I can’t stand pain.

I can’t stand pain. Mostly emotional pain hits me way harder than it used to (before), I can’t stand to see even an actor in extreme duress. I actually physically recoil from it. I always thought of myself as being empathetic and compassionate but now. I actually ache internally when I witness any pain, it rips open my scabbed and scarred emotions and lays them raw and bare to the ache. I thought because my eyes would tear up, and I was a soft touch for (almost) anyone to hit up for money that made me sympathetic. It didn’t. This new way of feeling alongside those who are also in pain, just might.

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3 thoughts on “I can’t stand pain.”

  1. dear Kate,

    I found your blog through a comment you left on widows’ voice. I don’t know why, but I was compelled to read each of your posts – twice. I am not here to tell you my story of loss. I am here to say that when you write, your authenticity deeply touches me, that your vulnerability is such a powerful force it is palpable, that over and over, what you relate to with songs, and memories, and emotions keep reverberating in my mind, and that your determination to survive both inspires me, but also calls up the deepest emotions of what I perceive as a long and tortuous time of being knocked down hard and often and wondering if it’s worth it to try to stand up on your hind legs again. maybe I am way off the mark, and if so, I ask your forgiveness of my seemingly impertinent presumptions.

    I can imagine all too well how fucking cancer came like an evil thief, raping and pillaging, and stealing the love of your life. how does one go on having been on that gorgeous, love-swept island of what must have felt so meant to be – love at first sight and all that came with it – it’s safe harbor of sweet and abiding consolation and contentment and all those thousands of extraordinary moments of simple, ordinary days?

    I wish I could go back and leave a comment on each one of these blog posts – maybe I will, maybe I have to do it, to keep telling you over and over how much they mean to me, how they resonate with me and sometimes leave me knackered (I stole that word from a UK widow – so descriptive!) how your raw honesty, your delicious rants, the song lyrics you post, the bits of dark humor I so love, your thoughts about yourself dying, and so. so much more about the love of your husband.

    keep writing, kate, keep writing. with fierceness. what you have to say, and the way you say it, capturing your after life, reflecting on the before with your beloved, and the before the before – all of it with no holds barred. I wish I could write as you do – a seemingly effortless sparing of words that end up really capturing, and cap-TIVATING with so much fluency in your day to day musings, with emotions that need new names In the language of grief widows so need – missing, aching, longing, broken, lost, new normal (GAWD how I despise that one, and have suggested during being half crazed and promising i will set myself on fire if i hear it just one more time, to name it “life reinvented”).

    and oh, how I love zucchini bread! I am a terrible baker, as I find following recipes’ instructions a hindrance to the alchemy of cooking freestyle. I love baked good of all kinds, but get carried away altering, adding, subtracting – can never get it through my thick head that baking is chemistry. you would think at this point I’d get that, yes? anyway, cooking has lost it’s charm in all it’s forms. maybe I shall try baking and obeying it’s mandates – a good, new gig for me. could fit in with “life reinvented”. maybe.

    please know that I am here, that I care, that I am so very sorry for the loss of your dear Husband. I send you my best juju, my biggest hopes for finding your way to wherever you want to be, with much grace, a lot of stamina, and all the resiliency you need. I will be more open about my story but only if/when you want to listen; but i truly understand there are times when one can hardly carry their own pain, and that even though there may be the desire to reach out to others, one can find they simply cannot bear to do so. I wanted this missive to be all about you, all about how much I have been touched to my core about what you have chosen to reveal, and to let you know that I value and have learned so much about myself as I read each entry. we sometimes bandy the word “love”, almost as an afterthought, not realizing, not recognizing it’s power, it’s truth and how much we need it in our lives. but it is with much love I sign off on your site and those of others, unashamed and in my heartfelt sincerity…

    much love,

    Karen (aka,” tc comments2013″ via google, which will lead those looking for me nowhere. I don’t trust the bastards!) but if you google that moniker you will find I pop up on blogs about breast cancer, multiple myeloma, and the widow blogosphere – just a disclaimer to prove I am not a lunatic stalker!

  2. Karen, Welcome to my lair…don’t you just love the word lair? so much more evocative than den, although a lair can have denizens…ok, totally offtopic now.
    Don’t worry. I believe you are not a stalker…well, until I see you following me in Wal-Mart anyway. 🙂 Then…well, maybe I’ll worry.
    It helps that my old normal really wasn’t all that normal to start with, so I fumble around this life only marginally more insane than I was, and mostly people appear to believe I’m functional. Probably a good thing they can’t read my thoughts, right?
    I went with my BF to a trailer supply place to get an adapter for his camper hitch, and the whole time I was there, my brain was 7 years and 1300 miles behind in the camping store where my husband bought a 60 Amp adapter for his camper.
    I’d love to hear more about you. Sometimes I feel like keeping a blog is a somewhat narcissistic exercise by it’s mere nature, but I am *trying* to maintain some kind of discipline in writing, although I’ve never been able to handle daily journals, so it may be somewhat erratic.
    Welcome again, don’t be a stranger!

