Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The X Files

Early in my first pregnancy, I lay on our couch one night with my hand lying on my still flat stomach, watching TV.  I had just started noticing a slight rounding of my stomach - a hint of the expansion that was to come.  I don't remember what I was watching, but I do remember what I felt.  It felt almost like a gas bubble - a soft, barely perceptible push against my hand.   It was the first time I had felt my baby move, and in that moment he became completely real to me.  Before that soft movement, I knew I was pregnant, knew I was going to have a baby, but it was all kinda abstract.  Once E pressed against my hand, it all changed in a moment. 

That was my moment - not shared really with anyone.  While I told my husband about it later, that moment was all mine.  It wasn't when he felt the baby move for the first time - that happened later.  It was mine.

On my way home today, I felt a gas bubble that almost felt like a baby moving inside me.  Since I lost my omentum during my debulking surgery last October, I can feel gas as it moves through much easier than I could in the before.  If it's moving through my small intestine as it tries to bulge through my incisional hernia, I can really feel it.  Today it struck me how similar it was to that first movement of my son all those years ago.  And how last fall, it all changed in a moment as well.

It's an apt comparison.  After all, my cancer is like an alien I grew in my belly - something foreign and new, cells dividing and multiplying and changing my body.  More like a mutant - those dividing cells abnormal and lethal instead of having a fund super power like laser vision or the ability to control the weather.  Even more like a parasite - living off my body, taking over my abdomen, doing its best to displace what was me with its malignant replacement.  My own version of the X-Files.

There is a tendency to try to personify cancer - to infuse it with personality traits, labeling it evil or wicked.  The truth is - it's just cells gone wild - rapidly multiplying instead of showing its neutrons off to the other cells to see who can collect the most strands of DNA like chicks on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras.  My cancer can't even be blamed on my wild impetuous youth - there aren't environmental factors that contribute towards ovarian cancer.  I can't blame spending too much time in the sun, or smoking too many cigarettes, or drinking too much booze.  I just may have ovulated too much.  Not much I could have done about that.  I had my two kids, and I chose an IUD rather than birth control pills because I didn't do well on the pill.  Not that they're sure that ovulating every month for years on end causes ovarian cancer - they just think it might have something to do with it.  But they don't know. 

They just don't know.

I haven't been blogging much lately.  I'm still fighting the blues that seem to have decided to hang out in my head this summer.  Don't worry - I have an appointment with a counselor set up, and it's not ruining my summer.  I spend my weekends working in the garden and spending time with family and friends.  I'm not depressed - just a little unsettled, a little unfocused.  More likely to lose myself in a book or a TV show or a movie.  Then I don't have to think about the friends that have lost parents or husbands in the last few weeks - and how I've been too cowardly to reach out to them during their bereavement. Or think about what comes next - or what might be growing in my belly or around my lungs while I'm taking this chemo break.   I know I can't run from those feelings and thoughts forever.  But right now, that's what I'm doing.  I'm hoping talking to someone will help me deal a little better.

I'd really like to stop comparing my gas bubbles to mutant alien parasites, ya know? I'd like to find a way to stop trying to figure out why me?  Why not me?  I'd like to stop constantly worrying that every ache, or pain, or itch means the cancer is growing again, that I'm platinum resistant, that I won't get my 10 or more years. 

It's one of those things that cancer survivors have to figure out - how to return to their lives After.  How to live every moment, and not worry and obsess.  You would think being in remission (even if it is just "partial") I would be partying it up.  I don't know how to do that.  I'm trying to figure it out.  I'll keep y'all posted.

Until then, I'll just keep taking it day by day as much as I can.  So here are a few things that help me remember how lucky I am:

One of my crepe myrtles, and Grandma's cast iron bench.

My favorite roses.

My other favorite roses.
And my garden doing its thing.

It's not a bad life, eh?

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