Last night I dreamt of Manderley again

Last night I dreamed of sitting at a table in a dining area. We were sitting close together once again and I felt him beside me. His presence is huge and undeniable. I could close my eyes and feel him when he was alive.

We sat like we have done for so many years. My shoulder against his. We were one again.

I can’t describe that feeling. It is safety, love, and loyalty. It is comfort. We had the ability to communicate without talking. He saw me. I think I was there for hours and then he said, “It’s time to go.”

I had to check out in this hotel lobby. No one would check me out and the line kept moving. Just when I was getting frustrated, a guide came for me–an older woman that reminded me of my great grandmother Jane. She was very business like and expected me to follow her as we rushed through several rooms and hallways. “You don’t want to be late.”

Of course the dream degenerated to looking for a bathroom. That need was the reason I woke up.

Since I started on this new journey of thyroid cancer, I’ve been dreaming of him and even seeing him in my daily life. Sometimes the people around me will use one of his mannerisms. I will do a double-take and realize it is not him.

The last time I was really sick, I quit dreaming. I think the dreams are a good sign. To me it means that it will be hard, but I will survive.

I have been on the brink of death before. The last time it was a slow descent into sleep. I clawed out of that hole until some doctor could help me to survive. I did it for Otto then. I do it for him now. On his deathbed he needed to hear the promise that I would stay alive until my natural end.

So I accept his comfort in my dreams. It is a precious gift that I dreamt of Otto again.

Grace under pressure

otto-tune
Since I was given my diagnosis of thyroid cancer (papillary thyroid carcinoma) on Tuesday, the stress has been building because I haven’t received any phone calls from the surgeon so that I can get an appointment. It blows my mind that the word “cancer” means something to me, but not to the doctors that should be treating me. Plus with the thyroid out-of-whack, the stress builds quicker and more forcefully.

I was thinking of how I should deal with the doctors when I remembered the few months we dealt with Otto’s diagnosis of cancer. At least in my case, we know where my cancer is located. I became more and more angry and he became more and more polite and kind to the nurses and doctors around him.

It was a scary time. I am now feeling some of the same pressures even though I have been assured by a couple of people including my primary care doctor that this is one of the most survivable cancers. It is also the easiest to treat. Except even with all this going for me, if I am not treated early, I end up like the five percent who don’t survive. What makes me anxious and ultimately angry is that I am seeing no forward momentum in eradicating this problem.

When I go to sleep at night, I feel this huge lump in my throat and I am now sleeping in a reclining position because I can’t swallow well while I am sleeping. Now that I know what is in that lump, I feel it every day. I felt it before, but I thought I could trust the doctors. If I hadn’t pitched a fit about not feeling good– and that I needed to be checked (I went to the ER, I had labs and fecal tests, and I had a sonogram). I would still have this thing in my neck, ready to spew cancer cells to other parts of my body.

It doesn’t help that my thyroid is releasing hormones erratically. It doesn’t help that I feel this lump whenever I swallow. It doesn’t help that I want to scream at someone–

So how did my late-husband stay kind under that kind of pressure. Part of it was that he really cared about my emotional state. He would diminish his pain a little so that I wouldn’t worry as much. Plus he was kind. He really was kind underneath.

I learned a lot of my coping skills from him. He used to tell me that I needed to hold a good memory close so that I could remember it when I was unhappy. Plus I needed to visualize it as clearly as I could. When he was close to dying and needed help to remember his good memory–I recreated the beach for him. I told him about the water washing up onto the sand. About the colorful fishes swimming around his feet. I described the women in bikinis walking hand in hand and splashing water.

I want to borrow his “grace.”