What is a Meltdown?

It might be when you're feeling very very shatterable and don't want to answer "fine" when people ask you how you are and you're feeling shaky and so instead of going to your mother's hotel to meet her and your husband for an early dinner at 5.30, you go at 5 and lie down in her second bed and start crying and saying that everything is so hard and you hate these drains they won't take out, they hurt you and get in the way (the drains being two long drinking straws stuck under your arms to siphon away blood and blood-like portions of your body that need to have somewhere to go, which is into two emptiable bulbs at the end), and its' so terribly they have to to start giving you poison for 20 weeks, even though the chemo man today said most people don't have nausea or vomiting, and she is perfect in her mother role and says yes, it's hard, and lets you sleep till 6.30, when you have to get up and teach your 7pm class at WRU (Well-Regarded University) three blocks away. And so you teach your class which isn't as lively and fun as at its best, but still has content and is hysteria-free. At the break your students have a basket at your place at the table with chocolates and soaps and colored pens and books, and you are able to be enthusastic and grateful. Truly.

Afterwards, as planned, you come back to your mother's hotel room to sleep (because your husband is sick and can't sleep with you because you can't afford to get his cold now) and watch the montage of TV you always watch in hotels: some Friends, some Tom Hanks-ish movie, CNN, Fox, actors vaguely familiar and young, mostly double-entendres that aren't funny though the lafftrack thinks everything is funny, so many particular that you can't recall a night later when you write this because you spent a lot of the next day awash in the fewer variations of TV available at home.

Then in the morning she has to leave for the airport and you leave and sit at the Starbucks and read through the big pink binder, Breast Cancer Treatment and Follow-up, and wait until you're not too exhausted to walk the block to the subway to go home and go to sleep.

At home you sleep and watch said TV and call the chemo nurse back to schedule your first round of it and you pause to weep, you think silently, and she says are you OK, and you say you are.

Your first high-quality sleep is after your husband comes home from work and still in your dream you ask him if the baby was a boy or a girl and it takes you a while to figure out that in your dream your mother was helping his ex-wife give birth, and you thought, What a great unification of the family.

And you remember you need to get your husband's ex's address. In Yiddish there would be a term for your relation with her. There's a term for your mother and his mother; they are makhetenestes. You have to write your husband's ex a thank-you note for Cancer Vixen, which you liked reading very much though the author is too high-fashion for you to love.

Your husband said at work someone asked how you were and he said you had a meltdown.

And now it is time to go back to sleep