Chapter 12 -------- Not So Jolly Christmas
Several weeks into December, it was time to do the final check on her surgery. Confirming to Danielle that she had fully healed. Danielle asked her ND to do the preliminary check and make sure the final little hole had healed up. We were all about to be shocked. The tiny hole had not healed, and there was a far more serious problem now. A tube from a previous surgery had slipped down into her vagina. The doctor and Danielle couldn’t believe it. Danielle was furious at the situation. Despite having a good attitude about her progress at this point, it was devastating to Danielle’s spirit to have another serious situation.
We talked with the ND about our options. Danielle’s anger and frustration caused us to look to another doctor to help fix the problem. The discussion had led us to the conclusion that we didn’t want to see the surgeon who caused the initial problem. We scheduled an appointment for the following Tuesday to meet with an Oncologist in Flagstaff. It wasn’t going to be a very long adventure as Flagstaff is only forty minutes from Sedona.
I made sure to bundle up Danielle in many layers of clothing since we were heading to practically freezing weather. I was fully expecting snow on the ground. The drive would be uneventful as I took a slow and easy drive through Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff. We also started to see the signs of the recent snowfall that hit the area several days prior. The top of the Canyon was a beautiful sight to be held, and we both marveled for a moment at the beauty. It felt so good to share such a beautiful moment with my wife. It didn’t change how nervous she was about meeting with the new Doctor.
Google maps had led us to a dead end at the main Hospital. I had looked up the wrong office, and the staff informed us that we were not in the right location. I felt bad because we were already running a couple of minutes late. I quickly looked up the right location and made the trip around the block to the Doctors private offices. I walked Danielle to the door of the Office then proceeded to park the car around the corner. I made it just before Danielle was called back. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait very long.
It wasn’t a very long interaction with the Doctor. To our great disappointment, we were not going to be able to have the doctor perform the surgery, and we should have had the doctor who installed the port also remove it. We had the doctor schedule the appointment with the other Doctor’s office right there on the spot. We were going to have to wait another week to have this problem removed. They scheduled Danielle’s surgery the day before Christmas Eve. It was a Tuesday, and the one day a week I always had off.
My work schedule was looking like the twelve worst days of Christmas. On the first day of Christmas I would work. On the fifth day of Christmas I would take my wife to her surgery. I was not looking forward to another extended workweek. The added problems of the surgery were making things far harder on me than the month prior. Danielle was furious, almost twenty-four seven leading up to the day of the surgery. The dissatisfaction she had with the medical industry was all that she could discuss. It wasn’t healthy, and I wasn’t making the situation any easier.
Now I couldn’t hide my anger towards the medical establishment. Danielle was constantly triggering my resentment of the for-profit medical industry. It didn’t matter what Danielle complained about because I could always find a fault in how the medical field treats illness and disease. My concerns were less about Danielle’s situation and more about the general situation people are forced to endure. I couldn’t believe how much Danielle was forced to conform to the mainstream model, despite her constant protests.
Danielle was worried about being put under again with anesthetics. Her digestive issues were always of concern, which is also why her diet was strict. Anesthesia was not part of her diet, and a guarantee that constipation issues would be present for a couple of weeks. It was almost impossible to calm this fear within Danielle. The stress of having to make the trip to Phoenix, was building up a massive load of anxiety in both of us.
Our mutual anger and frustrations were building off each other. We were frustrated the doctor installed the port without permission in the first place despite us giving him the authority to do anything necessary to remove her cancer. Danielle hated the port and even more what it stood for. She would regularly joke about the idea of them using a chemo bath on her sensitive body. We both agreed adamantly about how destructive a chemo bath on her insides would have likely been. So it was not easy to see the doctor who also warned us about the treatment in question a month after recommending she start the treatment immediately. Danielle and I were both angry.
I always tried to limit the anger we expressed to each other, to diffuse the emotions that were charging our conversations. However, I couldn’t stop Danielle from worrying about her ever-present problems. Especially, not while she would lay awake at night with those concerns running on repeat. I didn’t understand what was occurring until it was too late to fix. I was becoming more aware of how ill-prepared I was for the challenges we faced.
