As you know from my other posts and my communication book, I believe in the benefits of focusing on positive thoughts and not giving a fear permanent home in our heads.  I’ve put in overtime practicing this during the past year while my husband Doug has been sick with penile cancer, but holy moly, when it comes to money I struggle! 

Last week, Doug and I faced the reality that he could no longer work.  His cancer treatments and complications had taken a toll on his body and mind and it just wasn’t realistic to expect him to focus on complicated IT work and heal at the same time.  Once we’d made the decision for him to take an extended leave from work he sank into his recliner, closed his eyes and said, “I actually have hope now.”  

I was certain it was the right decision but I also felt twinges of panic deep in my belly, wondering how we’d make it without his income.  The next day I helped Doug complete applications for various benefits, like long-term disability, and wracked my brain searching for additional resources that I might be forgetting.  I held myself together, more or less, for a few days...until…a man at Social Security told me that there was a five-month waiting period and Doug had earned too much for any of his year-long illness to count toward that.  That’s when Annie lost it. 

This week's blog is brought to you by my amazing, powerful, gentle, wise husband, Doug Wilson.  As we continue to walk through the cancer jungle together, we do our best to allow ourselves to feel emotions as they come.  This brings us even closer to each other and it makes room for use to feel together - not only painful emotions but also the good stuff, like love, relief and ease.

As I think about the next segment of our penile cancer story, I’m struck by the fact that the last two posts occurred within the same day, and that was in October of last year! And we’re still in the thick of it.

“My husband is in our car outside. He’s bleeding and I need a wheel chair.”  To the registration staff my voice may have sounded clear and calm, but inside I was screaming, Somebody do something, now!

The young woman at the registration desk quickly handed me a piece of paper and said, “Sign this.  We’ve already filled it out for you so you can bring your husband right in.  There’s a wheel chair right behind you.  Do you need help?”  Thank God for Benefis Health System, I thought.  I had called them not more than 10 minutes before arriving in their emergency department, and here they were, jam packed with patients and also ready for us.

After the initial shock and fear had waned, Doug and I decided to expect the best and focus our attention on practical things, things we could control, like asking his parents to watch Kára, our mini-pinscher, and rearranging work schedules for Friday’s biopsy. 

What we have here is known as ‘The Shits.’  And that’s how my dear, sweet husband, Doug, and I learned that the cancer had spread to his lung.  Doug’s oncologist does a good job of adding levity to moments like this and we all laughed after he’d said it, but we all knew The Shits was very, very bad news.

Why is communication so hard?!?  Most of us have wanted to shout that from the rooftops at least once in our lives.  I know I have, and effective communication is my area of expertise! 
When communication seems hard, it is because we are focusing on what's outside of ourselves. Either we try to memorize personality types, body language tips and role playing scripts, or we spend hours analyzing our own and other people's words & actions, trying to predict what will happen.  How exhausting - and confusing!