Thursday I got a massage. The masseuse asked me if I had any "issues" she should know about. I guess she meant, "Do you have any areas that need special care?" or "Has anything happened to your body lately that I should know about before i start manipulating it?" I figured, "She's going to see my hacked-up flesh soon enough, so I may as well do some 'splaining."
So I said, "Well, there IS this", and I pulled up my shirt and showed her my 9-inch burgundy-colored scar that snakes down my tummy, with staple marks still dotting its sides. (How goth!) Her eyes widened. I explained, "I just had some surgery in December. Which is why I also have this", then I pulled down the upper right shoulder of my shirt so she could see the smooth, SweetTart-shaped bump under my skin where my 'port' is located. (The port is where they can stick a needle to hook up the chemo in an effort to save my arm veins.) (One final word on the port: The port is the creepiest thing I've got, it looks otherworldly, like aliens implanted something in my shoulder. At least my abdominal scar looks somewhat biological and organic. A port is clearly NOT a natural growth. It definitely causes people to stare. I look ahead fondly to the day it will be taken out.) And: just in case folks miss it, I also have a gash where they implanted that beady little sucker. Nastola.
Then I remembered something else. "Oh, also, watch out for this", I said, showing her the puffy white bandage just under my ribs where my dermatologist removed a mole on Tuesday. "And also, there's this," and I turned around and showed her another bandaged former mole, on my back. Then I said, "But that's all."
Since she asked.
On a slightly different note, later, as I was walking out of the spa, a woman came in the front door. She was clearly undergoing chemo (I can tell who "my people" are now), as she was bald but wearing a hat with a warm liner under it, had no eyebrows/lashes, etc., and she had that certain pallor.
I wanted to go hug her and give her a high five-- I have this response whenever I see a person whom is clearly a cancer patient, I just feel this instant kinship and complete compassion and love for them-- but she transmitted a hands-off vibe. She just seemed extremely wounded and downtrodden, and when she walked up to her masseuse and hugged her, she greeted her with, "Well... I'm not dead yet."
I looked at her and said, "'NOT DEAD YET'? Aww...Come on!"
Then I realized I was overstepping my bounds. Sure, I was disappointed with her for sounding so defeatist, but then--what do I know about what she's going through? She can deal with this however she needs to. So I paused awkwardly then just walked out.
Thing is, she probably thought, "What do YOU know about my problems? You are a beacon of health and youth. BEGONE WITH YOUR SUNNY ATTITUDE, BLONDIE." I realize I do not look like a stage 4 cancer patient. And I SURE AS HELL DON'T FEEL LIKE ONE. In fact, I think this was the last time I'll ever refer to myself by stage number again, because it just sounds too grim. (For the record, I feel like I'm stage .25, if such a thing existed.) Plus, I have a full head o' hair, lots of energy these days, and, in case you missed it, two very small tumors that are over 50% gone?
It all just reinforced the idea that you NEVER know what people are going through. That A-Hole at work just might have a tumor festering in his gut. The dipshit who just cut you off may have lost his dad this morning. Or he may be racing to the hospital to see if his son is okay. You never know what rough hands people may have been dealt. So be grateful for what you have, and be nice to everyone, just in case.
Maybe I should have titled this post, "Frankenstein learns a lesson." (Then I could write a series about myself. "Frankenstein goes for a swim". "Frankenstein visits the bank". "Frankenstein makes jambalaya".)
And seriously, if this all sounds a little saccharine for you, I can see why you'd think so. Fair enough. But based on my recent experiences, this is truly how I feel these days.