Monday, February 3, 2014

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends!

Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
December, 2012

A more appropriate post title would've read, "I'd have long since gone under without a LOT of help from my friends!"  I don't think I've ever taken my friends or the joy of friendship for granted, but never before have I needed my friends in the way that I have in the past few months.  And boy, have they ever come through in ways I never could've seen coming.  In quieter times when I've been alone or Bill has been sleeping, I've spent a good bit of time contemplating what it really means to be a friend.  A friend who is able to give of myself to others, but is also able to RECEIVE from others especially when I have little or nothing to give back.  

Don't be surprised if friendship doesn't become a recurring theme over the next while as I share some of the things I have learned or am learning.  And don't be surprised if you don't like some of the things I might say cause rest assured, six months ago, I REALLY wouldn't have liked some of things I might say.  Even worse is I would've passed them off with a shrug that implied my indifference or attitude that what had been said couldn't possibly apply to me!

As I sit quietly here on a Sunday afternoon in our living room watching Bill sleep peacefully (thank goodness), two things come to mind.............

For 36 1/2 years, Bill has been my spouse, my rock and my BEST FRIEND!  He knows me better than anyone ever has, he gets angry with me and quickly forgives, he does so many things quietly and efficiently that I have no idea how to do, he simply loves me unconditionally and enjoys seeing me happy.  Because of all those reasons (and believe me, I know how lucky I am), I think I've failed to cultivate other friendships that run as deeply.  Don't get me wrong - I have LOTS of good, close friends. But none that know me like Bill does.  So when my "rock" went down particularly since it was something we NEVER saw coming, I was and am still left floundering about often feeling like a ship without a motor in the vast sea of uncertainty.  And people, it's scary!  But with the help of folks around me who have stepped out of the woodwork, I'm learning to ask for what I need and accept what is offered.  The reward for me is that I already know that when Bill is better and life moves on, I am far, far richer for the relationships that have soared during this time.  

Don't get me wrong.....I believe that when we marry and pledge our lives to another person, that person SHOULD be our best friend, but they can't be our ONLY "best" friend!  Life can change in an instant - make sure all your eggs aren't in one basket!  I am so grateful for people who have stepped up when I haven't been remotely capable of asking for or verbalizing what I needed.  Heck, I haven't even KNOWN what I needed.  But others have and I will be eternally grateful.

I said two things, didn't I?   Well forget that.  This post will be long enough after I give a report on how Bill is doing, so the second thing will just wait till later on in the week.  But it's a good one.  One I'm incredibly guilty of and will likely continue to be even with my resolve NOT to do this in the future!  And guess what?  You've probably said this very thing sometime in the last week!

Bill has completed 11 of his 30 (+ or -) radiation treatments and is probably doing better than we expected.  We've been warned things are likely to go downhill quickly, but we are trying to remain positive that he is doing everything possible to make those side effects less than horrible.  So far, the worst has been almost 100% loss of taste.  If you weren't miserable, it would be very interesting to observe just how this works.  Meat was the first to go followed by bread and it went quickly from there.  As of today, he still receives some taste sensation from sugar (of course!!), things that are tart and soft dairy items like pudding.  Thankfully, dairy is not bothering his stomach as he is pretty much existing on Boost/Ensure type liquid shakes.  Not your yummy menu by any stretch of the imagination, but four of those daily plus a Smoothie in the morning gets the calories/nutrition he needs and the dietician has said not to worry about the sugar for now.  And as of this morning, he was still drinking coffee!  Go figure?  During the chemo last fall, that was the very first thing to go!  

He has had a little bit of "thrush" and the dry mouth so typical of head/neck radiation is starting.  But the horrible sore throat, mouth sores and complete lack of saliva are thankfully, for a few more days at least, not present!  The fatigue is ever present, but manageable especially when he is able to rest and recuperate in the evenings.  

Please remember him in your thoughts.  You've "known" him through me for almost four years now and we consider you to be "friends."  A different kind of "friends," but still friends who have the same capacity to care even at a distance!  We thank you for that.

Tell Me About A Friend of Yours OTHER Than Your Spouse!


