Tuesday, April 14, 2009


When I first got out of the hospital, my dad was here, and I was focused on him and the kids and being back home, and I didn't think about much else. A couple days passed, he left, and my friend E. arrived and I shifted my attention toward him. In the weeks that followed, I would periodically get an almost panicky sense that I was lost and drifting. I need to find my bearings, I'd find myself thinking in the middle of the night. I'd get up mid-afternoon to refill my water, then pirouette toward the bathroom: Bearings.

This insistent sense of needing to be doing something other than what I am doing won't leave me. I'm convinced that I'm getting something wrong -- but I have no idea what the right thing is. Would I feel better if I pursued a serious writing project... or slept even more than I do already? I know I need to change something -- maybe something as simple (yet fiendishly difficult) as not worrying about the details of how I spend my days.

I say that, but I'm doing less than ever and it worries me. It looks like I'm on placebo rather than chemo, and yet I can't shake the noddy, dozey feeling. I've reduced my pain medicine and rearranged when I take it. I'm hoping to take even less, though that may not be possible right now. Despite this, I am still finding it hugely difficult to get up in the morning -- and that kills me because one thing I've done almost throughout this entire deal is get up in the morning, even if only to stand over B. so he doesn't forget his socks for the 239th consecutive day or read some box-car children to T. I feel like my presence helps L. as she negotiates the pentathlon course that is leaving for work, and I've been AWOL for a couple of months, pre-dating my surgery. It feels ominous in some ways, innocuous in others; I don't feel particularly sick, I just feel so tired. Maybe if I got my bearings.

Or maybe if I gave myself a kick in the ass.

I once worked at a fitness magazine. The January issue, of course, was the big best-seller every year, and it always offered 47 WAYS TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE! or YOUR BEST YEAR EVER! or STRONG! LEAN! FIT! IT'S ALL YOU! or 15 MINUTES, 3 MONTHS, THE BODY OF A LIFETIME. The magazine's staff, which had been given free gym memberships and in many cases spent lots of time futilely hammering away at them, soon got sick of this crap. Some of us advocated for a more direct approach to the January cover: GET OFF YOUR ASS! The idea was a non-starter; men want things easy, we were told. But January always rolled around again, and unless my memory is in out-of-control embellishment mode, we eventually tried a version of the butt-whuppin' cover line. It sold well.

And that's where I am right now. Not selling magazines: Trying to figure out the balance between finding my bearings and getting off my ass. Trying to accept my increasing physical limitations without being ruled by them. Prodding myself to do as much as I can -- but letting go when whatever it is I want just isn't going to happen.

The first prod might be waking up just a little earlier. I miss those sweet morning minutes with T. and her books. Given a chance, I might even miss B.'s ability to forget his socks every single day.


Anonymous said...

I don't know... My life is a comparative cakewalk (really) but I still often feel uncentered in it and have to push myself to even get to the prodding stage--a life condition, not sickness related. Very familiar with the dilemma of "Am I giving myself a break because I need one or because I'm indulging myself and should get off my ass?" (The specter of self-indulgence, you know.)

SG said...

yeah, as i often remind myself, illness is far more likely to intensify all the personality traits that you already have rather than create new ones. it's hard though, genuinely not knowing which is right and feeling so much more time-constrained than before...