  8. Life lessons like that really have a way of hitting you at your core. I hope you feel better soon dear.

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  9. I appreciate your raw honesty, Jenni. Edd's suffering certainly does put things into perspective. A prayer that I love when I'm feeling as you are (not knowing if I should be asking God for help or not) is "Lord, change no circumstance in my life, change me."

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  10. I know that this is totally not the point of this post... but damn, cancer sucks. It sucks so freaking bad.

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  11. i dont even know what to say because im just crying like a baby...

    xo

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  12. this was really helpful to me. thanks for posting. hope your doctor's appointment goes well tomorrow.

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  13. Oh wow, what a heartbreaking concept for your mom and Edd to have discussed. He was SO brave. Thank you for sharing so honestly with us!! I hope you feel better soon!

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  14. Dear Jenni,yes my dear when we lose someone we love it does change our perspective of life..and it should..I believe that my Bob and Edd taught us so much in the way they lived and the way they died...cancer took their bodies but...never their spirits and they continue to teach us every day..such a gift...feel better my dear! Love you!

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  15. Such an amazing story. Whenever I am feeling sorry for myself, I always remind myself that people in this world have real problems. I don't say this to diminish my own problems, I just like to remember that no matter how bad I think things are - there is a positive side and I will be ok. And you will be ok, one way or another. xoxo

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  16. Jenni, I am so sorry to hear you are still not feeling well. Your story is very humbling, and I agree with you on realizing our minor suffering is nothing that others go through. I once had a stomach bug and hovered a toliet seat while at my cousins baby shower. While I was there my other cousin who was suffering from bone cancer was at the shower. I felt so awful that I had made it a big deal because she went through those side effects weekly from her chemo. So, I completely know how you feel about the situation.

    But, still, get better and don't ignore your symptoms. Has the doctor elimiated the case that it's a parasite? I got one of those when we got back from our honeymoon, and like you I was basically bed ridden and not able to eat much. I really hope you find out what it is and can get better soon !

    Take care girl !

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  17. Hoping you feel better very soon and loved seeing your heart in this post.

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  18. Beautiful post. First of all, I am so sorry you are so sick! I was thinking about something like this the other day- I have had an issue with a tooth for the last 6 months, and just realizing that we are never really grateful for our health when nothing is wrong until something is wrong and we wish we felt 'normal' again. Then I was mad at myself for being so upset about this tooth- it is a tooth and some people have SUCH harder obstacles to overcome and are in so much more pain and here I am, consumed with this tooth. It is fixed now but I won't forget the 6 months of pain and weekly trips to the dentist to get it resolved. It makes me that much more grateful...

    I hope you feel better soon!

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  19. First of all, I hope that your doctors visit this week will give you some answers. I hate that you're feeling badly and I will certainly be thinking of you! My mind has been on the same line of thinking this week after reading the book kisses from Katie. In her stories of her life in Uganda I was really shown how much I live in abundance and how much I take the fact that I have a pantry and a refrigerator full of food for granted. I've been having a hard time dealing with the fact that I haven't even scratched the surface of suffering in my life like people with cancer or who are abused or who are starving in Africa. I have such petty "problems". And it has bothered me so much this week. I've started to think about some changes that need to be made in my life and I've realized it all comes down to one big thing. Love people. Help people. Encourage people. Maybe while I'm doing that my "suffering" will not seem so big.

    Praying right now that your stomach issues are resolved this week. So thankful for your heart, sweet friend.

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  20. Wow. I'm sorry you're suffering, and I hope your stomach does get better soon. The comforting thing about losing someone (comforting maybe isn't the word, but I can't think of another) is that we can remember and relive moments we had with them... and learn from those moments... or just enjoy the warmth the memory brings.

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  21. I have often been in awe of how my parents have continued to teach me after their passing in things I remember about them, how they lived, how they reacted to things. The learning, it never ends. When I finally came to recognize this it made me realize how important it is to set an example for my children not only for now but for well into their future perhaps even for when I'm no longer here.

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  22. I've had many of these same thoughts too. Everything seems so small now in the grand scheme of things. Life is so brutally honest and it hurts and it's real. These life experiences are what shape us forever. I know you have been changed for the better, Jenni. "Sometimes in tragedy, we find our life's purpose."

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  23. So brave to post about this. Reading it, my heart literally sank. The suffering in this world is unimaginable. We can do everything in our power to help others, but it's no reason to not pray for healing for yourself as well. It seems so tiny in the grand scheme of things, but if I put everything in perspective, each and every thought of mine would seem so tiny and unimportant. So it's normal to feel like our problems are small, but they are still our problems. Our tiny suffering makes us know we are alive. I had a tummy bug for a whole month after I moved here, and it was horrible. My Spanish wasn't good enough to visit a doctor, and the only medicine I could get a recommendation for without an exam was a probiotic! Eventually it went away, but it was painful. Not as painful as chemo though!

    Stay strong. And keep having these amazing humbling thoughts, but don't suffer or ask for healing because what you have isn't as bad as someone else. :) Just make it a longer prayer!