  1. It's so hard not to take things for granted....until things are stripped away from us. We are ALL guilty of it.

    I'm so glad you have had friends rise to the occasion, and that Bill is managing (you too.) I'm grateful that it's not as bad as it possibly could've been, so far. And know that not a single night passes where you both aren't in my prayers, sweetie.

  2. My thoughts are with you and Bill going through chemo. Each day that goes by is another day closer to be finished with it!

    I understand the friends with the spouse. John is that way for me, and I think it is different when you have a relationship like that with your spouse. Not everyone does and I think that is why it is harder to cultivate a super deep friendship when you already have it. That isn't to say you don't have really close friends, but I totally get what you mean.

  3. This is a very thoughtful post Sharon. I have had the same experience and now being a full timer, my friends are all far away both my friends from home and my cyber friends. I'm glad to hear Bill is sleeping well and napping. The fatigue is quite over powering, I remember well. We hold you both in our hearts as you go down this very rough road. It's good to think that you are more than 1/3 of the way through it all. I had a count down calendar on my computer so I could watch the days click away. That's the only time I've ever wished my life away and wanted the time to hurry by. Thank you for this wonderful post.

  4. Sharon,
    I have fallen in to the same pattern as you. 65MD and I enjoy each other's company so much we hardly feel the need to branch out. I know in my head that is not the best way and that I need other friends in my life, but I haven't compelled my heart to do anything about it. You aren't the first person I've seen walk down this path. I'm trying to learn from your lesson. I have many friends particularly from church but not that deep affection and keen desire to be with like 65MD.

    I'm glad that Bill is doing so well. I know the reality is far worse than you can express in a blog post. As always, you both remain in my prayers.

  5. Glad things are going as well as (or a little better than) expected with Bill. I cannot imagine have no taste.. But --even that probably wouldn't keep ME from eating.... ha

    I am very very close to George --and he is definitely my VERY best friend. I too depend on him totally... I would be just like you IF I lost that friendship... I (like you) have many many friends --and good ones. However, I don't have that 'one' best female friend. I THOUGHT I did ---and we used to have a fabulous relationship. However, she betrayed my friendship ---and became someone I could no longer trust with my inner thoughts... We are still friends (sorta) --but nothing like we used to be. That whole situation really upset me at the time.

    I also had a very good childhood friend which I lost (cancer death) a couple of years ago... BUT--these days, I cannot say that I have ANY really close friends. I am closer to my blog and FB friends than most others at this point.. George and I do have a really special couple that we enjoy traveling with. They live in Indiana --so it's not like having a friend here...

    Thanks for the great blog. I can totally understand how you feel.
    Love and HUGS and Prayers for you both,

  6. One of the greatest blessings in my life was watching my parents become each others 'best friend', in the truest definition of the word.

    I'm so glad Bill is doing "well" with the radiation, considering all that's involved with it and all that he could be experiencing all at once. You're both in my prayers daily.

  7. This is just such an incredibly difficult thing to go through.

    Its nice to hear you and the other commenters talking about your spouses being your best friends. You just don't hear people talking like that nowadays too much. But I sure do agree with you about cultivating friendships outside of your spouse. Its so wonderful to have that kind of support available when you need it, and even when you don't know you need it!

  8. I have to tell you that my eggs are probably all in one basket in my case. My husband IS my best friend and I don't have deep friendships anywhere like what I have with him. I clearly just need to wrap him in bubblewrap and hold him hostage! :) *Hugs* to you my friend, and as always I am so here on email! I'm awesome on email! So, if you ever need anything, even just to vent, remember I'm there! I hope the rest of the treatments fly by quickly!

  9. Thanks for the update. I'll keep thinking good thoughts for you and Bill. P.S. Do you still want a calendar? I have one left.

  10. Before I tell you about a friend other than my spouse, my brother in law also lost his entire sense of taste when he did radiation. The good came back. I hope it does so quickly for your husband as well.

    My current BFF and I have been friends for 7 years and she knows everything about me and doesn't judge a bit. We're honest with eachother (brutally sometimes) but we tell each other what we need to hear. To know it's coming from a place of love means we don't get offended. It's not easy finding friends like that as an adult.

