Nyquil brings me strange dreams.
I’m in the middle of a mall, which was a few seconds ago supposed to be an airport. I’m late for my flight. I was staying at a friends house and overslept; I jumped out of bed only to see the car I had hired to take me to the airport drive off into the early morning sun. “Wait!” I yell through the window, though the driver is already turning left out of the driveway and way too far away to hear me.
Somehow, I make it to the airport (now the mall), only to find out that we are under attack. We are all hostages, being told that we either have to gather guns and shoot them, or be shot ourselves.
No doubt this is a reflection of the craziness of our society (Saturday night found me panicking when I heard of a shooting in a mall near the University of Miami where I went to college, and where my best friend M sometimes frequents. Thank g-d she was nowhere near there that night). The now all to common public shootings + the state of the world today with chemical attacks and my own personal worries like starting a new cancer protocol and I feel like I’m in a game of checkers.
Every time I jump over a hurdle, another one appears. There are rules, and only certain ways that you can jump over these other players (read: obstacles).
Sometimes, I capture pieces. Other times, my pieces are captured.
I toss and turn. I feel pretty good after the prep for my radiation– king me; was proud of the fact that the doctors said that I did well (I take this as a personal compliment. My body is not my own in so many ways but hooray, you got through the prep without weeping like a baby and your vascular system seemed to be just what they were looking for!). However there is a wound where the puncture was, the catheter snaked from my groin into my liver, and that wound is bruised and hurts every time I sneeze or cough (which because of allergies is frequent).
But back to the nightmare, because even after being awake for hours I still feel like I’m in the thick of it. I tell people that I can’t just sit around and wait for men to arrive with guns who may or may not shoot us, I must do something. (Read: I cannot wait for the tumors to grow and push on my vital organs until I die, I need to do something). I sneak my way into back stairwells and try to figure out where I could hide should I need to.
I wake from this nightmare, one of the scariest that I’ve ever had, and feel beads of sweat above my upper lip. My legs ache so badly, my knees feel heavy and my shins throb. Just another side-effect of treatment, and I gently move my legs like scissors, back and forth, back and forth, trying to find a spot where nothing will hurt.
But something almost always hurts, and if it’s not a physical ache or pain or fatigue, my eye or my legs or my wound, it is my heart.
I tell SHL that I won’t be on social media much in the next few weeks. He whole-heartily agrees that is a good idea.
Social media connects me to all of you; it lets me know just how many prayers are being said. It lets me share my smoothies and juices and old nostalgic pictures of my brother and I in our Camp Sewataro sweatshirts sitting on the rocks on a Cape Cod beach. It lets me post the pieces of my blog and the pieces of myself that need to feel like somehow, we’re all in it together. Somehow, kids or no kids, cancer or no cancer, none of us are ever alone. Oh g-d I feel so alone. That’s actually how social media makes me feel these days.
Social media reminds me that I don’t just feel different from everybody else, I am different. I’m not worried about my kid teething or paying for college, I’m worried about living long enough to see my nephew Bar-Mitzvaed. I’m not minimizing other peoples problems (well maybe I am a little bit). I am told that everybody is allowed to have their own issues– Of course they are! But this is what sets us apart; I’ll never be able to truly comprehend your worries, and you’ll never truly be able to comprehend mine. And if I had to take paying for college over cancer, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
You. Me. And such a big gap in between you and me. Which leaves me over here, and you over there. I ask my inner ally to guide me, but the gremlin speaks so loudly that her words drown out and all I hear is “You’ll never be the same.” Damn you gremlin.
I try not to feel exactly how I do feel: Different. Inferior. Alone.
The loneliness scoops me up into my very own cocoon and as I await radiation, as I put life on hold to see how this new treatment works, as I wonder how to live in the shadow of what could have been, I jump over a piece, only to be captured.