I was able to be supportive for the week leading up to the surgery. Despite having another excessive work schedule through Christmas season. I was expecting to work twelve out of the next thirteen days and my only day off being our trip to Phoenix to fix the dislodged tube. I against the needs of the restaurant had reserved the entire day off to help my wife with the endeavor. Christmas Eve the following day would be my longest day with two morning deliveries and a busy night of reservations. Thankfully Christmas was just an overbooked evening shift that started in the afternoon.
Then the unthinkable happened, the surgeon had to cancel and reschedule the surgery the day before we were to go in. His receptionist explained he could only do Christmas Eve, which was impossible for me. The same couple that left during Thanksgiving had also decided to leave for Christmas Vacation too, which left me picking up the slack and meant that we were short two servers.
I couldn’t leave them down three servers on the busiest night of the season. It was a super tough decision for me to make, but Danielle also understood the circumstances. I think because of her loyalty to her friend, who owned the restaurant, she didn’t push the issue. Danielle and I were frustrated at the couple who left, but there was nothing we could do.
The next earliest appointment was the following Tuesday. We were going to have to wait another week with Danielle worried about still having a tube stuck in her vagina. She was worried even more about a potential infection, and it was becoming a huge stressor. The thought of having a vaginal infection was something that she could not get off her mind. It started to stress me out managing Danielle’s concerns.
The following week at work was the most stressful of my entire life. I was working two to three shifts every single day, with only short breaks to run home and handle a pilling list of chores. It was by far the most impressive display of my natural endurance. Somehow, I was still able to make sure to complete everything Danielle needed of me. Accomplishing tasks were easy, but meeting her emotional needs was a far greater challenge. I was becoming emotionally erratic and unable to communicate properly, especially if the topic under discussion was emotionally charged.
Topics like her family started to become almost off-limit topics. I couldn’t talk about them without getting upset, and Danielle noticed this fact. I was even useless at this time to address concerns she was having about the Doctor. My frustrations and anger were too strong for me to control. In my moments of weakness or exhaustion, I was making grave mistakes. My responses were not loving and kind but filled with irritation.
A perfect storm to create the worst Christmas’s ever. As much as we tried to make it a beautiful morning, my behavior was still a serious issue. The more frequent slips had become almost commonplace as my mental exhaustion took over. I tried to cope and tried everything in my power to maintain a good balance within myself, but I wasn’t succeeding, I was failing miserably. Danielle held me accountable for every action, whether I was aware of it or not.
Christmas morning was very tense. Danielle was constantly expecting me to fail, despite my efforts to fix my problems. On top of that, I couldn’t excuse myself to smoke some tobacco. No morning delivery meant I couldn’t sneak a puff, so my anxiety levels were high. Danielle’s problems just antagonized my anxieties to be worse. I tried my best to be the best person I could be that day and didn’t do a bad job, but that still didn’t undo my past mistakes. She was holding every mistake I made over my head. My failures were pushing us apart.
I hate to say it, but the Christmas season didn’t include much in the way of communications from people in Danielle’s life. There were those few students that always sent cute and uplifting texts, but the Christmas spirit seemed to skip over Danielle. The community didn’t reach out at all, and the anger that Danielle had towards that was huge. After I left for work, she didn’t hear from anyone, and I don’t believe any of her family even called her on Christmas. Danielle was devastated when I arrived home that night. Danielle felt abandoned, and my behavior was now adding to it.
Usually, I was the one that would ease her abandonment issues, but I was emotionally abandoning her too. I was becoming more distant in an attempt to get myself under control. I figured that if I just did all the tasks, that Danielle would be happy with me. I could perform anything physically, such as cooking, shopping, showers, and a foot rub. No chore was too much for me. Danielle’s pain eclipsed my pain, pushing me past any previous limits. I was happy to be of service to my wife, but in my blind pride, I was making a huge mistake. A mistake that had been building for months.
I made it through the weekend and that following Monday at work. It was stressful, but I was also relieved that I could finally have a two-day break from work. I ended up working thirteen days straight without a single day or shift off, picking up two shifts the week prior because of the rescheduled surgery. I was exhausted and expecting a little break from the mayhem. I was not going to be so lucky.