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  24. Jenni - I've been following your blog for quite some time and have always admired the way you're able to so eloquently put your thoughts down on "paper". Your honesty is truly beautiful and your recent posts serve as a reminder to all of us to cherish life, be thankful and live in the moment. I believe life is always a struggle, sometimes we're up and sometimes we're down, but in the end we're alive and that should be embraced. I hope you feel better soon and both your heart and stomach heal. Although we've never met, you're in my thoughts and I'll continue to send positive thoughts to you and your family. xoxo- Bettina

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  25. Thank you! This is incredibly beautiful and I have tears. You are right...we always complain when there is so much to be grateful for. And p.s. for you stomach thing, a lot of stomach problems are caused by stress or emotional upset. I hope you feel better :)

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  26. I just wrote a huge comment...and then realized that I just can't put it in to words. The feeling of pain and what comes with it. is just so complex. I know how it is to suffer pain. long ago I remember asking "why me?" over and over again. Until somebody ones asked "who else".......and although I can't put in to words what this simple answer released in me....I still stopped asking that question. When the pain comes it comes. I hate it but I also embrace it. I know I can handle it. I know I can find a way through it and I know it will stop. I truly believe that it is necessary. Necessary for me, or necessary for somebody else. It is one big learning progress. You learn so much about life just by feeling pain. It's crazy. I can't ever imagine what Edd must have gone through but already you said you've learned from it.

    Life is brutal. I'm so sorry that your family had to go through this terrible loss and had to witness such terrible pain and suffering. I keep you in my thoughts that the recovery goes fast and well.

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  27. Pain and suffering, a subject we will never fully understand until we finally reach heaven. I have a lot of issues with my intestines, kidney stones, bulging disc in back, etc. (I won't bore you with all my medical/pain issues)but I also know that there are people like Edd who have had to endure horrible, painful effects of chemo and other terrible things and fighting just to live. I can't imagine the pain of that loss but I am so glad he is now in a place of peace, rest, and complete comfort.
    Seeing the things that others go through makes me thankful for what I do have, thankful that even though I can't eat a lot of things that I want to, and that I have lots of pain issues, that I am not in the hospital on a feeding tube like others are. Thankful that I am not starving like so many children who have to dig through trash to find something to eat that week. It's sometimes like without feeling the suffering ourselves, we can't fully understand what others have to go through, so it's a learning experience.
    I pray that you will find out what's going on and that you will feel better!

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  28. To be honest, I've never felt the kind of pain you are feeling emotionally right now so this might be off but whenever I've dealt with mentally and emotionally difficult times, not only am I a wreck in my mind but also in my body. My emotions manifest themselves physically in me to create issues that actually resemble what you described in this post. I hope the Dr. has some answers for you and that you start healing soon. Sending lots of good vibes your way.

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  29. Not many things make me cry, honestly, but you got me. That you see opportunity and hope in tragedy is a gift and it shows me what kind of a person you are. I've been through pain, sickness, and death and I understand now, like I never did before, how it broadens my narrow little perspective of the world. To this day I can't stand to complain, because I always have other people's pain, that far out weighs my own, in the back of my mind.

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  30. I'm so sorry you are suffering! I hope it all gets resolved very soon. Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories of Edd

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  31. this post really hit home. my brother had the same sores, unable to eat, spitting up blood all day. i remember day after day just wanting to scream out loud "when will this end!!" & the part about him saying ".. but then i'll die" that is just so wrenching. my heart drooped when i read that.

    try herbdoc.com to help you with your stomach issues. if you can get past some of the cheesy photos ... you'll see this guy is truly brilliant. his products have helped me and others with ailments that we'd either still have or be on drugs for the rest of our lives for.

    xx

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  32. This is such a good post---and we can all learn so many lessons today from this and from Edd. It certainly helps keep things in perspective and helps me to remember to be thankful for even the things in life that are not perfect---just this morning, after reading my Jesus Calling book, it referred to the scripture 2 corinthians 12:9; My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.

    I hope you start feeling better very very soon.

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  33. How blessed you are that Edd left such an impact on your life. Praying for you girl, here's to a speedy recovery xoxo

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  34. Beautiful reflections, Jenni. You made me tear up, actually. I, too, get caught up in my complaints, pains and annoyances, thinking life is so terrible and annoying for me... but then I remember others whose suffering is much greater than mine. And then I remember to be thankful for my life, pains and all. It's not always easy (I recently was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis) but I remind myself that things could be worse. Hang in there with the tummy troubles!
    xoxo J

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  35. You have such an amazing way of finding positive lessons in the most difficult of situations. I think you have far more courage than you give yourself credit for.

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  36. Thank you so much for sharing this lady. It's so good to be reminded every once in a while of how precious our lives really are.

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  37. This is a tough time and one for a lot of reflection. No one wants to learn from terrible experiences like this, but we do in spite of ourselves. And I think Edd is watching you, smiling, as you evolve and grow. He is surely so very proud of you.

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  38. you my dearest stranger, have left me breathless.

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  39. I'm sitting here crying after reading this. I am so sorry for your loss, but it's amazing to see how much he taught you. It's beautiful to see the effect people can have on us.

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  40. Being human is something else, huh. Most of the time we spend our days avoiding death and suffering. Even the most realistic of us are terribly hedonistic when you get right down to it. But isn't it a blessing to be faced with death? It makes you thankful and more appreciative of life than you ever thought possible. I know you and your mom and Edd will never experience more precious moments than those ones at the end of Edd's life on earth. I'm constantly blown away by the bravery and fortitude I see in my patients, and am honored to witness the grace with which they tackle the business of dying. Life. It's a funny business. Even when it's ending.

    And you will never again taking eating real food for granted!

    Feel better soon, friend. Xoxo

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  41. Hi Jenni,

    I just started reading your blog. I too had tummy issues at the beginning of the year. After many test, they did find out that I had hpylori which is a stomach bacteria it caused so many issues, but if you dont ask them to test you for it, they usually wont. I also found out I was gluten and latose interolent. I hope they find out what is going on and you feel better soon. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

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  42. God bless your mother. She is one tough lady. Hope you start to feel better.

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