Friday, October 24, 2008

Sweating the Small Stuff

Strange. The small things have started to bug me. I don’t get it. It isn’t my small things that bug me, though. It is other people’s small things. And it isn’t exactly their small things, but rather their irritation with small things that bugs me. Because I want to scream and shout that they have it made, so shut the eff up, cut me some slack, and grin and bear it. But the truth is, I don’t know that they have it made. They could be hurting inside the same as I am. They could have suffered a loss recently that puts them over the edge. I don’t know.

Brian’s little brother, Michael and his pregnant wife, Jen, came into town Wednesday. Thursday, as a group, we all went to lunch – those of us that weren’t in school anyway. About ½ hour into lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, Brian was overcome with an excruciating headache – an occurrence that comes more frequently these days. The headaches come on quickly and can leave just as suddenly. Sometimes they last for ½ hour, other times they plague him for over 3 hours. They are debilitating. They render him unable to cope, to speak, to think and to do just about anything. We are trying everything. The pain seems to be centered more around his eyes – like a sinus headache. We are trying Tylenol, Sudafed, Alka Seltzer cold and Sinus, Nasacort, anti-biotics, extra steroids, and occasionally even Vicodin. The pain is that bad. I have been on the phone with the doctor several times in the last few days trying to determine how to best handle this. I have been to the pharmacy several times picking up different prescriptions and over the counter remedies. I can’t bear to see Brian in such pain.

Speaking of pharmacies and the small things frustrating me I was at our CVS twice yesterday to pick up a prescription the doctors office called in for us only to be told it wasn’t there the first time. After several phone calls, we determined that it was in fact there the entire time. I don’t understand this. And what gets me more is the pharmacy’s lack of assistance. No one offers to call and help determine what is the problem anymore. No one puts forth any extra effort to simply ease the confusion and chaos. It all falls right back on us. It gets old.

Brian’s increased headaches have us very concerned, obviously. We want to control his pain. The oncologist thought the neuro-surgeon would call us yesterday. Rather, the neuro-surgeon’s office made an appointment for a consultation for NEXT THURSDAY. This is beyond unacceptable. The tumor grew 24% in 3 weeks. By the time we would go next THURSDAY, it will have been 2-1/2 weeks since the LAST MRI again. By the time they did anything, it would be the following week and then 3 weeks since the last MRI. And I would call and fight this (again) if we were seriously thinking about surgery. But, I think Brian is done with surgery. He doesn’t want to go through it again. I respect that and honestly, I agree.

Brian has an oncologist appointment on Monday. It was a planned appointment from the last chemo, so we will discuss with him what other chemo we may try next, if Brian wants to do that. Honestly, I can’t tell what he wants to do. Some days I think he just wants to pass peacefully and other days I think he wants to stay and fight. Actually, scratch that, some MOMENTS I think he wants to pass peacefully, and other MOMENTS I think he wants to stay and fight. While my heart is breaking into a million pieces each day, I support him no matter what.

I have spoken with just about everyone that I think is involved in the children’s lives – teachers, church leaders, coaches, bus drivers, their friends’ parents – to give them awareness, to implore their sensitivity and to ensure they help us identify any troubling behavior or emotions. I want to help the kids, but since they spend so much time in other settings these days, I need help. Also, I think it is very important for others to be aware to help watch over my boys. I am doing what I feel is best, but every day I question myself.

This morning, Gavin acted out in a way that I have never seen before. He literally stamped his foot, screamed NO repeatedly at me and almost hit me. He is 7 and this behavior is beyond inappropriate. We have been very bad about sitting down for any sort of an organized family meal these days due to our schedules and our in and out company. The fight was over what he was eating for breakfast. I didn’t feel I was being unreasonable. It was so hard because my punishment for him as his behavior escalated was to take away the Wii we are borrowing for another day. I really thought this would work. We got up to my taking it away for the weekend and his behavior did not change. I didn’t know what to do. By the end of the brawl, I sat down at the table and cried quietly to Brian because I don’t want him to lose the Wii. I want him to have fun with his cousins and aunts and uncles this weekend. I want this to be memorable for all of us. I immediately regretted it, but I also know the importance of follow through. I also know that my boys are tired and sad. They see my cry a lot. They have to be somewhat scared. They are not getting to bed at normal times and it is my fault. Our routine is out of whack. I need to cut them some slack and HELP them vent their emotions in a more appropriate, healthy manner. So, begrudgingly, I spoke with Gavin on the way to the bus stop when we had both calmed down and explained that his behavior was unacceptable. If he is tired or sad or mad, there are better ways to handle it than to be mean to people. But, you know what? They probably are mad at me and Brian. Seriously. Their mom cries a lot. Their Daddy is sick. They are getting off the bus at other people’s houses here and there. They have to be confused and frustrated. I didn’t even go over Gavin’s spelling words this morning. He has a test today. I feel like I fail them a bit more each day and things aren’t even that bad yet.

