When I started college at 18, I took Psychology 101 and became acquainted with a phrase called “magical thinking”. It gave a name to something I knew we all have to one extent or another and has existed since practically the beginning of time.
Magical thinking is, most times, pretty harmless, and sometimes funny. It makes us think that we have power over something we have absolutely no power over. It’s like believing that if we wear a certain jersey or concentrate hard enough when the field goal kicker kicks the ball that our football team or win. Many religious rituals are a result of a form of magical thinking. It can get into the unhealthy range like with people with OCD who turn the light on and off 3 times before they go to bed because it makes them believe that this will prevent the house from burning down overnight. And, of course, there is full blown crazy, like Herbert Mullins, who killed people in California in the early 70's believing that it would stop a disastrous earthquake.
I have my own versions of magical thinking. While I know that they are crazy, we all have our little rituals to make us feel better. When we were driving back from the beach on Sunday, Marc and I were quiet and had our go-to station playing on SIRIUS - Hair Band Radio. I was thinking about Chakotay and feeling quiet anxious. I said in my head that if a Warrant (my all time favorite band) song played on our way home then we would get good news at Cornell. Yes, I know, it’s nuts - don’t judge me!!
So when “Sometimes She Cries” began playing, a few miles from home, even though I absolutely knew in my head that this meant nothing in reality, I did feel a loosening in my chest.
This magical thinking continued yesterday morning as I - with much effort - once again got out of bed at 5:45 AM and started running on the treadmill. If I could run just another 5 minutes this would mean good news later that day. I got in my goal of going a full 10K, so this had to mean a great outcome, right?
The news was not unexpected. The experimental treatment did not work. The lymph nodes grew a lot over the past week - apparently the mild shrinkage last week was just an anomaly. 27% growth since his first appointment. So we talked about options. And, really, there are none.
We went home with a large bottle of prednisone that may or may not help some of the symtomology. Which we will give him until the end. The end which is expected to be around 4 weeks from now. While the intellectual side of me knew this is probably the news we were going to get, the emotional side of me - the one that employs the magical thinking - was crushed. As I sat with Dr. Hume in the waiting room as she thanked us for participating in the trial and assured us that even though it didn’t cure him, the information gained was extremely valuable for the research - I became very emotional and started to break down. Reality truly hit me.
It was a long drive home.
The bloodwork was all good. The possibly concerning kidney calcium level from last week is gone and the levels are back to normal. The liver values, other than the albumin which has been mildly low for the last 3 weeks and continues to be a little low, are all good. So my boy is hanging in there. But it will come. It will come fast and way too soon.
The dogs have both been tired and have slept on the way back every time we have gone down to Cornell. Yesterday was different. Chakotay stood up in the back and stuck his head out the window. This is extremely unusual behavior for him. Sometimes both dogs will stick their heads out the window when we are stopped at red lights and look around to see if anything exciting is going on. But as far as sticking their heads out to feel the wind - they don’t usually do that. But Chakotay had his head out the window and the wind was so strong that his eyes were almost closed. And he looked happy as he inhaled the air and his ears flapped wildly.
I couldn’t help but think that somehow he knew that there would not be many car trips left and he wanted to enjoy it. Probably magical thinking of sorts, but it made me cry.
I woke up this morning, and my entire body feels like I’ve been beaten by a bat. And I just don’t care. Not about anything right now. I hope that this will pass. But hope is a distant memory…