Document it

I’m still trying to emerge from the foot injury, trying to inch towards something that feels like a stretch of uninterrupted good health (whatever that feels like). Last night, though, I went to bed with a headache, and this morning it was bad too. I was sensitive to light and noise. I felt dizzy. I’ve never been a migraine sufferer, though, so I kept feeling it might be something else.

When you have cancer, your “something else” can be quite extreme. I’m not sure if I’ve used this phrase here before, but when you have cancer, you become a hypochondriac with cause. You interrogate every slight symptom, because you remember the last time you had a bad headache and it lasted three weeks and suddenly you woke up one day and you had trouble talking.

You also remember the last time you got dizzy spells was when you were training for your big bike ride, and then you remember that you just joined a gym this week and have been going at it full tilt for three days straight, and not necessarily refueling adequately, because you have this stupid notion that carbs are keeping you at this weight (when it might very well be the fault of your meds), and that the extra weight isn’t helping your foot recover.

I saw Dr D (the ophthalmologist) yesterday and he proclaimed an end to my latest bout of iritis. As soon as my head stops hurting I’ll wear contact lenses again for the first time in ages. (Which means I’ll need to confront how much older my eyes look.) Dr D also has plantar fasciitis. When he told me, I high-fived him. I mean, what else is there to do? We compared remedies. I taught him a new stretch.

J got out of bed this morning when I begged him through the pillow covering my eyes to make me some eggs. He came back with the most delicious omelette I have ever eaten. (J never, ever fails to rise to the occasion.) And I ate in bed even though it wasn’t my birthday, or Mother’s Day. That alone made me feel much better.

The headache is still there, though — I can feel it behind my face just waiting its turn to come back. No gym today. No ill-advised starvation tactics either. I am in survival mode.

The onset of the headache also came on a very heavy day for me. Last Thursday, a documentary filmmaker I met in the neighborhood came to film an interview with me, about how I cope with cancer, for a project she would like to get off the ground. I was okay for about the first 20 minutes, after which point I cried intermittently on camera for the duration. (I begged her to edit out any really ugly crying.) She asked me a lot of questions about the chronology of my illness, about how it felt and how I coped, and she even flattered me by quoting things I’d written here on the blog (some of which I could barely even remember having written!).

And she asked me how I stay hopeful. That was the hardest thing to answer, I think. The fact is, hopefulness isn’t a conscious choice I make. It’s more that the alternative, the “succumbing to despair,” doesn’t sound very attractive to me. I have young kids. It feels like despair would be a very self-indulgent pose to strike. I won’t do it until it’s absolutely necessary, and if that’s five minutes before doomsday, so be it — unless somehow I can get an extra five minutes.

Last weekend, a friend’s daughter spent some time with us, she too with a documentary project in mind. She’s a photography student, and was assigned to document children growing up in New York City. I’ve avoided sharing photos of my kids here, but these are too good not to share, so I’ve selected a few where you can’t really see their faces. And one of me, which I like, in spite of how I look. And which I like because it’s a stern warning to me, that if you ever let a photographer into your home, you might spend even thirty seconds thinking about what you’re wearing.

6 thoughts on “Document it

  1. I think my favorite is “young A loves hugs” followed very closely by “not ready.” It’s really good to see you smiling a bit and touching your children – so very present and *there* and that wasn’t a given not so long ago, was it? I’ve very, very glad you’re still here.


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