At each visit with my oncologist, the same questions are asked, every Monday. One of these questions: “did you fall down this week?”
In the beginning, I had made some joke and laughed it off, looking at the nurse as if she was crazy. And then at one of my worst moments, feeling ill and depleted, I fell down. We had just installed a new gate as the baby was about to start walking any day. Of course the first moment, tired and dazed, I tripped over the little lip of the gate, slammed into the wall and hit the carpet face first, giving myself a huge black eye. With my olive skin, bald head and tattoo on my arm I felt like I now looked like one punked out bitch of a hoodlami (wanna be hoodlum). oddly enough, this helped my spirit and sense of humor. The following Monday they really didn’t have to ask by the look of me, though I can imagine what people were thinking with the big shiner on my face. Yesssss….I fell down.
A month or so later, it was a rare but gorgeous wintery day, so the family went for a stroll and lunch in the Pike Place Market. I was tired but really wanted to rally, get out of the house and be a ‘real’ person. Walking down the street, I tripped and completely fell on absolutely nothing, skinned my hand and almost twisted an ankle. This time I started to cry. I’m 37 years old and I can’t even walk down the effin’ street and have a nice day with my family. It was a rare moment of feeling sorry for myself. I was also angry. I always have been complimented on my grace. My grace is waning, and I wonder if this is karma for critiquing a certain someone and comparing myself as the better gal in whatever altercation that occurred. I’m angry that I feel cancer is karmic because I had anger about something that I had every right on this earth to be aggressive about. I digress. Gracefully Jenny fell down, again.
About three weeks ago, after tucking my son in for the night, I descend his stairs to our main floor. His room is a cute attic style room, so the stairwell is narrow and more steep than the average. Everyone complains about them, but we really can’t rebuild a stairwell right now. Anyway, I was, again, tired, because that has become my middle name. I grabbed for something, was wearing those stupid, slippery Tom’s shoes and just slipped on my butt down the entire staircase. Boomboomboom. The tumors are in my spine (along with a smattering of other bone locations and my liver) I, of course, slide on my tail bone while grazing my spine on the edge of the wooden steps. I picked my self up off of the floor, crawled to the carpet and laid there in pain calling out for the hubby, as the baby awoke to my mess crying. A scene. Depressing and silly and painful and aggravating. I am not who I used to be. My hubby calmed the baby down, as I lay on the floor in silent panic that I had done some real damage. I’m fine. In fact, the doc said it was a good sign of how well I am doing, that nothing serious occurred. I have a funny way of working out the issues.
The following week, my son was having a hard time with his wake up. He rarely fussed but he was just all sorts of cranky. It cheers him up to go outside, so in the rain we went, I donned my rubber boots and we set out to ring the wind chime and look at the trees. He relaxed in my arms so sweetly and we kept walking, and for a minute I had forgotten that I had cancer until I slipped on a mossy step and went down hard again on my tailbone with Milo in my arms. He barely hit his bum on the ground and we were fine, but he was so scared and I just hugged him tight and remembered that scene from Steel Magnolias when Julia Roberts’ character is holding her son and passes out. I hate this…because now, I fall down. A lot and it’s breaking me more each time, breaking my heart eachtime. I don’t want to be afraid of holding my son in the sweet smell of spring rain. I am now 38…this isn’t how this is supposed to be, not for me.
Yet, I am able to laugh at these moments of clumsiness, chemo brain fog, imbalance, and it is a bit funny. It’s ridiculous really but it’s also a bit frightening. I have to report back to the doc that I continue to fall down, they just look at me and shake their head, telling me to be careful. I make excuses, the moss, the Tom’s shoes, the gate, but really it is the chemo. I guess I just need to break those falls and continue to rise from the rubble of cancer.