14 October 2011

White Sheets, Silver Lining

A wise (sexy, splendid) friend offered me advice during the early stages of my diagnosis. She said, “Whenever you have a negative, you’ve got to think of a positive"  And up ‘till today I’ve been pretty good at being able to find a silver lining.

For instance, instead of the day surgery I was planning on, I had to spend the night at the hospital. But, because I stayed at Mount Sinai Hotel and Spa, I had the opportunity to watch the sun come up over the city. Luck put me in private room, the doctor put me on morphine, and I got to see the city turn from black, to blue, to gold. Euphoric with relief, and stoned out of my mind, it was a joy to behold.

Also, during my recovery I lost my independence, but I had a week alone with my mom. Those seven days turned out to be the sweetest summer visit, where I did nothing more complicated than be a daughter. We had the chance to lie in bed and chat, sharing tiny precious details that we’d never learn over the phone.

And I managed to find the positive in having no upper body strength (never really a strong point), and letting the basset hound take the lead, where I was literally forced to stop and smell the roses.

Then today I took a shower, and I was having very negative thoughts about my big bald head. So I dug around for my positive, and unable to come with anything, I resorted to stealing the positive from the experience of my same wise friend. When I complained to her about hairlessness, she said cheerfully, “A naked head feels really good against clean white sheets.” As I normally wear a fleecy cap to bed, I’d never tried it. But after my shower I lay down on the bed and let my egghead sink into the fresh white linen. Delicious! Who knew that fabric has such personality; it feels like springtime under your head! So, it may not be profound, but I had my positive.  And since silver lining comes in a variety of colours, white will do quite nicely.

13 October 2011

Movin' & Groovin'. October 13

In order to distract attention from introducing a wig into a semi-familiar social situation there is a certain logical sequence of steps. My loved ones know about my head. And as I’m not taking on any work projects, only of few of my trusted colleagues are any the wiser. My neighbors pay little attention to me, which is kind of a blessing. So that leaves the dog park. It is there where I’m forced into socialization, where the same faces gather night after night to engage in small talk about property taxes and poo.

Since I’m a familiar presence in the park, but with only one actual friend, the consistency of my hair-do was of a major concern. So back in the summer, this is what I planned.  Purchase a wig that mirrors my own hairstyle, or a similar one that I like. Cut my hair shorter, but wear the wig out in public.

This is what I did. Bought a wig that looked like my own brown bob. Cut my hair. Loved my new hair so much! ($100, by Cosmo). Was told by my friends that I should have done it years ago. Wore my short hair everywhere. Accepted compliments at the dog park. Cut my hair a bit shorter.  Went out with just a hat. Went to the dog park where people commented on my changing style. Not too many compliments. Shaved my hair right off. Had to wear the wig. Wig is long.

So I found myself in the dog park last night, with the back of the wig tucked under a knit cap, and my long bangs sticking out.  I tried to stand alone, but that’s not the way things happen.  Trapped in the confines of the fence, one is prey for other dog people who are desperate for after dinner conversation. So I got a few confused glances, but nobody said anything out loud. And I didn’t have any clever answers tucked away in case I needed to explain how I went from sporty to soft, overnight.

Then I remembered Crissy. Crissy was the doll I was never allowed to have, the 18” glamour girl (Circa 1971) with auburn hair, which could be adjusted to various lengths, at will!  According to Wikipeida, this is how it happens. “With the Crissy doll’s hair fully or partially extended, turning a knob located on the doll’s back retracts the hair into the torso to be wound on an internal rod or spindle. Pushing and holding in a button on the doll's abdomen disengages the locking ratchet to allow the hair to be pulled back out of the Doll's Head.” This is the doll’s main appeal. What isn’t appealing is that she actually had a stomach full of hair. And that you could yank her by the ponytail. But what is good is that someone with my hair issues has already existed, and I’m banking on the subconscious memories of the gals in the park to realize that the concept of immediate hair growth really isn’t that strange.

My case is further strengthened by the possibility that some people remember Crissy’s more advanced cousins. Years later they introduced  ’Movin’ Groovin’ Crissy', her slutty ’Cousin Velvet’, and a talking version of the girls who could say things such as, “Make my hair long,” and, “I don’t think so.”

