Thursday, March 31, 2016

Depression

Dear friends and family,

I guess I haven't posted in awhile because ever since my last scan, where I learned that I still have lots of cancer inside me and must continue chemo indefinitely, I have been pretty depressed.  I have experienced depression a few other times in my life, but this bout has been kind of tough to shake.  

There is a new normal I must get used to--chemo every 28 days for perhaps the rest of my life.  I fix on every word and nuance in what my oncologist tells me and it seems the word "remission" is being replaced by words like "maintenance" and "stable disease."  Not what we've been hoping for, praying for, and looking forward to while enduring the past five months of chemo.

Another reason for the depression has to do with no longer working at a time in life when Steve works so many long days and nights.  When the kids are busy, as they increasingly are with their work and dating lives, and Steve working 11-hour days, I spend a lot of time alone.  Most of my friends work during the day and have spouses and kids to attend to in the evenings.  I miss my volunteer work at Children's, which I can't do with a lowered immune system, and I have missed a couple of weeks watching Jericho due to my or his health being a risk for one or the other of us.

And a final source of my depression comes, I assume, from a chronic pain I have had in my lower right back/hip area for the past four months.  Day after day and hour after hour of low grade (and sometimes very high grade) pain can wear a person down!  I have been waiting, impatiently, for my insurance to approve a couple of steroid shots they want to put in the painful spots to quiet down the inflammation.

All in all, I think it's time to call my therapist for a "tune-up," as she and I like to call our occasional visits.  Hopefully, talking all this through with a neutral third party, who, lucky for me, is one of the best therapists on the planet, should help me.  

I don't like depression anytime, but especially not in the spring, when it's sunny and unseasonably warm in Seattle, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, and our tulips have popped up their jewel-toned heads.  And I especially don't like it because with a probable shortened life-expectancy, I can't stand the thought of wasting any days at all moping around, feeling sorry for myself, and accomplishing nothing!

Here's what I know for sure, and I read it again today in Psalm 34:18:  "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."  Though depressed of late, I am still keenly aware of God's presence and love in even the darkest of days, and I have great hope that "this too shall pass." 

Another thing I know for sure is that people care deeply for my family and me.  We have had a steady stream of the most delicious meals coming our way over the past couple of months, along with surprise spring bouquets appearing on our porch and cheerful cards in the mail.  It truly makes me smile to know that God hears my name perhaps hundreds of time each week through the prayers of my family and friends.

And lastly, do not fear, I plan to get out of this funk soon!  Frederick Buechner says "One life on this earth is all that we get, whether it is enough or not enough, and the obvious conclusion would seem to be that at the very least, we are fools if we do not live it as fully and bravely and beautifully as we can."  

Please pray with me that this depression will lift quickly so I can get back to the business of living each day as fully, bravely, and beautifully as I can.

Love,
Gabrielle

P.S.  I was blessed with a wonderful trip to a health spa in Mexico in March with Steve and Daniel, before the funk set in--where I met some amazing people and Daniel and I were the undefeated doubles pickle ball champions!!  Below are a few pictures for you!
Renee and Gabrielle seeing UW cherry blossoms!
Jericho and me, just hanging out.
Steve and me, at a rest stop while hiking at Rancho la Puerta, Mexico.
Daniel and I took cooking class in Mexico.  We made marinated grilled octopus with apple/grape salsa!

There are hammocks all over Rancho la Puerta, and after working out so hard, they are mighty tempting.

Also tempting are post-lunch naps in the cabanas by the pool!

Daniel and Steve on a hike we did in the mountains separating Mexico and the U.S.

Blurry photo of me, but showing you the dining hall at Rancho la Puerta, where we ate 10 days of fish, legumes, organic veggies and fruits!

Those of you who know me know that I am NOT a morning person.  But why didn't someone tell me that if you arise at 5:45 AM to hike, you get to see this?!

Daniel, posing by some flowers, which attract bees to the many acres of organic gardens at Rancho la Puerta!