Sunday, March 25, 2012

Great Expectations

Great Expectations.

Is the worst book EVER, so don’t worry, I am not going to blog about that.

(Since I was long ago an English major, I can diss major works of literature with impunity, no worries!)

I have been pondering expectations. Maybe that’s an inaccurate way to say it. I have more been realizing that some expectations will never come to fruition (my 18th century farmhouse in the country), some are in jeopardy (will not speak of those here), some are worth fighting for (my history students CAN do what I expect them to do! They are awesome! So…Yeah!) , and some just have to be set free (my paperwork will NEVER be organized. It just won’t. Get over it, self).

Expectations can be empowering or paralyzing, and this is sort of what I’ve been pondering. I had a throw down with someone recently about expectations, mine are high, this person’s are low, and our expectations seem to spill over into every area of our parallel experiences. My high expectations shape my behavior, the ol’ “I believe I can fly….I believe I can touch the skyyyyyyyhiiiiiiigh” (I am so sorry for those of you who will now be singing this all day). I feel energized by high expectations. I feel like a ninja (which is only natural, since of course I am a ninja in heels every day from 9-12:15). I almost feel…optimistic! Sorry-I should have warned you to sit before I threw THAT idea at you. ; ) The person I was conversing with has very low expectations, and that is reflected in their approach to everything, it’s contagious and sad.

I came out of this conversation really bothered. Expectations have a ridiculous amount of power.

I know the month BEFORE we started chemotherapy, expectations were killing us. My poor 13 year old was a wreck of anxiety and dread. I was about the same. The fear of the unknown made us expect the worst. This was paralyzing to both of us, and by extension made things kind of stinky for everyone who lives in this house. Even Santa was bummed out by December at the Casa Camiolo.

Actually starting chemo was a relief. The expectation was worse than reality, even if we have to now admit that even “easy” chemo like Sorafenib rots.

As we cruise towards scan day in 10 days, I am trying to keep my expectations at bay. Generally my expectation of what April 5 will bring keeps me up past midnight and wakes me at 5 a.m.. Who knew expectations have claws that clutch at your insides when your insides really, really want to be sleeping?

We’ve had about 30 of these days before, closer to 40 if you throw in kid #2s forays into the Siemens Magnetom. Many of them have been ok in context, ye olde “stable, with some areas we need to keep an eye on”. A very few have been actually good: “rock solid stable!”. An extremely memorable handful have been trainwrecks of woe—“tumors have grown”…”malignant transformation”…”chemo failure”…”new tumor”. So my expectation are certainly tempered by experience. And I just can’t expect that these 6 pills a day are actually working. That seems presumptuous, somehow. I mean come ON, we are the Camiolos, Harbingers of Smite.

Call it defensive pessimism, call it glass half empty, call it negativity, call it Kristin (or half a dozen other girl names, with 6 sisters I answer to most names), but that’s kind of how it is.

At the same time, I have to be a ninja for my G. And she doesn’t think she has such a bad case of NF. She actually SAID “I don’t have such a bad case of NF” a few days ago…!!! That blew my mind. In her mind, life is what it is, her feet hurt from chemo, she is so very tired, can she have some pretzels, and did Scotty McCreery or Matthew West come out with a new album yet?

And that expectation, that there ARE folks worse off than she is, and her favorite singers will keep on singing…that gives HER power. How could a child go through what G has gone through over the last almost 8 years and NOT be swallowed by despair?
If I can carry that for her, I am glad to be useful as well as ornamental.

I don’t know what to expect next week. Right now my expectation is kind of whomping me. But I also have a secret plan for what I will do if my expectations prove wrong…

It’s big. And it involves God’s greatest natural resource…

Stay tuned.

(because once again I have a delusional expectation of blogging more often, I have to do something with all the stuff that races through my head when I can’t sleep. Thank you, Captain Insomnia!). ; )


  1. FYI, dear are doing a great job. Yes you: mother of awesome kids, wife of amazing husband, and daughter of The King. SO thinking of all night if you want. (No, wait, then you'd have to sleep all day and that just won't work) You are loved...D.
    Hugs to Genna. Tell her the babies are doing on my blog this week.

  2. I was just having a convo that centered on the conundrum: how do I manifest "expectant faith" while not "counting my chickens"...?
    A hard place to be, especially when waiting, hoping, actually "expecting".