Stopping

Finishing treatment feels a bit like getting caught in a traffic jam five minutes from your destination after speeding on the highway for six hours. So close, but moving at a maddeningly slow pace at the end of a very long trip. I feel perpetually annoyed. I anger easily and the words I use to describe myself lately include restless and dissatisfied. After a year of living in a constant state of panic, my brain doesn’t know how achieve its previous equilibrium. Nothing is wrong so everything feels wrong.

My understanding is that this is normal. Fucked up, but perfectly normal. I just wish there was a timeline I could follow. A number of days to cross off the calendar until I reach the day circled in red that indicates I’m my regular normal again. But it doesn’t work like that. So instead I think of new projects with which to occupy my time. I work more than I need to. Then I blow off work for an entire day of staring at my ceiling. I spend more time with people until I figure out that I am having a hard time being nice to them, then I spend more time alone. I oscillate.

I don’t think it’s noticeable to people (I hope it isn’t noticeable, if it is, you can tell me) but I am seething all the time. I’m angry and it isn’t directed at anyone or anything, it’s just there. I mask it, but it’s there. I don’t know what to do but forge through until it dissipates.

Things that are helping: Spending time outside. Giving my thoughts a track to race on. Being reminded to be nice. Removing myself from the situation.

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About Alicia Louise

I'm a writer, editor, fact checker, storyteller, events organizer, chronically busy yet endlessly lazy, mildly neurotic (though I keep the neuroses well-hidden, one hopes) 32-year-old with recurrent ovarian cancer. I like people and good writing and straight talk. I have a hard time feeling sorry for people, including myself, but the people that I love, I love passionately; one may even say creepily. I try to keep that mostly to myself. I'd like to be charming, but I'm usually just a mess. I'm like a gull slamming into your windshield.
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One Response to Stopping

  1. Sue says:

    I’m not even finished treatment, but now that some of the worst of it is over – and, against the odds, I survived – all I can do is imagine how that little pain in my chest is a recurrence, and that I will die soon. During most of treatment, I was too busy surviving to think of this. Laughing at the intense ironies that abound in treatment land. But now, with light visible at the end of the proverbial tunnel, I am obsessed with staying sick. Rejoining the ranks of the living, as opposed to remaining with the undead, seems such a daunting task. Sometimes I hate them for talking their good health for granted. Mostly, though, I get pissed at the mundanity (?) of most of our lives. Even though just surviving sucks, part of me is drawn to the drama of constantly being sick. But it’s not just chemo/cancer patients in the ranks of the undead. Another big part of me doesn’t want to subsist. I want to live fully, whole-heartedly even. But where to start? Hmmm…

    French onion soup today. Baby steps. Doctors visit to see if this infection will ever clear. Start knitting. Clear the computer of viruses (I wonder if they’ll ever get bacterial infections, stymied by bugs on their own skin when their defences are down). Read something positive, and try to let it permeate my diseased skin. Try to let it in, then purposefully let it out. An offering to a tumultuous world. Constant offerings.

    I can’t run yet, but hopefully soon. When I used to run, I would try to empty my brain by repeating something simple in my head. Counting often worked. I tried to quiet my mind and then freely accept what surfaced. But I couldn’t be still and meditate. I had to run, only focusing on nothing while simultaneously increasing my heartbeat, and flexing and contracting my muscles. It was very therapeutic for me. How’s running for you?

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