  3. dear Kate,

    I can relate to your brain being 7 years and 1300 miles behind in the camping store with your husband…it’s often an exercise in futility, that notion of being able to stay in the present when all those reels of the before get switched on.

    thanks for the welcome to your lair, and for your response to my comment . I wouldn’t worry too much about the narcissistic nature of blogging – if it helps you writing it out that’s the bigger deal.

    my husband was dx’d with a rare cancer in 2009. he did very well with 2 stem cell transplants. just as he was recovering from the 2nd SCT, I was dx’d witn ST IV metastatic breast cancer. I believe he willed himself well to be able to see me through the next 10 months of my treatment, and when I was finished, we were both deemed in a very robust remission. in the years leading up to my dx, we perfected living life one day at a time in to an art form. then we upped it to living our life re-invented – got new passport apps, started travelling, and life was so very good. it helped we understood what it was like to be both a cancer patient and a caregiver. we effortlessly swooped in and out of each role and it re-inforced what we’d always been so grateful for – being deeply, madly, wildly in love since we first laid eyes on one another. for nine glorious months we savored every drop of what tasted like sweet honey, often smiling at each other like 2 Cheshire cats, licking our fingers and grinning with languorous abandon. it’s the intimacies, the little things, the coffee we drank while reading the NYT’s in our sun room, the walks we took with our favorite Starbucks treats in hand as we walked in the moonlight with our Sadie-girl dog, bundled up and refusing to be captive to the early fall of darkness, and chatted about what a toothsome dinner we’d make when home called us back. the late autumn passed with more trips to visit kids and grandkids, then a week’s retreat to our favorite place in Newport, RI to celebrate our anniversary. the winter holidays and the shift to spring was a time too precious to waste; so we re-doubled our efforts to live our lives, see far-away friends, and family

    then one early, bright spring morning I awoke and as was my custom, reached over to touch his shoulder and something that felt nearly electric propelled me out of our bed and over to his side. he had no heart beat, no respirations. I called 911, and since my son is a well know detective in the surrounding area, fleets of MIC units and EMTs were lining our street, I was thankful he was not on duty, and the chief and his sargent drove 20 miles north to collect him. we met at the hospital. we were devastated, but as my Love was put into a (redundant) coma and hypothermia, we still held onto hope. but after 24 hours, we knew he was brain dead -so we secured reassurance that the de-venting of life support would include a morphine drip and IV anti-anxiety med for his comfort. I was a hospice nurse for 30 years, so knew that drill well. when they tuned down the ventilator slowly, there were no signs of response, and as I held my hand over his heart, his heart beat dwindled and quit within 15 seconds, he was gone. I whispered softly into his ear, “just go, my Darling, Just fly away.”

    patients having 2 tandem SCT’s are prone to having a secondary cancer – in this case, most likely it was a small, undetected mass, just in a lethal position to fire a few cells and wipe out essential heart/respirations, and turn the brain into a working seizure factory.

    irononic as it was, I had the following entire week of my post treatment BC follow-ups. I wanted to rage and scream and cancel them all, but my poor son just having lost his dad, to whom he was so close, pointed out it would be very hard to re-sched, and we needed to forge ahead to assure I was still in remission. like i gave a rat’s ass. but he accompanied me to every test, every visit that took place in the cancer center just 2 doors down from the cardiac ICU. we slogged up and down every floor to notify the many doctors and nurses, techs, valets, security people, even the janitors Hugh always gave a smiling hello and thanks for their good work. I prayed my results would show dramatic failure on all counts – I really wanted to die. but I remained NED (no evidence of disease) and could only think WTF for?

    then 8 weeks after Hugh’s sudden, unexpected death, I was dx’d with Stage III uterine cancer, having nothing to do with the breast cancer. I would be relieved of all my lady bits and learn a week later the cancer had metasticised to my cervix – cervix was removed then required a vaginal cuff to be constructed, and 7-8 months of grueling treatment, while trying to learn and understand about running a household, financials, the property, the car – all of the business of death. I had many weeks of external radiation to the pelvis, then the hellacios internal radiation where a radioisotope dildo was placed (jammed) into
    my vagina, then the worst chemo I had ever imagined for the next 3 months. luckily, I became so mother-fuckingly angry – it felt like a great relief to be so mad – so much better than sad and scared. and when treatment concluded and some time passed, I had more mammos, mammos with ultrasound, then a PET-scan all came out clean, but I could only feel indifference – cancer had changed to a much paler shade. it was the first time being so ill without Hugh at my side, the worst record in winter history for blizzards, ice storms, snow and power outages – I wondered “what’s next?”: this spring I again went through all the post tx testing/scans, and I am deemed NED for both cancers.

    now I don’t even think about either of those cancers; now I have time at 16 mos. out to grieve the lose of Hugh. I had to make the decision that was best for my mental and emotional well-being as a widow – but of the issues that I am not the person I was after cancer x 2, it seems more urgent to do the work of the grief that entails moving forward and
    learning how to do that with the grief alongside it. I know I have made progress – I just can’t FEEL it, when I can’t ID the trigger and grief sits like a bolder upon my heart, I think it’s so fucking unfair that from the beginning I knew she would be the only guide to take me where I needed to be – but DAMN! – it’s getting harder each time. I raise a big white flag of surrender, but she ignores it. what’s up with THAT???

    I am so exhausted – pie-eyed – I have to go to bed. this was loooong and I did not want to hijack your blog. thank you for listening.

    much love,

    karen

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