I keep meaning to tell you all that I’ll be back semi-regularly all-proper-like soon. I’ve been going through a weird phase, naturally. For the first time in a long time I’m not struggling with a serious health issue, and in ways that I’m still trying to understand, the process of learning to think of myself as well again has been nearly as unsettling for me as my diagnosis was in 2011. It was a strange and difficult mental hurdle to clear, to learn to think of myself as under attack and in grave danger, when I wasn’t in any pain and didn’t look or feel any different. It’s apparent now that I’ll have to make as big a leap in a different direction, to learn to think of myself as someone who is free to get on with her life. It feels great, of course, and it’s exciting, but the scariest and most disquieting moments changed me forever, and having already suffered a recurrence during the first portion of my treatment, which in itself was full of bad surprises, my new normal feels extremely iffy. I suspect I’ll feel more at home in it the longer I’ve inhabited it, but the process, so far, requires endless and unseen adjustments on my part.
This whole time I’ve looked the same as ever, which is both comforting and misleading. If anything I’m leaner and healthier-looking than I was two years ago. Many of the people in my day-to-day life have no idea how improbable this sometimes feels for me. I’ve mostly been quite alright, physically; my treatment and its side effects were more disruptive than any of my symptoms were, and compared to others I got off easy. I’m endlessly grateful for this, but it’s alienating, too; I’ve been swimming in deep water, and nothing about my appearance reflects that about me. I’m calmer, a lot calmer, but I’m not necessarily more accepting of people; I know with certainty, for example, that very few of them are capable of saying something when they don’t know what to say. I’m closer to some of the people I love the most, but perhaps more dismissive of people who aren’t genuine than I ever was. I’m sure there have been other changes I’ve yet to notice. I find myself cataloging them as reflexively as if it were part of my day job. There, at least, I have a repertoire of lawyer apps to work with, with names that belong in a David Foster Wallace novel: TextMap, CaseMap, Concordance, Stratify, Relativity.
All of this alternates between being a lot to think about, and a lot that I try not to think about too much. I’m likely to resume not saying much about this aspect of my life here on my blog! I like my privacy, and my struggles with this stuff have already taken up far too much space and energy, far more than I ever wanted to give. I’ve long doubted there’s much value in writing about this stuff at length, anyhow. Serious illness is a separate world, a distinct territory parallel to all others, and even the most generous visa wouldn’t allow you to see the parts of it that changed my outlook forever. I could point to where I was robbed, and I could probably describe the curious and terrifying things I sensed I was surrounded by during my longest nights there, but putting a slide show together is near the bottom of my things-I’d-like-to-do list at the moment. Not to mention that parts of it would be untranslatable no matter how much effort I put in.
As this brief blog post is in urgent need of cheering up, I’ll show you a little something I’ve been working on lately. It’s a wool felt sun for my cat Vivian, who I’m madly in love with. It’s just about ready to be stuffed with wool and catnip. It has her eyes, of course, plus a third, for extra perceptiveness and good luck.