I've been up all night hacking with a cough that won't let me sleep solidly through the night. And it is these times, the early morning hours when nothing can settle me back in that I am forced into the reminder of the toughest early morning hours throughout my life.
I've been having a lot of nightmares this week because of this.
I have to settle back and remind myself that life has changed. Sick Leah is no more. But my subconscious is playing in the background while my body is fighting this really super un-fun bug.
When you've spent as much time as I have in life not having a 'well body' it takes some doing to just know fully that all will be alright and somehow the immune system will do it's job.
Others in healthy bodies just don't take the time to contemplate or easily realize what that's like. When I meet young people struggling with the after affects of cancer- not the disease itself- but the constant visits to the doctor to fix another part that's wrong... they have shared with me the things that bug them.
The comments and the 'sound advice' that others lob on them are exactly the same things others have said to me for years.
"Can't you just find another doctor?"
"But aren't you done with all this?"
"You really should try doing more positive thinking..."
I knew Patrick was the man for me the first weekend I visited him in Queens when I got sick. All the sudden dizzy nauseous. And not a drink on me. I was terrified to be sick (any kind of sick) in front of someone I was dating. I had too many occasions of episodic dating that ended badly because of this. Pre-cancer and pre-advocate days, I had learned in some ways to hide my ill self from any guy I dated.
It was miraculous to me that night...Patrick seemed unfazed. He simply cuddled beside me on the couch and sat with me - no judgement, no prying laundry list of questions. He just held my hand. I had never, in all my life, known this kind of feeling.
A few months after this I learned what it was to play the other side of that role. While in Rochester readying for a reading he did at Geva he developed a horrible virus that sent him to urgent care. We spent our long weekend together on the couch...and I nursed him with herbs and potions I'd dabbled with through the years from the 'help-me-I'm sick' section of Lori's Natural Foods. He made it through his reading and collapsed back on the couch with me afterwards.
I realized for the first time the reciprocity of caregiving...and the importance of a lack of judgement. To just be there...and to be present.
Last night when I was just feeling awful it was his voice on the other end of the line soothing me. Wishing he were there in person but doing everything he could to make me smile. Because of his work we spend a lot of time apart, but he is still my guardian and caregiver from afar. He sings anything I request. Lullabyes seem cheesy I know but they have been a cornerstone in a long distance relationship that works.
I never realized how good it would feel to be 'looked after'.
Someone to watch over me.
And guess what?
Exactly a year from today I'm going to marry this guy.