I’m sure it’s because of the news about Freddy, but I’ve been rather down in the dumps lately. When I’m not thinking of Freddy and Ludwig and their cute little faces, I’m thinking about myself (hello, self-absorbed). Specifically, what life is like now AC (after cancer).
Before I was diagnosed in 2013, I was a healthy 42-year-old. Sure, I could have exercised more, but I didn’t have any health problems, had lost 40 pounds and kept it off for almost a decade, and had an editing career that I loved and (I think) was good at. Three brain surgeries, a stroke, and radiation later, I had to relearn how to use my left hand (I’m a lefty, so while this included things like tying my shoes and zipping my pants, it also meant I couldn’t write my name), had gained 30 pounds from steroids, and had gone through premature menopause. Oh, and before the first two surgeries, I was going blind from the tumor pressing on my optic nerve, and the doctors said the damage could be permanent. It’s kind of hard to edit when you can’t see and can’t write.
Phew. What a bucket of shit, eh?
While it makes me angry to look at what I’ve endured, I also feel ashamed. How insensitive am I to focus on this and feel this way when I’m just lucky enough to be alive? So many others haven’t been so lucky. Not to mention, the resulting health issues I have to deal with are a walk in the park compared to what other cancer survivors face. So I need to snap out of it and get over it.
I need to focus on the positives, too. Charlie came through for me during this like no one else could. He was amazing, a rock star superhero ninja husband, and I’ll never be able to thank him enough. (I’ve told him this, and he said that I’d better just be prepared to wipe his butt someday when he can no longer do it himself. Yikes!) Other people were there, too, like my best friend, Kate. She rearranged her life (which includes three preteen kids) to fly down and see me after I had the stroke. Those 11 days in the hospital would have been much more bleak and boring without her there, and I’m convinced that her eagle eye on my swollen leg (which turned out to be a dangerous blood clot) likely saved my life. She even let me win at Scrabble! There were many others, too, from the heartfelt note from the woman who cuts my hair to the beautiful handmade blankets from my aunts. People cared. People loved.
So now the immediate danger has passed, and I’m recuperating. I can see again, write my name, tie my shoes, and I’m trying to lose the steroid weight. I’m getting stronger every day. I still don’t entirely trust my post-stroke brain, but it hasn’t bounced any checks lately. Most importantly, I have people I love who love me.