Like a balloon you let go of

That last treatment was hard. Emotionally and physically and mentally, in an I-don’t-have-many-memories-of-last-week way. If I hadn’t written about it, I couldn’t have told you what my oncologist said at my appointment. I barely remember seeing anyone on chemo day and I have no recollection of Natasha picking me up and driving me home, though I knew I was invited to Finn’s birthday at some point. I forgot that I met with Scott and Dara and Joel and Beth for dinner on Friday and left early because I was so wrung out that I couldn’t sit up straight. I went to hear Beck deliver her lecture at What We Talk About on Wednesday (after chemo! I was determined!) and I only have flashes of memories of talking to or listening to people or just trying to focus my eyes and respond appropriately when people attempted conversations with me. Incidentally, if I had a conversation with you at any time between Wednesday and Saturday last week, I probably don’t remember it.

I’m probably forgetting a lot of things I don’t know I’m forgetting.

I was all set to write about how the psychological distress and memory issues are the worst part of treatment or having cancer but then I woke up this morning and felt like I was being kicked by a horse (a sign that my bone marrow is responding appropriately to its booster shot) and was exhausted but couldn’t nap or feel rested enough and thought no, the physical part is definitely the worst part, which is really just to say that my main discomfort now is of the flesh, not the mind or the spirit, but check back with me in a couple days and I’m sure I’ll have something different to say.

I feel pretty damn good, actually.

Which is not really a relief because it is inevitable that I will feel too good which will compound the feeling of bad that will accompany the CT scans and blood tests and oncology appointments of three weeks in the future. I am settling into this rhythm of highs and lows but that doesn’t mean it feels good. High feels better than low, of course. But when you’re teetering so close to the edge of a precipice, it’s hard to feel good that you’re not falling to the ground. Heights can be scary and dangerous.

Nicholas Carr wrote a response to an essay by Nathan Jurgenson over at The New Inquiry (I’m not summarizing but you should read both if you haven’t yet) and while making his argument said, while it’s true that having less of a precious thing makes that precious thing seem all the more precious, that hardly means we should applaud the loss. The yearning for something slipping from our grasp should be taken as a warning, not a cause for celebration. And I thought, yes, this is the point I am constantly trying to make. He did so far more succinctly than I’ve ever been able.

All of this is to say I don’t know what. I don’t know how to feel. I’m erratic and ecstatic and despondent simultaneously, concurrently, at once, and then not.

When I was little, I loved having a balloon tied around my wrist (from a grocery store, a party, a fair) but I never wanted to see it sink and deflate, so at some point I would take it off and hold the string between my fingers before finally letting it go and watching it float away until it was too small to see. That split second when I let the string slip, I wanted to keep the balloon and still let it go. I wanted to hold it and I wanted to watch it fly away.

I feel like I’m tangled in that moment.

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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5 Responses to Like a balloon you let go of

  1. I am… humbled… by your openness. Thank-you.

  2. It’s a little like having the hiccups (except not, of course). You hiccup, and then you don’t, and then you do, and then you don’t – it’s this back and forth between spasm and calm, except that the anticipation of that hiccup never stops; it is continuous.

    Beautiful post once again.

  3. Nancy says:

    Love the balloon imagery.

  4. rroserred says:

    The “both/and.” Not always lovely, but certainly rich and real.

  5. Humbled. Yes, that’s it exactly.

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