Saturday, November 29, 2014

November - Checking In!

Poet Thomas Hood didn't really care for November, once writing:
No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon -
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! -

Right there with you, Tommy.

All throughout 2014, I've been "checking in" on the resolutions I made in January. Back then, I set five challenges for myself and all year, I've been reporting in my progress, setbacks, and "ack!" moments. To review - I picked six classic books I hadn't read to complete this year, I picked 24 "good movies" I'd never seen to watch this year, I determined to keep a household budget and tame the credit card monster while I was at it, I said I'd take the FlyLady system further into homecare, and I said I'd train to run a 5K race before the New Year's Eve.

OK. No one ever had me stand on a stage to receive the "Sanest Woman Alive" medal. There's been progress, sure - I've read three of my six classic books (along with a slew of other books that weren't on the list), seen 12 of my classic movies (again, along with a slew of classics that weren't on the list [I especially recommend Fritz Lang's M, by the way]), the budget comes and goes although we've done very well on keeping credit cards in a drawer, the basics of the FlyLady system are in place, although my zones are hit-and-miss, and - my big triumph - I've run 3 official 5K races, along with several "virtual" ones where you run and post your time online.

In the meantime, work has been driving me into a state of frantic "I can't get caught up," I feel like organizations I deeply care about are getting about 70% of me and that's squeezed in, my writing projects feel like chores rather than opportunities, and my beloved husband, who took me 40 years to find, feels a lot like an amiable roommate some days.

Clearly, something had to give.

I was not expecting it to be a diagnosis of cancer, although that'll pull you up right short in a hurry.

Cornhole - lot of missed shots there!
I wrote about this in my last post, but a quick recap and the latest news. I have been diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS"), which is both good news - it's not life-threatening in and of itself; it's what it can turn into that's worrisome and bad news - it's gorram cancer. I've had two biopsies done and am scheduled for a third Monday morning. OK, now for the funny.  400 years of the scientific method and the best position for a patient to be in for a breast biopsy is to lie flat on a table, with the (ahem) body part in question stuck through a hole as if a backyard game of cornhole has gone dreadfully wrong. There's clamping and needles, and bandages, and teensy portable ice packs and uncomfortable sleeping for a few days and a day or two of sharpening your sponge bath skills.  In short, while not nearly as bad as any other number of medical procedures (at least you get to go home), it's not a barrel of monkeys, either.

After Monday's "third time's the charm" procedure, it's time to pick a surgeon (I'll be a patient of this doctor for a number of years, so we need to get along and also, how far do I want to have to travel for check-ups? These questions, along with, "You received your Board certification when?" and "You've performed this exact operation how many times in the last year?" are ones that will need be asked.) Hos much tissue will need to be removed (lumpectomy or full-on mastectomy), what sort of surgical follow-up (radiation, chemotherapy, both, or neither) and what kind of recovery time is expected - these are questions that cannot yet be answered.

Part of the Colander Commandoes
I've had what I'm being told is a very human reaction to all of this - and the first person to quote Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to me gets strangled with a pink ribbon. I see the massive "bummerocity" in dedicating this year to getting my diet and exercise habits in better order only to be hit by a cancer diagnosis. I am grateful for medical technology that found the "bad spots" years before a traditional mammogram could've picked up on them. I'm profoundly humbled by the kindness of friends and complete strangers who have come to my aid during a time when a certain slant of light makes me tear up. I have cards, presents, prayer shawls, silly pictures, and a list of names as long as my arm of people who are willing to help out. (Need your leaves raked? Dog need some attention and a place to romp? How about some casseroles and soup so you don't have to fret about cooking?) You learn that you're sick even if you don't exactly feel sick. And you learn that life keeps spinning and that it's not all going to break your way just because you're sick - we had to put our young gray cat down due to (you guessed it) cancer this past week and that was a Very Bad Day.

Very Fetching Hat
And you know what one of the most profound lessons in all this has been?  Yes. 

Yes, I do have time to be sick. Yes, I am far, FAR stronger than a half-teaspoon of malignant tissue. And yes, I am worth being loved and being taken care of. (There was a time I wasn't too sure about that part.  Really wasn't too sure about that part!) Yes, deadlines can be re-negotiated without the person on the other end thinking you're some sort of couch slacker. And yes, you can fight with a Very Fetching Hat and dozens of friends who are willing to wear colanders for the battle. 

I have cancer, yes, but that's far from all there is to me. Going into December, I figure my final challenge for 2014 is going to be one that I maybe should have put first - every day, I'm doing something nice for me. Maybe I'll bake something to share (hey, nice to me can also be nice to others, you know!), maybe I'll make time for a manicure (waiting in doctor's offices leads to me picking obsessively at my cuticles), maybe I'll take a half-hour and read for fun. At any rate - it's the Season for Being Nice - and yes, that should count me.

Be well.  And to quote those grand philosophers Ted "Theodore" Logan and Bill S. Preston, "Be excellent to each other."

No comments: