I have a sneaking suspicion that people are being nice to me because they’re afraid I’m going to die soon.
People are cooking me meals, and sending me gifts, and offering to buy me plane tickets to fly all kinds of good places. My best friend from college, on her way to a family reunion last weekend, made a brief overnight stop in Philly, her three year old and all their gear in tow, allegedly to visit, but I’m convinced she just wanted to make sure I’m still breathing. She is suspicious of this whole Internet thing and probably thinks some poser is ghost writing my blog.
If only. Writing—or ranting, rambling, call it what you want—feels like way too much effort, much like everything else lately. I don’t return phone calls or e-mails or read the books people are sending. I skipped a summer solstice party last Saturday night that I had been looking forward to for a month. The thought of getting showered and dressed was exhausting, never mind the drive, or the small talk. Better to stay prone with back-to-back episodes of The Wire, my latest addiction. I’m like one of the junkies on the show, shutting out the daylight, the rest of the world, except for my TV and my couch, my latest drugs of choice. Benign compared to what they’re pumping through my body.
Here are some other things I don’t do: Pay my bills on time. Look for work. Write thank you notes. (Who knew cancer was such a gift-receiving opportunity?) Buy gifts or cards for other people, even people who do it for me, even people who are having birthdays. Work on my book. Deal with my insurance paperwork.
There was no rebound after the last round of chemo. It made me sick. It made me tired. Really tired. Dr. R says that’s normal. There’s a cumulative effect. Some people say it takes a year to feel normal again, he told me. I had resigned myself to the fact that my summer is toast. Now it’s my entire year?
My friends who are sailing the Pacific just sent an e-mail saying they had reached the Marquesas. “You’ll be back out there soon,” said another sailor when I told him the news. Back? Feels like I was never out there. That was some other woman, some other lifetime.
2008 is a bust.
All I want to do is be around the people who know me best, who let me be cranky and don’t care what my hair looks like.
I couldn’t even get to chemo on schedule this week. Being sick after the last treatment prevented my getting the immune-boosting $3500 Super Shot on time so everything got pushed back. No big deal, said Dr. R, probably just as well to have a few extra days to recuperate. I took recuperation seriously and did next to nothing for two weeks and two days.
So now I go for my last treatment Friday. That’s right: My last round of chemo is tomorrow. Please don’t cheer, it will make me bristle. I’ve got my split of Veuve, a gift from the well-intentioned girls during the Sex and the City weekend (it comes in its own pink purse, the Clicquot City Traveler. Again, who knew?) for this exact occasion, but I’m not ready to break out the champagne (not for this, anyway) and celebrate anymore than I wanted to freak out when they first told me I had cancer. It’s too long of a road and right now it’s still uphill.
Here’s the thing: People say it’s okay to break down, and have weak moments, and cry, and complain and be angry, but see, I’m on to their tricks. Because you know what happens when I do? They try to cheer me up! They remind me that treatment is curing me, tell me that it’s almost over, insist that radiation won’t be so bad, no matter how anxious I am about it now. When did everybody become such an expert in radiation? Cheerleading is very annoying when you’re trying to unload, especially when you’ve been lulled into letting down your defenses.
It’s nobody’s fault. Most people mean well and want to be supportive. It’s only natural to want to help, look on the bright side, try to make your friend feel better. I’d probably do the same thing, even as I’m trying valiantly to honor my own pace. It’s a catch-22.