Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Convalescing, Part Two
We parked across the street from the courthouse, and slowly Dave walked me across the street. This was the earliest I'd been out of the house in a week, and I remarked to him how interesting it was to be out this early in the downtown, watching the different people moving around in their very normal day. I felt completely unnerved and was not happy to feel tears well up--for what? For leaving the house early? I blinked them back.
We went through security; the guard had to repeat twice that I should take my cell phone OUT of my purse and put it in their basket. I must have looked strange: flat hair, sallow skin, no make-up, creeping along in my sweats and T-shirt, clutching the left side of my pants as I held the fabric away from the prong-like sutures projecting out nearly a half an inch from my leg. Upstairs in the jury reporting room, I was directed to the woman in the office who did postponements. I had brought my doctor's note, the hospital admitting records. I said quietly, "I need a postponement. I had emergency surgery for melanoma. I'm sorry." She looked at me. "No problem." We agreed on a date and she was so kind and I was so relieved that again I started to cry.
Dave walked me to the elevators, back through the guarded doorway, across the plaza and helped me into the car. "How can I teach a church lesson on Sunday?" I asked, "if I cry when I have to ask for a jury duty postponement? How can I start teaching in two weeks?" I swallowed hard. "How do I get my life back?" He was quiet for a minute. Then we talked about how the surgery had interrupted what things were planned and how getting the bronchitis on top of that was like a double whammy. As he drove he told me he'd found a bargain trip to Iceland in winter because "Haven't you always wanted to see the Northern Lights?"
Back home I filled the sink with soapy water, pulled the knobs off the stove and tossed them in with the dirty dishes to be done. Then I got out the cleaner and cleaned underneath the knobs, the front of the stove, working my way down to my knees to remove the spaghetti sauce that had splattered across the front. Don't too much, cautioned Dave, saying that he knew it was hard for someone like me to remain idle. "But maybe that's why I was crying," I said. "Because I'm not me right now."
So this is convalescing, part II: not feeling like myself, not really knowing who I am, unable to do the regular things that bring rhythm and a pacing to my life. The idea of cancer and melanoma are an abstract--unreal, not me, not my life. Given the surgeon's comments post-op, I am confident that the pathology report this Friday will give me good news: no cancer, clear margins around the original site. So where does that leave me now? Knowing more than I want to know about carcinomas and melanoma, yet less about how to absorb and apply this information. The sutures and the lymph node wound sites are reminders of what has happened on a physical level. Perhaps the tears, the wobbly gait are reminders for the rest of me?
A late lunch date that allowed me to change out of the clothes I'd worn all week, curl my hair, and stroke on eyeliner and mascara. We ordered our food, talking about blessedly mundane things, the wait staff, the too-warm January day, details from his morning's work. How the lady at the table who waved to us is from a neighboring church congregation. How Romney won the caucuses by eight votes. How a small trip like this to a local restaurant can act as a beacon to my new normal, the light shimmering as it casts its beam across that revenant life.