Tuesday, July 18, 2006

In which I attempt to cut myself some slack

Where has the time gone? You would think that time would feel like it was moving more slowly, what with the temperatures in the 90’s many days, and today, reaching to 99 degrees or (dare I even write this, 100?). Unfit for humans, at least humans in work clothes.

But today that does not include me, I am still home, post last Friday’s treatment. They (the medical they) were right, the effects are cumulative and I simply don’t bounce back as fast. The great news is that I have only one more treatment to go! Which is good, because I am so over this. Not the hair loss or even the actual treatment, just the after effects. I am tired of being tired. I know I am not the first to voice that sentiment, but as you all know, being still is not my forte. And so all this resting and napping has gotten to be a bit of a nuisance, you know?

I should be productive in the house, but I am just kind of slugged out, so typing and emailing is about the level of activity today. Perhaps tomorrow, I will do better. Oh, yes, and I am in the process of sending out the invitations to Sofie’s sixth birthday. A bit later than I had hoped, but they will be out today, which is a tasteful almost three weeks in advance. Since this is not a $250 per plate black tie benefit, the typical four weeks and three days in advance might be gracefully waived. The elementary school set is much more forgiving about these things.

The big challenge is finding a nice way to communicate about the presents. None are “needed” of course, and she is in that awkward age of being between preschooler and teenager in the toy department. I went looking for things, ideas, at Toys R Us and was disappointed. She is completely not into “girls toys” (all pink and Bratz dolls and Barbies) except for those My Little Ponies and I personally think the stable is full there. But she is aware of every one she does not have and wants them all. Why, I cannot say.

But other than that, her interests are more in science things (like the butterfly habitat my Mom gave her) and cars and yes, snakes, still. She has eight or nine large stuffed ones, and we don’t need any more, but fortunately, she has two rooms that she can populate with her creatures. So snakes still rule. And art things or building things are always good, so I am making a tasteful list, with all sorts of ranges of prices, to let parents know when they ask. Otherwise, they might get a Barbie, unknowingly, and have to watch it get dropped to the floor in disgust. She hasn’t mastered that polite “oh, how nice” fake thank you yet. A good thing, I guess.

In order to make room for more things, I have begun to do stealth purges of little plastic items from her room and play space. Nothing too dramatic, but you would be amazed at how this stuff accumulates. So here is what I do, when I can: I pick up little items, sort them and take those that don’t seem to be in rotation much out of the mix, putting them in a plastic bag in the closet for three months. If she doesn’t ask about them for that time period, I feel it is safe to give them or toss them away. Same with clothes. She gets attached to things, even if they don’t fit, but if I simply move them out of the closet she seems to be more ok with that. I know that someday, when she is in therapy, she will be saying that she was nagged by constantly missing items in her room as a young child, and probably thought she was losing her mind.

It is partly my fault, I get so enamored of those little toys like the cars from the Pixar movie, and then set out to “collect” them (you don’t have to buy a meal, you can just get the toys) and then she gets into it, and I am going around from McDonalds to McDonalds seeking out the “Mater” truck. With no success, mind you.

I guess eventually I could sell them on e-Bay, but I know I won’t. I am such a wuss.

Who knew as a parent I would care so much about what backpack she had or the type and color of her raincoat? Really, I swear I wasn’t going to be that sort of Mom, but somehow I get into it, and I care. Too much!

The best gift she has received, a bit early, is a trampoline. Jamie found one for sale used, with the protective sides, to keep bouncing kids contained. Sofie loves it, and even when the temperature is hovering over 90 something, wants to bounce. And bounce. It is a good thing to exhaust her, however, and that gets her to sleep early. Also good, because camp is exhausting too. What a life, camp, bouncing, just all that fun. Six is the bomb.

Flashback to last month (the missing blog)

So, it was a month ago that we traveled to California for our visit. We left the Friday of her last day of school. What a week. I tried hard to pace myself, so my apologies to all of you that I did not see. I put quite a number of miles on the little rental car, something called a Cobalt. Which made me appreciate my solid Subaru wagon all the more! First and foremost, thanks to all of you who replied to my childcare request and my wild appreciation to Janice B for coming through in response to my Urgent Request for a Babysitter when Plan A and Plan B fell apart. Janice and I have known each other for many years, through Passport related agency work, I think, and Academy of Friends, perhaps. She reminded me how wonderful people in my life can be. Her response was a delightful surprise, but enabled me, on the first night in CA, to attend the GLAAD Media Awards with the handsome Mario Diaz, who was my host. What fun. My sister styled me (rejecting the outfit I had brought in favor of a more sophisticated look) and she lent me some things, including shoes, so I was properly attired. I was not so keen on Dee Dee (I am much too self conscious about that wig), but the look mostly worked. Which was good, because I got to meet Carson Kressley from Queer Eye and did not want to offend him by wearing a terrible outfit. He did not seem to notice what I was wearing, he was much more interested in my date, Mario! I stayed up past one AM, which was a first for me since the surgery in March.

