what am I doing here? (said Persephone)

Good question. Given my reaction to blogging, nothing but something unusual and prejudice-shaking would bring me here. That something seems to be breast cancer, for the second time in my life, just before my 40th birthday. Though I have been sending out periodic e-mail updates to a large list of family and friends, there are some musings I haven’t wanted to deliver to peoples’ In boxes yet still thought some people would want to hear. Not sure yet what exactly I am up to, but capital letters are sure making me self-conscious.

So one thing I realized I’m feeling, overall, is that there are these two worlds–the world of the well and the world of the sick–and I slip from one to the other all the time. Maybe slip down into one from the other in a big way, too, with this scary diagnosis, and emerge later…next February?…back to the regular world again. Maybe the cycle is bigger–every 10 or 11 years?

Everything is chugging along in life and breast cancer is far behind me, making me an interesting and maybe more evolved person, but certainly not part of my personal day-to-day life, and then suddenly the ground opens up and I’m back in the hospital-doctor-surgery-Vicodin-recurrence percentages-chemotherapy drugs world with all the other scared sick people.

Here is where my reaction is kind of interesting. When I’m in the world of the sick, I feel relatively well and lucky, especially to have the partner I have and the family, friends, and community we both have holding us up. Not to mention having a curable disease, and being smart enough to learn what I want to learn to feel like a part of my own care. And finding good doctors who will talk to me and answer my (sometimes overly intellectual) questions, and perhaps even enjoy doing so. So it is somehow less complicated and less depressing to be in the world of the sick. Plus, priorities are pretty clear there.

Then I surface back into the world of the well where I am Greatly Impaired all of a sudden. Have I just had surgery and am on painkillers and have no energy? or am I just tired, distracted, worried, and wanting only to either Fix Things, Learn Some More, or read an escapist novel? Either way, I’m feeling Not Normal and being around normal people, living their life in the world of the well and not even being conscious of the world of the sick, really makes me feel pitiful. I feel like I don’t fit in at all anymore and have nothing to talk about–at least with people who don’t know what’s going on with me. And with the people who do know, sometimes I want to talk about it and sometimes I just want them to know, so we don’t have to talk about it.

This slipping back and forth is hard to handle. It’s also hard to explain why a trip to the oncologist is easier to deal with, for me, than an afternoon at the beach.

One thought on “what am I doing here? (said Persephone)

  1. dduck

    Hmmm. This distinction between the sick and well worlds makes so much sense but is not something I would have thought of on my own. For me, it is like how my *minority* clients have to educate me on what it is like to live in a white culture. I sort of feel dumb for not knowing, because it makes so much sense, but then I also recognize that “living their life in the world of the [white] and not even being conscious of the world of the…” is just how it is.
    I so like getting to know you a little in this way, and feel a bit weird about voyeuristic it feels! Sort of detached and intimate at the same time. Thank you.

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