I think I spoke too soon in the last blog. Grief can come over you in waves, no matter the loss you're contemplating. And I'm still grieving what I know will be the loss of part of my body, my hair, my youth, my health, my old life where I worried about normal things. I wish I could hit the rewind button and relive the last five or so years differently, so I could enjoy everything more and worry less. But I can't, and that bothers me.
By all accounts, we had a wonderful day yesterday. Gabe went in to work for a while and then worked from home, so we took the kids to Brookfield zoo in the afternoon. It was gorgeous--maybe the nicest weather of any zoo visit I've ever had in my life. We got dinner after the zoo and it was bedtime for the kids when we got home. Gabe and I watched the Hangover. The day was just so normal. And that's what got me.
Will I ever be normal again? Here's a problem with the internet. You can google "is life ever the same after cancer?" and get hits like "thereislifeafterbreastcancer.com." Seriously, look it up. It's as if there's no emotion or life experience that hasn't been done before, that others haven't tried to explain. Because that's true. But that doesn't make it feel any different for YOU. All day long I would be enjoying myself, when I would suddenly start reeling from something, like seeing a young couple with a baby. I didn't even want more kids but I would think, that will never be me again, and need to turn away crying. I got sad while clipping coupons because I realized I didn't need the Pantene coupons anymore. I think I'm getting the same cold that Augie and Gabe have had, but every innocuous symptom is turning me into a basketcase as I wonder if I have lung cancer, stomach cancer, bone cancer, shit, full body cancer. I started throwing all of my nursing clothes and bras into a box, angry with myself that I ever saved any maternity clothes. This blog is filled with TMI, so I'll admit that I got my period yesterday, which while normally annoying, just made me think "well what the hell is the point in that?" And in grand irony, my breasts are just killing me, as I am very engorged from weaning. I'm mad that neither I nor Gabe can enjoy them in the last few weeks I have them, you know? A few times yesterday, I started resenting the normal day, because damnit, this isn't normal, I might never be normal, isn't that obvious.
I know I need to take it one day at a time. That's all anyone can do. And for the most part, I have been doing that, but these thoughts keep creeping up on me. I haven't even had surgery, much less treatment, but I'm already thinking about what life will be like after that. I might still be very tired, not my normal self for a long time. Many cancer patients say recovery is much worse than treatment, because they weren't expecting it to be so rough and they thought they could go back to their pre-cancer lives. Now I can hope for me it will be relatively easy, but I can imagine how you finish chemo and radiation and everyone believes, now the old Katy will be back. Hopefully, but what if not? It would be a drag to be around someone so singularly focused, which I have been these last few weeks. Will people begin to wonder when I'll get over it? When will I be the same? It's this unknown that is my second biggest fear, after the initial fear of my cancer having spread.
As an aside, I am just totally unprepared to find that out. I try not to think about it and to assume the best. That's why I've scheduled my lumpectomy, my post-op appointment and my first appointment with the oncologist. Let's just assume everything's good, I'm not BRCA positive and we're doing this lumpectomy. Let's assume I caught it early and I'm stage 2 or less. But every once in a while this fear crashes over me and I feel like I'm drowning in it. I'm not supposed to admit that, am I? That makes me weak, or negative, or at the least a downer.
Back to that subject--I know I shouldn't look at it that way, that I'm bringing people down. I'm just afraid that we're getting all of this support because people feel sorry for me, and it's hard to maintain relationships based on pity. I've been thinking back to the time after I got hit by a car when I was 9. I was out of school for three months, in a wheelchair, and I had to learn how to walk again. Recovery was the main purpose of my life then as well, but I was young, so distracting myself was easier. But I remember how my friends would visit on rare occasions, and how hard it was for them. I felt guilty about that, and also lonely. It was totally understandable--we were kids. If I couldn't play, what would I do with my friends? We weren't "tweens" then the way kids are today. We didn't sit around talking, about boys, or clothes, or whatever. We played. I couldn't do that, so they did the logical thing and waited until I could. I know my friends cared about me, worried about me, missed me. But for that time, I was different, so my friendships were different too. All of my friendships survived that accident, and some of my friends from that time are even following this blog 25 years later. But once I could play again, I seemed the same. This time, I'm not so sure.
When I got in that accident, I was on my way home from school, excited to meet my friend who went to Catholic school (we didn't see each other that often) so we could have a big leaf fight. I think she was mad when she found out that couldn't happen; of course, she didn't understand. For a few weeks after I got out of the hospital I would enviously watch other kids jumping in the leaves. I wistfully admitted to my mom that I wished I could do that. She said "oh, you'll be able to do that next year." And she probably doesn't remember that conversation, but that was one of the biggest epiphanies of my life. Next year. Next year, things will be different!
At 9, you have no concept of the future. I just accepted that yesterday I could walk, today I cannot. I am not a walking person anymore. The idea that the future would be different, that life would not always be as it is today, was a marvel. I felt so overwhelmed by happiness that I can still remember what it felt like all these years later. I went through some tough times after that, had night terrors, etc., but the next year I met up with my same Catholic school friend and there are these wonderful polaroids of us having the best leaf fight of all time. And I still kick the leaves in the fall.
This time I worry that the future will be different, but not in that good way. It's harder to have an epiphany like that when you're a more cynical adult. And most of my friendships are based on talking, laughing, etc. and for now I am not very good at talking about anything besides myself and this disease. I try, but then I get lost in my thoughts. Gabe suggested I write this blog today, so I can get out some of the negative stuff. He thinks my blogs have been more positive than I'm really feeling. That might be true. But since I've been avoiding people, all anyone knows about me right now comes from this blog, so I don't want it to be completely depressing. I'm usually a pretty even-tempered person. I get annoyed easily, but I don't take myself that seriously. And this is some serious shit.
So what to do? I think I need to get back into the world, start answering the phone. I can't make any promises, but if you all start calling, you might actually hear my voice. Don't take it personally if I'm not up for talking right that minute. As they say, it's not you, it's me. And it is still me, right? Somewhere in there.