I had the dreaded chemo Thursday. Today is Saturday. It’s only Day 2. Based on my last three experiences, this fourth one should have brought endless sleep and icky nausea and general malaise.
It is different this time. Dare I say, I feel OK.
Yesterday I woke up so, so, groggy and made myself drink some ginger tincture, and went to the exercise study (deserving of a post in itself, but I go to a little gym three times a week full of women with breast cancer and a lovely trainer and I’m a research subject instead of a researcher). I walked on the treadmill, which I never do, not even reaching my target heart-rate, a number I usually far exceed. I lifted weights and chatted with the only other woman close to my age in the study. I stretched. Then I left, and I bought $10 organic berries from Whole Foods. I gulped some ginger tincture. I had tea with my fellow dissertator S, which was lovely, and came home and napped. I got up and rode my bike to yoga, where I practiced next to D, one of the most hard core exercise people I know. I did one set of everything, and two sets of some things, and I laid in savasana a lot. Then I biked home and had more ginger tincture. And I made an awesome dinner for Sammy and me– vegan mac’n’cheese with quinoa pasta! Amazing. The cheese was red bell pepper and tomato and onion and cashews and turmeric. Delish. We cuddled and watched one of the amazing movies our dear friends lent us (don’t worry, we are taking such good care of them!) I thought maybe I was feeling OK from the steroids, but this morning, also OK. I woke up and Sammy made me fruit salad and I ate it all. That’s right, I ate something besides plain white rice and frozen grapes. And then I cleaned the kitchen. And now I’m writing a blog post and drinking the chai tea my college roomie sent. And I don’t feel like I’m going to hurl. I better have some more ginger tincture.
I spent the whole day only taking care of me and my body. I worked out twice. I napped. I listened to Sammy play the marimba for me. I ate whole, organic, home-made, good foods. I drank warm tea. I biked in the sun. I wrapped myself in an aqua shawl, which is a healing and calming color. I cuddled with Sam and wore fuzzy slippers. I took a bath and read a novel (not a diss book, people. a novel, a fun book, a story). I went to bed before midnight. Maybe we should all take care of ourselves like that more often. It occurs to me that taking such good care of our bodies is pretty rare. When was the last time you put on fuzzy socks and brewed your favorite tea and read a really good book for fun? When was the last time you thought about what color you should wear to make you feel good? When was the last time you just layed in the sunshine and let it soak into your skin? When was the last time you really tasted a berry salad? When was the last time you were brutally honest about what you want in life? When was the last time you let yourself day dream? When was the last time you let yourself sink into soft blankets without thinking of anything but how soft the blankets are? When was the last time you let yourself lay in savasana in yoga? We should do that more. We should take care of ourselves more, we should surround ourselves with soft moments and caring and color and kittens.
I’m kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I expected to feel crappy. I dreaded this chemo. Sam had to change his schedule all around to come with me even though I had other chemo-buddies who volunteered, since I was so worried it was going to go poorly. People sent vibes. Maybe it’s that. I have not taken off these anti-nausea wrist bands. Maybe it’s that. My mom generously gifted my a totally epic massage at the Hammam pre-chemo, and it was divine. Maybe it’s that. People brought movies. Maybe it’s that. The naturopath prescribed all kinds of things, including ginger tincture, and I definitely think it’s that.
It just feels… tentative. Maybe this weekend will be OK. Maybe I can go on a walk in the sunshine with a visiting college friend. Maybe I can finish editing my job letter. Maybe I can do laundry. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
That’s kind of what life is right now. Maybe I can do this or that or the other thing. Everything is uncertain, because I have cancer, and also because I’m on the totally uncertain PhD job market, and I’ve only had on Skype interview which resulted in not getting a follow-up interview. Maybe I’ll get an academic position- a job or a post doc or something. Maybe we’ll be in Vancouver at this time next year. Maybe I can go to yoga tonight. Maybe I’ll lose my eyebrows and eyelashes in the next round of chemo. Maybe I’ll remember to buy green tea the next time I’m at the store. Maybe it will help that I’ve cut flour, sugar, corn, soy, eggs and most animal products (I just can’t give up on cheese entirely) out of my diet. Maybe it makes sense to have radiation. Maybe I should contact an editor at MIT press about getting my diss into a book. Maybe the chemo will work. Maybe I’ll go on a young adult cancer adventure retreat. Maybe my cousin will be pregnant with our baby sometime soon. Maybe I should go to the store and buy out nausea wrist bands and ginger gravol. Maybe I should write my methodology. Maybe I’ll continue to feel well.
Working with uncertainty, living in uncertainty, feeling out what it means to live in this world with maybe, without the ability to reliably envision and depend on any kind of certain future. Today, uncertainty is delivering a sunny afternoon and a calm-ish belly. I’ll take it.