In the last few months, I’ve written the beginning of fifteen or twenty blog posts. After purging the first five or so sentences out of my mind and onto my iPad (if I’d been reading) or phone (if I’d been texting my sister), more often than not the electronic device would the slip off to my left as my cat yawned and stretched on my right, and I would easily and completely fall back to sleep for another four hours. Most days the only reason I would get out of bed before late afternoon would be to pee. By three, sometimes four, I would switch from bed to couch, watch an episode of NCIS or two, pat myself on the back for doing something with my day, and then head back to bed. I wasn’t depressed, I wasn’t sick (for the most part), I was just exhausted. My surgeon’s original estimate of 4-6 weeks of being unable to function stretched to eight, then ten.
Until mid-March, I had no appetite. I didn’t start getting out of bed before noon consistently until two weeks ago. Last week, I had more days where I was productive and energized than not. I made the decision to go back to work on May 1. I actually did battle with the pile of paperwork on my desk: paid some medical bills, created various insurance reimbursement packages, requested change fee reimbursements from United airlines for flights cancelled and rearranged last summer.
This week, I went to the hospital for the last time in the next six months to have my port removed. This deserves a blog post of its own, and it will get one, but long story short, I got home, took a morphine, and woke up the following noon with a bleary eye, sighed, and rolled back over for another few hours.
Two steps forward, one step back.
Yesterday, something shifted. I puttered into the kitchen as Michael cooked dinner (crusted rockfish on a bed of spinach with fennel and shaved asparagus salad YUM), yawned, and started emptying the dishwasher that I had turned on four days ago.
“Everything alright, love? You seem tired today.”
“I am, but I’m not sleepy. Just tired.”
I paused, glass in one hand, half-way to the cabinet. Shit.
“Actually, remember how I felt right after chemo ended? Really tired but not particularly sleepy?”
“That’s how I feel today.”
He actually got excited. Panic was building in my chest, but he got excited.
“That’s great! It means that you’re coming out of surgery exhausted, and you’re back to chemo recovery! Progress!”
Are you kidding me? Are you fucking kidding me? Is this EVER GOING TO END? I just told my law firm, a big huge enormous LAW FIRM, that I was coming back in three weeks, and I feel like I did a week after chemo ended, albeit with a really cute haircut. I had planned on building photo albums and helping my parents sort through hundreds of World War One posters and finally finishing and posting all of those blog posts in a way that doesn’t annoy me now that they’re out of order with the actual experiences, and I’m suddenly back in last November, but at my normal weight with a huge scar down my cleavage.
“Bear, what am I going to do? They’re expecting a full-of-beans Lydia to return, and I’m not there.”
He turned and looked at me. “You don’t have to go back yet, you know.”
“But disability is already fighting me for being out in April, health insurance, 401(k), health care savings account….” My voice trailed off. Michael, post-campaign, is incredibly busy doing all sorts of amazing things, but none of them come with benefits.
“Sweetie, calm down. We still have health insurance and everything else doesn’t matter. Also, if you think that the partners are actually expecting you to pull 12-hour days and weekends, you’re not giving them enough credit.”
“I know, I know, but I want to be able to do that. It’s been six months since chemo ended and I don’t feel any different!”
“That’s because you had your chest cracked open in the meantime. None of the stories you hear about recovery from chemo include that. Your office knows that. I know that. You know that.” He came over, took the glass out of my hand, and wrapped his arms around me. “You know you can stay home for as long as you want, but at some point, recovering full-time is going to start driving you crazy.”
Sometimes it’s frustrating when the people I love know me better than I do.
The good news, though, now that I’ve slept on it, is that I am making progress. I appear to be out of surgery madness, and back to chemo madness. And, now that I’ve gotten my three-month scan all clear (yet another blog post that you’ll see not in real time) nothing stands between me and vitality. Except recovery. And time.
But at least now, I’ve finished a blog post.