First, my original intention with my post in, oh I don’t know, December was to get back on track from the travesty of 2017. I was going to cut out gluten and get my thyroid fixed and exercise and catch up on blogs and get better at bookkeeping and basically DO ALL THE THINGS. Intentions, amirite? On new year’s, I was toasting with family saying “2018 will be better! No more freak spider bites, no more bronchitis! Just getting healthy! RAWR!” And in all fairness to 2018, I have not gotten bronchitis or any insect bites . . . yet. Instead, a persistent cold became a sinus infection the last couple weeks of December that I powered through at the store, which obviously only made it worse. I spent my entire vacation on my couch sipping cough syrup and alternately complaining my house was either too hot or too cold. By mid-January, I could once again breathe through my nose and began work on the numerous projects I hoped to complete in what is traditionally a slower retail month. Success was slow and stressful, but I was starting to feel like maybe, just maybe, I was back in control.
A week later, my dad and business partner Jason went in for his annual physical, and his primary care found unusual swelling and a possible mass. Naturally, Dr. Google said it was definitely cancer, but the real doctor assured him it was highly unlikely. My family breathed a collective sigh of relief. The doctor scheduled an ultrasound, but the results showed a irregular mass, a mass which could definitely be cancer. Immediately, they had him tested for multiple cancer markers, two of which came back positive and one was inconclusive. Surgery was then scheduled for Monday, February 5th for a biopsy and possible removal. Many of you know my mom passed away when I was in my early 20s, and my dad is the person my brother and I depend on the most. He is our rock and our caregiver, and for the first time, we were faced with the idea that he could be really sick. What would we do? I spent much of the preceding week keeping his spirits up and taking him to appointments, like he has done countless times with me.
I tried to remain positive because the last thing I wanted was for him to realize how scared and stressed I was by his results, not when he was looking down the barrel of the big C. My dad never seems afraid of anything and always relies on his annoying optimism to see him through any ordeal, but now, he was scared. He kept playing over every worst case scenario, including whether he would wake up from the surgery. Suddenly we were discussing wills, DNRs, and funeral preferences when all I wanted to do was scream “You can’t leave us!” When the day of the surgery came, he wavered about even showing up, but he swallowed his fear and endured a long wait in OR prep. When he was finally taken back, we tried to be strong for each other as a family. Fortunately, his surgery was a big success, and the mass was completely benign. He was cancer-free and healthy. Now, he just needed to recover.
The first week post-surgery I knew would be erratic as his operation prevented him from walking, lifting, or moving much. My brother was unable to take time from work, and neither of us wanted to leave him alone during the day, partly because he was on painkillers and partly because the man is as stubborn as the day is long. He simply will not listen to recovery instructions and lives to defy doctor’s orders. As a result, he faced two setbacks, one of which was a mild infection requiring an additional round of antibiotics. Despite much belly aching and moaning about being babied, he is finally doing better, and after three crazy weeks of irregular store hours, we are back to normal today. Dad is able to move by himself and even drive although he is still supposed to be resting for an additional week or two.
However, the three weeks of worrying and being the primary caregiver has taken a physical and emotional toll on me. I have borrowed too many spoons. (If you don’t get the reference, read this amazing analogy on auto-immune and chronic illness.) My thyroid condition was progressing better but has flared recently, and my energy levels are incredibly low. I have used every last bit of myself spending time with him, cheering him up, cooking, cleaning, and generally making sure he is okay. I have nothing left. Yesterday, I closed because I slept twelve hours and couldn’t get out of bed. I was up for two hours and slept another three before going to bed at 10p.m. only to struggle to get up today at 9:30a.m.
I’m not looking for sympathy as I know all of us have gone through these kind of times. I already have an appointment with my doctor to discuss the still lagging energy and hopefully began thyroid medication. What I am looking for is understanding. My purchase orders have been written later than estimated, and without me being here to monitor my vendors, we experienced several delays. I know the hours have been so crazy that some have dropped by only to find a note posted to the door. If your order has not arrived yet, I promise you it has been ordered. It just may have been a few days later. If I haven’t answered an email, trust that I will. For this, I am truly sorry, and I promise I will be mapping out how to catch up on work and resume the exciting projects I have planned. I just need time.
Finally, I want to thank all of the people who have followed our Facebook page and have sent messages of love and support to me and my dad. I read through them this morning and fought the urge to cry at how blessed we are to have you not only as customers but as friends. There were many days in the last three weeks when I was ready to close our doors permanently, where the stress was too much and I was ready to quit. Your ongoing commitment to us and the way your support never wavers is the sole reason we are still open. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.