Listening For The Ocean




I am at the ocean. 
 
It’s been more than a year.
 
Two-and-a-half years ago, I go to the ocean with my new love. Already something seems to be wrong within my body –but I pass it off to a year of hard knocks. Breast cancer surgeries and radiation treatments, grad school study marathons, and my first sessions with clients as a brand-new therapist in practicum.
 
Eighteen months later, I am done with grad school and almost a thousand hours of client sessions. My youngest child graduates from high school. My oldest child navigates a sexist program at their university and a truly evil roommate situation and survives a complete physical breakdown resulting in pneumonia. I fly to California on a rescue mission, Strong Mama. My youngest child fledges to college in California. I graduate with my Masters in Counseling, finish the major renovation of the new house I will share with my beloved. I take and pass the National Counseling Exam and am at a standstill until I am licensed.
 
We go to the ocean. My love sits with me at the edge of the water and holds me as I realize this thing I have in my body isn’t just stress. 
 
Back in Austin, I begin work seeing clients as a post-graduate. Before my eyes, my body --once supple and strong—changes. Thickens. Sits awash in pain that I can’t seem to describe. I lose my decade-old daily yoga practice, pose by pose.
 
I do the round of doctors, including the rheumatologist who prescribes a drug that I have taken before that resulted in a 30-pound weight gain and the feeling of having had a lobotomy. She assures me it can’t have been the medicine. We enter into lockdown for the pandemic. My life shrinks to working from home –no live music, no walks around Town Lake, no dinner parties. At night, I sit on the porch, drinking first wine and then hard liquor because only that seems to dull the pain. 
 
My body continues to change, now the arthritis moves into my feet and hands. I can no longer walk with my love as he walks our dogs around the block. I gain 30 pounds which causes me more shame than is reasonable. I feel like I have had a lobotomy, but not only because I have brain fog. I honestly can’t feel much of anything, good OR bad. I wean off the medicine. I stop drinking.
 
Now, we are at the ocean. On the first day, I hobble down the beach with the support of my beloved. I am inconsolable as I do the chronology of this disease and contemplate that by next year, I may not be able to walk down the beach at all. I want to feel like I can come back from this; that I can launch a new effort and beat this thing and rise like a phoenix from the ashes. I have done this before, I reason. 
 
But this time I do not have hope. Something is eating me from the inside, slowly. It’s worse than breast cancer which was cut out of me and done with. This feels like the blight on the roses, it creeps forward, inch-by-inch, and leaves waste in its wake. I cannot hear what I should do nor what lesson I am to take from this journey.
 
I come to the ocean for it to whisper what I need to hear. 
 
I am listening.


(Please note: I don't need medical advice, but thank you for loving me.)

Comments

ccr in MA said…
Oh, Barb, I am so very sorry. I will be thinking of you.
Kim said…
I love you, Barb.
Elaine said…
Beautifully tragic ❤️ Tragically beautiful
Real life is real. Much love to you on this beach.
Oh, Barb!💔 Heartbreaking and beautifully written.
Ann said…
You have already done the big, hard steps--you stopped drinking and weaned yourself off the medicine. Well done. Find a new doctor, one that will listen to you and whose response shows you clearly that you have been heard. Run, run, run from any doctor who assures you that symptoms cannot be from prescription medicine. You may have to go to many doctors to get listened to and treated. Keep going, though, because you have learned after years of yoga and self-reflection to listen to your inner voice. That voice is telling you what you need to know, so honor it.

You are strong and knowing and our medical system best supports itself at the expense of the patients, especially for diagnoses that are not immediately apparent. Listen to your inner voice when making decisions. You are the support of your beloved and your daughters. Lean on them to help you make decisions and when you are feeling weary. You can do this--fight again.
Ann said…
Auto correct drives me nuts. Second paragraph sentence should have read:

You HAVE the support of your beloved and your daughter.
Cheryl Backes said…
Barb, I feel your pain and concern. Please reach out to me; I may have some ideas that will help your body start healing. You have been through so much. Cheryl
Sending lots of love and strength. I hate the pain, frustration, depression and fear you are feeling.
Traci said…
Love you, Barb.
chrisal said…
I hope you find some answers soon. Many hugs to you.
Erin said…
So much love to you.
Erin C. said…
Barb I am so sorry to read about the pain you have been experiencing for so long. I really hope it passes on and you can get back to feeling like yourself again soon. Hang in there.
Sitting in it, with it is so wise. The wisdom of your body is with you. All my love.
psam ordener said…
I am so sorry to hear this. Praying for you to find knowledge and the solution you need.
cyclemama said…
I will add you to my list of people for whom I pray. Xoxo
Lana said…
Your story touched my heart and soul. Life can be so challenging. We all have so many ups and downs. Some of us more than others. Life is definitely a learning experience. I think that is why we are all here. To live, love, and learn through this earthly experience. I truly believe the great reward awaits us on the other side. I hope you can find some peace each day. The ocean sounds like a great place to be.
Anonymous said…
You are one of the strongest people I know. You have been through so much, yet only deserve happiness. I believe you will get through this. I want to help you if I can. If love helps, you have a ton!!! xoxoxo
Laura Bettor said…
You are one of the strongest people I know. You have been through so much, yet only deserve happiness. I believe you will get through this. I want to help you if I can. If love helps, you have a ton!! xoxoxo
Rosie C said…
I am grateful that you wrote this. It's been almost 2 years since my breast cancer was cut out of me, my doctor did warn that the aromatase inhibitor could cause me pain, and it does (do not want to stop it) but I was not prepared for the lack of emotional feeling I have. You describe what I have been experiencing. I look forward to recovery too.
Rosie