Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My Surreal Life: A True Reality Show

It was an awesome weekend. Following a central development retreat on Thursday and Friday in Pinehurst (or near there, there is Pine everything in that part of the state), I drove four hours to Asheville for the weekend and spent the time being taken care of, lovingly, by Barbara and Jacque. We paced ourselves gently on Friday PM, eating an in home dinner with a few friends. Then Saturday we went to Blowing Rock to have spa day at Westglow! Ahhhhh. It did not start out perfectly, I was informed upon our (slightly late due to bad directions) arrival that my therapist had called in so they only had a male available. Would that be a problem? I thought about it for a minute and realized it was. I am just not comfortable having my body massaged, exfoliated, and poked at by a guy. So I took a deep breath and said yes. I wasn't angry, just clear. It was, so how might we work it out? The first treatment was cancelled (body scrub, I could live without that one) and the rest was re-arranged a bit, so after a delicious spa lunch, my two hour hot stone massage (complete with lovely stretching in a nice passive way, assisted by the massage therapist) and my facial with complimentary foot and head rub (ahhhhh) were done by women. I was in heaven, truly lovely to have my otherwise lumpy and toxin ridden body treated so well. There is something about hot stone massage that I just relax into, it is very therapeutic for both physical relaxation as well as mental!

We listened to the soundtrack of Hairspray on our drive home arrived home after 7:30 PM and I was content to be a couch critter, reading my summer read du jour. Sunday was mellow again, and Barbara and I made time to discuss the future planning that she is involved in (she is going to be the person who manages all things financial for me on Sofie's behalf, after). This discussion was necessary and important, but periodically, I kept having these short lapses into surreality. I am planning "as if" I don't have all the time in the world. Because, most likely, I don't. But I still find myself going into some weird moments of denial or disbelief as I imagine not knowing my daughter at 10. Or seeing her through the trials and tribulations of middle school and high school. (ground rules include family time as a priority, dinners together most school nights, no tattoos at all until at least 16, then if she really wants one, if it is tasteful, and not in a highly visible area....and what about driving and a car? And college. I want to be there to proofread her applications. But reality check: I have this cancer, and it is growing and the odds are not all that great. So I have to plan, really clearly and with intention and trust that she will be fine. But it is very hard. And not at all what I had imagined my life with her to be.

Thank you, Barbara and Jacque, for taking care of me this weekend, for the spa stuff, for all of it. Sometimes, I just need that, to be totally in someone else's hands. So I don't have to think about things. Or do much at all. And thank you Jamie, for being with Sofie, so I could.

Today was the second chemo of this first cycle of the fourth drug. Following that? Last week went pretty well, the drugs did their jobs and kept the nausea away and when I pull (gently) on my hair, so far it is staying put. I picked up the medical recertification form that my work needed (it has been about a year since I submitted one). Last time, the certificate had a more short term approach: complete chemotherapy in August, should be able to return to "normal" full time work by mid-October. And I was! I was back to normal. Only it wasn't to be a long view on that.

This time, the diagnosis said it all: Progressive Ovarian Cancer. Time frame unknown for treatment. Time frame unknown for limitations due to treatments, low counts, etc. I have been struggling with labels lately. I was fine last year with cancer survivor, even cancer patient while the treatments were being completed. But now it is harder. Am I employed full time? Yes, technically, but I cannot really be counted on for a full day and frankly, my heart and mind are just not there, even when I try. I am thinking, more often now, of the to do list for my life. Summer is flying by, how is that possible? Have I spent enough time with Sofie this summer? Not really, there is never "enough time" but yes, we have spent some good times together. And she doesn't need me hovering over her. She plays just fine by herself, thank you. And loves camp. It does make her tired, so evenings are kind of mellow for us. The bedtime ritual of singing to each other ("have beautiful, colorful dreams", a song of our own creations) and snuggling or rubbing her tummy are precious. Sometimes that is when the tears come.

But the labels. I am now "living with cancer" on a daily basis. But am I dying from it? I choose mostly to say not now (yes, I know we are all dying every day, but you know what I mean). But do I want to spend six months, a year, working when I could/should be home at 3:10 PM to greet my daughter and help her get through her homework earlier? Isn't that what is more important? I have to make choices, maybe not today, but I am obsessing about them a bit too much these days. No crystal ball exists to mark a date or a timeline so I can work out the details. I am trying hard to be OK with all this, to listen to my heart, not my pragmatic head, but I don't have a lot of answers. If Lifetime (television for woman and gay men) was doing a reality show of my life, they would see me in overwhelm most days lately. Sorting through piles of stuff, papers, etc and trying to organize it for the future. Whatever that is.

No comments: