Thursday, November 29, 2012

23 monthaversary

Two years ago this week, I was just getting started on my 20 rounds of radiation therapy.  We did not radiate lightly, or for "insurance", but because my bulky, persistent (bitchass) tumor had not been entirely decimated by the 6 rounds of chemo I'd already swallowed.

Every day at 4 pm, I would drive myself over to our closest hospital, leave the car with the valet, and then scan my id card to let the technicians know I had arrived.

Push through the double doors, grab 2 uber-used blue gowns and head to the dressing rooms.

gown de abington
There, I'd strip from the waist up, and replace my soft sweaters and undershirts with those sickly old rags.  Hang all belongings in a locker, take just the key on a spiral plastic bracelet keychain, and make my way to the ladies' waiting room.  There, I get to be the youngest depressed person in the joint.


Hear my name called and mosey on over to the treatment room with the green dot over the door.  Lean mean green machine.  Enter through the bomb shelter-esque doorway.
the long hallway
Assume the position - on my back, in my mold, arms above my head, eyes looking up.  And which Christmas song will add to the soundtrack today?  Ah yes, Jingle Bell Rock.

see the webcam in the corner of the room?  they were watching me from the hallway.
Technicians make adjustments, lining up my tattoos with the red lasers shooting out of the walls, tell me not to move and leave me alone with the death beam.  The indestructible door closes silently.  I can hear the machine whirring.  Spitting the invisible fire in the shape of a tumor.

the source
A squirt from above to the tune of ten seconds, then a squirt from below.

I hear the door open and the cheery voices return to help me sit up, put my mold back into its cubby, and wish me well until tomorrow.
my mold: doesn't it look just like me?
I take my keychain bracelet back to my locker and shed those scraps of hospital blue quickly but carefully, so as not to irritate the red, burned spots on my chest and back.  Going back out the way I came, I return to the valet and ask for my car.  Since I can't possibly tip the guy every day for moving my car 5 yards,  I decide to save up and give him a hefty tip along with some high quality chocolate at the end of the month.  I think he still remembers me.

Radiation was lonely, very isolating, and full of quietness.  Nothing like the constant hustle and bustle of the chemo clinic.  While it didn't make me nauseous, it made me sad, made me feel like a sick person.

Now, twenty-three months later, the crisp, drying air feels the same.  The Christmas songs all sound the same.  The clear sky looks the same as it did that month of December.  How odd for so much to remain unchanged.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Giving Thanks

hand jive turkey photo source
There seems to be a heckuva lot of gratitude going around these early November days.  I'm jumping on the bandwagon, but with a twist.  In my meditation group, one regular gratitude practice is to think of something that is easy to be grateful for, and something that is difficult to be grateful for.  While I'm not always an advocate for finding a silver lining, it is helpful - when you are working to feel happy about today - to try to find some value in life's challenges.

Tonight there are many things that are easy to be grateful for.  Starting with the fire in our fireplace right now.  So glad I grabbed that clean burning duralog on my last trip to WF.  It makes me feel cozy and snug when the weather is so mean and cold outside.

Then there's Judah's half-birthday today.  I made a cake (yes it had zucchini, carrots, and walnuts in it - but it was decorated with lemon cream cheese frosting), which he loved, and he got to pick out a few books from his school book fair this morning and I am just so grateful to be here for another happy day in his life.  Like I said, easy.

I am ever so grateful about the results of last night's election.  Between the increase in women voted into our national government, the approval of equal marriage rights in 4 states, and the president, I am profoundly grateful that the opportunity is there for our leaders to make good change in our country (and even further out into the universe).  I am not going to go too deep into the politics as it can get sticky, but I will say, as a person with a cancer history, I am so grateful for Obamacare, most especially the clause about preexisting conditions.  As long as this law continues to be upheld (by our dear SUPREME COURT), I will always be eligible for health insurance.  And so will you.

I am grateful for new movies coming out (Les Mis!, This is 40).  Grateful for TiVo and commercial skipping.  I am grateful for Ayelet Waldman and her book Bad Mother, which makes me feel like a good one.

Now.  Here's where it gets a little tricky.  Something not so easy to be grateful for...

Well, I could say that the election was an awful waste of millions (billions?) of dollars, stressful back and forth, scary threats and lots of lies.  I am grateful that we've had the experience because we have the chance to reflect on how harmful it can be to the health of us ordinary citizens.  The stress was overwhelming, but the relief palpable.  I am grateful to feel relief.

Can you think of something you're grateful for?  Something easy or maybe not..?