Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees…
I have never felt more alone than I have in the last 6 months since Daddy died; the grief is suffocating. Mind you, I have friends and family who check in on me every day, but I can’t kick the perception of being isolated. Most days I don’t want to get out of bed, and more often than not, I stay in bed until I have to clock in for work at 4:45pm. There are hundreds of unanswered texts, emails and voicemails, plans made I don’t have the strength to show up for. Every cell inside of me misses him.
My brain is all over the place. On Sunday November 5th, it was just Daddy and his girls at the hospital. He was intubated, sedated, covered in bruises head to toe, but he was still hanging on.
I feel like a fraud. I keep up appearances for social media, my patient advocacy work, still with my “I got this!” attitude. To be honest, I feel empty inside and the days drag.
In classic Marla fashion, when I was asked a question about my stance on clinical trials while giving a presentation last month, I burst into tears in front of a room of pharma “suits.” I tried to keep it together, be strong and tell them that I still believe in clinical trials. But instead I turned into a teary-eyed, blubbering mess explaining the biggest breakthrough in cancer history failed my father.
Through snorts and tears, my mind went blank, I picked my head up and said “I’m done now.”
Enter slow, awkward clap…
Can’t win them all.
In the week following his death, TV and social media outlets blew up with stories, Podcasts, articles, tweets, commercials, billboards, etc., showing the wonders of CAR-T cell therapy and clinical trials at Penn. Even Mark Zuckerberg found a way to taunt me, as sponsored posts from Penn Medicine and the immunotherapy breakthrough are splashed all over my FB newsfeed every day. My nurse at my first infusion after his funeral was wearing a CART cell clinical trial Penn Medicine t-shirt. Everywhere I turned it was right there, reminding me, haunting me, instilling bitterness, anger, and pushed me down a hole of despair.
Day by day, I’m working on it. Trying to remain present, when all I truly want to do is stay in bed. I’ve missed parties, get togethers, Communions, showers… not having kids certainly makes it easier to be a hermit. I tried an anti-depressant that caused some pretty unbearable adverse reactions, which sent me back a few steps. But with the help of some new techniques with my therapist, warmer weather, flips flops and iced coffee, the days haven’t seemed quite so daunting.
Mother’s Day, one of the most difficult days of the year for me was almost two weeks ago. As I promise every year, you’ll never see the headline “Infertile pediatric nurse jumps to death from roof of Babies ‘R Us!” but I did go radio silent on the social medias for the weekend.
Self-care, my friends.
Thanks for bearing with me. Although the blog has taken a huge hit, I’m still out there raising my voice for patients; I’ve been to several conferences and was featured in one of the local Philadelphia papers last month. The updates I said were coming have taken a back seat to some new health issues that need dealing with.
More to come. I promise.