I have never spent so much time with my hand on my forehead as I have over the past four days – some combination of fever-checking and despair.
Despair seems a hefty word, especially given the piece-of-complete-crap that is the current state of the world. If they are handing out despair tags, I’m hardly a contender, and won’t be pushing my way to the front of the line. The problem is I’ve barely been able to push myself anywhere. I seem to be in a damp hole.
Ever since I realized decades ago that depression is not a synonym for bummed out or really sad, I’ve steered clear of the word. Most people are not precise about language and often it doesn’t matter, but after I got the flu once and had a 40 (104) degree fever for 4 days running, I stopped calling a bad cold the flu.
I’ll take anxious for sure, but depressed has never been my word. Add to that the fact that what I have is, according to the language of “fucked-upness”, situational - meaning I have at least a handful of good reasons to feel really crappy, everything makes sense. No need to worry. Yet it’s all I do.
In the moments between episodes of My So Called Life, that aside from the Cyndi Lauper meets The Facts of Life fashion, doesn’t seem dated at all, I've felt teary and immobile.
I was so excited to get out of the hospital and be at home where if lunch sucked I had no one to blame but myself. But here I am, with too few white blood cells, waiting, again, for my life to climb back into play.
My kids got home from camp, which is both the most wonderful thing and a source of more anxiety. I didn’t go pick them up at the bus. They’re both a bit sick. 50 minutes squeezed together in the back seat of a car seemed like a germy plan. So I missed that one intense hour when they talk non-stop about all the crazy, funny, crappy shit that happened – and that’s pretty much all the unsolicited information the grownups are going to get.
I hugged them each once. I wore my mask. I held my breath. I told them to hold theirs. And that’s been it for physical contact after weeks apart
It’s not reasonable to believe life will always be this way. I’ll stop crying and want to see people. My white count will go back up to an acceptable level. I’ll hug my kids. I’ll go to parties. I’ll go to the hardware store without a mask. Maybe I’ll even write something that has nothing to do with cancer and all its stupid side effects.
But that’s reason talking. Emotion says this is it. It’s a life of fear, more fear than I’ve carried to date, which was already too much. A life where I turn a corner and my white blood cells don’t bother to follow. A life where every surface including the faces of those I love, is slathered with potential disease.
I took my temperature 5 times before 9:00 am this morning. It crept up from 36.5 to 36.9. All normal, but heading in the wrong direction. My doctor called to report that the neutrophils are up to 1.2 from 0.4. I’m back in fighting form, not perfect, but capable of throwing a few punches. Maybe I’ll wash my hair to celebrate.