A version of this post appears on the Vancouver Observer
I have a raft of doctors. And I now have them all over the country on account of my rare tumour and the collective expertise of the neuro specialists at Toronto Western Hospital.
Toronto Western is where I’ll repair to in the coming weeks for a last ditch operation to extend the palliative period… ie. give me some more months before the spinal chord gives in to the tumour.
Am I happy about this? Not a @$$##!! chance.
So I’ve added a therapist to my crew. It’s been a good call.
I haven’t read very thoroughly about all the steps of dying but I do know that there’s grief, anger, acceptance and another two, or is it four? Whatever.
I do know that I don’t know anything about the correct order. But don’t grief and anger and the rest have to come before acceptance, logically?
Personally, I seem stuck on anger. I mean really stuck.
Last week I was at the gym, where I go religiously to try and keep my body parts moving, proving to myself and others that I can fight this thing.
I’m bench pressing – a very low weight because I have totally swallowed my pride, which normally is the size of a prize winning pumpkin in October – but I get up for a drink of water, which comes out my nose but I still do it because, as I’ve noted, I’ve swallowed my pride.
I wipe the snot off my chin and wander back. There’s a member of the Jersey Shore cast putting new weights on the rack at my bench before sitting down to pump three times his weight.
How do I know he’s a Jersey Shore cast member? I don’t. It’s a lousy stereotype but he fits it perfectly with his white wife-beater and ‘fitted’ pulled sideways on his head. The fact that he’s gleefully stolen my bench-press place could also be used in some courts as evidence.
I marshall my full ‘15 year old insecure, in the closet gay guy’ self and confront him. Predictably, it does not go well. So I slink off, full of my 15 year old self’s typical self recrimination and proceed to pound out the best set of overhead presses I’ve done in two years.
If only he knew that if I had the means I might have killed him.
That’s how angry I am now.
I yell at little old people doing 20 in a 30 zone. I’m mad at Sunday walkers walking five abreast on the seawall, impervious to the walking needs of others. I rage at the rich old men with everything who call into CKNW to bitch about poor people with nothing – that’s supposed to be ironic, the fact that I’m raging at the ragers, I mean.
I’m just mad.
What to do? I’m not getting out of this on my own. My husband does not deserve this. My kids don’t. And there are professional people to call. So I called.
It’s great. Actually, she’s great; it’s awful. I sit there full of long silences, thinking about all the stuff I want to do, about my kids, about my husband, about my life that I love, the work I want to do, about how ##$$!! unfair this is.
I wallow in the mud pool of self-pity, like an old elephant in a National Geographic nature special.
Then I cry and I sputter out a few inadequate sentences. And she listens, occasionally probing or offering something to ponder, which makes me think and retreat into silence again.
It’s the old rinse and repeat.
It’s very effective even if it doesn’t ‘fix’ anything. I’m still going to die way before I want to and there’s nothing a control freak like myself can do about it. But fixing it isn’t the point. Understanding it enough to get through the day is. That may be working.
Come to think of it, ‘understanding it’ would be a good addition to the Kubler-Ross list. It gets you at least half way there.