Tuesday, 27 December 2011
NUCLEAR AND WINTER SUNS
I am sitting on the couch with a grey and white plaid blanket over my bare knees. My fingernails are painted apple green – a color meant to last only one day but now still remaining on day five since the manicure. I haven’t had the will – or the ability to stand the smell of nail polish remover to change it. The balcony door is open, affording a partial view of the balcony railing covered in a layer of ice. The sky is white. The sun is winter-pale and without warmth.
Inside the apartment, there are great leafy plants, pots and vases of flowers.
Christmas day, I read Lydia Millet’s How the Dead Dream. Boxing day, it was Joan Clark’s, An Audience of Chairs and today, reading in reverse autobiographical order, I finished Augusten Burroughs’ “Running with Scissors.” In-between reading binges, I slept, drank ginger ale and threw up. This is the sickest I’ve been following a chemo session. The tips of my fingers are numb – peripheral neuropathy. I cannot predict how food will taste and almost everything tastes bad. Except, strangely – for cherries. I have discovered today that cherries taste like cherries. It’s a small miracle and I’ll take it.
In addition to gobbling fiction (the only thing I can gobble that doesn’t send me running for the bathroom), I’ve been doing research on whole brain radiation – which, after 12 more chest radiation treatments, is next up on the hit parade.
And it’s occurred to me that I don’t have to submit to it. Lest this seem a little cavalier, I should explain the possible side-effects, which can include (over and above the usual fatigue, temporary hair loss and rashes): hearing loss, eye injury resulting in blindness, mental slowness, behavioral changes, severe damage to normal brain tissue that may require additional surgery, seizure, and permanent hair loss.
So I’m sitting here ever so quietly, with the blanket over my knees. Cold air is streaming in through the open door as a listless sun moves westward across the sky.
My emotions are as numb as my fingertips. There is no one to call. There is no one to ask. There is no right answer. Yet, I must decide.
Yesterday, my elves came. They washed the dishes and swept the floor and let me cry. They brought Ginger ale and threw out the food going bad in the fridge. I am grateful for that. But I wish they didn’t have to see. I wish they didn't have to know.
It splits you from the world, this condition. Who can bear it? What on earth can anyone say?