Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Green

OK, the time has come for me to cut back on the "I'm really fine with all of this" act for a bit.  In the big sense, I am fine.  I go to the hospital five days a week and see all kinds of people who are clearly suffering more than I will at any point in the next year.  Last week, I walked past a beautiful young girl in the hall.  She was on crutches, and I wondered whether she'd broken her leg while skiing...and then I looked and realized that she had only one leg.  I don't imagine that will be an easy thing to manage as she navigates through the storm of her teenage years, which are so volatile for young women who often think their perfectly whole, functional bodies aren't good enough.  Then, a few days ago, I met a man about my age in the radiation clinic waiting room.  He had a surgical scar running across his head.  He was feeling bad because he hadn't been able to spend time with his 7 year old son, who had a bad stomach virus.  Because the father's chemo regimen compromises his immune system so much, he had to actively avoid his child and the virus, and it was clearly breaking his heart.  He told me that he's worried about how little time he has left with his son; losing a week now felt like precious time was being stolen from him.

Things like that make it very hard for me to feel sorry for myself.

I will say, however, that I've reached the point where I can't really pretend that cancer treatment isn't a big deal.  It's still not anything close to debilitating; I'm able to do most of the things I need to get through a day with no trouble.  But I am tired now, and it's not the kind of fatigue that goes away after an afternoon nap, it's the kind that makes me look up to try to spot the truck that ran over me.  The restrictions on my diet are expanding a bit, too.  I knew I'd have to avoid sushi and runny cheeses and all those foods that are off-limits during pregnancy.  Now I've got to be careful about high-fiber foods and raw vegetables and greens and anything with lots of spices, lest my digestive system balk at the challenge and make me feel really nauseated or...worse.  So that really good eggplant dish with cayenne and turmeric that I made last week will have to wait for me in the freezer, and I have to feed my beautiful rainbow chard to someone else while I focus on nice bland foods.  Not that I don't love mac and cheese and mashed potatoes as much as anyone.  But I find it quite ironic that I'd finally reached the point in my life where I would happily eat my vegetables, and now the diet the nurses recommend is what I loved most when I was five years old and wouldn't touch anything green.

Bland foods aside, the big problem for me right now is that I can see how all this affects my family, and I hate it.  I don't want them to have to struggle through this.  I don't want to have to tell my kids that I can't play with them because I'm too tired.  I don't want to tell my husband that I can't make some meal we both love because I feel sick to my stomach.  I don't want to ask all of them to give up some activity or to take on all kinds of extra responsibilities when they'd rather not.  I know it's part of the deal here, and in exchange for all of this I'll get to live, but it makes me angry.

So there you have it.  Today, I'm quite literally sick and tired.  I'm not happy about it.  Tomorrow will be better.


  1. I think it's worth commenting here that I returned to the house 5 hours after Beth posted this Saturday afternoon to an apple pie (home made crust of course) coming out of the oven. A tribute to both Beth's resiliency and the Compazine (sp?), I guess.

  2. Perhaps the next step in your treatment is letting go of the family management. They will be fine and really better for it in the end Beth. Seeing you through your treatment and recovery will be their focus, and that is not necessarily an unhealthy focus. Your kids will learn to pitch in and fend for themselves a little. You know that if someone else at your house were going through this, you would step up to the plate in a major way. Have faith that they will do the same and let go of some of this worry.

    Look down the road a few years at the confidence your girls will have in themselves, their strength, their ability to manage scary, difficult situations.

    They say you should live in the moment, but maybe you should live in the future a little for now.

    And of course we are here to help.