Friday, November 27, 2009

T-giving, philosophized

Kairol and the Thankgiving holiday have inspired me to try and put words to some thoughts that have been bouncing around and changing for the last two years: am I thankful for cancer?

For the longest time I was adamant that cancer was a bad thing, that I would never choose to re-live all of this if given the chance... But now that things are mostly over and done with, I've been re-considering. When you get a certain distance out from most big Life Happenings, so much has gone down and shifted around that it becomes impossible to extricate Life Now from the Life Happening. And depending on how you feel about Life Now or Reality, as I like to call it, it's all dependent LH.

Right before I left Seattle Dinner Club did a Whidbey Island retreat. On a lovely hike along the bluff, we were discussing the happening of our 3 years together and CL said to me, "I don't want you to take this wrong, but you are so much happier than you were [before cancer]" and I realized she was right--really right.

It's hard to say whether it was cancer or just getting older. But I have come out the other end of all of this with more... confidence? It seems like the wrong word because I've always linked the idea of confidence to appearance or aptitude... but really, I feel better at life. I got pitched a doozey and I fucking nailed that sucker. And yes, luck was on my side, but it made me feel more confident about inner-Jessie and her ability to respond to trauma, to find joy and humor in adversity and to keep going.

It's kind of pointless to speculate too hard on what would have happened if I hadn't gotten sick, but I will anyway. I think most glaringly, I would have entered the 2010 class at the UW Evans School instead of waiting a year and going to Berkeley. Everything that happened that last year in Seattle: getting my first taste of being a Boss, calling an end to the Crappy relationship, being part of the Crazy relationship, making lots of new friends, being part of Jessie and Julian's Epic Spring Party Marathon, getting to mentor another fabulous year of AWESOME teenagers... all of which shaped who I am and where I am now.

But at the end of the day, I still decided to be perversely thankful for my cancer (but not anyone else's). And truly thankful for my friends and family, my health insurance, my generous employers, for all the new people it brought into my life, and mostly for the opportunity to be here and now...

And yeah, I have a paper due tomorrow which I am NOT writing because I am updating here. Sigh.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Refreshingly Type A

It has been an emotionally complicated week, friends. Goddamn, prednisone, you make me insane.

Wednesday I came off (as scheduled) but for some reason I had a particularly brutal resurgence of post-roid despondency and spent the entire day freaking out about nothing identifiable. It was a serious case of Malaise.

It is ALMOST OVER. And I am fucking ready. The Pred makes me nutty, the Vinc is making my skin going crazy, the Mtx has my stomach on defense all the time.

But back to Wednesday: even though I wanted to burst into tears all day and I felt like the world was crashing down around my shoulders, I used my white-person-buddhist-mantra about the moment being temporary and it was all good. It's the drugs that make me crazy--it's not a permanent state of the world. Holler.

But what I really wanted to say in this post is that I have found a new thing that I love about being in school... the refreshing ok-ness of being a type A personality. I like things to be in order. I like them to happen as planned. I like to eat the exact same thing for breakfast every morning and as hard as I try, I am just not a chill kind of person.

In a lot of ways I've spent my entire adult life trying to fight this. Mostly for positive reasons: being rigid, stubborn, and attached is mostly ego and doesn't really do a lot to make life more pleasant. The other part of it is that it also is not cool to be a Crazy Bitch. Between undergrad at UO and then working with youth, I had to get good at pretending like I was a chill person. And for my own sanity I kind of learned how to accept reality, find order in chaos, and how to let things go.

I can't decide if it's just kind of people at a policy school or whether it the influx of people in my life from the east coast, but all of a sudden it's ok not to be totally chill all the time. It's ok to want things a certain way, to be hyper organized, to care about things being good.

Conclusion: I like it here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Swedish Cancer Institute: the best place in the WHOLE world

15 down, 2 to go!!!!

