A Life on Hold


I am trying very hard to be OK with 2016 being the year of very little to happen to me. It isn’t easy to spend 56 years as an active person and then (boom) Cancer. I’m stuck in the house, limited in my activities, and shelving the triathlon training. Fortunately, I’ve got the strength to substitute teach, but even then I sometimes turn down jobs because I don’t have the energy nor the moxy to hang with high schoolers.

I sit on the sofa here and run my hands through my hair, pulling out hundreds of strands and building a pile of it beside me, a ball of air and hair and fluff of fallout that reminds me of why I can’t do fun things. Every day I start a new pile and I wonder if I’m going to be a shiny bald woman or someone with a head of sparse dust bunnies trying to be OK with it. I wear a hat to cook or bake bread because too often I see hair dropping toward the cutting board or poised on my arms ready to drop in a salad.

I’ve been on Facebook since 2009 and I enjoy keeping in touch with childhood friends, triathlon teammates, family, and my Hawaii community. But I realize I need to retreat. Having posted my share of great accomplishments and pictures of food and my bike, Hawaiian sunsets and kitty cats, I’ve created an aura that is pure bullshit. All is not well as you might believe. I’m covering up my pain, my loneliness, my desire to be every one of you who are amazing and wonderful and rich and fortunate and healthy and active and cancer free.

And I do believe that what I see on Facebook from all of my friends is mostly bullshit, too. How many photos before that perfect one was posted? How many miles on your bike, or your run, or how many turtles or sharks on your swim, or how many laps in the pool? What is the message? What do you want people to think? How much room is there on a pedestal? How much envy do you wish to incite? Believe me, I envy you all to the point of feeling like the insignificant shit I’ve become.

I once took a photo of my needle but it wasn’t really all that good of a shot (rim shot, oh never mind). I continue to prepare my meds every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, mixing the saline with the interferon until it’s ready, filling my syringe, and injecting it into my stomach at a 45 degree angle. Every time I do it, I notice that the toes on my right foot flex and relax, flex and relax, flex and relax because it’s hard to pretend that it’s no big deal. I slowly take out the needle because removing it can be painful if I’m not careful. And that’s that. Believe it or not, 24 hours later I get what I call “the bad feels.” Some Tuesdays and Thursdays are pretty shitty. But most of the time, I don’t have a problem until about 24 hours later. So I take some Tylenol, and prochlorperazine, which is actually supposed to help with depression and schizophrenia.  All because I’m committed to a year of MWF evenings to self-inject into my stomach a needle full of something that isn’t even guaranteed to extend my life.

Hope keeps us alive, as do family and friends. I’m not suicidal, but, I sometimes feel so worthless that I feel like my family would be better off without this burden I’ve become.

Real life doesn’t stop. I still shop at Costco, I make dinner, I’m now into making a daily loaf of bread, a weekly batch of yogurt, and I tap out fresh kombucha every three days. I’m learning to use a sewing machine. My garden calls, but it’s a bit of a reminder of how crappy I feel as it is full of weeds.

Before my melanoma stage 3a diagnosis, there were things in my life that were not right, and this intermission during year 57 makes me assess how things were and how they could be better and also why I should be focused on writing since I have the time. Not just blogging, but writing that may or may not be shared while I still walk the earth.

You know that “Why me?” whine that happens to people like me? I think I’ve said it before: “Why not me?” I can’t think of another person with whom I would feel good about trading places. Even my former crap stupid employer. This is my road for now and although it’s a fucking pain in the ass, it’s mine and I need to figure this shit out so everyone I love loves me back, and because a good attitude means the glass is half full even if life for now feels half empty.

So temporarily retreating from Facebook should help with that half empty part. Thank you for your support.

Author: lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer is my new opponent. Writer, super sub teacher, triathlete, awesome cook, ocean girl with head-to-toe sun protection.

7 thoughts on “A Life on Hold”

  1. I’m sorry you’re not feeling your best right now, Paula. Hugs. I hope I run into you so you can scowl at me in person all you like, if it will make you feel a little better. (Totally not joking. But I better get a hug, too, after that!) I pray for you every day. Please know that you mean a lot to people, regardless of whether the interferon makes you feel otherwise.

  2. I read your words and connected to a lot of them . It is exactly what depression felt like.
    “I’m not suicidal, but, I sometimes feel so worthless that I feel like my family would be better off without this burden I’ve become.” I remember many times feeling the same way. The guilt I felt about what the depression was doing to my husband and our kids was like a rock hanging from my neck. At times I wanted it to be a noose.
    I didn’t have cancer so I can’t even begin to understand how that plays into it; how much more scary depression must be.
    And yes, FB made it worse. I would scroll, hoping to find something to temporarily help heal my wounded heart. Instead, I felt worse than when I started. And jealous.
    I don’t want to be a pollyanna about depression but I do want you to know that it does end. It took a lot of therapy and lots of med changes. I hope your writing becomes your therapy and that the doctors keep fighting to find the right pharmaceutical cocktail that battles the depression you’re feeling.
    Always praying and sending you white light for healing..
    XO
    Sue

  3. I think 2016 is the year a LOT of things are happening to you — not, as you wrote, of very little happening to you. They’re just the very wrongest things. I’m so sorry you’re in the middle of such a horribly difficult slog right now and I hope you stumble upon something satisfying to do that’s suited to your temporary situation. Just until you’re back in the saddle, which will happen. Hang in there. Best best best wishes.

  4. True. The face of facebook isn’t always our own. Appearances. But it can still bridge the gap of those far away. This face from your banner past sends you positive thoughts to keep fighting. Prayers too.

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