By Belle Piazza
Today was a hard day. I’ve recently been put on a dilaudid pain pump – so I’m receiving dilaudid 24/7 with a bolus button I can push for break through pain. It’s taken a little adjustment and I’m not hallucinating as I doze off as much as I used to – but I wouldn’t say I feel 100% normal 100% of the time. Not surprisingly, I’ve been advised against driving. You always hear about elderly drivers who are being pushed by family and friends to turn over their keys as they are no longer safe drivers and the arguments and angry and hurt feelings that ensue. And it all seems silly – because when your vision and hearing are visibly impacted, there’s no reason why you should be behind the wheel of a 3,000 to 5,000 lb. vehicle. Those of us in the under 75 crowd think nothing of it and even feel indignant that these older folks should think this way. But I’m not in the 75 and older crowd. I just turned 51. I don’t drive a Cadillac or a Buick, I drive a Honda Mini-Van. I joke around that it’s my Mom-Mobile. I even thought about how to fit that onto a license plate but instead opted for my middle name “Belle” instead. I loved my mini-van because it represented who and what I am – a Mom. I run to the grocery store, Costco, my favorite consignment stores and an occasional splurge at Nordstrom. The mini-van has a 3rd row with plenty of room for storage behind it. I can fit 7 people comfortably and have often done so. I’m not a soccer Mom, but when there are local festivals or fairs it’s not uncommon for me to load up the van with a bunch of kids, chairs, snacks and even the family dog and off we go. I love being a Mom and my mini-van is an extension of who I am.
That is until today. Today my husband and I made the logical decision to convert to a one car family. It made sense. I could no longer drive the mini-van. He had an Acura Sedan that only seats 4, so that wasn’t an option. We compromised on an Accura MDX Sport Utility Vehicle, mainly because that’s what he wanted and since he’d be the primary driver, we may as well settle on what he wants. It has a 3rd row and can seat 7, but it doesn’t have the head room that the mini-van did. If you’re sitting in the 3rd row and you’re taller than 5’ 5’’ your head is up against the back window. There is no storage space in the back. My husband assures me the ride is much smoother and I’ll love it. But I don’t love it and doubt that I ever will. I’ve given up significant space and doors that open smoothly with the push of a button. I tell the kids they’re magic doors and for a brief moment they believe me. The main attraction from what I can tell about the MDX is the technology. It’s like a computer on wheels. And my husband is all about the technology. It’s like going from a bathroom that has two sinks to a bathroom that has one. I don’t want to share my husband’s sink and I doubt he wants to share mine, truth be told. But one car we’ll share because it makes sense on all levels except emotional ones. To me this is yet one more thing that cancer has taken from me and it hurts. It hurts a lot. First I can’t drive some of the time, then all of the time and now I have to give up the mini-van that I have grown so fond of. It’s a girl thing, I know. My husband practically knocked me over getting out the door this morning, along with his father, to take our vehicles down to the car dealership to see what sort of a deal could be worked out. When I tried to explain it to him later, sobbing, my face strewn with tears, he looked at me with total shock and said “why didn’t you tell me? We didn’t have to do this today?” “Yes we did I told him”. I had a friend literally walking up the door (a man of course) to visit me and what was I going to say as my husband and FIL were shoveling the treasures out of my van and the garbage out of his – “Stop! I can’t do this – I’m not ready to break up with my mini-van just yet even though I’ll never be able to drive it again but I can at least let it sit in the drive way?!”
Nope. It was bound to happen sooner or later and it only made sense. It was a logical decision. At least of sorts. Don’t even get me started on how much more expensive this MDX computer is on wheels versus my spacious and luxurious Honda Minivan is. Still, it’s one more piece of my life taken away. I loved driving kids all over town, except for the occasional accident that was inevitable or the flying bowl of goldfish when something really funny happened on the movie they were watching. Hey, leather seats are really easy to clean and shop vacs work wonders on scattered gold fish. It was more than that. It was a place of contemplation and meditation. How many of you women (and possibly men), think through your problems as you drive quietly down the back roads. Assuming you have back roads. It was a source of independence. I could drive anywhere I wanted anytime I wanted – all-by–myself. I’ve lost that source of independence. Yes, no doubt, it was a very terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. And as much as I want to sit here wallowing in self-pity, I’m trying hard not to. I’m trying to look at the bright side. More time with friends. Less insurance money. More time with friends. Yes, that’s all I’ve come up with so far but I’m working on it. I’m working on it because I know that cancer is only going to get harder, not easier. And I’m working on it because my friends haven’t given up on me. They stand steadfast by my side holding me close and encouraging me on. And for now; maybe not forever, but for now, I owe that to them.
*Note from Leighann: This is the first of two blogs Belle wrote in her last weeks with us on Earth.