So for most people in the dog park I’m the lady in hat and with a very loud basset. But for those lucky few born in the 60’s, I’m Movin’ Groovin’ Crissy, glamorous auburn haired party girl, with a ratchet in my back, a belly full of hair, and the ability to change my style, at will.

11 October 2011

Thanksgiving in High - Def. October 11

There was something about the day. I don’t know if it was post-chemo light sensitivity, my saturated thoughts, or global warming, but everything was intensely beautiful. My sisters blue eyes, the glass of rosé, and the purple wild flowers in mason jars that dotted the long outdoor table where we ate. The world was lit with colour, and it was luminous.

But nothing of this glorious October day compared to the glistening beauty of the giant turkey legs sitting in the middle of the kitchen table. Shining magnificently amongst its’ inferior white brethren, it dazzled with it’s shellacked brown skin. Alone in the kitchen I gazed at it in awe. For weeks I’d been eating salmon, blueberries and other antioxidant rich foods. But these giant legs were so inviting, and so intoxicating, that I was soon moving in. And while my loved ones ate under the afternoon sun, I pulled off a little dark meat, put it in my mouth, and swooned.

Outside there was a rare moment of quiet, followed by a ripple of concern, and I could hear an apple fall out of the tree and land in the grass with a happy sigh. Then my mothers voice. “What’s she doing? Is she okay?” More silence, then my other sister’s voice, slightly muffled by her glass of chardonnay. “She’s fine, she just needs to eat.” Inside I was in heaven. Rarely had anything ever tasted so good. So with a heaping plate I returned to the festive table, and took my seat.  My family, who are concerned that I keep my strength up, were delighted to see me dive in with the abandon of Barney Rubble after a good night of bowling.

Our Dining Room
Mom, Me, Big Sister

Hours later, after easy conversation, pumpkin pie, and some trampolining, we all said our goodbyes. As my cousin hugged me she handed me a package which contained the other giant turkey leg, carefully wrapped in foil. Greedily I took it, and placed it in the back of the Jeep.

Driving home with Jim my mind drifted to all the things for which I am grateful. And the list is lengthy. And hopeful. And full of love. Then an arsehole in a Lexus cut us off, and I started thinking about my day, and how I wasn’t going to let angry dickhead  drivers run over all my memories of such a spectacular afternoon. So I decided, in the event of a fender bender, this is what I would do.  I would pull Jim safely out of the car, then rescue my shiny leftovers and take them to the back of the police cruiser. With the windows wide open, we would eat the turkey together while the sky was still pink, the air was still warm, and the big brown turkey leg still glistened.

9 October 2011

Math at 4 a.m. October 9

There are nights where I wake up at four in the morning and I feel like I have a huge weight sitting on my chest. (Specifically  a portable L.G Smith Corona Standard, circa 1940 in a black case). The intensity of the last four months often surfaces and startles me back into wakefulness. But last night was not one of those nights. Last night is was a slightly lighter weight sitting on me, in the form of a black cat named Eddie, but he still woke me up.

So while I lay in bed stroking the 19 lb cat, I did a bit of math. My wig cost me $1,600 dollars. That’s a lot of money. Haircuts, and bit of my fake natural colour, cost me $180 every six weeks. (Also a lot of money, but I love Cosmo). Considering I won’t be going to a salon till early spring, I’m saving about $1,000 in salon fees. That still leaves $600. Since my operation on August 3rd, I’ve had to drastically reduce my wine consumption. At the moment, I’m reduced to about 3 oz of wine a week. Compared to the amount I prefer to enjoy, that’s really very paltry. So I’ve probably already saved hundreds of dollars in wine.  Our blue box seems neglected. When I walk by it,  empty-handed yet again, it looks at me as if to say, “How long do you intend to keep this up?”

So that’s a good question, blue box. Am I allowed to drink? When I asked my oncologist, she made a little face and said “Mmm, probably not a good idea”. To me that isn’t a no.  It was more like a possibility. So perhaps I should ask my Russian Nurse. While high on Percocet, I asked him if I could have an occasional glass of wine, and he glared at me, and said ‘Abzoloodley”.

By 4:45 a.m. I felt happy with my equations. In fact, without booze and salons, I may even be coming out ahead. But I still have to get some more opinions about drinking. With dreams of finding an Italian oncologist, I let the sweet cat on my chest purr me back to sleep.