Monday, 3 October 2011


People seem to be amazed that I am well and other than the fact that my hair is short or I am wearing a hat or head wrap, I appear to be my usual self. People say I am “amazing” or “tough.”

I am, in fact, in better shape than I have been for many months, thanks to removal of the brain zebra. I’m not really amazing, nor am I tough – I just feel better.

Not-well is coming when treatment begins, of course, but while I am as apprehensive as anyone else would be, there is nothing to do but accept the inevitability of that.

Perhaps people expect depression or sadness. Or tears. Let me assure you, there have been tears and sadness and terror, too. For the first three or four days in the hospital, I cried uncontrollably many times every day – but not when I had visitors. Waking from nightmares on the rare nights when I slept for a few hours, I sobbed my heart out. I cried every single time I thought of my cat. The possibility that I might die sooner than later became horrifyingly real. When the hour of the wolf arrives, you are always alone. You fall into the abyss that lives in the wolf’s eyes and there is no avoiding it.
The only way out is through….

But for now, there is business. Paperwork. Medical appointments. A house to, bit by bit, clean and tidy. A hospital suitcase to organize so that I’m not stuck in a Johnny shirt, with no decent soap for days on end. I have to appeal my pharmacare deductible and see if I can be included in a government plan that will pay for taxis to and from treatment. I need to see a lawyer to have a will and power of attorney done. And all the mundane stuff…household bills, GST reports etc. still has to be dealt with, as well.

One cannot actually believe in one’s own death for more than a few minutes at a time. In the middle of life and all the mundane chores that involves, the idea of one’s own death is surreal and abstract…an intellectual concept. The mind simply cannot grasp it.
Perhaps it is a protective mechanism – like shock.

When Wendy had breast cancer, I said to her that we are all standing on a highway and there is a car speeding right for us. The difference between her, having cancer, and the rest of us, was that she had seen the color of her car. The car is speeding towards everyone, nonetheless, whether or not we can see it. It’s only a matter of distance.

Now I can see the color of my car. But I cannot judge the distance. And I am looking at my surroundings to see if there is shoulder on the highway I can leap to, to avoid the impact.


Carol Dean said...

Ah, Linda...true courage is knowing the color of the car and continuing down the road undaunted. :) *hugs* Many people in your situation would be paralyzed.

Howpublic said...

It just didn't occur to me to sit down in the middle of the road. I'll bet it would occur to very few people...even those who think they'd be frozen and unable to move. Survival instincts just kick in and you move.

Pat Barber said...

I don't want to disagree, or be disagreeable, but I have to say - I think you're wrong on this one Linda. There are indeed people who would choose to sit down in the middle of the road, who would choose to do nothing, to not fight, to not survive. Sadly, I've seen it. I am so very thankful you are not one of them.

On an entirely differnt note, I wonder if there isn't some Universal influence that causes us to compare cancer/the threat of death, to wolves?

Howpublic said...

I know of someone who just sat down too, Pat. But I can't even conceive of that. It's not fighting spirit or any kind of's more stoicism. It's here. I have to deal with it.
And yes...wolves are such a powerful symbol. Hour of the wolf. I think it's that they are wild and dangerous...and their howling is such a lonely, eerie thing. Ravens - are a symbol too. Thank you Edgar Allan Poe.