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Friday, September 18, 2015

Welcome Back, Kotter

When I was a kid I absolutely loved this show. The dude with the "ooh ooh ooh!" raising his hand really tickled me for some reason. And who knew John Travolta's career was soon to skyrocket? Anyway, the idea for this post came about suddenly, and as you might be able to tell, one of my coping mechanisms is humor. For some reason I think of these non sequiturs, I guess to help with the shock and pain that sometimes re-occurs.

I don't mind telling you that this whole thing was a terrifying ordeal. I sometimes find the feelings of loss, sadness, anger, coming back. And they're not really welcome. They just barge in, triggered by things you might, or might not, expect. The good news is I've learned some ways to deal with it. The waves keep coming. And they will always and forever come. I know sometimes the waves will be big, but hopefully they will trend downward in amplitude.

I'm finding that some of the key triggers are the anniversaries (or days spanning) of the bad things that happened. The time I was admitted to the ER and the diagnoses. The kidney surgery and re-starting of dialysis. The stem cell transplant. I think these are all anticipated triggers of my (self-diagnosed) PTSD.

I found out this week, however, that other things can trigger the waves. These re-occurring feelings really do a number on my still-fragile sense of new normal. I found myself re-living the sense of losing control over things, fears for the future, etc. Probably all these things are normal, but it still happens, and there is no short-cutting the getting through it.

I'm still developing ways to cope. One way is to share these things w/ my wife. Another is what I'm doing right now: writing about it. For some reason, writing about these things helps me. It helps me compartmentalize, organize, deal with these feelings in a controlled fashion. I can't deal with these things all at once, it takes me (sometimes) days and weeks to sort it out. I mean to sort out the latest round of waves. I know more are coming, and they could be bigger or smaller; but they will also pass.

It's not easy dealing with these, and I hate that I have to be practiced at it. I find, though, that it is a skill, and it takes work to hone it. It doesn't make the badness go away, of course, but I need some way to deal with it.

I was sort of prepped for a re-living of these bad feelings by the passing of the anniversary of my kidney surgery (Sept 9). The final trigger this week was when I learned that a fellow that works at the same place as me was also diagnosed with MM. I work at a rather large place, and I don't know him, but word got to me about it. I initially wanted to reach out to him and his family (which I have), but in the background quickly all the old, bad feelings swamped me again. Reading his Caring Bridge journal reminded me of all we went through at the beginning.

In the beginning I felt very alone, and I prayed a lot. I mean a lot. For healing, and mostly for hope and strength for me and my family to deal with it. I still pray for that, but now I know and feel more assured about it. I wrote before that my faith is stronger now than it ever was, and allowing His Grace to come close makes a huge difference in my own life. It is a struggle sometimes, but I have to remind myself that I've let Him in, and I have to find Him again. Finding Him seems easier somehow, like He's just a lot closer all the time, sort of "on board" with me always, and not separate from me.

The weekend prior to this, while I was at church on a Saturday evening, I had the notion to find and read the parables about Jesus and the disciples in the boat. I didn't know why, but now after this week I do. I will leave it with this.

Matthew 8:23-27

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”



  1. Dana! This blog is a gift to those of us reading it, and hopefully an invaluable tool for you (ask me how I know!). Keep it up and thank you for sharing your journey with us. Keep on keepin' on - you're doing GREAT. Love to all, Em

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