Yesterday in Wal-mart, I was picking up a few things for the shower this weekend. As I was checking out behind slow, crazy cat-lady with cases of cat food and cases of Kit Kats and stuff under her coat it looked like she was trying to hide, etc, I found myself a bit frustrated at her lack of organization and her lengthy check out. Oh well, I thought, more time with just me and Gavin – trying to be more half full. I bought some ribbon for a shower centerpiece. The ribbon ended up being priced per yard and not per roll, so I had to go back and get different ribbon. I explained that I would be right back and Gavin and I ran back to get the ribbon and ran back to the check out. When I got to the checkout, the cashier had obviously thought I would be a while and had moved all my things off the belt into a cart instead of checking them through. If he had checked them through, I would have been back about the time he was finishing up. Honestly, the entire process probably took me about a minute and 45 seconds, IF THAT. When I got back the guy looked surprised to see me, got the cart and started checking me out again. I looked at the lady behind me, obviously frustrated by her glaring stare, and said, “sorry about that.” She said, “For future reference, next time, you should continue checking out with what you have then, go back into the store to get what you forgot and check out again. That’s what I have done in the past.” I said, “Oh. Sorry again. I wasn’t gone that long.” She said, “There has already been a person that got out of line because of you.” I looked at her and said, “You know what, Mam, I am having a really bad day. I’m sorry I inconvenienced someone for 90 seconds today, but I need some slack. Thanks.” I could feel her glares. I could feel my emotions swelling in my throat. I went to the bags and started loading them in my cart to get away from her. I came back to pay (all about 4-6 feet from the cart and loading area) and she said, “Your day is going to get a lot worse if you leave your wallet unattended like that again.” I was standing 4 effing feet away from my wallet and was simply trying to get my bags into the cart faster to help ease her apparent time constraints. I looked her square in the eye, began to tear up, and said, “It can’t get much than watching my husband die from cancer in front of my eyes each day.” She said, “Oh really, I am sorry,” and she shut up. Gavin looked at me and said, “Mommy, why are you crying? Is it Daddy? Is Daddy going to die while we are at the store? Do we need to get home right now?” I grabbed my receipt, whispered to Gavin that mommy was sorry he had to see her like that, and that Daddy would be fine when we got home and high-tailed it out of there while the cashier compassionately wished me a much better rest of my day.

I felt like an idiot. I trembled the whole way home. I felt like I failed Gavin. I failed myself. I failed Brian. Brian would have reprimanded me if he had seen me behave that way. People are ignorant. We are all selfish and none of us want to be inconvenienced in this day and age. I need to remember that.

I guess my point is that we need to give each other a break. It may be just kind of a crazy, unorganized cat-lady in front of us checking out slowly, but it may be more. It may be someone hurting inside. It may be someone that has a lot on their minds that simply can’t keep their thoughts straight and should have made a better list, but it may be more. It may be that someone forgot something very important and adding 10 minutes onto their grocery trip to wait in line and check out again means 10 less minutes with someone they have limited time with. It may be that little boy in front of you is hiding a fear of losing his daddy behind that big smile and devilish grin. It may be that 5-year-old acting inappropriately for his age is simply trying to figure out how to vent his confusing emotions of pain, fear, anger, sadness and loss and doesn’t know how to do it.

Let’s all give each other some slack.



  1. Great post, Angie. Thank you for reminding me to not just consider the outward circumstances in every situation...there could be more.

    I'm praying for you guys.....

    Have a nice weekend together...

  2. i have just had way to big of a morning to not read that and start bawling!!!

    ...praying for this specific part in gavin's life. and of course all of you!

  3. Wonderful post- but also I read this, It seems you are "beating yourself up" inside about trying to make things alright for your children. This is a difficult time for all so....give yourself a break and cut yourself some slack! Nobody is perfect.

  4. Oh sweetie.. I'm so sorry for the time you are having right now.

    Beautiful post, thank you for reminding me to chill a bit and give people a break. I find myself being upset at OTHERS that don't give people a break..follow me?

