I get that all the time! And there wouldn’t be anything odd or wrong with it if it weren’t for the fact that it is now driving me crazy. Yup! Never thought I’d say this for such a nice comment! But it does… It does now.
Let me start by saying that prior to the colostomy and cancer diagnosis I weighed only 105 pounds because I had lost 30 in less than 6 months. You see, I was afraid to eat as pretty much nothing would come out –except for blood- and had already ended up in the hospital with a bowel obstruction; so it scared the hell out of me just thinking about food; therefore, I started drinking protein shakes which did not help much and I ended up with kidney stones and a punctured bladder! Don’t ask me why… yes, the doctors explained but, in the end, who cares!? I made it worse and was literally starving myself to death.
I swear I had never felt so much pain and for such a long time. I know I looked like death was nearing because most everyone got that “oh, my gosh” look on their faces when they saw me; especially if they hadn’t seen me for a while.
But things got better after surgery and I began feeling better for the first time in months… though they felt like forever.
It’s been 3 months now since the colostomy –and the fixing of my bladder- and I could not be happier. I can eat anything I want and I even crave for food… which I never had… to the point in which you’d think I would have gained some weight by now, but I haven’t. Not one ounce. And I don’t know what that means in terms of my condition. Maybe I just happen to have gone back to my 18 year old metabolism when I could eat a cow and not gain any weight.
So life is good… regardless!
Now I wonder what a person with cancer looks like because this is my second time around and I’ve never really looked the part. Nor allowed myself to cuz… what would be the point? I’ve cancer, big deal! It will eventually show I guess.
It doesn’t look like it’s eating me away and I even look healthier than I did for a long time so I guess I understand when people tell me “but you look great!” though many times that phrase is followed by “maybe the doctors are wrong and it wouldn’t be the first time”. And no, I don’t carry the test results around… although I sometimes wish I did just to not have people minimize what I’m going through nor the message I wish to deliver: life is good… regardless!
Which is exactly after those comments when I mull over what I have to do to stop the denial those around me are experiencing cuz I don’t know what or how to respond to that or how it is that I’m supposed to be perceived when the prognosis is “you won’t make it to Christmas”.
The pain is getting worse every day… but I don’t complain as much as I maybe should. I don’t know. I’m not a complainer and my pain threshold is high… as a result, it doesn’t seem like I’m in pain so… should I complain even when I don’t have to? Would that make a difference or would everyone start saying that I’m lying because I look fine!?
It’s happened before. When I had chemo for the breast cancer some said I was lying cuz it didn’t show and that I was only trying to be noticed or something. I know it’s crazy, but it did happen.
I guess the “life is good” message was lost that first time too due to the disbelief of those around me. So what do people expect from someone with terminal cancer? Should I go for the victim’s face? Should I look the part? Well, I REFUSE! Because I love life and I like looking at the bright side of things and am not afraid of dying.
Gosh, I’m confused!
Then there’s the “how are you feeling?” question that (along with a sort of compassionate look and this eerie intonation at the end) makes me cringe as, to me, it translates into “c’mon, you are not really sick or dying, are you?” which sounds very much like a rhetorical question! And so I end up saying “Great! How ’bout you?” just to take the attention off myself and change the subject because I’ve gotten to the point in which I figure the message is lost and there’s no point in trying anymore and I just want to enjoy life not caring anymore whether others get it or not. You see, it drains me whenever I try and, as a consequence, I end up causing yet another statement full of denial from the person in front of me: “what are you talking about!? You’ll see that we’ll still be talking four years from now! Don’t be silly you will heal!” That alone shuts the door for any good-byes I had in mind.
And then there’s work.
I’ve taken some couple of hours here and there when pain is nearly unbearable or to go to the doctor so people at work are wondering if I’ll kick the bucket before I get the chance to leave someone else in charge –at least that’s what they’re making me feel with the questions or comments they make. And I honestly don’t know how I feel about that. Am I letting them down cuz I’m still alive and someone else is already in training to take over, or am I expected to… what? I’ve no idea. I’m so confused right now because I do not know how to handle them… nor the situation. I’m expected to hand over responsibilities on the one hand but on the other hand there’s the denial implied in the “you are strong and will get over this” comment I get all the time.
The only difference between me and those around me is that I have an expiration date… that’s all. And I know there’s no right or wrong questions or comments… I KNOW… but I cannot help but feel that I’m under a magnifying glass all the time and that I’m expected to look sick now.
What is it that I’m missing here? How do I handle it? How can I have everyone around me just treat me like a normal person without denying the fact that I’m dying? How can I get my message across?
- Life is good… regardless!
I even went as far as going to a nearby church –when I’m not even a religious person nor belong to a congregation or whatever they call it- to see if the person in charge (priest, reverend, father, etc.) would shed some answers my way. I was seeking an “aha” moment… but the doors were closed. The church was closed! I thought churches were supposed to be “available” all the time. That their representative was there for whenever one needed to talk. Big mistake. What they call the house of god is closed everyday but Sundays from 10 to 12!
I don’t know whether I make any sense or not… it’s complicated. I’m complicated! And I think I’m just drowning in a glass of water at the moment and that I’ll get the hang of it in no time… right?