When You Can’t Go Home

After 23 days in the hospital, I expected breaking free from the grounds would be glorious. I pictured a rush of adrenaline and those tingly feelings you only get when returning home after a while. But honestly, none of that happened. Being home for 60 hours was just plain weird.

First, you must understand that I was admitted to hospital under emergency circumstances. I had a blood clot in my jugular vein that was no joke. I asked my doctor if I could at least go home first to change out of my work dress and into some comfy yoga pants. He pretty much said “Get straight to the hospital, do not pass Go.” Ugh.

So my first few days in the hospital were busy and stressful as I gave instructions to my stressed and clueless (sorry!) family. By now, I think we’ve got it figured out. But those first few days were beyond confusing as we figured out how to deal with what was going on.

I’d previously debunked the old saying that “You can never go home.” Because going “home” is precisely why I moved back to my hometown of Moncton over three months ago. It was always my home, even after spending 7 years away. Moving back to the city felt right, and I felt nestled into the groove I was meant to be in.

But there is something strange about coming “home” after spending 23 days in one building. Not off at university, or the big city, or travelling. I’ve been in Moncton the whole time, and yet leaving those hospital walls I was so quickly rushed into felt strange. I’d become accustomed to my hospital routine. As much as that routine drives me nuts (two words: urine hat) leaving it didn’t feel right either.

If there is one thing I’ve learned after my 60 hours at home, is that home will never feel like “home” again. Because even though the places and spaces all remain the same, I have changed far too much over 23 days for me to view it as I once did.

Curling up on my mom’s couch used to make me feel safe and invincible, in a little bubble of love, just my mom and me. But those feelings have been crushed by the presence of cancer. I am no longer safe no matter where I am. Space can no longer influence my well-being, because I don’t know what my well-being is anymore.

So while my weekend escape was indeed wonderful, it was also a wake-up call. My life is forever changed and I will never, ever, view the world like I once did. It will take a long time for me to grow accustomed to my new settings. It’s one thing to have your old life taken from you in one fell swoop, but adjusting to this new reality is one tough pill to swallow.

That is the honest reflection of my time at home, but don’t get me wrong, I still desperately needed it. A weekend at home to feel almost like a normal person before I start my months of chemotherapy.

Yup, I dressed up every day, wore make-up, and straightened my long natural locks. It was a treat after living in grimy hospital clothes for so long!

I start chemo today (!!) and fully expect to be on my arse with sickness for the next few days. I can’t imagine I will want to open my laptop, so any e-mails and messages may take several days to respond to. Also, I’ve pre-scheduled a few blog posts to go up. I’ll be sharing some small “short stories” I’ve written since being admitted to hospital. I will however probably be updating my Twitter if you want to check out how I’m doing there.

More than ever, be sure to make it a great week!

Posted on July 18, 2011, in Cancer. Bookmark the permalink. 48 Comments.

  1. I’ll be thinking of you today and so will so many others. You’ve so got this girl!!! :)

  2. That makes a lot of sense actually!

    Good luck today and for the months to come. Even though the circumstances are hella sucky, you have been one of my go-to beacons for positivity this month, so thank you!

  3. Karen Strickland

    Good luck today! I’ll be thinking of you and sending every possible feel-good vibe your way!

  4. Susan, There are so many of us thinking and praying for you! Be comforted knowing we are here for you. You are definitely NOT alone!! We are on this journey right along side you. You WILL get through this. Consider this part of your path a “temporary inconvenience for a permanent improvement”. Love and blessings to you!

  5. Thinking of you all day long. Good luck today lady.

  6. Will be thinking of you today! Love that dress!

  7. Susan, you’re in my thoughts and prayers as you begin your chemo.

    Much love and strength vibes being sent to you!

  8. Susan you look absolutely STUNNING in that dress! Good luck with your treatment starting today and I’ll be watching for your tweets!

  9. Thinking of you!! Sending you positive vibes ;)

    you are in our prayers always

  10. Hey pretty lady, you’re looking great. Thinking of you this week :)

  11. Michael Paciocco

    Thinking of you today, and hoping it’s not as bad as you think.

    As someone who has felt both rapid swoops and slow adjustments, I can relate to the loss of security and stability. No, it won’t be the same, and you may never find that feeling of certainity or invulnerability ever again.

    But that’s ok, because you make up for it in appreciating what you do have – the things (a good sunset, sand between your toes on a beach) and the people. For me, it just made me work harder to ground myself and keep those things in my life.

    Keep your spirits up, you still have a lot to do and a long way to go.

  12. I think I would probably feel very weird too, after such a life-changing last few weeks. Not a bad thing to admit at all and very honest. I hope your chemo treatments go well as you begin them, and you are just incredible with your positivity. And you look beautiful in that dress, I echo what others have said!

  13. another Debbie

    Your writing has evolved into something so meaningful
    to me.Thanks for continuing to write so openly and baring your
    heart to the world.
    That takes some guts !

    Sending lots of “go get ’em” vibes today in the hope that your first treatment goes quicker and smoother than you predict.Thinking of ya!

    Take care Suasan.

    (hello out there to another “Debbie” commenter I notice! ;)

  14. Just started reading your blog after seeing a link on Danica’s Daily. You are in my thoughts and prayers as you begin your treatments. My younger brother faced this same road almost two years ago. He was diagnosed with non-Hodkins lymphoma in October 2009. After two rounds of chemo and a stem cell transplant he is officially in remission and will celebrate the one year anniversary of his transplant in August. Just like my brother, you are way ahead of the game because you have lived a fit and active lifestyle. Stay strong and accept and and all help and support that is offered! My brother is living proof that you can beat this disease!

