Nothing but time

I’m officially on short-term disability leave. This means no work, including freelance contracts. I don’t remember the last time I was completely without work. I always have something to work on for money. And now I don’t. That doesn’t mean I don’t have other tasks and deadlines and such, but it’s a different feeling.

Now that I’m feeling somewhat recovered from the temsirolimus reaction and hospital stay and drug withdrawal, I have extra time that would normally have been spent working or thinking about work. It kind of makes me giddy. I don’t really know what I should do with it. Go to the movies in the middle of the day. Hang out at the art gallery (I have a membership, if anyone wants to join me ever). Take up yoga. My salary will be taking a hit (mostly because of putting freelance clients on hold for a couple months) so I need cheap hobbies. If you are unemployed or underemployed or employed during strange hours and you want to get up to adventures, let me know. We have a few weeks before it will get horribly cold.

Chemo is happening today and I have to hang around the neighbourhood afterwards to have more blood tests taken four hours after the infusion. I might get results from my tumor marker back today, I might not. I’m trying to stay calm about it — about whether the results even come in today, about what the results say or suggest about treatment so far. I feel like I can be calm, but I also know that if I don’t like the results, calm might be thrown out the window, at least temporarily. You would think anticipating a possible seismic shift in my emotions would help me shield myself from the shocks and aftershocks, but it never seems to work that way. Or it never feels like it works that way. I don’t know.

I talk to myself in second person. When I’m making a decision I’m unsure about. When I’m waiting for results. When I’m trying to work my way through an anxiety attack. You are making this decision. You can’t change the outcome by worrying. You think this feeling is forever, but it’s fleeting. You will laugh about this eventually. You will laugh about everything eventually. 

It kind of works. I don’t know if this is a mindfulness thing or if it’s something else. But I just find that if I tell myself what it is I am doing or thinking, I feel calmer. More in control — maybe not in control, but aware of where my control lies and its limitations. It is comforting to recognize limitations. When you see limitations, it’s easier to temper expectation.

All around the hospitals on University, construction is taking place. There are massive walls of plywood painted white and black billboards that say, Believe it — we will conquer cancer in our lifetime. The wall around Princess Margaret is called the ‘Wall of Courage’ and people have scribbled notes about beating cancer and keeping up the fight and all sorts of treacly, common platitudes about staying strong. At the north side of the wall, someone has spray painted with a stencil the words, I had no friends until cancer. It’s bitter and ironic and funny.

Tomorrow my friend Megan is going to Ira Glass at Massey Hall and I’m going to the Paul Auster reading at Harbourfront and we’re both kind of jealous of the other. We joked about somehow orchestrating a meeting between the both. Because in our minds, we are capable of orchestrating meetings like this. We talked about where Ira Glass and Paul Auster would spend a Friday in Toronto. Megan said the Frida Kahlo exhibit. I told her I’d spend my afternoon there and wait on a bench for one of them to show up. My ticket is for 2 p.m.


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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3 Responses to Nothing but time

  1. Ingrid says:

    Oh,I wish I was near to you to live adventures but I am in México 😦 I’ve been reading your blog for a while and I’m impressed of your spirit but above all, your beautiful writing style.

  2. curled_up says:

    Totally with you on the Ira Glass v’s Paul Auster dilemma, I hardly know what I’d do in that position. Hope you enjoyed that afternoon x

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