Danielle and I had to wake up at two a.m. to leave by three-fifteen for our trip to Phoenix. We were scheduled for a four-thirty check-in, followed by a five-a.m. surgery. When I woke up from two hours of sleep, I was not in a good mental space and still to this day, don’t remember exactly what happened. I remember the consequences clearly, but honestly, I can’t recall the exact behavior that triggered them. The one thing I know is that I responded to her in a tone that sent her over the top. I could not speak in a calm tone of voice. Anger, Irritation, and frustration were pouring out of me, and every word that was coming out of my mouth seemed to make Danielle even more furious. I couldn’t fix myself this time, and I let my emotions pour out.
I was an emotional wreck. I started yelling in response to accusations showing true emotional immaturity. There was not an ounce of kindness in my tone, all I could do was think of myself. I was everything that I abhor about the people that had upset Danielle. I was the epitome of bad energy, an angry demon incarnate. All the anger, all the pain, and all the frustration just poured out of me. I was cold, I was cruel, and I couldn’t control it. I felt bad, but I also felt right in my behavior. Not to say my behavior was right. I still find that behavior to be very, very wrong, which is why I feel so bad. I was in a state of confusion and shame.
I felt like I was in a blur, a blur that just boiled with anger. I knew I was toxic, and I asked for Danielle to give me space, the problem is I didn’t ask nicely. I did it by yelling at Danielle to be quiet, and I’m pretty sure I told her to, “SHUT UP” once or twice. I also sadly remember repeatedly yelling, “LEAVE ME ALONE, AND STOP TALKING TO ME!” I knew we weren’t going to get anywhere talking, and we had to drive to Phoenix. However, Danielle was so incredibly mad at me that I still can’t express in words how mad she truly was.
The trip passed in almost complete silence. I couldn’t talk, I had nothing nice to say, and I knew better than to express myself at that moment. I have known for years that when I get angry, it is toxic. My anger left unchecked is a very destructive force. I’ve never been physical with anyone, but my words have cut deep wounds. Months of bottled up anger was exploding out of me. I had pushed all my problems aside to focus on Danielle, neglecting any self-care. Little did I know the time bomb that I had become, and the destruction I was instigating.
The check-in at the hospital went smooth, and we moved upstairs quickly. Our trip upstairs took us past the site of our wedding, which did not bring us the feeling it should have. We didn’t feel the love that day. I was trying to hold myself together to make up for the shame I felt about behaving so poorly that morning. It never occurred to me that even at that moment, I was making a monumental error.
I later found out how upset Danielle was at me for putting on a fake happy face for the nurses when we got to the hospital. It was just an unconscious behavior from working in restaurants and a great tool I had been using with her, but now that she saw through it. Danielle just saw that I was hiding a bad person. I get why she would feel that way, and she wanted people to see me for the villain I was. However, I was clearly hiding it from everyone else, which enraged her.
Danielle did everything to discuss our problems while we waited for her surgery, but I did everything I could to avoid the conversation. I knew I didn’t have the strength to stay calm. My avoidance just made her more upset as she needed to work out the problems we were having. Sadly I couldn’t make that a reality, which led to one of the most heartbreaking moments of my story.
The nurses arrived to administer anesthesia before carting Danielle away. Before she went to sleep, she yelled how horrible and terrible I was, saying I was the biggest piece of shit in the world, and I believe it may have gone on for a bit. I understand she needed to vent, and I had gone off the deep end that day. The thing that hurt the most about all of it was that one of the nurses who was present said she was at our wedding and that she felt so sorry for my wife. It hurt because I felt sorry for my wife too.
I couldn’t believe my behavior and spent the rest of the afternoon, pulling myself together. I used the time to make a trip to one of the MMJ Dispensaries in the area to get anxiety medication for myself. I was thankfully able to take a couple of tobacco breaks and ate a strong edible brownie, that calmed all my anxiety. The power that MMJ has to calm anxiety when mixed with a little time provided me, a needed emotional reset. I had for the first time in a couple of weeks, a few hours to myself, and by myself.
Despite the work I did on my state of mind, my wife still hadn’t changed her tune about me. She was pissed, and I completely understood. I tried to apologize, but I knew there wasn’t anything I could say that was going to fix it. I knew this was something I needed to put some serious time and effort into making sure it never happened again. The drive home was super tense, but I did everything in my power to make it as peaceful a ride as possible. I didn’t cause any additional problems other than the ones I had already committed.
