Thursday, July 14, 2011

I'm not crying

What is with me lately?  It might be my ovaries awakening from my 55-year-old chemo body into my renewed 30-year-old body, but I'm a tad bit sensitive.  However, my sensitivity doesn't feel hormonal, so I'm trying to pinpoint another cause.  The stress of a "normal" life while still having skin pain, arm pain, boyish short hair, etc. is certainly a culprit.  And I think it's highly likely that I have not yet processed this whole cancer thing yet.

For example, the other night I was writing some notes in my Wonder Woman notebook and I had to flip back to reference a previous page.  I was intrigued by what I found on that previous page, and I just kept flipping back and back and back until the beginning on the notebook, which started just after the cancer diagnosis.  The page that got me and jerked out some tears was dated Oct. 27, 2010.  It is almost entirely in my brother's handwriting--the cause of my undoing.  He detailed some of my goings-on:

10:30 pm  lethargic, nervous, drowsy.  Going to try to sleep.  Tummy hurts.
9:30 am 1 prochlor, 1 vitamin, 2 tylenol, 1 vitamin D
12:47 pm 1 ondansetron, 2 tylenol
6:30 pm  1 ondansetron, 2 tylenol

On the next page are some questions for Dr. Oncologist, in my own handwriting.  One question is, "On major fatigue days, I nap twice and can't do much of anything.  Is that okay?"  Doesn't that just make you want to reach into the past and give me a cuddle?  It kind of breaks my heart.  I had to stop reading.  I kind of can't believe I experienced that.  And the rest of it, too.  

The other example of my sensitivity-slash-need to process the whole cancer thing happened at work.  Before my diagnosis, my boss had planned to host a seminar series in June 2011.  So in January, between chemotherapies, I invited Heidi Goodrich-Blair.  She is an outstanding scientist in the field of microbial interactions and symbioses.  In June she visited, and I was her host.  I packed her schedule with all sorts of exciting meetings with excellent scientists, both at our center and at the university in town.  When the visit was over we embraced, said our thank yous and goodbyes, and I felt like crying.  It was supposed to be this professional, non-emotional work thing, and I felt like crying.  Why?  Because although I had gotten to visit with her, I didn't really get to sit down and talk with her about science?  Because I realized that she represented all of the wonderful people and things and places that were Grad School, and I missed all of them?  Because I realized that cancer had changed me, both professionally and personally, from the person she once knew, and that disappointed me?

The trick to these emotional things, I think, is that I am getting so deeply engaged with my normal life that I am not taking the time to Release these emotional things.  I eagerly bounce from work to kids to friends to family to chores with scarcely a moment for myself.  And I'm not mad at myself, because I think this is a natural response to not doing jack___ for 7-ish months.  The current lifestyle, however, urges me to deny the tears.

"For your information there's an inflammation in my tear gland."  (If this is your first introduction to the Flight of the Conchords I highly, highly recommend that you check 'em out.  Hilarious.)

But seriously, now I think it's time to work some Heather time into the schedule.  To just go sit and watch a sunset somewhere, savoring every dip of that orange globe towards the endless midwestern horizon.

Where should I go, now that my dad no longer lives in the best sunset-viewing house in the universe?  I'm taking suggestions.                    


  1. I can't offer you a sunset in tightly packed West Des Moines, but I can offer you a massage (no worries, I will not perform said massage)... that is usually rather therapeutic?! Want to spend some Heather time getting a massage?! Let me know....

  2. ....and what about a pedicure to boot? (pun intended)

  3. Where else but Santa Fe? Fire filled sunsets, smoky red sunsets and even rain filled sunsets with rainbows of late. The ticket is up to you! Anytime my baby BEAK.

  4. WeLL i meant the time. I would certainly foot the bill. Pun intended after Patti's post!

  5. Not sure what to recommend for sunsets, but sunrises over the Boston Harbor are delightful. And they are quickly followed by all the elderly Russians descending on City Point, which is even more a thing of beauty. OK, beauty is probably the wrong word. But it's awesome. You guys should come, and bring the girls. First we'll do the Ocean Spray tour, then tour the Sam Adams brewery. Something for everyone.

  6. Here's my favorite place - but it's 9 hours away. We don't do the boundary waters canoe - just stay in one of the modern cabins (hot/cold running water, electricity, flush toilets, full kitchen and a deck for watching the sunsets and moonrise over the lake:

    Heather, I continue to be amazed by you and your writing. Would I be the 347th person to recommend that you put all of this into a book? I really think it would be so helpful to others.

    Continuing to send healing thoughts and hugs your way -

  7. The Rock at Ledges. I can give you more details or take you there myself some evening.

  8. @Patti: YES to the massage. I'll take you up on it on the next federal holiday, or a Saturday. @Neysa: YES to the rock some evening. Yes yes yes. @Barb: Thanks for the blog props! I don't think the blog itself is a very rich publication, but I'm thinking of ways to develop a theme or two into a book. @everyone else: although I have no vacation time with which to experience your recommended sunsets, I will start a sunset bucket list and your entries will be at the top. They sound amazing.

  9. I'm not so sure this is a weird hormonal thing - I was teary-eyed reading this entry and am still as I remember my sick and sleepy Heather in November. I'm so happy you got your sunset and that you are taking some time for yourself.