Friday, November 12, 2010

Year in review.

Hello, trip through the wormhole this morning.

It began with organic face wash and toner.  Add to that something the massage therapist said to me on Thursday, "skin is your third lung", and apparently that makes for a mighty flashback cocktail.

Your skin likes to eat organically, too.

When the health meter expires, you either get hit by a bus or diagnosed with cancer. This would be a great place to put a joke about the Los Angeles Police Department's parking ticket fines here, but they are actually less funny than cancer, they're just mean.  Anyway, a year and a half ago, I got the cancer ticket, and the next step was an involuntary one; crisis mode.  Crisis mode sent me to Sephora. Hey, it made sense to me.  In a complete verge-of-breakdown haze, I walked back, all the way back, like, token aisle back, to the organic skin-care products aisle guided by a mental review of my health habits and a really impersonal memo from the universe suggesting that contrary to my entire upbringing's teachings, I was not, in fact, in control of anything, including my body which was just on loan, by the way.

I blogged about the whole experience from skin care aisle to having most of the parts of my hoo-ha surgically removed, twice, in HD, (I'm not kidding) in a private blog on  I never really wrote to the rest of the world about it, because I'm part German, and that part needed to engineer and build the getting on with life. Fortunately, the other part, the Polish part, wants to make bad jokes about the whole pierogi now.

Two things flashed before me while washing my face this morning; whenever it makes me uncomfortable to wonder if I should write about something, I should definitely write about it.  And then, a moment.  In skin care in the aisle a year ago, almost ready to break down in public (and looking like it) over my new choices of aloe or dandelion and not Bliss Lemon or Philosiphy Cupcake, a cheery woman with chemo hair waltzed up next to me, greeted everyone who made eye contact with her, whisked her products off the shelf I was staring at while telling the sales associate that she was grateful that stores are starting to carry organic skin care products.   Still in the angry why-me and now-I'm-probably-going-to-die stage, which everyone should go through, (key word is through), I watched this woman, so blissful in her diagnosis, completely check my 'tude in the same aisle.  She was happy to have the experience in that "other part" of the store, the place where the products smelled like the salad bar at the health supermarket.  Those products were not lemony-fresh.  They were the lime peel and activated charcoal, and looked like it,  like the worst-dressed at prom, 1970.  Do you know what real lemon peel looks like in a product? Brown.  Not a soothing pale yellow that smells like unicorn glitter!  That trip was a load of poo that cost me $52 for a new skin-care routine.

It wasn't a load of poo.  My attitude was a load of poo. And so is the health and beauty advertising industry.  But that's another post.

There are a million books about how to live through cancer, how to cope, reframe, circle the wagons, reach out, be supported, support.  But what happens after all that, when you're in remission, when you're carrying yourself around like a normal human again, trying not to think about the numbers?  Nobody talks about the now.

So, now. Now can go two ways.  You can be stuck in Badattidudeland, or, live in a place where your intestines fart their versions of sunshine, which is a massively pro-biotic and routined occurrence, eff wye eye.  I now eat salads, and pay attention to omega-3s and 6s and something called Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity and eat more fish and nuts and berries and use food as my fuel and medicine.  I do yoga, and meditate, and try to observe Shabbat.  My brain even farts sunshine now, turning thoughts of my diagnosis and remission into ideas that we are all precious, and life is precious, and we should stop and smile more and give thanks more, and enjoy new challenges as opportunites to see the world differently, not as obstacles.   I just threw up a little.  I remind me of the woman in the Sephora aisle, who I wanted to turn to and yell at and then cry on her shoulder. Instead, I dutifully bought my products, walked out and cried on the way home.

There aren't a lot of books on this part of surviving.  And, I know if I'm here, there are a lot of other people here, too, trying to bring these lessons forward to inform the rest of our amazing lives.  We could trade healthy recipes and stories and find a way to joke about catheters and be examples of living normally again. It does go back to normal, if you let it, and the prognosis percentages kind of fade as you get back to life.  Ahh, cancer. It's the whole grain mustard on the bratwurst of life. Except I don't eat processed meats anymore. Dammit! My people, forgive me!

1 comment:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Stay positive!