For the three weeks leading up to the great news in the shitty news department (GNISND), I was almost never alone. I had cancer tinnitus and the only thing that lowered the volume was chatter and Ativan.
After my brother got tinnitus on a flight home from the Soviet Union, decades (obviously) ago, he carried around a radio and could only fall asleep to the static between stations.
Last week, during cancer news week, I slept with either my 10 yr old, who couldn’t believe his luck (he loves to sleep in my bed), or one of my best friends, a single mom who generously gave up two precious nights without a six year old spinning in her bed. (I do spin, but not physically)
Company and Ativan. Highly recommended.
But here’s the tough part. Everyone else is living the cancer-free life (well most). They can cry with me and empathize, then they can slip out for air, back into some variation of health that’s no longer mine. I need people to hold me and talk to me about how fucked up it all is. I love being distracted. Then I have moments of wanting them to take their cancer-free asses and get out. Especially when there are too many people and conversations split off without my permission and are no longer focused on me and my pile of mixed-message needs.
I want to be bigger. Maybe I can be bigger next month.
Last Friday, the Friday of the GNISND, I slept alone. My kids were at their Dads’. I lay in bed inert, half undressed. I took off the two silver bracelets I have superstitiously imbued with healing powers, and put them on my abdomen.
It was silent - in the house and in my head. I can’t remember feeling that quiet and still, ever. No cancer noise. I fell asleep alone. No Ativan.
Saturday I stayed in bed and wrote Lymphoma is the new good news, and let the fear creep back. It hadn’t gone anywhere, just given me a 24 hour reprieve. My heart was racing. My abdomen ached. My right breast ached. I couldn’t help imagining the well-paved road of my lymph system making for easy travel. Lymphoma where are you now?
I’m in my cancer bubble. No matter how many people are around, no matter how close, they can’t get in the bubble. It doesn’t work that way. It’s not just the case for cancer, or illness, it’s the case for life. It just doesn’t feel that way most of the time - at least not for me. And just to be clear, I wouldn’t want a single person to join me in this bubble, or ride along beside me in theirs. Not one.
I mentioned to my mom that I’d had a hard and teary evening and she suggested I come to their place whenever I don’t have the kids. Such a beautiful mom offer. She wants to make it all better for me.
I thanked her and said No.
This will get easier. The noise will be shrill. It will be white and grey and sometimes there will be silence. I’ll relearn to be alone and to like it. I’ll get stronger. Tears and moments of “fuck you and your cancer-free ass” are all part of it.
I went for a run yesterday, just to prove I was normal. Today my legs are aching with what I know definitively are not symptoms of lymphoma.