Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hair 2.0

I have a buzz cut. Not something I ever longed for, but everyone seems to love it, from old friends to people at work. It looks mostly gray to me, but it’s hard to tell, there’s darker and lighter, so maybe when it grows out some it will be salt-and-pepper like before. It feels like a kitten and I can’t resist rubbing it a lot.

New growth on my head has made me start thinking about newness inside of me. I feel like I have a new life now, and while, like I said in my last post, I am going to miss my old one, I am appreciating the opportunity to kind of start again. I’m looking at my choices of what to do, and thinking about what I like doing and what doesn’t really make me happy. I’m trying to figure out what I need to do to have love in my life. Starting some new projects, making new friends. Thinking about going back to the gym soon, finding racquetball partners.

In my magical healing class last night, we did an exercise with a “magic mirror.” I had a strange hallucination, or I guess you could say vision. I have a small but painful radiation burn near my collarbone; it should clear up in about a week, says my radiation oncologist, because thankfully they finished zapping that area last Thursday. Last night I had the sense that there is something inside that area that is trying to get out through the open wound, and once it heals up whatever it is will be trapped inside me and have no way out. So I asked my healing partner to work on it. And what I felt when she started pulling out what she described as strings of red energy stuff was that it’s a lot of sadness.

This morning on my way to work, I thought about the fact that as soon as I got my diagnosis, I kicked into business mode. I didn’t want people to think I was falling apart, or melodramatizing my illness. I knew I was probably going to be fine, so there was no need to be upset. I just needed to get the surgery scheduled, it was a small, same-day surgery, no complications, no big deal. Then I found out it wasn’t going to be quite that simple, there was the chemo to deal with, but that too was unpleasant but not unusual, my side effects were contained, I was a healthy person with a little setback, a lot of people have a lot worse illnesses, etc., etc. And although I certainly had low periods -- during every chemo cycle there would be a few moments when I started crying just from the sheer misery of the physical experience -- I never allowed myself to feel sad. Sad about being suddenly in menopause, which would probably not have happened for five years otherwise. So now I almost feel like I’m five years older than I thought I was, even though I know that’s ridiculous. Sad about having my intact body cut up, even just a little, and having scars that will never go away.

Now, it’s all about to be over. At the end of next week, I’ll have my last radiation treatment. And then I will more or less be done with this. My hair’s growing back, my nails are growing back, I’ll be back at work full-time, and life will be back to normal. Other people I know are, unfortunately, getting diagnosed with cancer now and I’m thinking about how to support them. So it’s like if I don’t indulge this sadness now, I will lose my chance, and it will lie there festering inside me. Yet I don’t know if I can, because I also feel happy, to have my hair, to have my life, to have my energy, and I also don’t really have time.