  11. Prayers for you both Sharon. I am so glad to know Bill is doing well so far and hope that continues. Like you my hubby is my best friend! We will soon celebrate 35 years of a happy marriage! We do everything together and love it.

    I do have a best girlfriend and we met when we were both 12 years old. Although she lives in another state we always pick up right where we left off as though no time has passed since we saw each other. We are kindred spirits and often times I will have a strong feeling that something is wrong in her life and will text or email her and sure enough she will tell me my intuition is correct and my timing was perfect as she needed someone to talk to. I say she is the sister I always wanted - you see I have 4 brothers and always wanted a sister!

    Take care and know that many are praying and thinking about you both.

  12. Thinking of you and Bill and praying for you both. I can't imagine it's an easy place to be in.

  13. Keeping you both in my prayers! Having friends is key- IMO. They will be the ones who come over, take you to dinner, give you a break, run your errands, chat with you, hike with you. After watching my Mom take care my Dad's 25 years of MS, her friends helped her a lot. I depended on my friends as my safety structure when I realized my former significant other WASN'T my friend. I have no other family living within 30 minutes of me. As a single mom, my friends are key. It takes a village. Life changes up. Friends will get you through.

    Good luck and praying for you and Bill daily.

  14. I agree with you about having friends in addition to our husbands. How good you have friends coming out of the woodwork to help you and be with you as needed. My BFF is a sister in Christ and that is a big blessing because our roots run deep. I pray Bill will have complete healing and minimal side effects from the treatments.

  15. Thanks for the update with Bill, I've been wondering how you both were doing. I used to have some good friends when we lived in Sharon 10 years ago. I made friends quickly there, and I've come to the conclusion that having kids makes friend making easier. Once we moved an hour away only one friendship survived, but that one fell apart later for other reasons. Since then I had a friend I went to school with nearby in Kenosha who I used to meet for coffee and running but they moved to Puerto Rico recently, and last year my "work friend" got fired under circumstances that made continuing that friendship uncomfortable. Now all I have is Jeanna, who I see only a few times a year but we always pick up right where we left off. Making friends is an item on my agenda, and one of the reasons I started blogging. When we start our full time lifestyle I want people to connect with that we have things in common with. Wayne is my best friend also, and I worry about the fact he is mostly my only friend. I keep meaning to check out Kenosha's photography club and Kettle Moraine's hiking club in hopes they will offer up a likely friend. On a friend-related note...I may be bypassing my trip to Kentucky in March for a trip all the way down to the Smokies in April. You'll be the first to know when my plans are complete! I might even bring my tent and stay a night or two at Cades Cove without my Mom to make it easier to meet you for hiking!

  16. Just picked up your blog for the first time today and wow - does it hit home about the friendships. Steve, my husband of 25 years, is my best friend. My four adult children are next in line and after that - well, I have been terribly lazy about making deep friendships. I have a hard time finding other ladies my age that understand I would rather do things for my family and with my family than to talk on the phone or go places with them - most ladies that have friends seem to spend a lot of time with those friends - I spend that time with my spouse. But, I know I need to find the balance and invest in a least a couple of ladies - I'm trying. Think I will follow your blog and see if I can learn a few things. Sorry about your husband, hope this is soon a "remember when" situation that is far behind you.

  17. I just learned of Bill's illness this past week and had to stop by here to say hello and that I wish you both well during this difficult time. From this most recent post, it looks like you - as is typical - have the chance to do a lot of contemplating. I think that's crucial for so many of us. Take care.

  18. Aw so sorry to come back and see things aren't good for you Sharon! Prayers! Dawn

  19. Hey you. I,ve just gotten caught up on you posts. I'm so glad the chemo is behind you and the radiation is getting there. Please know that I pray for you both, every day. Love you.

  20. Hi Sharon, I've been thinking about you, and hoping things are moving along well, and that you are both doing OK. Hugs.

  21. Hey, Sharon - just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking of you (and Bill, of course) and sending hugs and prayers as you weather this storm. Wish I could carry some of your burden for you...

  22. Thinking of you and your husband as you go through this valley together. I agree, we need more supports in our lives other than our "best friend hubbys" ... what a blessing best friend hubbys are though. Dawn