(In which I decide I am getting a little better at not telling everyone I have cancer, but then decide maybe sometimes it can be helpful.)
We grocery shop at a food coop that has been ridiculed the world over for its insistence on rules and the monthly work requirement that seems to be impossible for some to adhere to. It saves us so much money that the work requirement hasn’t been a burden for us (particularly since I’ve been on disability leave, and J has had caregiver leave, so we haven’t actually worked there in a while, just shopped).
One of the oddest jobs at the coop is cart walker. These are people wearing reflective orange vests who stand around outside the coop waiting for people coming out with carts. They then accompany you home with the cart (if you live in the official coop radius – we happen to live on the last block of it) and walk the cart back to the store for you.
Sometimes it’s a meditative, silent walk (except for when you curse as the ornery cart hits a sidewalk bump) and the walker trails behind you, listening to music or talking on their phone. Sometimes you get a talky walker. I try to figure out what kind of walk it will be in the first five minutes. Sometimes I am surprised. (Once, I spent the entire 12 minute walk arguing with a walker who, on his way back to pick up another shopper, had stopped down the block – in easy sight of the coop – chatting with a friend for ten minutes while a line of people waiting for walkers piled higher and higher. It took most of the walk home for him to apologize and acknowledge he’d been an asshole. Yes, at these times the caricature of the food coop seems more like a photograph.)
Once, a few weeks ago, possibly before or around the time I learned my lesson about cancer talk, I was coming back from the coop with a walker and mentioned my illness. He began telling me about his mother’s battle with cancer and also with the insurance company – she was a hotel worker and didn’t have great coverage so they nickeled and dimed every little thing and he, her son, educated himself and became her advocate, arguing when the doctors either didn’t mention or refused to perform certain tests or procedures.
I felt good about my conversation with this walker, and I told him he’d done such an important thing for his mother, even with the negative outcome. So I was willing to let it slide when he began telling me to seek alternative treatments or change my diet. But he mentioned guided visualization, and even though it was one of those things that sound kind of obvious (so I said yes, I’d heard of it), I honestly hadn’t known what it was about.
Tonight I finally got around to Googling it and just went with the first source I found (overriding my librarian tendencies). Reading through this overview (which all seemed to be quoted from the same book, so it was like guided imagery Cliff’s Notes), I realized that I’ve been doing exactly that for a long, long time – to deal with insomnia (have forgotten to try it lately) or (in elementary and middle school) to imagine what kissing some boy or other would be like. Visualization seemed exciting to me, like something I could get started on right away! That is, after studying the diagrams in that Wall Street Journal story a few dozen more times in order to understand exactly what needs to happen on a cellular level.
My walker today wanted to talk at length about the evils of plastic. I didn’t disagree with her entirely, but I was briefly tempted to shut her up with cancer. I overcame the urge. She eventually moved on to cornbread, and I knew we were safe.