Saturday, July 16, 2016

Feeling Helpless

Yesterday, we had a sudden hail storm at our house in Denver, Colorado. It was the first time that I can remember since we've lived in this house that we had ping pong ball sized hail. I picked up a few samples for this picture.

Most of it was marble sized, but I found these on our patio afterwards without too much effort. I don't think we have any serious damage, but the emotional toll on me was awful, and I'm still feeling it now.

While the storm was going on and on and on, it was all I could do to keep from running around our house, screaming, cursing, and crying. Yes, I was worried about potential damage from the storm, but it was more than that. I felt helpless. There was nothing I could do but wait for the storm to be over, and wonder what would be left in its aftermath.

I could blame my emotional reaction on hormone treatment, and I'm sure that played a significant role, but it was more than that. In my mind, the storm outside our house reflected the storm in our lives for the past year. My helplessness in the face of the hail storm shined a light on my helplessness in the face of the biggest storm I've faced in my life; cancer. And my feeling of helplessness while waiting for the hail storm to pass was merely a reflection of my feeling of helplessness in the face of The Big C.

That's the flip side of loss of control over circumstances in my life. I've often written about the peace I've experienced since realizing that I don't have control. Most of the time, I embrace that. But today, that loss of control leaves me feeling helpless.

There wasn't a thing I could do to stop the hail yesterday. There isn't a thing I can do to control my PSA number, either. We're already doing what we can about that, and it may not be enough. Long term, it definitely won't be enough. Lupron won't keep my number down forever. It may have already stopped doing that. So I feel helpless.

Now, when I look at the mess that was made of our yard and patio from the storm, it makes me want to cry. The energy that it will take to clean it up is more than I have to give, which is discouraging. I'm afraid to have our roof inspected. Any damage will cost more than we can afford to pay, even with insurance.

Likewise, now that we have private health insurance with a high deductible, certain treatments to try to mitigate the damage cancer has inflicted on my body seem out of reach. On some days, I feel relatively normal, and have the energy to fight, and to do things that I want to do. On days like today, I don't. I feel helpless on both fronts.

Of course, I know that I'm not actually helpless, helpless meaning without help. We have had a lot of help, and continue to receive help and encouragement from many. I'm mindful of the fact that I had a roof over my head during the storm yesterday, when I'm sure there were those who did not. If we need financial help, I know there are those who will give it to us. This is a great blessing that we don't take for granted.

But for all of my raging against the storm yesterday, I couldn't keep it from coming. Once it started, I couldn't make it stop. The same is true of my cancer. I couldn't keep it from coming, and I can't make it stop. That makes me feel helpless.

None of us can stop the storms of life from coming. But we can learn where to go for shelter. For refuge. I'm glad that we weren't out eating dinner somewhere yesterday when the storm hit. If we had been, our damage would have been worse. Maybe much worse. But we were at home, so we could mitigate the damage to our garden, keep our cars in the garage, and stay inside. We had shelter. We had a refuge.

When the cancer storm hit almost a year ago, we had our family, our friends, and our God to turn to for refuge and shelter. My wife and I have huddled together for warmth inside this shelter since the storm hit. No amount of screaming or crying will stop the storm, but we are grateful for the shelter that we have, thanks to God. Thanks to you.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
(Psalm 91:1-2)

Shelter does not keep the storm from coming, but it mitigates the damage. I still feel helpless, but I know we are not without help. #waroncancer

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