I was excited to attend the event to immerse myself in all things gay! I am sorely lacking that gala event energy here in the Triangle. Not quite sure why, I imagine it is because my life is so far away from the HIV world and the LBGTQ world day to day. I am involved a bit with a women’s group (mostly lesbian, but they say women’s) here doing some fundraising for their fall event’s silent auction, but nothing like the bay area. I was actually feeling like I needed a “fix” of gay male energy, which the GLAAD event provided. But I needed to be surrounded by gay men and dressy lesbians, and it fit the bill, just perfectly. And I was good and did not even look at their auction items.

One highlight of the trip, at least for Sofie, was the trip with Naomi and her Mom Joanna, to the Jelly Belly Factory in Vacaville. Worth the long drive, the girls had fun, so did the grown ups. And Sofie and Naomi got to have a sleepover together and I did too, at the gracious Laribee Inn. The balance of the visit was spent with people I love and miss. Not enough time, there never is. Thank you Pat and Eileen for hosting the posse supper. I hope to someday have you all here, although not enough sleeping accommodations! Perhaps in Mexico instead? I am visualizing a beach vacation, sometime in the future, where I get to hang out, drink those pink drinks with friends, each fresh fish and read and tan (sensibly of course). I am hoping to have a bit of hair by then, since it won’t be until 2007, but a “real” vacation has to be in my future, I can only hope.

About the "Incident"

Every visit to CA is celebrated with an official dinner at AsiaSF, thanks to gracious co-owners Larry and Skip, who treat me like visiting royalty. This visit, mid-week, I planned a dinner with Leigh. I wore shoes I never get to wear in Durham, and we sat at the bar. I had one drink, (they make the best lemondrops ever) and we started eating our wonderful food. I ordered another drink an hour into our visit, a Mojito and after one sip, realized I had better not!

We were chatting, the girls had just performed, and all of a sudden, as the crowded place got warmer and warmer, the room started to spin. I must have started to slip off my barstool! Leigh caught me, although I think I knocked her glass of red wine over. A quick trip outside, with fresh air, and I was fine. Except that I think everyone in the place thought I was drunk. I might need a different wig for the next visit. Larry, Skip, it ain't true. I was just hot! I blame hot flashes and chemo these days for a lot of weird stuff. I did get to hang out with Larry and also with Lord Martine, for a while after the incident, and finally there was a new crowd in the place, so nobody was staring!

The week culminated with my second cousin Nathan’s Bar Mitzvah and being surrounded by family. I needed that, and I guess so did they, since people have been worried about me. That Cancer word scares folks. Many of the folks who did not know complimented me on my new hairstyle. Which reminded me of how long it has been since I have even changed my regular hairstyle. So maybe that will be something I do after all this.

I have begun to think about the “after this” part. I need to, to avoid sinking into a depression right now. Nothing is really wrong, I am, as I started out saying, over this. And I want to see what life feels like here, not sick and not slowed down.

My work has been more generous than I could ever have imagined and colleagues have donated some time so I am covered for now on the extra sick leave I need. I found myself forcing myself to go in when I probably should not have. But I simply ran out of time, especially with that long planned CA trip taking up a week.

Without sounding completely mushy, I have to say that this whole experience of having cancer and chemo has been a life lesson. Truly. And not a bad one at that. Friends old and new, have showered me with love and care. My friend Sue, Mom to Noah (also six) from LA came out for treatment number three. And now, as I am facing treatment six, Carrie is planning to spend a week with me and with Sofie, helping me cope with the after effects. The last treatment is complicated even more because Jamie is having surgery next Tuesday and we don’t know how she will be feeling a few weeks later, when I have chemo for the last time. Jamie has been really supporting me and having Sofie at her place for weekends and more, during the week as well. That makes it possible for me to be the slacker I need to be right now. Some days, I can barely muster the energy to be a Mom. It must be boring for Sofie, my not having energy to play snakes or ponies sometimes, but then she gets to spend time with Jamie, so the times I am post treatment are less noticeable to her. Sofie probably doesn’t think I am much fun, but I try to entertain her with “movie nights” on a night when playing is too much for me.

So, with the help of my “care team” of Jamie, Delma, Betty, Tracey, Sharon, Beth, Susan and Joy, I am getting it done. I hope to throw a fun party when I can, to celebrate the people in my life who have been there for me.

Must stop now, and consider a nap.

No comments: