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[cancer] Melting from stress - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2009-10-20 05:27
Subject: [cancer] Melting from stress
Security: Public
Tags:calendula, cancer, child, health, personal
So the PET/CT scan is in two days. scarlettina came to visit yesterday, and will be here through tomorrow, when calendula_witch arrives. And my brain is melting from stress.

This pre-test stress, as seen last April and May, and again last July, as well as now, is the worst I've ever experienced in my life. I've certainly been under more acute stress in unfortunate moments — nearly drowning twice, once in a boating accident while lighting struck the water around me, once while swimming caught in a potboil below a dam spillway where I could not find my way to the surface — also, for example, when I took a faceplant at 25 mph from my bike in heavy traffic. Even the onset of cancer in April and May of 2008 was more overwhelming than stressful. We didn't know what was going on at first, then when we did, it all happened so fast that I think shock protected me from the worst of it.

The problem now is that I know exactly what's going on, except for the parts where I don't. And while even the most casual observer of my lifestyle must realize that I thrive on ambiguity and choas, these cancer issues are a notable exception. I would be far less stressed (in the sense of existential dread punctuated by irruptions of terror and panic) if aced with surgery or chemo, simply because I would know what's going to happen, and I'd deal with it.

What I'm seeing now is funny things in my mind. I call it being hard of thinking. I forget things, I repeat myself, I speak unwisely, I can't perform simple tasks. Sudoku is almost beyond me now, and last night, I made an utter hash of helping the_child with her math homework. Normally I can do that stuff standing on my head. (Or could if I could stand on my head, at any rate.)

Being me, the writer mind is always on, an objective observer taking notes, providing a running flow of remarks, observations, critiques and whatnot. It's like having an MLB color commentator in my head. I'm used to it — that's part of the not-so-latent schizophrenia of being a writer. But usually my inner commentator and my outer behaviors are reasonably well aligned, in that I'm a decently integrated human being. Not so much right now. Even stress doesn't shut that voice off. Only severe pain or heavy medication will do it.

The scans are the day after tomorrow, the oncology consult is the following Monday. After that, well, I have my one road with three maps I talked about yesterday. I suppose what I keep having to prove over and over again is that fear of the unknown is a far more powerful force for me than fear of the known.

But I hate it when my brain turns to sludge. Hate hate hate. Do not want.

Did I mention that cancer sucks?

Post A Comment | 29 Comments | | Link






fjm
User: fjm
Date: 2009-10-20 12:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hugs (and thank you for being a brilliant friend in the midst of all of this).
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-10-20 12:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you. And you know from stress...
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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2009-10-20 13:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I don't have anything hugely constructive to say, other than that I empathise, and am thinking of you. And will bring cheese to WFC.
Kari
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Kenneth Mark Hoover
User: kmarkhoover
Date: 2009-10-20 13:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I hope you get good news.
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manmela
User: manmela
Date: 2009-10-20 13:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I forget things, I repeat myself, I speak unwisely, I can't perform simple tasks.

This is me on a good day!

My thoughts are with you. As you have said to me in relation to writing, and I think applies here in relation to cancer: "Psychotic persistence"
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houseboatonstyx
User: houseboatonstyx
Date: 2009-10-20 20:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
All sympathy.

And thank you for describing so well what uncertainty can do to the mind, whether it's a medical or other kind of problem.
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lotusice
User: lotusice
Date: 2009-10-20 13:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thoughts, best wishes.
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russ: zen
User: goulo
Date: 2009-10-20 13:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:zen
Good luck. If nothing else, keep using it for writing fodder.
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Richard Parks
User: ogre_san
Date: 2009-10-20 13:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thinking good thoughts for you. The situation does suck.
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User: jess_ka
Date: 2009-10-20 14:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:lantern
My oft repeated *hugs* seems small, but I offer it anyway. *hugs* Jay.
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Kate Schaefer
User: kate_schaefer
Date: 2009-10-20 14:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ah, sweetie. I know you're exercising regularly. Is there anything in the routine you've built that might relax you some? Yoga, tai chi, dance?
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aitchellsee
User: aitchellsee
Date: 2009-10-20 14:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Best wishes for tomorrow, and after!