The rest of the day was not much better because of my need to get some rest. I ended up consuming a copious number of edibles to put myself in a Euphoric state. I felt the need to dramatically alter my consciousness to come to terms with the issues that had been arising in the past month. I have used MMJ and other psychedelics as tools for spiritual and emotional growth in my youth. Getting exceptionally stoned was supposed to get me into that state of mind. After thirteen days of work and the previous twenty-four hours, I needed a break from it all.
Thankfully I did gain some insights into my shortcomings, including new methods I could use to address the situation. Danielle did not view my adventure in a positive outlook. She only saw me change into the different super high Brandon. She didn’t see it with compassion or as something that would help me, and she looked at it with all the societal dogma’s that go along with drug use. She was furious with me. Danielle didn’t see it as a spiritual experience and saw it as me fucking up again.
I have, throughout my life, used the shamanic traditions of medicinal plants to expand my perceptions of the world. Many of the greatest minds of our time have done similar endeavors, and coming from experience, I can understand why. Steve Jobs and other enlightened individuals have attested to the benefits. My wife had never partaken in any substance-induced mind journey. Danielle’s preconceptions were combining with her previous anger towards me.
My inability to function at one hundred percent was not putting her at ease. It is why abuse of Marijuana can also be so destructive over long periods. Had I consumed that much regularly, I would have been far less helpful to Danielle, but knowing my tolerances kept me from becoming a stoned couch potato. In no way could I convince her that it was in my best interests to fix my emotional instability. Still, I found insights that night.
In my altered state, I was able to perceive my issues more clearly. I had seen that my level of exhaustion had caused me to overextend myself. I wasn’t able to think clearly if my energy fell to low. This realization helped me to understand how important rest was for my mental health. I didn’t find the root of the problem, but I saw how I could prevent future problems. I now needed to rebuild the trust I lost with Danielle.
I hadn’t realized that Danielle had started isolating us further because of my instability. Leaving her with few people that she could vent her frustrations. She would often vent her frustrations to her sister, which wasn’t good for me. Danielle’s sister and I never got along because of my outbursts towards her poor behavior. I’m sure she just ate it up that I was acting worse. I’ll admit it I had acted that one night to the hospital worse than any single behavior shown from anyone, so they weren’t without ammunition.
The only other person she could talk to was the ND who had been a long-time girlfriend and trusted colleague. Danielle shared everything with her, and to my surprise, I also had no idea that this was happening. At this time, all the women in Danielle’s life were turning against me, and it wasn’t looking good.
The truth is that Danielle was being advised by everyone to throw me to the street. Danielle supposedly needed to get me out of there because I was a bad or dangerous person. At the same time, Danielle was always considering who would then pick up my reigns. No one else was stepping up to the plate, and the people informing her what to do weren’t offering a legitimate solution.
Danielle knew there wasn’t anyone else, and she told me so. I was all she had left, and I had been her rock for so long. Despite my shortcomings, she needed me. I was working to pay the bills and just barely succeeding. I was taking her to practically every doctor appointment and every IV. I was up all night in the shower or on the toilet with her. I would with haste accomplish all of her needs, usually without question. Meeting her emotional needs was my largest failure. At the time, I wish I knew how many people thought of me as a failure.
I have found we often live up to the expectations of the people in our lives. I was having trouble with being a failure, but so many people in my life were projecting that on me. I understand the part I played to put myself in that position, but I found it increasingly more difficult to succeed. My failures were compounding, and it seemed like there was little I could do to change Danielle’s perceptions of me. Danielle expected me to fail and was creating situations that continually tested me.
I found the ability to control my anger became almost non-existent. I had to come up with methods to not talk and sit in silence or be allowed to read. I had to find ways to occupy my mind with things that wouldn’t cause emotional stress or pain. God knows I was sad, and I was in pain that my wife was sick, but I couldn’t show her those emotions. Fear that I would lose control, always went through my mind.
Danielle needed me to get myself under control. I realized that Danielle was not going to tolerate my behavior for much longer. The threat of kicking me out had already been mentioned. If I wanted to stay with my wife, keeping my promise to sleep by her side, I needed to stop being an obstacle. Danielle had enough obstacles to face.
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