If you will remember, I promised a post from one of my sisters, the other half of my “cancer-butt-kicking-staying-happy team.” It was worth the wait.
Just like all of you, I am one of Lindsey’s longtime faithful readers. Just like you, I continue to marvel at Lindsey’s writing, her amazing voice, her strength and courage in sharing such personal thoughts, and her ability to cut through all the fluff and fog of cancer treatment and clearly focus on one theme or topic to share. And just like you, for the past three years I’ve been trying to do everything possible I can think of to help. Because feeling helpless simply sucks.
Who am I? I am Lindsey’s younger, though middle-of-the-family, sister. I am The Pillow Engineer. I am Nurse Sara. I am most recently a graduate student in a new city 500 miles away from my patient/sister/friend.
I should have written this post immediately after moving (like I meant to), before I was sucked into my new, busy life up here (like I knew I would be). All in all, I’m impressed with how well I’ve managed this transition from my former, pretty selfless life of being Nurse Sara, wrapped up in everyone’s health, to this fairly selfish and Sara-centric life as a graduate student working to get started on a career.
It has been pretty easy to not feel like I was missing anything big–Lindsey has been feeling really good lately. Well, until now. Tomorrow morning Lindsey has a procedure (to hopefully clear up the lung fluid issue she has been dealing with since her surgery in February) and a short hospital stay after. And I won’t be there. Instead, I’m flying down this weekend to play Nurse Sara again for a few short days.
I know I’ve been blessed to have been near Lindsey for the past three years. I was in LA with her when she was diagnosed and, though I felt helpless and had no idea what to think or do, I knew I had to find some small way of showing love and support. The day after she was diagnosed I met Lindsey on campus and loaned her a plush white blood cell (I believe it’s helped raise her neutrophil counts at times!) and gave her a limerick I wrote:
I know a girl with a naughty pancreas
Whose liver is causing quite the fuss
She is my sister
(I’m glad not a mister)
And having her nearby is lately a plus
Since then, I’ve continued to try to show love and support whenever and however I could. Usually it was little things and never really felt like enough, so I was more than ready to spring into action after Lindsey’s surgery in February. I already had experience being Nurse Sara after my dad’s accident last year, so I was almost excited at the prospect of being able to help out in such a tangible way. And though it has been painful to see Lindsey in discomfort, nauseous, fatigued, and acting and feeling more like a cancer patient than she has for the past couple years, I’ve also been able to enjoy her company pretty much nonstop for the past several months. Now we are closer than ever (and we were already pretty darn close) and all of those Nurse Sara moments, no matter how small, made me feel like a useful and an active participant in this fight.
Unfortunately now Nurse Sara can’t do as much 500 miles away, though I still try to keep myself in the loop as much as possible. But all those tangible things I did—driving Lindsey around, scheduling appointments, running errands, cooking meals, connecting/disconnecting the TPN—are now being done by my parents or Lindsey herself, so it’s been hard since moving away for me to not feel like I have increased the burden on everyone I left at home. I suppose I should be grateful that I was able to lift part of the burden off of everyone for the past couple of years, but now I am finding it rather difficult to come up with new ways for me to feel less helpless.
I’m still fighting a bill battle for Lindsey (well really as Lindsey, but that’s a whole other story). I’m contemplating being the Pillow Engineer again. But all that just seems small in the face of what I used to do. That being said, it has been comforting with all the major life changes to know that all my alter egos are still there if I need them. In fact, Nurse Sara came in handy when a new friend drank too much on an empty stomach. Since vomiting does not faze me one bit now (Thanks to Lindsey for that?), I was more than happy to keep her company and get her water until the nausea passed. It strangely made me feel closer to home.
I guess overall I just feel incredibly lucky to have been able to help so much lately. And I am very much ready to put on my nurse hat again, even if only for a few days. It will be really good to feel useful again. It will be even better to hang out with Lindsey.