Hello, I used to post in here regularly. Then I took an unplanned blogging sabbatical. I got angry at my bladder and at my circumstances. Angry that I am still on crutches and frustrated with how much it hurts to practice walking with a cane. I had a serious episode of major depression. I tried not to completely isolate myself; I tried to be real and stay vulnerable with a few of my safest friends, but I did shut down for a lot of others, including this blog. I had nothing good to say.
I think the pivotal point of my downward spiral happened about three weeks ago, when I had to step down from social work and transition into an auditing position within my agency. I felt like an injustice had been committed. I know in my heart of hearts that if I hadn’t had chondrosarcoma or intensive surgery, if I didn’t have mobility issues, I’d still be actively working toward my career goal of licensure. Not only that, but I would have been able to make a lateral move to a position that was more clinical in nature. The little footprints cancer left on my life have kept me from this.
During this time, I read a memoir by Eve Ensler, called In the Body of the World, about her cancer survival. As I read her thoughts throughout the beginning of her diagnosis and her surgery, I thought, “You too?”
“Cancer threw me though the window of my disassociation into the center of my body’s crisis… my body was no longer an abstraction. There were men cutting into it and tubes coming out of it and bags and catheters draining it and needles bruising it and making it bleed. I was blood and poop and pee and pus. I was burning and nauseous and feverish and weak I was of the body, in the body, I was body. Body. Body. Body.”
“As I climb onto the gurney, I understand why you don’t walk into the operating room. Your bare legs just wouldn’t take you there. There is no one going with me on this trip. This one’s my own.”
“The last thing I wanted to be was a patient. I didn’t like sick people. First of all, they were sick. Sick was not well, not able, not working, not making things better. Sick was surrendering, caving in. Sick was wasting time, not adding up. Sick was alone and stuck as the rest of the world moved by… There is obviously something scaring me even more than the cancer. It is the idea of being still.”
“Stage IVB cancer survivor, rape survivor. But I am not data and I don’t want to be dismissed and judged by categories or grades. Tell someone you were raped and they move away. Tell someone you lost your money and they stop calling. Tell someone you have become homeless and you become invisible. Tell someone you’ve got cancer and they are terrified. They don’t call. They don’t know what to say. What if our understanding of ourselves were based not on static labels or stages but on our actions and our ability and our willingness to transform ourselves? What if we embraced the messy, evolving, surprising, out-of–control happening that is life and reckoned with its proximity and relationship to death? What if, instead of being afraid of even talking about death, we saw our lives in some ways as preparation for it? What if we were taught to ponder it and reflect on it and talk about it and enter it and rehearse it and try it on?
“What if our lives were precious only up to a point? What if we held them loosely and understood that there were no guarantees? So that when you got sick you weren’t a stage but in process? And cancer, just like having your heart broken, or getting a new job, or going to school, were a teacher? What if, rather than being cast out and defined by some terminal category, you were identified as someone in the middle of a transformation that could deepen your soul, open your heart, and all the while you would be supported by and be a part of a community? And what if each of these things were what we were waiting for, moments of opening, of the deepening and the awakening of everyone around us? What if this were the point of our being here rather than acquiring and competing and consuming and writing each other off?”
Thank you Eve Ensler, for speaking my heart.
What am I doing to face depression head on? Counseling. Taking an anti-depressant. Getting back into physical therapy after a month of not having it. Having a small surgical procedure done later in September to see if it’ll help at all with my bladder abnormalities. If it doesn’t, I’ll look on to the next steps that will need to be taken.