Art is not about showing off. Art is about showing yourself ~ Glennon Doyle
I have been hiding and avoiding. I don't want to have breast cancer. I don't want to be mortal. I don't want to be receiving chemotherapy, to have a port in my chest, to feel bad, to be perceived as sick.
Hiding and avoiding haven't really worked out so well for me in the past, so I am trying to see if I can show up a little more and show a bit more of myself--to you and to myself.
There are lots of reasons for denial and for being quiet, but the one that holds me back right now is not knowing where the line is, what the wisest path is regarding sharing about my own illness with my patients, here on my business webpage. I know that being real is important in healing and I also know that as a physician it is important for me to keep the roles straight: I am the one serving my patients, not the other way around.
I am going to try to find the middle way. No way to find it staying where I am.
So where am I and how am I? That's a big question and the story changes day to day. Today: I am 12 days out from my first session of chemotherapy and today I feel pretty good. I have been out of bed all day the past two days, my body is mostly functioning the way I have come to expect. I have taken two walks today and have been able to work on balancing my checking accounts, paying bills, cleaning out my pantry and making my next attempt to embrace my reality. None of those task are completed and all will be ongoing works in progress. I am OK with that.
I am sequestered at home, not going to public spaces or public gatherings, limiting myself to contact with a chosen group of vaccinated folks who love me. I go to my office once a week to provide care virtually to my established patients an to support the nurse practitioners I have recently added to my practice. I miss my public self and am also enjoying a respite.
My major side effects of chemotherapy: An impressive amount of fatigue which put me in bed for most of a week, gastrointestinal upset (but no vomiting, thankfully), and a long list of grievances about the hospital-based medical care providing system.
Before chemotherapy, I wanted to fully embrace my process. I gathered my friends to make art out of my hair before shaving my head. The hair art took longer than I expected and turned out far better than I thought, so we left it in place. It was a magical evening, filled with connection, grieving, sharing, art, laughter, and some pushing our comfort levels. I have worn this outrageous hairdo for 12 days. Now I find myself really resisting losing my hair, of being bald, exposed, sick and old-looking. I wanted to take an active role in releasing my hair, not waiting to have it fall out in sad handfuls. According to what I read, the process of shedding my hair is likely to begin in the upcoming days. If I want to be active, the time is coming. I am reminded of deciding it was time to release the body of my stillborn daughter to the funeral home for cremation--I knew her body would become less and less wonderful to hold and caress and be with and I wanted to preserve the positive memories I had made. Today, I will begin to cut off the locks and make a prayer and set an intention with each cut. I don't expect it to be easy. No turning back.