Wednesday, December 26, 2012

dumb luck

Trigger warnings: Cancer, stress, death and cram-it-down-your-throat evangelism.

Yep, that should just about cover it. If you're not new to this blog, you know how I write and what I rant about. If you are new to this blog, hold on to your guts, this is about to get ugly.

Damn it's good to be working. Not just working, but working at a job that makes me happy. Working with coworkers that are as sarcastic and snarky as I am. Working in a field that makes a measurable difference in people's lives. Yes, I'm a lucky little duck.

Hold on a second. Back that up a little. Lucky? Lucky? I have busted my ass to get to where I am. I have gone to hours and hours of classes in all sorts of weather, regardless of my health issues. I have earned degrees and suffered through round after round of interviews. I have forced myself to stay up late and get up early in order to accomplish above-and-beyond job performance. I scoured employment ads, filled out countless applications, applied for hundreds of positions from janitor to educator, and when I found a spot, I dedicated myself to being the best I could possibly be. That is what earned me the position I have now. Not luck. Not sympathy. Hard effing work.

So when you look at me and give that little smirky smile and tell me how "lucky" I am to have such a great job, know that back in the part of my brain that is ever so carefully controlled, I am envisioning myself slapping the ever-loving crap out of you.

But other than that, self, how was your day?

Sometimes it really sucks to have a body that looks relatively healthy. Obese, yes, but otherwise healthy. It sucks because it makes me feel like I cannot acknowledge the pain that I am dealing with. The people who know me best can tell. They see the tightness at the corners of my eyes, the darkening of the patches on my cheeks and the hesitation when I move to sit, to stand, to walk. And, like the best of all humanity, they keep their mouths shut and trust that I will stop when I reach my limit and ask for help when I must. It's a damn shame that I don't. I don't stop at my limits. I don't ask for help. I'm wired so strangely that to do either of these things would be tantamount to letting the disease win. There's no way I'm going to let the disease win. Not without a fight.

The news from the medical world is not good. Since chemo and radiation are essentially out of the question, there is very little that can be done for my stubborn self. The cancer continues to gnaw its way through my smooth tissues and I continue to hurt. Some days less, some days more. My hemoglobin continues to be deformed and my reserves of iron are again lower than medically acceptable. No, I don't think I will agree to having another 4500 mg of iron pumped into my system, thanks anyway. It didn't work before, and there is no evidence that it will work now. I'd rather stick with the sick I am used to being instead of adding on that extra level of excruciating pain.

I will continue to get up early and make my way to my desk before everyone else arrives... not through any desire to be the early-bird, but because I'd rather as few people as possible see me making my painful way down the long sidewalk. It's difficult enough maintaining the positive attitude and projecting the bad-assery necessary to work in this environment. Having to explain why the tears are gathering in my eyes by the time I open the last gate would be too much to bear. When I arrive early, I can arrange myself into a semblance of order before facing the world. I need those few minutes. They help me stay sane through the day.

Yes, I'm going to go to the restroom after lunch. Every day. That food I just ate won't stick around for long. No, it's not an eating disorder. It's the cancer eating my guts. It might be delicious, but there's no way it's staying down. And yes, that's why I have a box of hard candy in my desk. The sugar keeps me from crashing. I know I'm fat. I also know my body. This is what works for me. Making a casual and not-so-offhand remark about the diet you're on isn't going to change what I have to do in order to continue to work. It's just going to make me seethe.

And while I'm at it, I'm glad you had a Merry Christmas. And, yes, I did have a nice holiday, though I don't celebrate Christmas. Gifting me the pocket-sized New Testament when you know without a shadow of a doubt that I am not Christian... and doing so at WORK... and going so far as to tell me I can keep it in my DESK... and doing all of this in front of another co-worker... not cool. I sit quietly while you pray over your food. I wished you a respectful Merry Christmas. But I can do without your conversion tactics. I am quite happy with my beliefs. I am an honest and a moral person. I hope that highlighter that was lifted from my desk over the holidays makes its new owner happy.

Ask me for nearly anything I have and I will gladly give it to you, take it without asking and I'm going to be grouchy.

Speaking of asking for things... I realize you were being somewhat sarcastic when you said you'd trade your health problems for mine. And in all honesty, I don't know if the health problems you have described exist or not - I'd think it would be difficult to power walk with multiple stress fractures in both feet - but maybe you have a very high pain tolerance. But considering the way you look and the health issues you say you have... I'd think you'd be more aware that someone doesn't have to look sick to be deathly ill. So when I responded to your offer of a health problem trade with "Really? You'll take ALL of them?" I was more than a little serious. After all, stress fractures eventually heal and kidneys are difficult to get but they are available. It seems like a good trade for cancer crawling through your innards, a body that won't digest vegetable proteins and which has lately refused to digest much of anything, coma-levels of hemoglobin and ferratin stores, progressive rheumatoid arthritis, insomnia, migraines, severe abdominal adhesions, surgical scars that randomly open up and seep lymph, internal (soluble) stitches that have calcified and work their way out through lesions, hive-inducing allergies to aloe, catfish and artificial sweeteners, patellas that tend to subluxate and a propensity for falling off porches. Somehow, I doubt you really want to trade.

So, it's 1 am and I'm up writing this instead of sleeping because dinner didn't stay down and I have fiery pain running up and down my spine. The numbness from the nerve damage in my left thigh is from about 3" above the hip to just below the knee on that side, so staggering to the bathroom is a challenge - and that numbness now has a new associated pain. The bottoms of my feet have cracked in several places and the headache that teased me all afternoon now rests firmly against the back of my eyeballs. No big deal. I'll just grab a nap for a couple of hours and be my bright and cheerful self at work tomorrow.

How did I get all of this? Just lucky, I guess.