The day after the first day

(I should look up the Latin for that: the opposite of penultimate.)

This morning was a bit less organized, with me not actually getting out of bed until 7:20. That won’t do. I also didn’t realize that J was fasting for bloodwork, so he wasn’t getting up. Still, got the kids to school in plenty of time. But, more yelling and nagging than I would have liked.

I raced through making far less elaborate lunches (grilled cheese for one, PB&J for the other) and found the time to make my daily kale-shallot-egg scramble. (It tastes so good I can almost forget how healthy it is.)

It was my day to visit the shrink. I decided I’d better have an agenda so I wouldn’t just ramble on, and wound up exploring a lot of territory with her today. It turned out that the question I had for her, the thing that has actually troubled me about myself for years now, is no concern at all. I won’t go into it, except to say that after she answered me in a reassuring way, she went on to make a recommendation so completely beyond the scope of anything I could ever imagine a mental health professional saying that I burst out laughing. It was inappropriate, morbid, and funny as hell.

It seems to me we’re both being really cautious about the relationship we cultivate, because I could easily see us becoming friends. But then she couldn’t be my shrink anymore. And I need a shrink right now.

After the laughs, there was time to talk about my upcoming cancerversary. While my melanoma was discovered in April 2013, September 2014 was when they found the lung metastases, so for me, that is the more significant anniversary right now (since I’m still dealing with it). I’ve been on this trip for almost a year. A long, strange one, which has taxed and overtaxed me and my loved ones, given us moments of despair followed great shovelfuls of hope and relief.

On the 17th, I’ll have my next brain MRI, and get the results a mere hour later from Dr K. (Excellent news for someone like me, who prizes instant gratification.) I don’t really anticipate hearing anything bad, especially now that I’m on the dynamic duo of meds. But hey, I was wrong before, a year ago. Here’s hoping I won’t get fooled again.

Here are some random shots from my walk in Manhattan today. (À propos of, no other illustrations today.)

First day

I dropped the kids off at school this morning. They will be there until 4 p.m. I am free until 4 p.m. FREE. Well, not exactly. I made the mistake of asking what they’d like for dinner tonight, and they chose the most labor-intensive meal imaginable – a chicken broccoli stir fry (with a few dozen other ingredients we always throw in). Soon, I’ll need to go shopping for that. But for now – I’ve been to the gym and then through the shower and am lying in bed in the air conditioning claiming radical self-care as the reason for my inertia. Also, it’s brutally humid out. Going shopping and coming back will necessitate another shower. And then all the prep and cooking.

I’m trying to pace myself. So much need has built up inside me for time to myself, meditative time, space-out time, writing time, professional development time. I can’t possibly get it all done the first day. So let’s say today is about getting the kids back on track – which they did, admirably, this morning. And also about getting me back on track. J is still out sick from work with shingles. (He’s feeling much better, but is still contagious to the general public.)

I spent this morning in J’s shoes. Since April – no, actually, since February when I started working – he’s been carrying the family on his shoulders. Shopping, cooking, dealing with all that stuff. It is no wonder he was felled by a stress-induced illness. And yet I never once heard him complain about what had been dumped on him. (Maybe just once.)

I was hopping around the kitchen getting the kids’ lunches ready. As usual, they were too elaborate (salmon and edamame for Young A, tortellini for Young J). Even though I’d gotten up at 6:45, it still felt very stressful. And there was absolutely no time to think of breakfast for myself or J. Young J has stepped in, and decided that he can handle making the kids’ breakfasts. He’s done it two days in a row. I love him for it. Even when he leaves little globs of jam on the counter.

At the gym – my second visit this week – I felt all the soreness from my Monday workout and added new soreness on top of it. It was the most welcome pain imaginable. But, as I approach the one year anniversary of my metastases… I can’t help feeling a little tentative about any sort of routine I may want to establish. Obviously I want to get stronger, lose weight, and be fit. I want to reinhabit my body in a way that makes me feel good, not disgusted or judgmental. But I also can’t help feeling like this will all be knocked to hell at any time.

My kids have become big fans of the National Building Museum. When we are in DC we usually visit. At an exhibit there that’s geared towards kids, there is an interactive segment that seems a good visual metaphor for the way I seem to live my life now:

Or, in the immortal words of Chumbawamba, I get knocked down. But I get up again.

(I can keep hoping not to get knocked down, though, right? Resilience is a welcome resource to possess… but I don’t know if it’s inexhaustible.)

And now, a nap.