Monday, February 29, 2016

No Excuses

I am not myself, in both good ways and bad. I have a good excuse for it, but I don't believe in making excuses for bad behavior. Even if I'm under the influence of some pharmaceutical drug, I think I'm still responsible for my attitude, words and actions. Ultimately, though we can't control how we feel, we can control how we behave. But Lupron, coupled with the sheer weight of everything that's happening, is making that difficult.

If you've read this journal for a while, you've seen the emotional ups and downs I've been going through. For the first several weeks following going public with my diagnosis last August, I was walking on air every day. While many would have taken the news very hard, I was feeling blessed. I experienced a significant spiritual breakthrough during this time. I was "living on love," as I often said.

But at the same time, I experienced conflicts with others that damaged relationships. Lupron has not just made it easier for me to laugh and cry. It's also made it much easier for me to get angry. I get very angry very quickly. Recently I was apologizing to my wife for an emotional outburst, and she said that it was OK, because I'm not myself. I never wanted that phrase to be said about me.

I had a bad episode last night, around 12:30 AM with one of my pets. It frightened me to think what I might have done if I had been any angrier. I might have done something I could not get over, and I could not help but wonder as I laid in bed afterward, shaking, that if I'm this bad now, how bad will I be after two years of Lupron? Will I even recognize myself?

If you and I have been in conflict in the past, you know what I'm like when I'm angry. In the words of Bruce Banner, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry. I've never been a tantrum thrower, and I've certainly never been violent, but if I've been angry with you, you may have received a long email that came off like the Airing Of Grievances at Festivus. (Seinfeld reference) If you have ever received an email like that from me, how I wish I could take it back. I've said many times that I've never struck another person in anger in my life. I've actually been smug about it. Now I can see myself going there all too easily. Now I am prone to sudden emotional outbursts. This morning was a good example. Or a bad one, depending on how you look at it.

My oncologist, at my last appointment, said I should come in today and get a blood draw before my consultation with him this Tuesday. He didn't specify where I should go, so I assumed I should go to the lab I had gone to before, when I got my PSA number that started all of this trouble. He and my family doctor both work for Centura Health, so I assumed they all use the same lab. Silly me. It turned out we were at the wrong lab. The lady at the counter walked me to another lab, where she thought I was supposed to go, in a different building. That was the wrong place too.

Of course, you know that when you get your blood drawn, you're supposed to fast. So I had had no food or coffee yet. I had gotten up at 5:30 this morning, we had arrived at the lab shortly after 8:00 AM, and I was getting hungry and starting to feel weak. Rubber legs were beginning to set in. So after being turned away for the second time, I tried to find my way out of the hospital building, and got lost briefly. That's when anger turned to tears. Nothing makes me feel like crying more than getting lost.

But I managed to find my way out. I walked to the car in tears, and had to collect myself before I could call my oncologist's office to ask where I was supposed to go. It was just before 9:00 AM, and they weren't open yet. I got the recording, which said their office was closed today. That's when I almost lost it. I'm supposed to get a blood draw, they didn't call it in anywhere, and they're closed? But then I got through to the answering service, the office opened, and I found out I was supposed to simply come in to the oncologist's office. The recording was wrong. They were open after all. I'm sorry to say that in my anger, I was rude to the answering service person. I apologized to her. I went in and sat in the waiting room for a few minutes, trying to control myself. When I went in for the blood draw, I asked the tech if it's OK to get your blood drawn when you're emotional. It would have been nice if they had told me where to go in the first place.

My wife was with me this whole time, except when the blood was being drawn. She thought she'd be able to get hers done along with me prior to her checkup on Tuesday. Her checkup immediately follows my consultation and Lupron shot. What a fun day that will be! That didn't work out, so I felt badly that I had made her get made up to leave the house. But while this was happening, I was very glad she was with me. I think having her there helped me maintain control, such as it was. It probably would have been worse if I had been alone. When she is with me, I'm less likely to cause a public scene because I don't want to embarrass her. I also really didn't feel like driving after all of this.

As everyone knows, when you have to fast for a medical procedure in the morning, you go to breakfast when you leave. We stopped at a place close to home. As my stomach filled and I got some coffee in me, I naturally started to feel much better. At 9:30 AM, there isn't much of a crowd in breakfast restaurants, so when we were first seated, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. But then, a crowd started arriving, and they didn't have enough help because of the time of day. So our order came out late, and it sat getting cold while we waited for more coffee, and for a couple of items that were missing from our order. As my food got colder, I started to get angry again. But I was nice. I think.

Here's the thing. I know that I would have handled this morning's events better if I wasn't feeling so guilty about my angry outburst last night, which no one saw except me, a dog and a cat. As I said at the top, I know I have a good excuse, but I can't accept that. I can't say that God is making me into the man I was always supposed to be if I'm taking out my anger on people who are only trying to do their jobs. To say nothing of lashing out at loved ones because of my fragile emotional state. Or at pets who I love with all of my heart, and who have no idea what's going on.

On the one hand, I want to say please bear with me. On the other, I don't think I have the right to say that. I can't ask you to make excuses for me in a post where I'm talking about not making excuses.

I've always been more of a stewer or a cryer than a tantrum thrower. I didn't throw a tantrum today, but I missed my opportunity for a good cry. The moment passed. So I came here. If I can talk it out with you, I'll feel better afterward.

To bring it full circle again, it's not about how I feel. It's about what I do and say. No allowances for how we feel are made in the Bible. Paul and Silas sang hymns while being tortured in prison! (Acts 16:25-40, blog) What counts is our behavior, regardless of our circumstances. My feelings of anger last night passed, but my guilt for my actions, and realizing what I might have done if I'd been any angrier, will last much longer. I'm afraid that someday I'll do something in anger that I'll regret for the rest of my life, once Lupron has broken me down enough. So I need to learn control now.

Because if we really can change, and I have to believe we can, I can't allow myself any excuses for losing control over my emotions. The waitress at the breakfast place has no idea what I'm dealing with. None of this is her problem. My job is to treat her, and everyone else, the way they should be treated, regardless of how I feel, or how much I've been inconvenienced. Or how scared or confused or emotional I am.

A former pastor of mine used to say, "I don't care how high you jump, as long as when you hit the ground, you walk straight." Meaning emotions are great, but your religious experience wasn't real if it doesn't result in good behavior. I know my experience was real, and it continues to be. But how real it is is demonstrated by how I treat you.

Please don't anyone make excuses for me in your comments! That would be missing the point.

On a different subject, I think at least half of the five pounds I lost last weekend were from dehydration. A couple of days of drinking lots of water added 2-3 pounds by itself. Today I weighed 124.

I hope that my being so transparent about this stuff will help someone else who's going through it. This is all new to me. There's no instruction manual. Believe it or not, if there were one, I would read it. I do that. But again, that's not why I'm writing this. I didn't get the chance for a good cry today, but I feel better now after talking with you about it. Thanks again for being here.


  1. Thanks, Deanna. You're always such You're always so encouraging! :-)