Yesterday was a good day. I did the training and it was lovely to be immersed in something that is not this upcoming procedure. I took a few sunny walks with friends who distracted me and loved on me. (I didn’t get to walk a marathon because of the time in training, but I hit 16 miles.) I felt mentally pretty good yesterday. I was pretty matter-of-fact about the surgery and felt like I’d finally made it over the emotional hump. Alas, I woke up pretty sad (and bummed I lost an hour before surgery) and had several moments of tears. Me crying is extremely upsetting for Franklin so that stops the flow pretty quickly. Franklin has decided that I am solely his and must be protected from tears and hugs. I did take Franklin and Lola (my old lady dog) on a nice walk this morning and then received a generous gift of bodywork from a brilliant and lovely healer who cares about me. All lovely.
This afternoon I’ve been mostly laying on the floor bending, twisting, sitting up, stretching, and moving, moving, moving. At least when Franklin is not sitting on my body or head. Which he does a lot.
I don’t get to eat today. That’s fine. Currently, I’m drinking some tonic water that has a use-by date of either 8/7/2013 or 8/07 on it. (We don’t drink a lot in this house.) Ted says “there’s no way it can be 07”, believe me, there is a way. No one else in my family will drink it but I’m not a scaredy-cat. I’m trusting tonic water doesn’t really expire. (It still has some fizz. kind of.) Besides no food today I’m also bowel prepping as one does for a colonoscopy. That’s fine. It’s not hard. No fun but not hard. I really hope you all get your colonoscopies regularly. (Can I demand it?) I get that it is an uncomfortable day but trust me, it doesn’t remotely compare to the discomfort and the outright pain and agony of cancer treatment. Do some adulting and schedule it.
People with colostomies (people who have a bag AND have a colon) and ileostomies (people who have a bag and DO NOT have a colon) are advised to chew their food really well. If you think about it, this makes sense. Parts of our digestive system are being removed so the more digestible the food before entering the system the better. So, I’ve been paying attention to how I chew food. I’ve done this before but in the last few days, it has become absolutely clear to me that I eat like a Labrador. Just like Franklin. I kind of chew, but I go quickly to swallowing. My dog doesn’t even do that, he just inhales, but I’m more Labradorian than I wanted to believe.
One of the things I’m not looking forward to is a shift in my relationship with food. I hope I don’t have to make too much of one but, from what I read, there will be some changes. At least for a while. My relationship with food is complicated. Or completely fucked up, however you want to put it. In the past 5 or 7 years, I’ve been working at undoing 42 years of dieting. Dieting is what a culturally acceptable eating disorder looks like. I’m not talking about a healthful approach to weight loss. I think that can be done. I’m talking about constant freaking dieting. Choosing what to eat based on what a gazillion-dollar industry is selling you. The results of this industry are truly devastating on bodies and psyches. (I think my “need” to diet started in 6th grade when my teacher made a benign comment on my size (which was normal). I can see, as an adult, what she meant but that is not what I heard.)
One time I wrote a list of diets I’d been on in my life and thought I’d write a memoir through the lens of all those fucking diets. (Then I remembered how truly boring my life is and how little I have to say.) But, ugh. Dieting. What a bloody waste of energy. And time. And thought. Imagine how different the world would be if women weren’t trained to spend so much of their lives on how their bodies look? How different it could be because women are truly the most badass of badassed humans there are.
Last week I got another book about death and dying and quality of life from the library. My library, “you’ve got a book” emails are always a little like Xmas morning because I don’t remember what I put on hold. I must have been on quite the roll a few months ago as I did not put any of those on hold after I learned this cancer had recurred.
So, Ted and I talked more about “stuff” and I pulled out my will. Which I could barely understand. Also, it didn’t have one swear word in it which made me wonder if it was really “my will”. But it will do.
It’s a really good idea to talk about this stuff. And I know I need to really lay what I’d like to happen because it’s not fair to have my kids have to make those decisions. (Then if they want or need things to be different, that’s okay with me.) The medical industry is on auto-pilot and insurance companies don’t support doctors to get to know patients to the extent required to understand what quality of life means to them. (maybe there is more of that with terminal cases.) And we know that quality of life will extend our lives. Hospice extends life. Tons of research shows that. It’s loving support. We need more loving support. Like you all have given me.
When my mom was dying, we all agreed she had wanted to be cremated but not all of her ten kids heard her say what she wanted done with her ashes. Or what kind of funeral or celebration she wanted. This wasn’t a huge issue for my family because we function pretty well together. We listen to each other, and truly want to take care of each other. Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of feelings, and some tension, but no one dug their heels in and was unwilling to consider other people’s needs. I think that’s AMAZING and not all that likely. So, yes, I should define, (and you probably should too), what I want to have happen to minimize the stress for the people who love me. Like my sister Mary said, there are decisions that other people shouldn’t have to make. (Thanks, Mary.)
I wish I cared more about what I want. But I don’t really. I don’t feel attached to a particular place in the world. I did love India so very, very much but I really don’t want the disposal of my body, or placement of my body, to cause anymore environmental impact than it has to. I think a ‘natural’ burial is what I’d like. I just have to figure out how/where. However, that’s the simple stuff. The hard stuff. The really, really difficult and complicated stuff is quality of life. When is enough, enough? What does a quality life look like? Whew. Someone needs to know you pretty well for that. And conversations need to be had. And people need to be put in charge. People who can make some pretty hard decisions in very heartbreaking situations.
I think as long as my mom could have coffee and donuts and a visit with one of her children, she was pretty happy for that time in her life. She was over 90. Napping was a large part of her days. Still, life isn’t that complicated. Coffee and donuts are a pretty good gauge for me, too. Fuck, I hope I don’t have to give up coffee with a colostomy. I love my coffee.
Thank you for your love and support.
Thank you for the flowers and gifts.
Thank you for the cards, letters, emails, and notes.
Thank you for the texts and phone calls.
Thank you for the incredible blanket. Wow.
Thank you for choosing me as your friend. It’s stunning to me that YOU choose me to care about.
Thank you for being on my bench.
My bench is deep. Deeper than I remember. Just like yours is.
I’m on your bench.
And Chris, keep crapping me up!