    Yeah.. take care of yourself, the boys and guys are top priority.. the rest of your family will don't need to be the entertainer..

    My prayers continue to be with you all.

  5. Oh Angie
    I'm in tears reading your post how sad you must feel. I know that you a one strong lady please that I truly feel for you and your family. I wish I could snap my fingers and be there to help you. You can have the tears cause that is what is getting you through this awful time in your life. thinking of you all the time

    Carol from Spruce |Grove Alberta

  6. Amen, Angie on that last part. I've been reading another blog by a lady who lost her daughter and described crying at the grocery store and being lost in traffic. Ever since, I've definitely showed more compassion to people I run into that irritate me. What's their story? Are they suffering a loss or trauma, and do I really want to be judging them and making their problems worse because I was mildly inconvenienced? We could all stand to have a little more compassion and understanding. You continue to be in our prayers.

  7. My heart just breaks for you, Angie. As a wife, as a Mom and just as a person - for all you're going through. You are facing so much right now. I think you're handling things the best you can with the boys - honesty really is best. We all have our weak moments in front of people who just aren't nice. I think they lady deserved to know how much her meanness affected someone who was just needing a little extra slack that day. Maybe it'll make a difference for someone else!
    Love & Prayers!

  8. I love you, Angie. There are no standards for failure in this unimaginable situation. You are doing everything you can in the best way you can.

  9. So, my impulse to punch her would be bad? UGH.

    You did good not to punch her.

    I really hope you are cutting yourself some slack here too...

  10. Angie - don't beat yourself up about other people's ignorance. I probably would have reacted the very same way. That you tube video that you posted recently (Get Service) was hugley eye opening for me and my family that things that irritate us about people can often have a deeper reason for the actions/behavior if we just knew the person or cut them a little slack. Hopefully people who read your posts will take what you wrote about today and give someone else the slack they need, even though you didn't get it when you needed it.

    My heart hurts so much for you, Angie, and I am truly amazed each time I read your blog how you process your thoughts and over the strength and determination that you have. Keep leaning on God and asking Him to help you through this time, I am sure it must be very difficult to keep your faith strong, but always remember that is exactly what Satan wants, don't let him get a stronghold on you or your boys. Keep believing, Angie, God will take care of you guys.

  11. Oh Angie, I am so sorry you are going through this. I think about the dumb little pet peeves I blog about, then I think of what friends like you are going through, and I am truly humbled. Thanks for reminding me that people around me might be in pain, even if I can't see it.

    When my mom died at age 46, I would get so frustrated with my friends and the petty crap that consumed them. Parties? Guys? Which jeans to wear? Hello! How about NO MOM? It was hard for me not to judge them, but at the same time I wanted people to act normal around me.

    Please don't beat yourself about how the kids are doing. I am CONFIDENT they will make it through. You and Brian have been loving-on them for so long and so well. They know they are loved.

  12. Man Angie, I'm with Texas Holly! Punching-bad, telling off a ignorant woman-good!

    Hang in there. I am sure that your whole world seems to be just shy of upside down most days.

    Just know that there really are people out there who are praying for ALL of you.

    And if it makes you feel any better, after Chet's surgery, I totally told off the Walmart Pharmacy people because they too had obviously no idea what I had just been through. You are not a failure. You are cooping, and that is what you are supposed to be doing.

    Hang in there....

  13. Right now, you and your husband and your children are all living from moment to moment. There is much anger, sorrow, and grief already being processed by all of you. This is not a good time for any of you and there is no way around it. You all just have to endure through it--and you will. Any time a child's world is turned upside down, they are going to be angry. There is not much you can do in addition to what you are already doing.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It makes us realize that there is much need for kindness in the world today. The natural man/woman inside each of us is selfish, and everyday of our lives we must get up and decide to put those natural inclinations aside. Instead of thinking only of our needs, our time, and our problems, we must look outside ourselves.

    We need to have stories like yours to help us renew our desire to become compassionate, caring individuals. May we look to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and become more like Him in our everyday lives.

  14. I am fast and loose with slack. Probably because I need so much myself.

  15. I think you need a huge (((((hug)))))) and I can't make it better, but I can carry you in prayer.

    I love you and I'm so sorry. I have no words, I'm just so sorry.


  16. You flipped it on me there at the end. I was thinking she should cut you some slack. What's the big deal about expecting convienience all the time? Why couldn't she just show a little grace?