Yesterday I flew up to Seattle for the day. The whole day was absolutely wonderful. It started with Julian and I at Pho Hai Yen for some rockin Rainier Valley pho and a tour of NoBea. Julian is fabulous. While part of me would like him to realize that there is no life in NoBea without me (and that he should move to the East Bay) it gives me even MORE pleasure to see him so happy and thriving in an environment I know for sure to be a GREAT PLACE. I guess that's a good thing :)

Then I went to Swedish. I had been wondering if I was being a total prima donna about the whole switch back, but the MINUTE I walked into Swedish I knew I had made the right choice. The front desk ladies were so happy to see me! My phlebotomists gave me a hug! People couldn't stop telling me how happy they were to see me and how absolutely fantastic I was looking. Dr. K and I had a longer sit down than we have in months. He told me how proud he was of me and how fantastic I looked had me flex my rockin abs for him (very appreciative) and hugged a lot and talked about all the parts of this journey that had brought me to better places. Perhaps more importantly for my readers, we talked all about the FUTURE. The FUTURE post-treatment. What it means when I am no longer tethered to an IV pole and cell-killing poisons!

The plan:
December 16: second to last infusion at Swedish
January 13: LAST infusion
Sometime in January: full PET, bone marrow biopsy, brain MRI, full blood panel... intentionally missing in this series of tests is the SPINAL TAP which Dr. K waived as I had a clean one last spring during my migraine-month.
After everything comes back clear, I'm on to semi yearly check ups which I have a feeling will consist mostly of hugs.

After seeing Dr. K I went up to treatment. Jenny B, one of my fave nurses was assigned to me which was a good time. Anita, who is my magic IV starter was on lunch, but when Jenny told her I was outside, she left her lunch just to start my IV--on the first try! Later Jenny said that Anita does not usually do these things, but that she has a liking for me! Maura and Marilyn came by for hugs and to postulate when in fact, Marilyn's son and I can get married. Maybe in a few years.

All I can say is that these are my People. I love the staff at Swedish so much.

Then I was off to an early Dinner Club (sans CL) at the AC and RAchel's. Rachel made an incredible vegan feast that involved garbanzo beans and we just enjoyed a reunion of our community. Rachel drove me back to the airport after dinner and I was in Berkeley, in my bed, by 11pm.

Damn, Seattle. You've been working out. Yesterday you were 40 degrees, sunny, and beautiful. It worked. I'll declare on the internet that I'm still madly in love with you. Wait for me, baby. I'll be back in 18 months.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Over it

Ugggghhh. It's midterms this week. I know I've been really spotty about updating and when I do it's kind of lame and obvious that I'm just avoiding doing homework and not here to share anything substantive... Life is requiring a lot of energy these days and so I find my free time being absorbed mostly by Hulu. A TV renaissance in the life of Jessie.

This healthcare shit is scaring the hell out of me. And I can't seem to mobilize very well. I don't want to blog about it, I don't want to protest, it takes every thing I have just to send emails/phone calls to Congress people trying to get my vote chalked up on the "pro" side. It's just so fucking disturbing how absolutely evil the insurance industry is. Pure. Evil. My tongue is not in my cheek (as it often is when I'm making fun of conservatives) I am serious. The system is so broken and so many people are so fucked and our elected officials don't really care. And a surprising number of my fellow Americans don't care either. It's tragic. Our whole world is tragic. See? This is where thinking about health care gets me... totally depressed! Because it's just one of the many arms of systemic oppression that rules the globe.

OK. Enough. Here's the exciting cancer news this week: I bought shampoo. It has been over 20 months since I've had to wash my hair... it's always been so short that just rinsing it was good enough. This week not only did my chin break out like I was 16 years old, I kept noticing that my hair was... greasy. So just another sign that life is slowly crawling back to "normal." I'm not sure how to spin my zits as positive, so we can just focus on the hair. Huzzah!

The real question is, what now? Grow it out? Keep it short? I don't know!

I think I kicked my Quant midterm's ass but I am feeling less secure about my Econ test tomorrow. I should probably study. And that's why I'm updating Inertia and just finished baking gluten-free pumpkin, chocolate chip cookies. They are fab. They are for my Econ class. And maybe Julian. I'll be in Seattle on Wednesday for chemo at Swedish!