Between my bald head and this new 3 pronged port protruding from my chest, I feel like I belong on Star Trek.
Seriously though, this port thing hurts like a mofo. I don't why I thought cutting into a vein, digging a hole out of my chest and running a catheter through it would be no big deal. Tuesday, it was numb most of the day so I guess I thought I was getting off easy. But then I woke up at 3am pretty sure I was about to bleed out or something equally frightening. Turns out, it was just normal pain, which not surprisingly, I don't like. I'm wary of pain meds, so I've been toughing it out with Tylenol. I had a "poor me" moment earlier today when I got all afraid that taking Tylenol would lower a fever if I developed one. A fever is the best indicator if I get neutropenic again or if one of the incisions gets infected. So I panicked and wouldn't take anything. That was pretty dumb and unnecessary. My Neulasta shot bomb went off without a hitch yesterday and both sites on my chest are still sealed and clean. Sometimes I get unreasonable, but I get over it. I think I'm entitled to a little tiny teeny bit of hysteria every once in a while. Okay, maybe not entitled, but it's understandable, right? Right.
I had a FaceTime appointment with Vlad last night. We've been doing some healing work and visualizations. My new favorite was imagining a bunch of little people in hard hats (like Doozers!) with shovels digging out the cancer and sending it out of my body via mine carts. But now he's having me visualize in first person. No more passive observation of the Doozers. Now I have to actively take part in the excavation. I close my eyes. I go inside. I wander around with a bucket and a pick axe. "Anything I can imagine is real" is my new mantra, given to me by Vlad. I swing my axe into thick, ashy sludge and push forward until I hook into something hard. That's what I'm looking for. The hard gunk that's settled into the cracks of my chest wall. I yank the axe back and ribbons of fire shoot up to my temples. My head fills with rocks and I can't hold it up anymore. Waves of nausea wash over me and I have visions of myself on my hands and knees violently vomiting. The black sludge pours out. And now I'm back in my bed, listening to Vlad's humming over soothing music, and I'm crying uncontrollably. Filled with self hate and an overwhelming feeling of failure, like I f'd up by getting sick. It's somehow my fault. These are the things he gets me in touch with and forces me to face head on. I can see my crazy guilt clearly- hating myself for being weak, for what I'm putting my family through. These things lurking in the dark- they grow roots. They set the tone. These are the things that will bring me down. This is where I can feel active in my own recovery. We find these cancerous feelings, shine a light on them, and dig them up- even if it hurts. The doctors and nurses can fill me with poison and kill everything in its path. I will pick away at the source and flush it out.
Six months ago, I would have told you I was invincible. I would have been wrong. My best friend, Sara, was admitted to the hospital this week coughing up blood. I would have said she was invincible too. She eats well, runs, goes to the gym, doesn't smoke, doesn't drink too much. She's healthy. She has a good job. She doesn't live in a crazy nonstop city. She takes care of herself. And now she has a pulmonary embolism. They caught it. She'll need to make adjustments, but she'll be okay. But Jesus, that was close. And I think, "That would be mean, God. That one would hurt."
She sent me this the other day:
It's funny. It is. But what I can't stop thinking about is that isn't even close to over and I wonder what else will be thrown at us before it's all done. How close to home will all this hit before I'm out of trite sayings, and my Pollyanna attitude falls to the side, and my faith falters? Because I can be in pain. I know I can handle my own pain. I don't know if I can handle watching the people I love hurt. How much faith do I have? (How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop?) One of my favorite sayings is "Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." If I can say almost, then it didn't happen. Sara's okay. It didn't happen, but she's hurt. And that scares me. So here we are again with me happily agreeing to handle this with grace as long as it's on my terms. Bring it, as long as I'm the only one I have to worry about.
Sobriety gave me a whole new life. I felt (still feel) so lucky to live two lives in one lifetime. The tools I was given that keep me sober are the same tools I use to keep me from going under through all this. Don't be afraid to look inside at the ugly parts: my self-centeredness, my pride, my expectations of what "should" be and how I "should" be treated. I have to be willing to see where I am causing my own pain. When I really look, I see it everywhere. It reminds me of this parable a good friend posted once. I don't know its origin. I found this version online:
A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors exclaimed, “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild mares back to the farm as well. The neighbors shouted out, “Your horse has returned, and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the mares and she threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. The villagers cried, “Your son broke his leg, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through town, recruiting all the able-bodied boys for the army. They did not take the farmer’s son, still recovering from his injury. Friends shouted, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!” To which the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
You get the point. Now, I get the chance to apply it to my own life. I have fleeting moments when I want to kick and cry about how this or that shouldn't have happened, but it did. Who the hell am I to say it's wrong or bad? When I try to make those determinations, that's when I get stuck at the pity party. That's when I'm at the mercy of my own life views. And that's a dumb way to be, because the truth is I really don't know.
In more light-hearted news...
I have a small head. It's a fact. Once, while getting ready to zipline in Costa Rica, the guides had to get me a child-sized helmet. I don't speak Spanish, but I know what the laughing meant when they said, "una pequeña cabeza." My baldness is bringing up a lot of small head insecurities. I got these little cotton sleep caps and they're so warm, but I kinda look like an extra tall Pygmy synchronized swimmer in them. I have been unable to wear one in front of my future husband as of yet. <<Hears David walking up the stairs; tears off cap and flings it across the room.>> I'll get over it, but for now Phants is the only one who is allowed to see me in one. He wears one too sometimes so I don't feel so bad.
That's all I have for now. Peace out, mofos.