7 January 2012

Blushin' Russian

My Russian nurse came by for his last visit. Or so he says. We’ve said good-bye before, after my post-op treatment, where he said he hoped to ‘never to have to see me in this house again.’ But he did. And he quite liked it! He said he enjoyed the calmness, and the pets, and the music.

(This time there was no music, as I was fully immersed in a home decorating show, and didn’t have time switch it off. So, instead of the cool new-world-music kind of gal he’d come to expect, he got that real me. The shallow version.)

Alexi and I compared notes about Christmas and the New Year. I told him about my olde tyme skating party, to which he scowled, ‘I hade skading.' Turns out that it brings back bad childhood memories when he was forced onto the ice in freezing weather wearing a furry muskrat ushanka, complete with earflaps and a string under his chin. (I’m assuming the fashion details). Instead he’d opted for New Year’s champagne and ‘too much food’ which he illustrated by patting his perfectly flat stomach. And then he gently jabbed me in the ass with one last perfect $ 2,700 needle.

So for (allegedly) the last time, Alexi slipped on his fancy leather gloves and headed for the door. I was reluctant to let him leave, having learned so little about him. Our relationship wasn’t balanced. I pried, he deflected. I knew only that he prefers champagne to vodka, his wife is an artist, and he’s a Reiki master. Also, he has Pomeranian dog, and he grew up in a nice (but chilly) apartment in mother Russia. He knows so much more about me. He’s met many of my family, and has seen me topless, bald, and sort of bottomless.

As he left I gave him a hug, and he hugged back and wished me only good things. I thanked him and told him I’d miss his visits. He nodded. ‘And by the way,’ I said, ‘My mom thinks you’re gorgeous.’

That got him. With one gloved hand on the door he bowed his head, and smiled. I think he was even blushing. And then he exhaled a noise that sounded that sounded almost happy and said, ‘I’m very flattered.’

And with a bit of crimson still in his cheeks, he nodded once again, adjusted his Hugo Boss jacket, hopped in his silver Jaguar, and drove off into the sunny afternoon.

4 January 2012

My Psychiatrist Called in Sick

My psychiatrist called in sick.

I must admit to being annoyed, as I’d planned my entire week around this meeting. Dr. L had been assigned to be by my social worker, who said that an appointment, whether or not it was necessary, was a healthy pre-emptive strike. So I agreed to do it as long as it didn’t involve any group activity.

Put Patient Here
My first, and only appointment was in November. My second appointment would have been this morning if things had gone according to plan. During our first meeting, Dr L focused on getting to know me. To see if I had any suicidal thoughts (no), depression (no), or mother issues ( All dealt with, thank you very much).

After talking for two hours, she came up with this diagnosis. Apparently I spend too much time worrying about other peoples reactions. Admittedly, others' feelings are often foremost in my mind. I thought that most people experienced this concern, to which Dr L replied, ‘Most people are selfish pricks’, or something to that effect.

She recommended that I don’t worry about what others think. Offer no explanations if people look at my hair. Don’t hide the fact that I’m going through chemo, but if people get overly sympathetic, say matter-of-factly, ‘I appreciate your concern’. Let's move along, shall we?

So today I was looking forward to talking to my Psychiatrist. It’s true – I did enjoy talking to someone who had no emotional investment in my situation, and I liked saying whatever I wanted without being self-censored or articulate. Over the holidays I’d even come up with a few choice topics – and I was looking forward to our conversation.

So when Dr. L's secretary called to tell me she was ill, I felt I should say something generous about a speedy recovery. But I was a little angry, and I’m trying not to care about other people’s feelings. So I said that I’d turned down an out of town event for this appointment, one which I’d been waiting anticipating for seven weeks. I told her that I was upset. Unapologetic, she said she’d try to squeeze me in next week. I wanted to say more, to tell her that their system of having appointment two months apart is ridiculous, even without the cancellations. I also wanted to tell her that I didn't like her attitude, but just in case she was having a bad day, I didn't want to hurt her feelings.

Clearly I need another appointment. Not caring what people thinks takes work.

2 January 2012

Happy New Year, George Clooney

Not our motel

This New Year's Eve, Jim and I  stayed in a quaint motel in Cobourg Ontario. We'd come to celebrate with a long time friend who’d relocated from the mean streets of Toronto, and had kindly offered to host an olde time skating party.

Jim and I have stayed in many motels over the years, but this was Jed’s first time. (As another first, I was a New Year's baldy. Not really a big deal – but sort of). Our room had two beds, and Jed couldn’t believe his luck. He had a double all to himself, which he christened immediately, stretching his stubby little legs to their full eight or nine inches.  Though he was reluctant to leave the room, we dragged him to the skating party, which was as excellent a celebration as you can imagine, when you’re with top-notch friends in a picturesque town over the holidays.

Proper Dog Bed
Back at the motel we collapsed into our super comfortable beds and fell asleep. But only for an hour. At 2:30 we were wakened by an overhead thud, then footsteps, which was the start of a Jacuzzi party that continued well into the morning. Jim, bless his heart, could sleep soundly if he was riding the Tilt-a-Whirl at the CNE.  Jed too, as he was worn out from barking at skaters and fireworks. So I was the lone occupant of room # 2 who was wide-awake and crabby. People loudly filed by our room, thundering up the stairs, hollering at nothing in particular.

My natural inclination is to fling open the door and politely ask people to ‘Shut the f*ck up.’ But these days I can’t be that spontaneous.  Firstly, I’m almost bald (the bristles joyously persist). Secondly my pj's were covered with hundreds of brown chihuahuas wearing pink pearl necklaces. Though they were not of my own choosing, they are of excellent quality, have pink piping, and are amongst my favorite.  Still,  I didn’t want to be seen flinging open the door in dog pajamas, my head's tiny bristles silhouetted by the moon. Nor did I want to dig around for my wig, which I’d sleepily tossed in my overnight bag, where it clung loyally to my chapeau.

I thought of calling the front desk, but the motel brochure said they were closed after 11. So I lay in bed and listened to the noise. Instead of getting cross at the drunken antics, I used a few tools I mastered  last year. If I don’t like the way I see something, I change the picture. (This was particularly helpful when I visualised my tumour. When I saw it as black, a dear friend said ‘pick a different colour’. I picked pink, and this tactic has saved my sanity)

So I listened to the footsteps and created my own story. I pictured the people upstairs as carefree, happy, and goodhearted. Like elves in Santa’s workshop, but with giant hammers. Maybe missionaries, bathing the homeless and counting out bags of money.  Or George Clooney and his friends holidaying in Cabo, topless, with magnums of champagne and plates of giant lobster.

4 am, and George, Ewan McGregor, and Sting were still frolicking in the tub. In room # 2, on either side of me,  my boys were snoring peacefully, and in unison. The bed was dreamy, and twinkle lights sparkled through the window. I couldn’t sleep, but I could listen to other people being happy. And I could think about all the great moments of the last year, because there were many. I’d created strong bonds with wonderful people, and renewed bonds with those who I knew I could rely on, all along. Despite all the scary parts, I laughed a lot, and had people to laugh with me.  There was always a fridge full of homemade food, and someone to hold my hand. With their time, people were most generous. To those people I sent my thanks, and willed them happiness. Finally I slept.

First thing in the morning I raced to the front desk to complain about the noise. From the office window I could see the guilty party loading up their vehicle. Bleary eyed and sloppy, they looked like they’d just stumbled out of a perogie eating contest where the winner got an orange plaid jacket, and runner-ups got punched in the face. 

Obviously, George had left the building.