Monday, November 19, 2007

The Art of Sorta Zen




Sometimes, you find something someone else has written, that saves you from writing yourself.




Austere has this on her blog:


I have a strange sense of disquiet about this year.
Not been able to trace the reason, though.
Spectator- quality distance.
Perhaps all one can do is to remain calm: physically, emotionally, spiritually.



It bespeaks my life over the last year.



The last year has been one of introspection for me... at the same time, I've jumped into the fire in a number of ways.


A year ago, I had realised my Adam's apple had moved when I was putting lotion on my neck. It was only 20 minutes later, I remembered I didn't have an Adam's apple. I knew from that moment I had cancer, before I saw a doctor, had a test, a scan, a drop of blood run. I knew.


I was right, and had my knowledge confirmed when C and I were in New York where she was on job interviews, where she and I saw Wrecks, and I stood in a doorway, took the call telling me to come home, come home now, and cried quietly.


I finished out my holiday, went back, went to the hospital alone, and had my operation. I had an unique connection there, during the operation itself.... that kept me from feeling intensely alone in that most terrifying operation I've ever had. I still do not understand how or why, I only know I was given a place to go, that let me feel peace and security. I have only shared the full story with the person involved and it still makes me shiver with the intensity of the touching of souls that can occur in life. I went into the operating room knowing what alone is, and I came out knowing I wasn't.


I had to wait six weeks to go into a place where I could have the nuclear medication needed to fight my cancer. Six long miserable weeks, where I grew sicker and sicker.... weak from lack of a number of things in my body, unable to move towards the end... at one point, I remember lying there, freezing, not wanting the sheets touching me because the weight was more than my skin could bear... I woke up, knowing I had to go to the bathroom... and knowing I didn't have it in me to lift the sheet off the two pillows holding it off my poor, tired body.

I was there, and I actually thought, "I wonder how much a catheter costs?"


This time last year, I took two pills... they were robin's egg blue...nuclear medication...as I stood in a lead lined room, a technician yelling at me;


"TAKE THE TOP OFF THE BOTTLE, AND DON'T TOUCH THE PILLS."

"What?"

"DON'T. TOUCH. THE PILLS."

"What?"

He stepped closer. "THE PILLS. DON'T TOUCH THEM WITH YOUR HANDS. THEY ARE RADIOACTIVE. THEY'LL BURN YOU."

"Burn me? I'm supposed to take them inside me, but, they'll burn my skin?"

He nodded at me as if I were a pet who'd just learned a trick worthy of getting me on Letterman.

I took the pills.


They stuck to my lip, leaving a small scar on the inside... they stuck to the back of my throat, scarring there, and when they hit my empty stomach, they burned a hole there that still bothers me when I have certain foods or I'm worried...holes in stomachs, like holes in souls, don't go away, it seems.


I was put into my car (I'd driven myself... you don't ask someone to drive you somewhere when you will be glowing on the way home). It was rather neat that I set off the Geiger counter in two rooms as I walked out of the special section of the hospital. I was sent back home to let the medicine do the work it is meant to do...something that used to be done in the clean room of a hospital. Insurance won't cover it now, you go home, you contaminate your home, your clothing, your city water supply.


In my little area alone, I was one of six people that day having this procedure done. Think about that, my friends. How many people are in a big city, going home, going to the bathroom, flushing down radioactive waste into the recycling bins of your drinking water.


Scary, isn't it?


The other thing they don't tell you is you hallucinate. Oh, what fun that was! I thought myself to be a number of things, and I made sure I told everyone I knew everything I'd been made privy to know. I was Carlos Castaneda, with nuclear medication, not peyote my mind opening drug of choice. To this day, I refuse to read any of the letters I sent out.


Forgive me, any who received one.


