Yesterday I had a moment where I completely forgot about cancer. I can’t tell you much about this moment because it was just that, a single moment. I was distracted from my reality by something, I don’t know what it was.
I do a lot of things that lack sense, but what I did in this one moment was completely nonsensical. I stood up, walked over to a wall and went about doing a handstand. I cannot explain this other than in my pre-cancer life, I liked to do handstands. It has to be as basic as that. Just a bizarre muscle memory situation.
As my full body weight went onto my arms, and the 5’7 rest of me thrust up into the air vertically, the world stopped spinning for a second. The pain was shocking. I was forced with the split decision as to how to dismount this failed attempt at getting upside down.
My poor arms were forced to do something they cannot do right now. The muscles connecting my pecs to my arms have been disconnected and re-attached, the cording, the referred back pain, the rawness of the port insertion surgery. All of it compounded upon this one moment of gravity that should have never happened.
I am not exactly sure how I got to the floor, but I know from the sound, that my feet, did in fact, hit the wall behind me and now I was in a crumpled ball on the floor. It all happened so fast and all I knew is that I was in remarkable pain. For a few seconds I wasn’t sure if I had dislocated my shoulders, broken my arms even, I just knew I made a very, very bad choice under the extremely brief (& false) impression that I was just like everyone else.
My arms are in tact, nothing terribly injured, just considerably more sore than they already were. I’m not acutely worried about my arms, I am worried about my ego, about my soul. This one ridiculous attempt at my special version of normalcy proved that I am no where near normal. I am a cancer patient and I am about to become a lot sicker.
In the absence of a gaping wound, a cast, a limp, a bald head, I have looked pretty much like plain old me (ok, fine, I have a blue mohawk, but put that aside for a moment). I’ve put on a master class in, ‘I’m not sick, I am totally fine guys!’ every day for the past month. No one knows how painful and sometimes virtually impossible it is to put a shirt on over my head. The singular humiliation I feel as I cut a sports bra off my body with a scissors because I cannot do it myself and am too proud to ask for help.
Besides making you feel like shit and robbing you of some of the most basic physical abilities, cancer is forcing me to face all of my insecurities and inherent weaknesses. It’s very hard for me to ask for help. It is near impossible for me to tell those around me that what they are doing is affecting me somehow. The line between needing help and asking for it and hoping people just assume you need it despite that fact that you look perfectly capable, is a vague one.
My sunny resolve is fading with every moment that eeks me towards chemotherapy on Tuesday. Tears feel closer to the surface, I can taste fear. I am emotionally and physically weakened. A simple handstand brought me crying in pain to my knees. Not so much at the loss of physical ability, but at the fact that for a fleeting moment I thought I was normal.
What once was normal, is no longer. Just like the nature of chemo itself, this is the point where I have to acknowledge that my mind is going to have to reset to zero and build back up again. Just as I will be immunodeficient and my body will deplete, I will also be emotionally fragile.
Handle With Care
Normally I write posts rather quickly, let my brilliant sister edit, and then post. My writing process is that of a knee-jerk.
This time however, something told me to wait on publishing, see if my anxiety/resentment/sadness would wear off a little and then I could go back and tweak my perspective.
Here’s what I did in those 4 hours: take my 40lb 2.5 year old to see Finding Dory where he acted like a 2.5 year old in a movie theater (translation: total dick).
Also took a short bike ride on my granny cruiser. On a beautiful morning as person after smiling person past me with a wave and a ‘good morning’, I wanted nothing more than to throw sticks into their spokes.
I’ll say it again-
HANDLE WITH CARE
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My friend Lisa Bonchek Adams kept a blog during her breast cancer years. It was read far and wide. You might want to look at it. I know you do not fear reading about this and it might give you some insight. WARNING: she passed away last year
Oh, Grace. This feeling had to appear sometime. You’ve been witty and wise and cancer-be-damned, blue-haired and mohawked, and a trouper warrior. Let all the emotions appear. Deal with them. Face them down. You will emerge strong and well. We’ll be with you along the way.
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What Rhoda said.