I got a surprise email today, from StellaPlainAndTall, asking for access to the private area of the Blog-City blog that I abandoned when it wouldn’t accept comments or let me give people permission to access the members-only area. I had just discovered her blog about two weeks ago, through another blogger on whose site I sometimes lurk, and I admire her for her grace in hard times — a kind of grace I wish I could emulate. And then, bingo, there she is (well, symbolically, OK, all you literalists) in my email, asking for permission to read my blog. I directed her here — Hi Stella — and then got all shivery about writing again. I’ve been so sporadic, so disinterested, though I still read my favorite blogs most days. I wonder sometimes why I quit something I really enjoyed. Lack of time, lack of cohesion in my mind, desire to read. These things all. Yes.
Also the opiate of happiness at times, and in contrast, the despair that still threatens — though never as destructively as two years ago during the antidepressant fiasco. Still, I don’t wish to depress people. When darkness looms, I dive into books, escaping through the words of others. Why are my whinings worthy of airing in an open forum?
There are decisions I must make. I line up the pros and cons and move them around constantly. Next week I have an appointment with a genetics counselor in Big City. I saw her with my mother eight years ago. At the time she said, “Don’t ignore any symptoms.” What she meant was, “You’re primed for cancer. Catch it early.” When I didn’t ignore symptoms, my primary doctor became frustrated and stopped responding. Now I have a new doctor, not senile, and much nicer. (No, he isn’t the type to prescribe strong anti-psychotic antidepressants for a 13-year-old with headaches, which is what my former doctor tried to do!)
I’ve been to the doctor only twice in the past two years (odd for someone on cancer watch for the past 11 years of her life, used to blood tests and chest x-rays and ultrasounds etc at regular intervals). The last time I went only because I needed asthma medication for the Azores. The time before because I hadn’t had a pap smear in three years.
These days I do my best to ignore all symptoms. When I have a smokers’-cough coughing, wheezing asthma attack and people say “Can’t the doctors do something about that?” I tell them “no” and change the subject. I’ve never smoked, but sometimes I sound like I’ve smoked two packs a day for a lifetime. And there’s really nothing the doctors can do. “You have asthma and bronchitis,” they say. “Use your inhaler.”
But still, last month, when I went in for asthma medicine, my new physician suggested the genetics counselor. It’s almost time for me to consider an oopherectomy. I had melanoma at 31, breast cancer at 34. My female relatives have a discouraging habit of dying relatively young of breast and ovarian cancer (at least my mother was reborn as a heron!). So the genetics counselor thinks I ought to have my ovaries out. (Or so she suggested eight years ago.) And now I have to decide. But god, no ovaries, and no HRT either — unless they have some alternative? How can I face precipitous menopause when I’m such a whiny bitch anyway? Wouldn’t it be better to risk dying of ovarian cancer?
Truth is I’ve been in a study for the past eight years for women at high risk for ovarian cancer. Ultrasound every year. Blood draw every three or four months. (Cough cough, the last blood draw was over a year ago and my CA125 markers were elevated and I was supposed to go in again for another blood draw to eliminate ovarian cancer and did I? No siree.) The study nurse is on my case. I want to go. But driving three hours and working and being a single parent to a teenager and trying to care for my dad long-distance now that my sister is mother to a newborn… well. It does wear one down. Some days I can hardly move. Yesterday, when breathing was a challenge because of the cruddy air, and I was tired, and I had to advise at work and film Zeke diving so her coach could point out her good dives, and my dog had to go to the vet for cheet grass in her ear and I had to get an affidavit notarized at the bank because someone charged two airline tickets to Dubai on my credit card and now the card is canceled and Citibank is investigating fraud, and then I lost the affidavit (before eventually finding it again) and Nada is stressing stressing stressing over not having a job… and I was just tired. Wanted it all to stop. And I’m not even working officially yet. Yep. How is there time for being pre-emptive about health, I want to know? How?
OK, you got it. The whine. Fecking whinging, as the Irish would say. I’m a whinger. Oh, and did I tell you the love lease on my horse didn’t work out and I had to quick-quick find him another home and that — God knows — was stressful, because I prefer to pretend he doesn’t exist. Thinking about him brings a veritable fountains of salty water to my environs. How did it come to this?
So there you have it. Total lack of grace. A blubbering whingeing whiner. And in the midst of all the whining, yet still that marvellous trip to the Azores. Who gets to experience something like that? And in doing so, who has the right to whine?
So I haven’t written much. Things are either too easy, or too dang hard. Nothing in between. And I know I lack grace. So I just swallow the dark-cloud words, take the dogs for a walk, and read the blogs of people like Stella, who give me something to aim for. Thank you, Stella. And please don’t stop writing!