Monday, July 5, 2010
the all-access pass has been revoked
the free-pass of having cancer is over now.
what i've discovered about cancer - or, i suppose, any earth-shattering incident in one's life - is that it never really goes away. the impact on your body and your soul repairs itself more slowly the faster you try and recover.
on a cheerful note, i LOOK well. the exercise and the diet and mary schook's experiments changes make my skin glow and my hair thick (though curly). but that makes it all less believable.
while everything and everyone in my life seems to have gone back to normal - or as normal as they ever are, the shadow of the chemo and the cancer darken the edges of my consciousness. i am downing supplements by the fistful, avoiding sugar, wheat, animal products, peanuts. drinking liters of water. i think i am calm, but i wake with wildly destructive hallucinations. this morning's dream involved my being chastised and in my defence, i swallowed a bowl of lightbulbs. as i awoke, i imagined i could feel them in my stomach and i tried to move them so they wouldn't crack and the shards of glass slice through my intestines.
during the day, my brain still moves slowly, painfully so, at times. my sharp memory briefly resurfaces but most of the time, words and events evaporate so quickly i often don't believe they happened.
my body is almost back. i'll be swimming, doing pilates, working, racing around the city at top speed and then all of a sudden, one afternoon, crash so hard i can't move from my bed.
i come from a family that is in equal parts fiercely loving and breathtakingly violent, in word, if not always in action. they supported me through the treatment with a tsunami of caring and attention that sometimes knocked me down and left me gasping for air. and as soon as it ended, they lost patience. the more devoted in helping me, the harder they dropped me. the more they clung to me during chemo, the less understanding about the continuing effects of cancer and the cure and the struggle to catch up with my life.
though even i believed that treatment would end and i'd leap out of bed and go back to my usual self-destructive pace.
i agreed with my sister-in-law that it's so tedious to continue to deal with all the side-effects of illness long after the excitement of the life-threatening emergency is over. but boring as it is, i have to let it run its course.
four months post-chemo, i am often overwhelmed and daunted by tasks that require more than one or two steps. i read letters or email and can't quite figure out what they are communicating. i don't always understand what people are saying and i have to listen to directions or explanations over and over again until a few words soak in.
i panic easily and swing wildly between excessive caution and recklessness. my moods are a constant rollercoaster. if i am anxious, my brain retaliates by becoming even more opaque.
more often than not, i am at a loss at social events. i miss cues. i find it impossible to make light conversation.
of course, now that i'm not sick, i have no excuse.
the advantage is that i float on the surface of life. i am only briefly worried because a beautiful beam of sunlight or a smiling dog or waving baby can make me forget everything else.
do you remember that joke about alzheimer's? it's the most entertaining disease because you meet new people and go to new places everyday.
something like that.
i guess it's not so bad.