Son of Meltdown

One thing about cancer is if 10 days after surgery you are weepy and feeling sorry for yourself, everyone says, Yes, of course, you just had a mastectomy; you're having a meltdown, it's only natural. And if you feel that way when you're going through treatment, people say, Oh yes, of course, you're going through treatment. But if you have a few days of terrible headaches and crying, more than weepy but less than jags, and feel ever so sorry for yourself, you can't say to people, I'm having a meltdown, of course, because I had breast cancer, OK, chemo ended in July 2007, and I do have cancer still, that darn polycythemia vera, blood cancer. Because the timing is wrong. Really, haven't you gotten over cancer yet?

And so when your personal trainer (Personal trainer! What privilege!) is sarcastic; when she is once again incredulous that you can't line up your toes by looking in the mirror and have to look down at your feet; when you can't remember which way to move after that squat in which you must keep your head up, you must keep your back straight, your hips back and what is the purpose of this anyway; isn't there something less complicated you can do in order to stretch whatever muscle you're supposed to be stretching because no muscle is aching yet as it should be becuase you aren't angling the squat right and because even though a second grader would have learned this by now--large side step, squat up, squeeze, step to the other side--it all stymies you. You can't let the trainer see you cry. She's upset herself because the lock in her apartment malfunctioned and she had to wait for the repair guy. It does not do to be an adult in this world and cry in the gym for no reason.

But there is never no reason. There are many reasons: You did not sleep enough, you returned to sea level from the mile-high city--why not blame it on altitude, why not on the stars instead of ourselves, Brutus?--where you had headaches and hay fever and terrible heartburn and had to throw up just a little bit. B thought it was because of your oral chemo, throwing up was normal, but that wasn't it. It had to have been the dark chocolate you bought to lure buyers to your table where you were signing books, or would have been signing books had they not sold out. You took orders then.

But that was all the day before yesterday and closer in time, Y has written imperious emails and during the squats and leg movements (not jerky, smooth, squeeze at the end) you think of retorts: You must be so unhappy. You must really feel powerless or else you wouldn't try to control me. Why don't you at least pretend that you believe everyone is equal? But you must not engage. And haven't you been imperious with Y? But yeah, he started it, really Mom really.

You think if, if only you had a brain tumor there would be a reason for this--this head pain, this heart pain. Horrified. You don't want brain cancer but you want a reason--a socially-acceptable reason--and yeah, it could be medically related: you are sick, you are disordered, you have general anxiety disorder, a basket overlarge diagnosis, everyone's got it.

You were weepy and you were running out of potion, red-capsuled Effexor, in that mile-high city. You took half a dose yesterday, your last pill and none this morning. You were out, flat out.
And then you get more Effexor and you sleep eleven hours and the next day you are Good As New. You are yourself again. Though anyone could argue that the unmedicated you is the unmediated you, the real you. Without chemical additives.

{Effexor, hero of the day}
To read about Meltdown I, click here.