Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Country Livin' and Sandbox Lessons

I write you tonight from our new, temporary home in Issaquah. We are staying with good friends who happen to have a very roomy house with three bedrooms and a huge bathroom to spare-- essentially, the 2nd floor all to ourselves. We're only 30 minutes from downtown Seattle but it feels like a world away. The mountains rise up behind us, the huge trees surround us on all sides, the homes are spaced far apart with lots of room for the kids to run and bike and play. It's quiet and peaceful. The last few nights there's even been a black bear visiting homes on this street, toppling trash, etc. Lock up your kids! All this gushing-- I don't mean to sound like I've never been out here near the mountains before (heck, we lived in Snoqualmie for a few years when I first landed in Seattle--before they built the plateau-- talk about hardcore), but it's just interesting to me how cozy and pleasant it feels to be here. A big 180 from Rainier Ave South, for those of you in the 2-0-6 who get my meaning.

We moved last weekend. By "we", I should say, mainly, "they". I helped, but really the bulk of the work was done by Neil, who woke every morning at 5 and hauled stuff all day long for many, many days. He's a strong OX! A tireless work horse. He's cattle! He's a donkey, he's a goat. We also got a lot of help from my mom, Steve, Casey, Erik, and Julie. And loads of child support from all sorts of friends. You all ROCK.

Just after my last round of chemo, when finally I started to perk up again, I attempted to help out. It's SO STRANGE with chemo; you WANT to help, you know you are strong/capable enough to help, and yet when you actually start hauling boxes up and down the stairs, your legs start to buckle and zing with exhaustion, as if you just ran 12 miles, and your heart feels like it's going to explode in your chest. Footsteps follow one another very, very slowly, as with mountaineers summiting Everest-- except, um, you're at sea level, on your stairs.

On Wednesday, I attempted to remove the sand from our kids' sandbox while Neil was at work, bucket by tiny-kid-bucket. You wouldn't think that the shoveling (with tiny kid shovels) and hauling sand 7 feet would even make you break a sweat, yet halfway through the project, I was soaked with sweat and panting so hard I had to call it quits. AND I DON'T CALL IT QUITS! That's not like me. So I put the kids in the tub (don't worry, they were safe), then laid on my own bed, staring at the ceiling, sand all over my pants (I didn't even take them off! On my own bed! Nasty!), my heart rate soaring from the activity, my breathing rapid, for about 20 minutes! I felt like someone who was utterly, completely out of shape. "Wow, you're really letting yourself go, Shelly", I thought. "Pathetic. Get up. GET UP!" I was frustrated. And at the same time I SUSPECTED the chemo had something to do with my sorry state.

Now, 13 days after my last chemo, I feel outstanding, and full of energy yet again. And I look back to the sandbox day and think, "WELL DUH, SHELLY. It was the damned chemo. Idiot. Gorgeous, charming idiot."

I'm learning things.
1-It just takes time to bounce back. After all, THEY ARE POISONING THE HELL OUT OF ME. I am infused with chemo drugs from Thurs thru Sat, but they affect me for many days afterward. Just when I start to really recover, they hit me with it again. Of course I should feel tired. DUH. Not helping matters, they now give me a shot IN THE STOMACH the day they unhook my medicine. It's to promote white blood cell re-growth. And it HURTS. And it makes you feel achy and sick (on top of the chemo sick) for a few days. (PS- Can I just add that when they told me they were going to start giving me a shot, IN THE STOMACH, and that it was GOING TO HURT, and that it was GOING TO MAKE ME ADDITIONALLY SICK for a few days, I just kind of shook my head and laughed and pulled up my shirt and said, "Go for it. Seriously. At this point, what the hell.")

2-It is SO HARD to accept your own vulnerability as a temporary state when you are in the thick of it. So hard to feel hopeful. Even for an optimist, like me. You really do not feel like you are ever going to be strong and un-sick and happy again, even though it always DOES happen, like clockwork, every cycle. As you get better, you start to believe again. And you want to write yourself a note, a la the film, "Memento", to remind your future self that you are REALLY GOING TO BE OK, JUST HANG IN THERE! You get to live out your soul's own deconstruction and re-building every two weeks. Talk about a mind-fuck. Pardon le francais. (The French should NOT be blamed for swearing, the Danes should!, but that's a different topic.)

This post reads like a rambling email. Alas. I just wanted to update you since I've been so out-of-touch recently with the move. I have lots more to say, but Lordie, this has been a long one. If you are still reading, give yourself a pat on the back. Maybe you were really just procrastinating at work, or avoiding folding the laundry as you read this. I don't care, it was nice talking AT ya, and I hope we get to speak live soon. But for now, I have to return tomorrow to the jungle for more of this crap. More of this crap that is saving me... my best worst friend ever.


  1. the danes, the french...they all deserve a pardon, but thank GOD that there is some language that can begin to describe the craziness of this two week cycle for you, due to your best worst friend. thanks for filling us in, shelly. your writing, description, heart, and soul shine on, despite (or because of) the sand.

  2. I know that saying "Don't be so hard on yourself" is trite and cliche right now, but don't be too hard on yourself. Heh.

    I hear every word and you amaze me constantly.Pat yourself on the back sister. Took a lot more to write than read.