The following ditty is about support groups, in general, and, specifically, about the one I went to last night. I can't tell the story however, without breaking a bit of fucked up news. R ended our romantic relationship this weekend. That is all I really want to say about that until I work through some things in my head and with him. I'm not going to judge, blame, make excuses for him. Suffice to say that both of our lives are really fucked up right now and we both need a lot of time to get healthy.
So, support groups. After last night, I have this theory that most people come to support groups partially for the support, but mostly because it is cathartic to tell horror stories to terrified individuals. People with normal experiences don't come to support groups. People whose vaginas turn inside out and grow hair on their backs during hormone suppression therapy...those are the people that go to support groups.
Which leads me to another piece on non-essential cancer advice. Which I will preface with my second favorite line from Raising Arizona: Let y'all without sin cast the first stone.
Lesson #2: Do not show up to your first support group high.
I needed a serious break from my life yesterday afternoon. Insomnia, the break-up and chemo were all bearing down on me like a lead weight. Too exhausted to go exercise, but too emotionally wired to sit still. The solution: some specially prepared baked goods and three hours of "Nurse Jackie."
I'm not an expert in the craft of baking medicinal food stuffs, but my guess is that picking dosage is an art form. Too little, you just get gassy from eating 14 rice-crispy treats. Too much, you end up upside down on the floor of your condo talking to the ceiling while your mother watches. Then you fall asleep face down and wake up with a puddle of drool on the Pergo floor two inches from your face.
This is my life as a cancer patient, folks. A total champion of humanity.
By the time my ride to support group arrived, I had rejoined the land of the living, but still had a nice bit of a head buzz. We arrived at the meeting a bit late, me with a not unexpected sense of paranoia that it was going to take everyone about 15 seconds to realize that I was showing up to a cancer support group stoned.
We all quietly ordered drinks while one woman was giving the group her health update. The McMenamoron that was serving us rolls back up to the table five minutes later, interrupts a heated discussion on vaginal dryness and calls out our drinks in roll call.
"Water, water, water, iced tea, green tea, water, water.....jack and bourbon."
Everyone pretends not to stare as I take my drink, remove the straws for ease of access and take in 3/4 of the drink in a single pull.
It takes two hours before it is my turn to talk. I drink two more bourbons and listen to stories about vaginal atrophy, unexpected hair growth, debilitating bone pain, treatments that don't work and denied health insurance coverage. I am freaking out by the time it is my turn to talk. Lucky for me, we are already 20 minutes over time and everyone has one foot toward the door.
No one asks questions as I go through my diagnosis and treatment and when I get to the part to about the break-up and the baked goods and the bourbon, I get a relieved sense that my obvious bout of binge drinking is completely understood. They've all been there. And there is no shame is seeking relief anywhere we can find it.
Chemo countdown is down to 17 hours. I'm trying not to take an outsider's view of my life right now. It's easier just to take everything an hour at a time, rather than obsessing about side effects and reorganizing my care-giving now that I'm now a single person with cancer.
So, for now, its all about making lists, packing for chemo and wrangling up some lemon drops and ginger candies.