Aside from a cold that I’ve been trying to drown, over the last week I’ve felt normal. I suspect it’s not the old normal, but some new normal that feels a lot like the old normal, but couldn’t be because there is no more old normal.
It almost doesn’t matter. I would love to not have cancer, to not ever have had cancer, but that doesn’t even fit into the category of fantasy. As unrealistic or unlikely as they might be, for me fantasies have to have at least a smidgen of real possibility to them. (So, not having cancer is out, but marrying Jodi Foster is in. I know what you’re thinking about likelihood, but work with me here.)
Wishing that something that happened hadn’t, is just wasted thought that could be filled with something useful, like hope, or a coping strategy.
So I’m aiming for the new normal, despite its lack of trustworthyness. It can up and abandon me at any time. I could find myself back under the strict, don’t-think-about-anything-else guardianship of cancer.
But every day lately I’m let out on my own for longer and longer periods of time – on a very long leash.
What’s hardest to believe is that the door has never been locked, nor the leash attached to anything but my idea of a captor. I can walk out whenever I want. It’s within my power to reach for normal. It’s just felt as though it has no place in my life, no longer belongs.
The new normal feels nice. But it’s not without its regular slaps in the face (unlike the old normal, where icky or surprising things NEVER EVER happened.)
I’ve been so caught up over the past two months in the day to day of treatment, diagnoses, and more treatment, that I have only just started thinking about longer-term fun stuff.
My parents are going to Arizona for a month. My mom asked if I’d like to come down for a week. I’d already decided that long flights in tin cans with recycled germy air are a bad idea for someone with a compromised immune system. But maybe a little flight to, say, Burlington, Vermont, could be fine. I’d wear a mask.
“What about health insurance?”
We’re standing around at a xmas dinner shooting the shit about travel and holidays. My friend Jane brings up Vermont again. Suddenly I'm slammed.
“What about health insurance?”
Holy shit. Whenever I respond to the phone questionnaire from CAA travel health insurance, I barely listen. I’m putting shit away in the cupboard, or filing my nails.
Have you ever required medical treatment for:
Cardiovascular condition - No
Lung condition - No
Neurological condition - No
Cancer – No
No, no, no, no, no, no
Cancer. Cancer. Cancer. Including chemotherapy or radiation within the last 6 months, 12 months, 5 years. (How about next week?)
Fuck. I’ve been so locked down. I hadn’t given the new challenges of travel a moment’s thought. Will I ever ever travel again?
A friend, who’s been battling a brain tumour for the last 4 years, happened to walk through the front door and into our conversation at that very moment.
“I know the answer to that question,” she said. “You need a note from your oncologist or GP to say you’ve been ok for 6 months.”
So maybe Vermont in the spring? I wish Canada had bought some cheap little Caribbean Island. Currently, the southernmost spot in Canada is Point Pelee near Windsor. Not so balmy.
The new normal is definitely not the old normal where I could mindlessly say NO to all the insurance questions, get on a plane and go anywhere.
But I’ve heard Point Pelee is lovely. I’m optimistic I’ll hit 6 months. I’ve never planned trips much in advance anyway.