  15. Oh, I’m glad you were able to enjoy time away from the hospital. You look beautiful. Thinking of you today….and hope all goes well and you don’t get sick.

  16. My thoughts are with you as you start this next part of your journey.

  17. I understand to some effect (obviously not on the same level) the feeling of home not feeling like home anymore. And not feeling safe. I hope you’ll get to that feeling soon. Lots of love.

  18. I’ll be sending you lots of love as you start chemo, and I hope you kick this cancer’s ass! You look beautiful in that picture. My thoughts are with you!

  19. I absolutely love that dress! You look terrific in it! I’m thinking of you and praying your treatment goes better than expected and side effects will be minimal!

  20. Thinking you of you, Susan! You are truly an inspiration to us all. Keep that beautiful head up :)

  21. I can kind of understand how you’d feel like that, after putting it that way…
    Good luck with your treatment today, Susan! Thinking of you…

  22. I will be thinking about you as your start chemo. :)

  23. Wow. My grammar… “as you start chemo.”

  24. Lovin your red dress! You look marvelous!

    Good luck with your chemo today. We are all thinking of you and wishing you the best. XOXOXO

  25. Pretty dress! :) I think those emotions sound pretty understandable, especially because everything happened so suddenly. But just as you can feel ripped out of your old way of doing things, I know you’ll eventually get back to a place of feeling secure- albeit a bit differently. Things do come full circle! Hang in there, thinking about you today.

  26. Good luck with today!! Hope you feel a lil’ better than you think:)

  27. Good luck Susan. I’ll be thinking of you today.

  28. Good luck with everything.

  29. You look beautiful in that red dress Susan! Thinking of you – don’t worry, we’ll be here when you can get back – take care!

  30. Sending you lots of love and good vibes on your first day of chemo. (((hugs))) too.

  31. I’ll be thinking of you!

  32. Good luck today Susan! I’ve been thinking of you and sending positive vibes your way. XOXO

  33. love that you got all dressed up beforehand. been following on twitter – hope things stay on track. xoxox

  34. YOU ARE AMAZING! Hugs & wishing you the best possible under the circumstances. A really interesting post & point of view from you – thx!

  35. You look beautiful! Good luck with the chemo.

  36. I know after my husband had cancer he became incredibly aware of his body. If there is something wrong, a new ache or pain, he gets worried that the cancer has come back. I think for a lot of people who have had cancer the fear that it will return never goes away 100%. That doesn’t mean it paralyses you, but I think you’re just that more aware of your own mortality, and that if it happened once, that it can happen again.

    • Honestly, I am 100% positive that the treatment is going to result in clear scans and my going into remission. But I am not certain that it will never come back. These days, when I lay awake at night, I’m not worrying about the cancer I have now… it’s about the cancer I may get in the future. A very poignant observation Nancy!

  37. Susan- I am actually not surprised- If it was me, I would be thinking “This is the first time I’m doing ____(activity)_____ since I got cancer”…”this is the first time I’ve visited _____(Place)_____ since I got cancer. I guess that the bottom line is that you’ve had a rude transition out of that safe place where you are almost invincible, young and free. It’s a place that we don’t expect to be until we are much, much older. So I can see why your trip home would have not been full of butterflies and unicorns that fart cupcakes.

    You very well might find that your mom’s place (and Archie) will feel like the best medicine ever, further down the road in your journey. And in the end, we all know that you will go on to lead a long and productive and he althy life. That is what we need to repeat to ourselves all the time.

    Hugs to you <3


    • Yes! And on top of that it was strange to have to gingerly walk up and down the same stairs I’m used to barreling through. Or just ease myself off a couch I’m used to hopping off of. Then there’s the added fact that when I’m in the hospital, everyone knows I’m sick, but those lines become blurred out of hospital even with those who know me. Just because I’m up walking around in a nice dress doesn’t mean I feel good again :\

  38. We are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers! Hope all our positive karma lifts you and helps surround you with love. Good luck!

  39. Dude, you did EVERYTHING you should have done while home! I’d dress up in the hospital if I were you!

    Yay to starting chemo! I know you were anxious about not taking stabs at this monster already, but you’ve started the first jab! You’ll karate chop this cancer and make him eat your dust! all while you wear a ball gown!

  40. Love the red dress. You look beautiful! Thinking about you.

    You are an inspiration. I love reading your blog.

  41. Good luck Susan, I second every thing Deb said, it is all very wise. Especially that going home is not all unicorns that fart cupcakes, as much as I enjoy that image. I have to say I love that you got dressed up before chemo, that is so sweet! I can understand the motivation to do that.

  42. Good luck with the chemo! I hope it goes as well as possible. I know it will be difficult, but you have the spirit to get through it!


  43. I can understand that will be one of the hardest things…not ever being able to “escape” or have a “safe haven” anymore really. Know that you are loved though!
    Thinking of you. :)

  44. You look radiant!

    Thank you so much for your honesty and willingness to share your inner most thoughts with us. I would imagine its a bit tough to put into words exactly what you are feeling, and I would be lying if I said ‘I know how you feel’. But I do know that your words make me realize that we are not invincible and that we should not take life for granted. Thank you for that.

    Thinking of you this week and hoping for the best. Take care.

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