    Grieving Angel, I lost all empathy for anyone who wasn't walking the exact same journey I was on. Nobody's problems were as bad as mine. I did flare up at people in public. I did lash out. And you know what? They survived. I wasn't an idiot. And neither are you. I was human. I don't think you failed anyone on this day.

    There are no rules for your journey.

  17. Great post. And you know what? You probably did that lady a HUGE favor. I bet she won't be so snippy with someone else next time. We all need to be reminded once in a while to show some compassion and patience. HUGS to you and yours. I'm just over in my little corner of the world praying for a miracle for you.

  18. Dear Angie,
    I think it is okay to miss spelling words for one day. I miss it all the time and I don't have a tenth of the junk in my life that you do. And, sounds like you handled the behavior thing with Gavin well. And, for the record, when I end up doling out a punishment I regret and don't want to enforce, I *sometimes* give them the option to earn the thing back that I took away. But it's not easy... like, many many extra chores, or skip allowance, or whatever. I always tell them, though, that I decide, not them, if they can earn it back. It's just an idea.

    And as for that lady, she needed to be put in her place. She needed to hear that other people ARE concerned about things other than their line placement at Wal-Mart. She needed to know that she should practice forgiveness.

    Again, I can't pretend to know what you're going through or how to help. Just know that we love you and we're praying for you, Brian, Gavin, and Grant.

  19. Maybe you and Brian should talk about taking the kids out of school and everything else for a while and spending some time together.

    When my mom was dying of cancer that is what I did with my kids and I have never regretted it. We get so caught up in our lives we don't realize that we don't actually HAVE to do any of it. It will be waiting when we're ready for it.

    The pharmacy story makes me so sad. I work for CVS and if you were at my store I would have handled the whole thing for you--I do it all the time. Maybe you should ask for a consult with a pain specialist.

    If you weren't looking for advice, I apologize. Just know there is no "right" way to do any of this--there is just the way it is. You personify grace even when you don't think you do.

  20. Something my oldest son has taught me is to know that what is visible on the outside is almost always different from what's going on inside. It's a lesson I have to relearn every day and I'm grateful for the lesson. I'm so sorry that woman at Walmart gave you such a hard time, and that the pharmacy is such a PITA. I wish there was something I could do, but my prayers are there. Hard, deep prayers.

  21. Great post, and a great reminder. Please don't beat yourself up, you are doing the best you can under extremely difficult circumstances. That lady really needed that. Maybe she'll think a little next time before making a judgement. I know I definitely will. thanks!

  22. Great post and even greater reminder, Angie. Sometimes all the small things culminate into one big thing and it's easy to lose perspective on it all!

  23. It's true, we have no idea what others are going through.
    Don't beat yourself up about your reaction, the lady will probably think twice about being unkind to the next person because of you.
    I used to get angry at people who drove like idiots. and then I rode with my step dad through the busy streets of Phoenix Arizona. He's the sweetest man there is, but he drives like a distracted old guy. So now when there's someone doing something really off the wall, I pretend it's him and it makes me smile.
    Bless you and your family!

  24. I've been following along, and thought I would just let you know that your family is in my thoughts and prayers. Your reminder is a good one. Cut others slack, and keep in mind that you don't know what is going on in others people's lives. And, as someone who is caring for their elderly mother, I'd like to add that any day that is normal, where there is no emergency, nothing out of the ordinary happening, is a great day in my book. I long to slow down the days and savor each one. Blessings and luck to you and yours.

  25. Thank you for the reminder to have more compassion for people, particularly over little stuff. You should cut yourself some slack. I think you acted much politer than most would in your situation.

    Praying in Ohio

  26. Oh sweetie!!! How I wish I could take all this away for you guys...this SUCKS!!! know how much I want to deck that snotty lady at Wally World...but you probably really made her stop and think about how blessed her own life is...
    Call me Monday...I want to bring over treats this laundry...clean out your fridg...change sheets...rake leaves...whatever!!!
    Love you all,

  27. I completely agree. My Dad has a terrible habit of saying things about people as we pass them (we were at an amusement park on saturday so it was lot worse than normal) and I told him that we could make or break a day. You are right. You just never know what someone is going through. Thanks Angie

  28. Grocery lines seem to show a person real character dont' they? What was that lady's problem?
    I am so sorry she was such a jerk. But, I bet she will NEVER cross that line again. I hope she couldn't sleep that night.
    I know I should give HER some slack here, but I can't; I'm pretty agitated by her rudeness.
    I said a few special prayers for you and your family at Mass yesterday. Now I better pray for that woman before I lose my senses.
    God bless you.