Life After Emilee Logo | Neal Klein honoring his wife after losing her to pancreatic cancer
Life After Emilee Logo | Neal Klein honoring his wife after losing her to pancreatic cancer
Life After Emilee Logo | Neal Klein honoring his wife after losing her to pancreatic cancer

One Day In Review, Part 2

Inside My Brain, Part 2 (took awhile to edit part 2)

Hi XXXX,

Regarding what others have termed “scanxiety” (fear of upcoming scans to assess cancer progress during treatment and afterward and fear waiting for the results) and much of this a response to someone who said they were going crazy waiting for their scan results:

So many good suggestions here, not sure how much I can add. My mom, has been gone (she is somewhere keeping watch over me, instilling guilt as only some moms can, especially when it has been honed for years and years) since 2001, same cancer as you. Much has changed in the last 16 years, so it may not seem like it, but treatment has advanced as well as outcomes.

My wife had pancreatic cancer. I don’t think I ever truly realized how insane Emilee’s emotions were about upcoming scans, and then the dreaded waiting period afterwards. I was eager to get the results, and she was holding her breath for days. I know there were a lot of “what ifs” going on in her non-stop brain.

So far, I am probably not helping, I don’t know. Her brain was so constantly churning she was often up from about 1 to 4 or 5 in the morning. She kept busy on her kindle, she ran an online tag sale site for the south shore of CT of nearby towns, Branford, Guilford, Madison, etc.

She saw the furniture first, which explains why I was frequently taking drives to pick up things I had no idea where they were going to fit in our house.

Okay, I digress. Maybe on purpose to help distract you for a few moments. We lived in Bronxville for a while, also Merrick on Long Island, which is where my mom had lived, and where I lived from junior and senior high. More digression….lol…has nothing to do with anything. Just a momentary tension reducer.

I met my first wife and my older son and daughter in law in Manhattan on Mother’s day. We went to little Italy. It was a marvelous day, as I had not been able to and my wife and I had not been able to do any traveling, so the invitations stopped over the last two years since Emilee had been diagnosed. They came to us if they could.

I will try to conclude this repeatedly distractitory (I so love making up my own words) comment. Ever meditate? They teach you to allow each thought to pass by you, but do not hold onto it. Constantly, you refocus on something like your breath. Constantly, you let it go.

Each thought is like a log, greet it and send it down stream on the river. Like this post. Return to focus on your breath. Again and again and again. It is an exercise in letting go… of the worry, the panic, the tension, the anxiety. Ativan helps when needed also. No really. Handy to have around.

Back to the meditation. Breathe in joy, breathe out tension. Breathe in compassion for yourself, breathe out fear. I know, easy for me to say.

By now, I sound like a bumbling fool. Yep, sometimes I do feel like a cartoon character. Not sure who. Definitely inspector Clouseau at times. Sometimes Cyrano de Bergerac who is anything but a fool. A master with words and a sword to boot.

He sure could handle a foil….dueling sword. As well as words and language, and poetry. Would compose impromtu, spur of the moment. Like his poem on the proboscus, the nose. You must look it up. It is brilliant. Yes, of course it is a play, so it was scripted. Brilliant still.

Any smirks yet? Maybe these two examples are why French is in my brain these days.

I am done. No, I did not hit the remaining marinol stash in the fridge. It sits and waits for another day, whenever that may be. Forty years ago, however, I had made funny brownies. Unbeknownst to my mother. I had left a few in the freezer. She was hungry one night when I was not home. She sampled. She only had a small piece.

They tasted a little weird. She then proceeded to write a letter to my brother and myself, in case she did not wake up in the morning. I still have the letter. When I told her why she had felt that way……she punched me in the arm…thankfully the arm…. I still remember the shot in the arm.

True story. Smirking yet? One more. Two months ago it was my younger son’s 30th birthday party on Long Island. I went of course, and was offered a hit off a joint after getting back to his home (by a friend of his wife’s that was staying over their house, as I was.)

I actually felt like my mom did, forty something years ago. It was way too intense for me and I did not enjoy it much. I kept seeing all the neurons firing in my brain, and couldn’t decide which thought pathways to focus on, and which to let go.

Yeah, hard to practice meditating and letting go when one is buzzed, but I managed to keep telling myself it was the pot and just go with the flow, and focus on the good thoughts and let the other ones go.

Sometime or other I can distract you with the rest of the story… I also kept forgetting to breathe, or so it felt, and had to remind myself to keep breathing. I think when we get anxious, we tend to shorten our breathing….so when you feel your anxiety going up, check your breathing and spend some time just breathing slow and deep.

Okay then, anything else you need to know???? Someone had to inject some humor here. I nominated me. Hope you don’t mind. Mind? Hope you FOUND some humor here. If I totally bombed, well, then I will say it wasn’t my idea. Denial. Also, a good tool if used with discretionary restraint.

Need some more distractin’? I am your guy. Seriously, hugs and and some deep calming breaths. And sending good vibes your way. If you like to color, coloring books are good. I have about fifty. They are Emilee’s.

And one more thing….about that good cry (too wound up and anxious to let it out)…. when you are finally able to center yourself a bit, you will allow yourself to let out what needs to be let out…I imagine that is quite a bit…music can be extremely helpful…in helping soothe you, and also in helping to allow you to let your emotions flow ….

Music has a very special relationship with me… she somehow is able to go directly to my emotional center…and bypass thought… as a rule I believe our thoughts trigger our emotions, yet with music, she seems to bypass thought and can at time evoke spontaneous tears….joy as well…music is powerfully therapeutic at times… all done now…..Neal

 

I went shopping at Kohl’s for some purple shirts for Advocacy day in Washington D.C.

I did ok. While there, a man who drives a limo for a living, asked if I could show him how to do a double knot. It was a fun interaction and he and his friend were very nice. It took a few times for him to get it, but he did. Quite an icebreaker with someone you do not know.

He asked if I was going on an interview. I explained what I was doing. It was a very nice connection. He said he was sorry to hear about Emilee. He also said, it sounded like a good thing that I was doing. So many people affected by cancer, and this type of cancer takes many people so quickly. I felt like I had known him, or, …like Emilee was present in this interaction and in this shopping excursion.

Neal Klein
Life After Emilee, on the loss of my wife to pancreatic cancer. I’m not accepting comments right now but please feel free to get in touch via my Contact page.

 

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