Tuesday, June 24, 2008

About a Girl

Firstly, let me thank you all for your ever-wonderful suggestions. I will endeavour to get to them after this coming weekend. It's my oldest's High School Grad Dinner/Dance/After Party, and as part of the sinking ship known as a "Committee", I'm committed (oh, the irony) to making all the magic happen. I'm slammed for time, and at this point, energy.

But this post has been rolling around in my head while I've been making glitter stars and sparkly ceiling pendants.

It trumps all else right now, and I must roll it out and onto the computer. Y'all know how that goes, right?


So I've been thinking lately about a movie.

"About a Boy".

It's based on a best-selling novel by Nick Hornby. I believe the author also had a hand in the screenplay as well.

The main character, Will Freeman, is played by Hugh Grant. Part of the reason I liked the movie so much was that this character, while charming on the surface, was a little against character for old Hugh. It was refreshing.

I also liked the clever writing. Grant's character, financially comfortable enough off that he doesn't have to work, divides his day into "units" (I think they're 1/2 hour increments - I could be wrong. Didn't have time to research this - sue me).

For example, there could be 4 units used for what he refers to as "web-based research" (surfing for porn), 2 units for "exercise" (shooting pool), or 1 unit for grooming.

I thought this was ingenious, this parcelling of time.

That was until I was diagnosed with cancer a couple of summers ago.

In Will Freeman time, I had my surgery (14 units) and recovery time (240 units hospital time, 1008 units home time).

Then came chemotherapy - a very brief 1.5 unit, once a month for 5 months/7200 units (we won't count the first month - it kinda sucked, and defied logic, time and likeability).

And now, I have come to realize, after my latest visit with my oncologist, that I live my life - not in hourly, day-to-day units - but, instead, in 3 month units.

For the next 4 years, my life will be lived from one 3 month unit to the next.

Part One of each unit consists of seeing the oncologist, of steeling myself up to arise from the reception area chair when my name is called, of calming my stomach back down from my throat to where it belongs, of willing my legs to move, one in front of the other, to walking through his office door, of smelling the air, anticipating any possibility, of trying to scan his face for any sign of a problem before he can say anything. This part concludes with a flooding of endorphins and weakening of knees upon hearing that everything looks good for this visit.

Part Two is the most bearable portion of the unit. Life floats along, ticketty-boo, and my only reminder of my 4 year plan and why I have a 4 year plan consists of acknowledging that I must get another blood test soon, and listen to the technician carp once again about how hard it is to find a vein, blah, blah, blah.

Part Three consists of the dark two weeks preceding the next appointment. Every thought can turn black on a dime, every emotion is just a hair's breadth from the surface, every unusual occurance becomes an omen, every sweet moment has a tinge of the bittersweet. The critically-panned "What If Scenario Reel" begins its unspooling, and I both treasure and loathe every moment leading up to the next appointment.

And so it will go, for 4 more years.

And if, for some reason, you think that I'm ungrateful for the gift of my life - I beg you to please not misunderstand.

I know how lucky I am. I have read the colon cancer forums in horror as people begin to document their decline, as some receive news where there is no silver lining, no upside.

In my heart, I know I am blessed to be alive.

Just try telling that to my head. And just try thinking about living in 3 month units.

It's not so charming after all.


Momma said...

I had no idea you were a cancer survivor. Those 3-month units must be really hard to take sometimes. I pray that you continue to be well and get good news.

God bless you - D

Mental P Mama said...

I totally understand as a friend to several folks in the same boat as you. You have my best wishes that these units pass by filled with fun and freedom from too much angst.

Tracey_iPost said...

You are the reason my family (kids included!) walked in the ACS Relay for Life a couple of weeks ago.

Your words are eloquent and make me thankful for my health and push me harder to participate in fund raising so we can find a cure.

Thanks for those gifts.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess D: Although I loathe the word "survivor", I have faced cancer, and have been NED (no evidence of disease) for 1 year and a little. I thank you wholeheartedly for your prayers, and will think of your emitted good vibes when it comes down to the dread Part Three.

Countess MPM: I am fortunate enough to have a life that is fairly busy and chaotic most of the time, so a lot of the angst can get lost amongst it all. But you have my assurances, I'm doing my best to have a good hardy-har belly laugh every chance I get!

Countess Tracey: I read your comment, and it took my breath away. Thank you and your family so very much for doing this - this gesture is such an amazing act of giving, and benefits so many. What a lovely gift of spirit. I am honored to have you as a reader.

David said...

Janet, my wife, never uses the word survivor. In the past 4 years she has been in remission three times. The cat keeps coming back. Like you she lived in 3 month increments. Every 90 days she goes for a bone marrow aspiration. Blood counts done every 20 days.
It makes us take stock, love more, appreciate what we have more, and slow down.
Great post by the way. We both read it a few times

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Count David: Kudos for you to being there right alongside your lovely wife for support, love and appreciation. My husband, too, is a rock & my partner in crime for all this madness.

May there come a time when your wife and I can change our thinking to six months, one year, or ten year increments instead. I'm really ready to give this particular daytimer back...

Rachel said...

oh, hon. Hug

Not Afraid to Use It said...

Your frustration over this division of time forced upon you is understandable. I didn't realize you hated the word "survivor" because I had a really great idea for a t-shirt today. I will still probably do it, but it won't hurt my feelings if you don't dig it. Hugs, hon.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess Rachel: I know your hugs are always there if I need them, and never diminish in number or enthusiasm. Thanks for listening to me whine (yet again).

Countess NATUI: I could write a book on how much I hate the "Survivor" term (re: cancer, not the TV show - which I LOVE). I'm interested to see what you come up with, t-shirt-wise. Let me know when it's on Shark and Cat, your fabulous on-line emporium. :)

Memaw's memories said...

I began living those 3 month increments 5 years ago. Then we went to 6 for a while and now are at 1 year. Yes, life is grand and I enjoy every day I can.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess Memaw: What a wonderful inspiration you are! Just as I counted down my chemo sessions, I'm doing the same with the chemo sessions. 5 down, 15 more to go!

BTW, have you read that book that you said you picked up at Dollar General?

The Queen said...

Dear Baroness,

I understand your life in "units", My King made his 5 years in January. I know the feeling of holding your breath, and willing the Doctor to mouth the words "everything came back CLEAR" instead "we found abnormal cells or we found cancer" I hope my dear Baroness that you hear the words" Everything is clear, it is all gone" Soon!!

Yours truly,
The Queen

Lisa said...

Life in units ... hmmmm ... something to ponder. I don't think I "plan" in units, but I AM definitely a planner. I'll have to think about this one ..... Babs

kevin said...

Also in the club slash cult. I'd like to say I'm not as affected by it as I used to be five years ago when I was diagnosed, but recently my toddler came down with a stomach bug. The pediatrician prescribed Zofran, a drug with which I was all too familiar. I couldn't even open the blister pack that contained the tablet. The smell alone sent me running to the bathroom.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Your Majesty: I really mean it when I say this - Long Live the King!!

As for those magic words, I eagerly await hearing them soon, too. 4 and 1/2 years to go...

Countess Babs: I know you're a planner, but I sincerely hope and pray that you can break yours down, like dear ol' Hugh, into 1/2 hours.

Count Kevin: Loved your club/cult line! So which is it, really? I do tend to think that the chemo medication does turn us kind of zombie-ish, so I'm going to go with b) cult.

Oh, yes, the Zofran! I didn't have the same reaction as you, in fact - it was quite a godsend. But it really didn't move me - if you catch my drift...

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