Yesterday was not nearly as awful as the day before.
I woke up in better spirits, to begin with. IM’ed with a friend, as we’ve often been doing in the early mornings, and made plans to go to the Thursday healing Eucharist at her church (which I ended up not doing). Played around online for longer than I should have. Got up, got dressed, had breakfast.
Went over to the admin building to find out what I needed to keep my health coverage. (Linda, if you’re checking this, you were right.) The person in charge of these things is a friend. She was explaining to me: you can do this; you can do that; you can do COBRA (which God knows I can’t pay for), and I was getting more and more stressed—as all I’d needed was her first sentence. (“You have Kaiser, you need six credits.”) She must have sensed something was wrong; she asked if I was having a good day.
Uh, no. And I felt like I kind of went off on her a little. I probably need to go apologize, later. She means well, absolutely; we were just working at different paces, yesterday.
Got talking with someone who works for the School for Deacons (which was why I didn’t go to church). She approached me, already knowing where I was. Told me about her own health scare, and we talked about listening to our bodies. She has a gentle, healing presence that’s really good for me right now. I left that conversation feeling less afraid of statistics, and more trusting in my own body’s wisdom.
Went home and set myself to organizing/packing my bedroom. My next-door neighbor had given me four bags of clothes back in February, right about the time I got the flu. I’d never gone through them. I finally did.
There were two pairs of capri pants that I really like, that I can’t close right now. But I know they’ll fit me later in the summer, because I’m not going to want to eat. (Aside from the expected flulike symptoms, one of the possible side effects of interferon is anorexia.) I’m not going to starve myself—I’ve never been much of a dieter—but I know that for the most intense phase of this, at least, all I’ll probably want is crackers.
Damn curious weight-loss plan. (Yes, I know enough to keep myself fed, and to keep my electrolytes up.)
I posted the prayer call for Max and L, and got some really nice e-mails from friends of all of us. Thank you.
Went to coffee with a friend. Socializing is a different deal right now. She was her usual self; I knew I was really hard to pull out of me. I tried, but it took me awhile to connect with her, or to easily let her connect with me.
We have barbecues in the courtyard on Thursdays in the summer, so I went. This was the only one I’ll be able to go to; though I have permission to be here through next Friday, I won’t be. It was good to catch up with friends. Someone asked me a question, and I ended up educating my table about melanoma. They were really thankful to me for talking.
Guys, that’s what this blog’s been about for a month. I may not be able to answer if you ask me how I am, but I can talk about what’s happened to me. And I really, really appreciate you being there for me.
I came upstairs, answered some e-mails, got chatting over e-mail with Padre Mickey for awhile. Two of my friends are going to do the Panama Project. He wanted to help them have a good experience.
I love summer evenings. Even in CA, it’s light late. I walked down to Elephant Pharmacy in almost full daylight, and back up the hill as the sun was setting. It was a beautiful walk; the colors were really out, in the flowers. The jasmine was heavy; I love that smell.
I needed some vitamin E cream for my scar, and sunblock I can wear every day (forever, now). I asked someone in the skin-care section, what she’d recommend. She was really helpful. She told me what she’s heard of that works, and what mainstream drugstores carry. And she told me about when she was little, how her mom used to break open a vit E capsule to rub on her sunburns.
She told me her own family history; her mom had a melanoma removed from her back. I told her what I think I’m going to be saying to everybody, forever: GET CHECKED. My oncologist assumed that I have a genetic predilection to this, and I don’t: skin cancer is nowhere in my family history. (My grandfather died at age 77 of a heart attack, in 1993. He had some things on his head that he was in the process of checking, if I remember right. Still, I’m a good deal younger than that.) My genetic risks are fair Northern European skin, and lots of moles. That was enough.
We talked for awhile, and she took me to the herbalist a few rows down, and we talked too. I didn’t really want to rub oil all over me; I hate the feel of that. So she walked me back to skin care, and I picked up some vitamin E cream. That was what I’d originally been seeking; the conversations were gifts. I asked her where sunblock was; she showed me, and left me to my own choosing.
I was muttering to myself, rather loudly, about prices. Another shopper came by, and we got talking. I told her why I was looking: I just had a melanoma removed; need something I can wear all the time. We got talking, I don’t know how, about health insurance. I told her, I’m at the GTU; we’re required to carry it, otherwise I wouldn’t have known. She hadn’t had that requirement, in her own grad program. I got to tell her what I keep saying, over and over: school has been wonderful.
And they are so wonderful, because I let them be. I didn’t shut my faculty out, as I had done in the past (with laughably minor issues, in perspective). I told them what was up, because there was no getting out of it. They were only too happy—and too ready—to support me. They’ve had my back all through this, and I don’t know what I’d have done without them.
They’ve given me so many gifts: trust, time, their own humanity, talking. My history as an inconsistent student never played into their response to me. They’ve been concerned for me as a person, and they’ve supported me completely through this. I can’t thank them enough.
The other shopper went on her way, and came back to tell me there was a sale on hats. I looked at them, but I already have a perfectly good one. I paid for my stuff, and left.
I walked back up the hill, past the Franciscan brothers (friends of school, and of me). I thought about joining them for Compline, but I was a few minutes late, and I really wanted to be home. So I sang out loud with my iPod, and noticed the flowers, instead. I put the goo on my scar when I got home, and my neck felt so much better.
I don’t care how visible it is, or isn’t. We all have scars, on our skin or on the inside. I wouldn’t be human, or be able to minister to other humans, if I didn’t. But I feel that stiffness every time I turn my head. I’m not going to be allowed to forget.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Yesterday was not nearly as awful as the day before.