You wait. Days of waiting, while your body is poisoned and you grow even weaker, and you take 15 minutes to walk from your bedroom to your sunroom, you are too weak to even cry from the exhaustion you feel getting there. You knit one. A few minutes later, you purl. Yeah, it sucks. Still, I had an easy cancer, and I knew I'd make it, because I refuse to do what anyone tells me I'm going to do, and I was not going to have it show up anywhere else, regardless of my age, the condition of my tumour or anything else.


At the end of the treatment, when TheInvestment chided me for sitting on a blanket to protect him and HRH from radiation ("Gee, Mom, shame people in Hiroshima didn't think of blankets."), when I was able to move faster than a speeding sloth, I went to CL's house for Thanksgiving, to pass the one year anniversary of my Dad's death.


I had to carry a letter from the hospital, since I set off the dirty bomb alarms at the TSA check points. This was one chipper point of the entire ordeal. I did resent having to have a wheelchair, because I looked okay. People glared at me, being pushed in the chair, seemingly healthy, along the pathways, avoiding the long holiday lines. I wanted to carry a sign that said, "HEY, I HAVE CANCER!" in apology.


They wouldn't let me.


It was then, during all this time, I decided to make changes, and I made them in a big way.




I gave up my very safe life back in the Land O'Utes, where I had a huge safety net of friends, a financial budget I could live with, a home and car and my oh, so, beloved children around.



I was able to do the family holidays, bright crisp snow in the winter, clean air, my wonderful, wonderful play festival every summer... the actors and designers and directors there that made my life complete in many ways. Orion sharp in the sky to look at every night.



I could take trips to New York on occasion with friends, seeing four plays in three days, dashing about like mad... yes, things could be done.



Instead, I took a deep breath, I packed up and I moved....far away from everything and everyone I know, into the unknown.


I faced what I had with The Oddship... After my move, I finally broke down and offered my all, my heart, as I'd been asked to do, being told I was needed in that one's life... to lower my walls.... to open up.. and was turned away...I was wrong, and, I thought I'd die from the hole in my being.



I lived alone, totally alone, for the first time in my life... and I didn't crack.



I've made friends, worked hard, found out I've talents I didn't know I had.


The new friends I've made....some via work I've found here in the city, from K to PM some via the internet, some via this blog... and those are listed on the side. I may be part of the collective "me,me,me".... I'm good with that. Bee gave me the gift of Six Sentences and her trust. Rob there gave me the encouragement to write, S2 (talented, wry and giving of herself always) pokes me to continue, making me think maybe I can write..that I have a modicum of talent somewhere, Peter is going to run the Amazing Race with me, Amber encourages, Andrea reminds me actors are smart and Bud reminds me I should take better care of myself... R adopted my son and I...as did LaEmpress. Prince and I continue to agree to disagree on certain playwright/directors. Yes, I've been lucky in the internets.



I've been lucky, too, with The WeatherGuy who makes me tea, and will marinate a beautiful steak, then stand in the rain to grill it for me. He didn't flinch at the cropped hair when I took off my hat; I know he's truthful in his comments he likes it better than the old curls. He pours us amazing 21 year old scotch, makes me laugh, and says he understands and will support my declarations I'm going on the wagon from relationships, my friendship is more important to him. He put pillows around said wagon so my fall from it didn't hurt too much... laughing at my blustering just enough so that my ego wasn't bruised. He's okay with the fact that we have this strange relationship; I respect him even more for that.



I have my old friends, even more important because they are far away, and they cheer me on, loving me in spite of all my oddness, all of my strange ways, my bluntness, my inabilities, my abilities, they are there for me always, giving me a foundation to push off from, to fall back upon, they are the family I've chosen in life.

My children remain in place all over the place... loving me deeply, liking me in spite of myself, believing I can be whatever I choose to be... the place we usually find ourselves in support of them. I'm lucky that way.



I struggle still with The Oddship, where we speak of only being friends, with that friendship in place, as we move around walls we both hold sacred. However, we move forward, and that alone gives me great joy. Sometimes, I think this will be my greatest friend, or my saddest loss in friendships.



