Oh Head, Won't You Please Shut Up?
Today is another weird one. I'm having really bad nights where I feel like I'm struggling to breathe, have an upset stomach, and something else--I can't put my finger on it but definitely weird.
I get up and immediately feel that I need to go back to bed. Here we go again, I think as the familiar feeling of being completely shattered and lifeless returns. Eventually I'm able to get enough strength to go out with the dogs at about 10:15. I push, really push myself to walk down along the beach and up the estuary.
I’m walking but my mind never shuts up and I have a pity party playing in my head. The bones in my right foot are screaming at me and protesting about being made to walk and again, I'm thinking that I don’t care whether I live or die. I'm planning my own demise in my head and hoping the end wouldn’t be painful. I know this feeling will pass eventually but wow am I so fed up with this garbage.
Oh head, won’t you shut up? I try to reason with myself.
My friend is able to cope with her terminal diagnosis, I think. I’m not terminal, so what on earth is wrong with me? Why is my mind fighting my body and why is every day so miserable? I feel like I'm trying to swim up from the bottom of a pool. I'm still moving, but for how much longer? Will I reach the surface or will my lungs give out first? If so, what's the point of the present pain?
I start beating myself up. I feel such a failure and such a baby. There are far more people worse off and still fighting to live. Meanwhile, I’m just existing. And thinking to myself in my head.
I don’t want to cook meals and do housework. Please please tell me I’ll get some of my mojo back one day. I’m learning to fly but flying lessons have been off due to the weather. I’m doing some woodwork but the shed is at the bottom of the field and it’s pouring outside, plus my legs feel like jelly. Do I just give up on today? Put a film on, turn up the heating and try to chill out? Or do I give myself yet another boot up the backside to get going? I know that more than anything I’d like to sit and stare at the wall, but does that make getting my strength up a bit further away?
There seems to be no guidelines for any of this and unless you have been through it you'd have no idea. If people understood 20% of what you go through they would run for the hills and be terrified of getting anywhere near this cancer mess.
I start dwelling on my disappointment in some of the family, about their lack of concern or care or even desire to talk to me about it. My husband Ken has been amazing--in fact, more than amazing. Goodness knows what would have happened to me if I hadn’t had him. But then I start to think, Realistically, I guess I would have coped one way or another. It makes me wonder how single parents with no backup family manage.
Perhaps I need to do something positive to deal with all this garbage. I don’t want to live my life as a cancer victim. Would helping out with charities and fundraising just keep cancer a profitable institution? Oh, I don’t know anymore. All this back-and-forth is giving me a headache again, I don't know whether to be bitter or grateful.
I’ve just realised that cancer hasn't made me any wiser. I don’t know anything except that my body hurts, my head won’t shut up, every ache and pain feels like cancer. I’m exhausted most of the time and I am bored with what life has become. I want me back and that's the one thing that is never ever going to happen.
That leaves me looking toward the more difficult future, imagining what the possibility of surviving this thing would look like. I imagine myself at my last treatment. I'm concentrating on my doctor's face, her eyes when she says she hopes she'll never see me again. I'm thinking about walking out of the hospital doors for what would already feel like a long time coming.
I'm thinking of this version of myself and I have to wonder-- how much of the current 'me' will be a part of her? How distant will the old 'me' feel? Will I like this new me when I find her?
Well, I think, there's only one way to find out: keep swimming up.
Photo courtesy of Jacob Walti.