Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Today I made the hour-long trek to the cancer center in order to receive my tri-monthly once-over by Dr. R, oncologist to the stars.
Okay maybe not the stars.
Just the same, the excitement of this happening traditionally causes me a certain numb-panic that perhaps only other cancer patients understand. Everything seems fine yet underneath stress brews so subtly it is barely recognizable. That is, until it breaks through the surface in the form of an angry outburst or a sudden unquenchable craving for peanut butter and banana sandwiches with a side order of chocolate bar, or whatever happens to be your go-to substance/behavior.
This time, however, for the first time yet, I wasn't up for hours in the middle of the night panicking and inspecting my body for new and suspicious lumps. This time I only lay awake for about forty-five minutes, enough of an improvement to convince me that I wasn't thrown emotionally at all. After all, I lie awake convinced the cancer is coming back and probing myself for lumps all the time.
Jim met me at the hospital for the festivities, which were uneventful except for the needle stick, which had to be done in my hand as the usual veins are too damned scarred. After, Jim drove his car while I drove mine to Whole Foods, where we planned to have lunch together from the salad bar. I suppose it should have tipped me off to find myself crying as I drove while listening to Jane Lynch's memoir on CD. As Jane recounted her experience landing the part of Sue Sylvester on the hit show Glee, I did fleetingly occur to me that though this was a lovely anecdote, it was not exactly a tearjerker.
It wasn't until after I said goodbye to Jim, picked up some groceries, and drove home while consuming several comfort food treats along the way, tears welling, that I finally realized and accepted that I was swamped.
I have a good life. As much as I love it, or perhaps because I love it, it is particularly distracting to be reminded at regular intervals that this dear life just might be on the line.
It seems like the emotional weight of this reality is too much to bear, that if I stand still and pay attention, it will break over me in as many waves as contained in the ocean and that there will be no room whatsoever to actually live in the spaces in between.
But then again, one person can only consume so much chocolate and peanut butter.
And also, as much as I hate to break it to myself, it's going to happen eventually. In this glorious story of life, we all die in the end.
Finally home and sprawled on the couch with Millie licking my hands, and then my feet, I called a friend and cried. And then I called Jim and cried some more.
And lo and behold. I'm functioning again.
Life goes on.
For another three months at least.