One of my oldest, bestest friends,TheGodmother, who has always felt she has to compete with me, the one that would buy the same coat (once, we got drunk and wore each other's coats home.. how drunk were we? She was a size 6, I was a 12... we didn't notice...just put on the coats and went home) just because she haaaaaddd to have the same thing. If I lost weight, she went on a diet. We compete all the time. She is the Jarhead's godmother, thus the name, and her husband is HRH's godfather. She is my sister of sisters. And, as usual, she had to compete with me... only, this time, I wish she'd let me win a battle. She announced she weighs less than I do... because she has colon cancer.



Yeah, I wish she'd let me win this time.



If we find out it's spread, because they missed it on her scope two years ago, if it's spread, I'll move back West for a bit, to help out while she is in chemo and such. Why? Because she'd do it for me. Because she has done it for me. Because no one can annoy her as much as I can.



Through everything; my problems physically, spiritually, emotionally... moving, dealing with issues never mentioned here, friends, family... for once in my life, I've remained calm. Oh, there have been a few times of running like a chicken that's been run over by a Volkswagen, but, for the most part... I'm good.



In the end, it's the best we can hope for. It's all I ask for, all I want or need.



Well, that and a few other things, but, those are deeply personal, thanks.



Keep my friend in your prayers, please. That would mean more than I can say, more than I would ever want for me, more than I can ever thank you for, all 47 of you.



Thank you. And, thank you Austere, for summing up my last 12 months so perfectly.... it's appreciated.

17 comments:

golfwidow said...

No. Thank YOU.

golfwidow said...

(Specifically, thank you for sharing your experiences with us.)

Quin said...

gw~i knows, i knows...(you should hear us talk in rl, it's even more in code)

Kelli Wedemeyer said...

Thank you for sharing yourself. It is so strange to have had a person from a completely different walk of life move me to tears on more than one occasion. I can't bring myself to use the word "stranger". Please have a wonderful Thanksgiving. My thoughts are with your friend.
Love,
Kelli "Bushel and a Peck" Wedemeyer

Anonymous said...

You inspired me to move here, and give me confidence in myself and my life here every day I talk to you. I try to use your life, your dinosaurian(its real i swear) knowledge, and your compassion as a rough outline for my life and what I do throughout it. I love you Mommy. I hope I get to see you in December!

Word,
TheInvestment

austere said...

ty.

tears. no words.

Quin said...

kelli~send an email, would you? we need to talk

investment~every day i see your name on my phone, on my im's, i laugh in pure joy. nothing has given me such pleasure as the times i've spent with you... <3 i u.

austere~i love your words.

Bud said...

Time I spend here is always time well spent. Thanks so much for sharing that so beautifully. You always have my very best wishes. And by extension so do your loved ones.

Rathburn said...

What a year. Do you tell everyone everything? I think people who blog are in need of a good shrink, and agree totally with Neil LaBute in his well written Six Sentence (thanks for the link!) that all of you are about yourselves. The rest of us read and wonder why you have to tell the world.

Quin said...

bud~you da man. if you are ever single.. well, you da man.

rathburn~because i can (say that in a momtone, will you?)

Peter Varvel said...

Let me echo Golfwidow and thank you, my dear.

You are my new superhero, with radioactive powers!

Quin said...

peter~thank you. you guys.


you guys.

The Bee said...

LOVE, love, love it.

As always... :)


Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you have a wonderful day!

constant_drama said...

That was one of the most touching stuff I have ever read, I would definitely keep you in prayers.

I dont pray much but yeah...wow. You are incredible.

Quin said...

bee~i did

cd~nah, i just write that way. :)

jewgirl said...

Oy, I'm such a bluejew. You're a fearless dame. I can't believe what you've been through and continue to go through. I admire your moxie and passion for life.

I wish your friend a speedy, healthy recovery. I'm so glad that she has you.

Quin said...

it's in us all. and thanks. i'm blushing.


really.