As I spend time in this lovely lull between treatments (which I’m now describing as the “Make Hay While the Sun Shines” zone; I feel entirely normal, I really do!), and since I’ve reached out to my inner circle and have this blog up and running, to keep you all as much in the loop as you want, I now find myself in that curious zone of cherry-picking who else to tell about what’s going on in my life. Or, more often, whom not to tell.
And I’m ever more pleased to realize that “…Or Not…” is a viable option. In this world of social networking and seemingly requisite over-sharing, I’m grateful that I have the choice. With most folks in the periphery of my life, I will continue to be just me, no baggage around my descriptors. I’ll keep being K, the clockwise Fresh Pond birder and speed walker, J’s wife, I. and E’s mom, PP overseer, fundraiser, cookie baker, Red Sox ticket manager, book group member, Starbucks regular. No one need add “In Treatment” to the resume they keep in their heads about me, unless I decide to offer it up.
Most of you know about what’s up because of an email. I think I’ve only told four or five people in person. I have a friend that I just heard back from, who apologized for the lag time, but noted that responding to my message required a bit of extra time to describe her own situation: turns out, she’s got health demons to deal with, and like me, she is not anxious to over-share. As she described it, having the face-to-face conversation about a bad health scenario is a little bit like being pregnant and answering the question, “What names are you thinking of if it’s a girl/boy?” If the names you’ve got in mind aren’t in the asker’s sweet spot, you’ll know in a nanosecond. Certain things people just can’t keep to themselves. Even without words, their faces give them away. (“Jedidiah, really? And if it’s a girl?” (thinking to themselves, please say Emma…) Same with the overly-honest answer to, “So, how are you?” People aren’t really asking me about my last mammogram. “Fine, thanks, and you?” is a perfectly acceptable response. The Polite Response, one might note.
Here I must confess that I am a life-long member of the avoidance and denial club. When things get unpleasant, I’m a ducker-outer. Back when emotions ran high between me and my mother, I’d limit my communication to postcards, the better to leave certain things unsaid. For better or worse, my dodging and weaving felt like a decent enough coping mechanism. Maybe wasn’t, but got us through some rough patches.
And so, yes, I wonder if I’m doing the same thing now. But I don’t think so. For every one of you who think I’m some hero for being so bold about saying what I’m going through and having this chipper outlook, please know that it’s easy to be upbeat when you haven’t suffered yet, at all. I’m not overcoming much of anything, beyond staying on top of my intestinal cycles. There’s a lot of Metamusil involved, which doesn’t seem like a worthy blog topic. Truly, that’s been the most significant side effect thus far, and I honestly can’t blame it on the meds. Same as every ache and sniffle could just as easily be the same old flu that’s bouncing around right now, not some lack of defense on the part of my over-burdened white cells. As far as I can tell, I’ve flushed the half-life out of the toxins in my system thus far, and am ready for more. And in the meantime, I get to ride the normal train, not the special van for the infirm. I can even give up my seat. I’m as healthy as the next person, with this one bit of business to attend to. If I don’t tell people what I’m up to, I don’t get that face, the sad, shocked, not-sure-what-t-say-next one. And I don’t have to spend five minutes saying, “But really, I’m fine.” Better to start with “Fine, thanks, and you?”
Meanwhile, back to the Make Hay zone. I do wake up feeling like knocking off projects—now, while I can, being the obvious motivation. The same internal drive that headed me to the north to get a Christmas tree taken down before chemo started is now motivating me to bulldoze my way through the crap in my away-at-college boys’ rooms, get the car serviced, call someone about the furnace, bake a batch of cookies and drive up north, just for the fun of standing outside the life sciences building while classes change, and trading gingersnaps for a quick hug with my older son. That silly boondoggle (those cookies have a big carbon footprint, I’m embarrassed to say) serendipitously turned into a delightful road trip with my sister-in-law, giving us time to talk about things we’ve been meaning to talk about for weeks. And by delightful kismet, we both got to be there for a cookie-and-hug distribution to another one of our nephews, along with my big guy. “Oh, you empty nesters,” my son noted. Well, yes. And at least one woman on a mission to do what I can, because I can.
Next Wednesday is Chemo#2 day. I’ve got more projects to attend to, between then and now. One of them might even be to get some Christmas cards-turned-Valentine’s cards in the mail. Keep an eye out!