And thank you for sharing some of your thoughts here. Right now one of my best friends is having her callback diagnostic mammogram, with a couple of hours scheduled afterwards for consultation with a doctor. It's reading your blog, and a couple of others, that helps me understand her a little better under her stiff-upper lip surface.
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torreybird
User: torreybird
Date: 2009-10-20 14:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Have you thought about punching bag therapy? Brains do turn off when engaging in a beating. You have crafty* people around you; perhaps a 4' tumor could be fashioned and filled with all sorts of bad things -- to be beaten and burned and truncheoned and kicked and... In fact, if anyone's going from Seattle to Portland, I happen to have a few yards of pink-patterned sturdy upholstery fabric. Any takers?

Alternatively, the upright big-bags with bases filled with sand are roughly (your) tumor-shaped; they can even be beaten with sticks.


*I recently found out: the original meaning of "craft" was strength, power, might, force. The OED says it's obsolete, but when I think about the crafty people I know, I think we're bringing it back.
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Greg van Eekhout: doodle
User: gregvaneekhout
Date: 2009-10-20 15:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:doodle
Still thinking 'bout ya, dude.
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cathshaffer
User: cathshaffer
Date: 2009-10-20 15:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Much sympathy. This is a very important scan. This is when you *really* find out if this thing has metastasized. Anyone rational would be peeing their pants. I hope you have a light workload this week so you can invest more time in taking care of yourself and managing the stress. You have my fervent prayers that the PET scan shows no growth of the masses that they are watching.
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Michael Curry: brutal
User: mcurry
Date: 2009-10-20 15:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:brutal
I'm glad you'll have more people around to help you through the next days. Stay strong, sir!
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threeoutside
User: threeoutside
Date: 2009-10-20 16:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
<3, dood. I'm thinking of you, too.
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The NewroticGirl
User: newroticgirl
Date: 2009-10-20 16:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
*muchlove*
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shelly_rae: Red clay hands
User: shelly_rae
Date: 2009-10-20 17:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Red clay hands
Waiting is the worst. Once the answers and the plan are before us it's easier to deal. In the unknown lies horror--that's what Lovecraft, and all the others know. But when it comes to our doorsteps, it unbuckles our minds, and souls. Doing is much easier than waiting.

Ever read Freud on Unheinlich? I'm not sure how it's spelled. Unhomely is the translation I think. That's what cancer is, in our own selves. Unhomely.

Yours in brain sludge...and finding the way out.
Anon
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Jay Lake: cancer_tumor
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-10-20 19:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:cancer_tumor
Unhomely, unknown, and unnerving. Yes. And you are an inspiration to me.
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shelly_rae: Texas Long Horn
User: shelly_rae
Date: 2009-10-20 19:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Texas Long Horn
Definitely unnerving.

Hey! No fair! You're an inspiration to me first! Wait. Well, OK we can inspire each other.

Now really. I'm stepping away now....
Anon
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Jay Lake: sanguine-tads
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-10-20 19:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:sanguine-tads
All of Gaul could be divided into three parts, surely we can share our inspiration.
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shelly_rae: Stone Lion
User: shelly_rae
Date: 2009-10-20 19:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Stone Lion
We both know how well that division turned out...but I think we can play nice and share inspiration...
Anon
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Leah Cutter
User: lrcutter
Date: 2009-10-20 18:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Cancer *does* suck. As does the fear. And stress. All of which you are well aware of.

I wish you peace and relaxing days and good news.

You're often in my thoughts.

::massive hugs::
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zellandyne: marx and hodgkiss
User: zellandyne
Date: 2009-10-20 19:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:marx and hodgkiss
*hugs*
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User: xjenavivex
Date: 2009-10-20 20:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
::hugs you tight:: I am sorry, Jay. My first instinct was to call it squid brain in hopes of a few laughs. My brand of humor is always what I resort to to cheer a friend. I wish I could beam you to Monday immediately after the tests. I think part of it is the waiting. I hate frickin waiting. I also think that knowing it is possible the tests will say you just have to wait more. Anyway... not helping. Here. Wanted you to know that.
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e_bourne
User: e_bourne
Date: 2009-10-20 20:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I wish you the very best possible outcome. And ditto (a word I've come to hate) everything bonnie Shelley said. Waiting is a terrible place to be. Terrible, awful, horrible. Be gentle with yourself. I'm so glad you have people you love with you. It makes a world of difference.
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melissajm
User: melissajm
Date: 2009-10-20 22:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
:sending good thoughts: I hope it goes well.
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Camille Picott
User: camillemulan
Date: 2009-10-21 03:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Sending good thoughts your way!
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