December 31, 2010

Good-bye to all of that

It has been one hell of a year. This time last year, I was in the limbo between surgery and chemotherapy, with a pit-stop, day-surgery gig to put in the port, a device implanted under my skin so that the chemo nurses didn't have to ruin all my veins in their search for one that could receive the toxins.

This past winter, I could have collected money from the Feds for being a Superfund site, what with all the poisons streaming through my veins. Sounds like the Vietnam of my childhood, where they had to destroy the village in order to save it.

Logic like that leaves me convinced that whatever I was taught in philosophy class has no bearing in real life. The only thing logical about my illness is that it is recognized as a disability, not just in my mind but in the insurance company's.

I've been radiation central: three PET scans in 12 months. Every time I left the radiology office, I was warned to stay away from small children and pregnant women. Right -- on the sidewalks of New York? I want to get where I'm going, and I don't much care who is in the way.

But where have I been going? Not very far, at least not locally. And since I don't have the energy or capacity to travel far -- not when I don't have enough strength to go back to work and be able to focus with any level of acuity -- I can't take a vacation anywhere that the medical facilities are lacking -- bye, bye "developing" countries. We used to call them Third World, and that seems more accurate, however politically incorrect the term.

Politically correct and I have completely severed any connection. Cancer is good that way: you focus on what's real, and fuck the rest of it. Problem is, when you are no longer "in treatment," i.e., heading off for chemo and blood tests nearly every day of the week for months, you're not "cured."

Perhaps technically: the overactive cells appear to have been banished from my body, but what remains is the rest of me, the part that has to process all the events and is not ready-for-prime-time, not yet. They say a mind is a terrible thing to waste, but once it's gone, who cares?

For me, it's more like a waste is a terrible thing to mind, at least at this point in my life, now that I've had the birthday -- the big 50 -- that ensconces me in a middle-age demographic. The world looks different now: what it is I want to do in it escapes me. What have I not done that I regret not doing? Not much. I'm in search of a new goal, and don't know quite how to find one.

Love, always, love is something no one can get enough of, myself included. But the process of finding it again -- do I have the energy for that? My mind barely registers what day it is, forget about higher pursuits. I just want to have fun, and turn off the panic meter, which is on high alert. Could be seasonal, but maybe there's more to it.

How to have fun despite panic mode? I've got my ways -- unfortunately I can't indulge in them all day, every day. Reality intervenes, stabbing me internally in the solar plexus more often than I'd like.

Then there is the part of me that thinks, stop being so self-involved. Find a hobby, damnit. Or a job, if 20 years of working on my own doesn't preclude my fitting into some corporate scenario I never imagined I would like, primarily for its stability. Or, wait -- stability and job got a divorce while I wasn't looking.

Sometimes I feel like the 20th century was my time, and I can't keep up with everything -- technology, disease, and so forth -- that keeps coming my way. Adjustment disorder, my old shrink used to say on the insurance papers. That's what I had, years ago. Think I have it again now.

Bumping into middle age, adjustment disorder seems to have crept into my blood, leaving with me with a need for reading glasses, an inability to remember more than one current event at a time, no patience for anyone or anything, and a body fighting gravity with all its might. Aging, they say, is not for sissies.

Then again, no one's ever called me a sissy.