Wednesday, January 28, 2009
some days are blue, some days are indulgent
I have been feeling kind of blue these last few days.
I'm always relieved after I get good scan results but a feeling of let-down seems to follow almost every time and I find myself, once again, channelling Peggy Lee and asking "Is that all there is?"
I just finished the latest round of edits on my book (coming out this spring with Women's Press!) and I have been left wondering, 'so, what's next?'
I haven't looked at the outline for my novel since I submitted it for my writing course on December 31st. The course is over and I am feeling kind of daunted. I've been asking myself, "Can I do this?" and "What purpose would it serve?"
This morning, I had an appointment with my wonderful oncologist who confirmed my CT results. He also referred to my "normal" life.
I told him that I have been feeling kind of "ground down" by the emotional wear and tear of treatment, as much as the buildup of toxins.
He gently reminded me that I need to think of myself as having a chronic illness, "like diabetes", that needs to be managed but that doesn't stop me from living my life.
I told him that I know how lucky I am and that I am very grateful not to be dead (at which point he rolled his eyes) and that I've been doing other things to keep my life full and interesting (like writing) but that I miss the more fast-paced, structured work environment.
My oncologist was sympathetic but said that we are working at keeping treatment "as innocuous as possible." I only go for treatment every four weeks and I phone in for every other appointment with him. And he's right.
The truth is that I couldn't go back to the kind of long hours that I worked before cancer. Even if I could miss three or four days on treatment weeks, my body couldn't tolerate the stress or long hours. And I am not sure that I really want that back or if I am just missing the sense of identity that I got from my job.
My oncologist suggested that I skip a cycle over the summer and I'll do that. I'll also keep working at doing the things that make me happy.
I have the chance to work at making art (and writing is art). I have to embrace this rare privilege, not feel guilty about it or self-censuring and just see what happens.
Some days are easier than others.
I asked my oncologist whether there were any restrictions on my activities. He said, "No." He added that there were also "No restrictions on lifestyle" - this is the same oncologist who suggested that dope would help me to cope with the side effects of chemo (it did!) and who routinely suggests I go out for a drink to celebrate any kind of news (wine for good news, scotch for bad) - "The liver is healthy. So you can party."
To which my spouse replied, "As if she needs any encouragement."
However, given the fact that I have gained 30 pounds since I was first diagnosed (10 of those in the last two months), I think I'll be living a more ascetic existence for a while.
Cross-posted to Mothers With Cancer.