breast cancer, life, Uncategorized

Ladders

I’m posting this at A’s urging. He claims it’s one of my finer pieces of writing and that it deserves to see the light of day. It’s a hard, raw piece of my life the last few months.

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I stopped wearing makeup. That was the first clue, the sign everyone missed because I explained it away so easily. Some lies tip off my tongue without pause.

I wanted to sleep an extra 20-30 minutes in the morning. That was the second clue, the sign everyone missed because it was easy to believe. I’m never one to skip a chance to sleep in if I can.

I like to sleep. That was the third clue, the third sign everyone missed because teachers are perpetually exhausted. I escaped through sleep.

But, the sleep came with sad dreams, my imagination at play without the constraints I put on it during my waking hours. I refused to let what was going on for me personally affect my professional life. Once at home, though, the demons played. At night, my worst thoughts and deepest fears flew free. When morning came, I woke up, more exhausted than the night before, and I didn’t want to wake up, put on makeup, think about clothes. I wanted to pull the covers over my head, cry myself back to sleep, and hope I’d find rest and solace.

Rest and solace eluded me. They never came. Instead, sudden, intense pain in my lower back came. Unbidden. Unwanted. My scumbag brain fed my fears.

After an emotional Sunday afternoon, my husband, stressed out and nearing his breaking point, demanded I call Dr. O the next morning.

I did. I expected to be told to take a muscle relaxer and call back in two weeks if the pain had not subsided.

Instead, I got blood work, an exam, and two MRIs at a cost of over $1000 because for the first time in two years, I had yet to meet my out of pocket maximum by the end of February.

Two breathless days later, I got a call. Spinal arthritis, likely brought on by my daily AI. “Start yoga,” the nurse said. “Let’s try that before adding more medication.”

“OK,” was my reply.

Then, the nurse, gently, “Dr. O wants you to see someone for your depression and anxiety. It’s in the notes she talked to you about it and gave you a name. Have you made an appointment?”

A long pause. “No. I’m ashamed.”

“You have nothing to be ashamed of. Make the appointment.”

A long pause. “OK.”

Later that week, I made the appointment. I saw someone. They prescribed an anti-depressant.

It’s been a month now. The world looks different. I look different. I’m climbing out of this deep, dark, awful hole I’ve lived in for the last three months. I’m beginning to get up earlier. I give myself time to decide if I want to play with make up or use that time to drink a cup of coffee while reading a chapter of a book. Most days, I drink a cup of coffee and read a book. I got a haircut today. It’s the first haircut I’ve gotten since December. My pixie isn’t a pixie anymore. I can’t decide what I want to do -grow it out or cut it back -but today I care about my appearance. I haven’t cared about it in months.

January and February are nebulous to me. They exist in a fog. My memory of them is hazy. They are sadness, worthlessness, fear, anxiety.

So much has happened in my family over the last three months. So many bad and negative things. Those and the cancer scare triggered a depressive episode the likes of which I’d never known.

I wish I’d never known.

This ladder is tall. I’m climbing it. I’ve stumbled on a couple of rungs. But, I know what the bottom looks like, and it’s not a place I want to revisit. So, I climb.

Slowly. Carefully. Delicately.

The top may be far above me, but at least I’m no longer a stone’s throw away from the bottom anymore. I’m still delicate. I’m wary. I’m distrusting. But, I’m climbing. I’m trying. The antidepressant is working. Life is still throwing curveballs, but now, I’m trying to catch them and throw them back. I wasn’t before. I took them to the face over and over and didn’t care. There are still days where I don’t care, but those days are fewer.

I’ve walked a long, dark, and sad road the last several months. I hid it with excuses but dropped clues like a bird drops feathers, and like a bird’s feathers, few picked up my clues, and even fewer put the clues together.

As the days go by, I’m regaining myself and my personality, my come-at-me-bro personality, my I-walked-the-fire-and-came-out-a-Phoenix personality, my “She wore her scars as her best attire. A stunning dress made of hellfire” personality.

Slowly. Carefully. Delicately.

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