Apr 052006

Ah, another late night post, filled with that sweet insanity that comes from a long day at work and a flash of introspection.
I got an e-mail from an old friend this last week, and it got me thinking about a few things, and also motivated me to actually post about a few notions that have been brewing in my head for a bit.
First of all, I’m not the sort of dyke who wants to sit around and tell you what a positive influence cancer has had on my life and how, knowing what I do today, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am not sure what’s up with the folks who say such things, except maybe those folks have never been weaned off their pain meds. I really don’t know.

But I *do* know that there were some good things that happened because I had cancer. As I think I have mentioned here before, some old friends came pouring out of the woodwork.
This is good, especially when you bear in mind that other, relatively new, friends ran for the hills.

And actually, I am not even mad about it. It taught me some things about the importance of showing up when people you care about are having a hard time, rather than just talking about what you think you might do or what you should do or what you are thinking about doing.

But I digress.

I was chatting with this old friend, and I was thinking lately, about my overall level of crankiness in this post-chemo time in my life and how I feel this pressure to be happier and more grateful. I can’t quite identify where that pressure comes from. Maybe it’s just from inside my own fuzzy little head.

But I think it’s bigger than that.

But that part isn’t what I wanted to write about today. I wanted to write about the draft.

I want write about how it feels to be less than delighted, all things considered. And don’t get me wrong. I am plenty happy that, so far, I am on the right side of the ground. Happy, happy, happy about that.

I think a bunch of things happen when you are trying to wrestle cancer to the ground.

1) It totally screws with your head.
How could it not? Some folks who read this blog will know full well how completely bizarre it is to have a stranger in a lab coat tell you that your chances of staying on the daisy side of the dirt, instead of the ‘pushing up’ side of the dirt, are less than spectacular. If you have never had this conversation, just trust me that it messes with your head. And I don’t even mean to be ironic when I say it’s life altering.

2) I don’t know about anyone else’s approach to their illness but mine. And I decided, in the times I felt well enough to remember that this was my strategy, that I was going to fight this mo-fo the entire way. And that even though the statistics for making it were freakishly bad, the statistics actually do prove that some people make it. And I had to set my sights on being one of them.

And what happened with that is I took the stubborn component of my personality (which is really quite small in day to day life. Just really a wee speck of a thing, it is) and let it run the show. You know that saying about “it isn’t the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”? That’s how I felt. I let the fight in me take centre stage.
I think that was good. But it meant I came out of the gate swinging, even when I didn’t need to.

I am still learning how to undo this one and respond like a dog that might be allowed in the house.

I realize the following comment is going to doom me to geek status, but coming out of chemo-land, I felt a lot like Buffy in season 6. Like I have been pulled back from the dead and that I may have become a bit anti-social while I was away, and meanwhile everyone thinks I should be so happy. And I am happy. Really, truly, I am. But it’s more complicated than that. Happy is one emotion I feel. I also feel confused and a bit lost. I feel scared in ways I can’t even talk about and I am not sure anyone wants to hear about, anyway. I feel angry, though less and less as time goes on. I feel completely stunned that something like that happened to me and on a day when my denial skills are particularly sharp, I can pretty much convince myself that it didn’t happen. Until I see the 12″ scar on my gut. And I think, “Oh for the love of Pete, Spike, terrible things happen to people all the time. You in no way have the market cornered on this, and, for a totally shitty situation, you couldn’t have had better results along the way, so shut up and get on with living your life.”
And I get freaked out that the world kept chugging along and now I have to run like hell to catch up. It’s a totally grab bag of emotions. I’d advise gloving up before your ram your hand in there, cuz some of these things are corrosive.
And the reason I write this is not to complain about anyone, except possibly myself. People have been very good to me, and very kind. Really, at this point in time, I hope that maybe I can help other people who are wading through this bizarre territory and maybe make them feel less isolated if they are having mixed emotions.

So, it’s not that I am ungrateful. I’m just trying to help.

6 Responses to “It’s not that I am not grateful”

  1. Jennysue Says:
    Hey Spike, YOu could have copied and pasted that post to a dialogue bubble outside of my head….(that is a funny image) because I have the exact same struggle with all the emotions that come along w/ cancer. It is hard to digest, and to explain. But you did a good job getting some of your thoughts out there. I am with you my friend, I am not sure how grateful I am either.
  2. Nicole Says:
    Hey Spike,

    Like Jennysue said…you really gave the thoughts in my head a voice tonight. I spend as much time telling myself I should be grateful, happy, thankful as I do feeling angry, frustrated and afraid. Unfortunately I also spend a lot of time feeling guilty as well because I feel so isolated from my friends. I haven’t felt the same level of support from all my friends and family in this and it makes me feel like maybe I shouldn’t be feeling anything at all about all this cancer stuff. Maybe I’m just over reacting. I know everyone means well but at the end of the day, most of my friends have sent me one maybe two emails, and of the family I’ve heard from (my father excepted who has been nothing short of amazing) it was basically one phone call before treatment started and then nothing.

    Am I horrible person for not wanting being the one that has to call their friends and family and ask for a little love? I feel like I’m just supposed to be grateful for the support I do receive – and I am – but I also feel sad and alone more often than not.

  3. pat Says:
    and the two of you are not alone….Spike, thanks for being able to put it into words….I’ve had many of the same thoughts in my head but have not yet shared them with anyone because I don’t think they will understand.
  4. H in NC Says:
    Hi…I stumbled upon your blog right after my OVCA dx on 2/1/06. I found it so refreshing being from the lesbian point of view. I have only had 2 of 6 tx and can already relate to many of your thoughts/feelings. My girlfriend is from Toronto, living here in NC, and is a Godsend! She has been so dear in all of this muck. Thank you for sharing. It really does help those of us in various stages of our journey. I wish you longevity with dancing w/ NED’s sister. :-)
    H in NC
  5. Liz (suburban girl) Says:
    You are such a talented writer. You expressed the “just finished chemo heaven/hell” perfectly. I think it is a stage everyone on the daisy side passes through.
    I wanted to help people too, so I made a clumsy blog that no one seems able to find. Then I realized I didn’t want to be thinking about the “pushing up through the dirt” side so much and took a big hiatus from the internet.
    I am helping one other woman with ovaCA undergoing chemo and that seems to be enough right now.
    As for the genderbender treatment issue, I’m glad you feel a sense of entitlement and don’t let other people’s initial awkwardness get to you as much. Enjoy the daisy side! Ignore the statistics and maybe let the fighter in you to stand at ease for now.
  6. Vicki Says:
    Hey Spike,
    Welcome to geeklife – I’m so glad that you mentioned Buffy.
    It’s the one show that I can watch when I’m chemo sick… I know all the shows by heart, but I watch them because somehow I imagine that as Buffy and gang are kickin a** on a demon/monster that’s what I’m doing to the chemo cells and I love it.
 Posted by at 3:44 am

  One Response to “It’s not that I am not grateful”

  1. I think your amazing…..

    with heart…


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