(One of Elizabeth’s essays when she was almost done with her first (and we thought only) round of chemo, followed by her musings on titles and structure for the book she planned to write about this experience. God I love her mind and and am so grateful to have these writings…)
Beginning to Leave the Hospital
March 5, 2012
I feel like I’m only now beginning to walk out of that hospital.
UMC, the day after they diagnosed me. The day after they told me it was cancer.
I was lying in the hospital bed drugged up on morphine right after surgery (my first surgery) and my biopsy. I looked at my mom all swollen with makeup running down my face and said to her (smiling) “If it is cancer its going to be ok.” And she said “Yes.” And then a few hours later they/the surgeon came to tell me it was indeed cancer.
I feel like only now, approaching treatment six, (the last one please god). Chemo round one, round two, round three, round four and round five are done. Whew. I still feel like I’m in the hospital.
The shock: the utter senselessness and cruelty of being beautiful and twenty-two and having cancer is just starting to wear off and the feeling has begun. The feeling of having had cancer. I feel like the shock and senseless and sudden, unprovoked tragedy of it all kept me mentally in the same room it all happened in until now. Now, six months later, my mind is beginning to catch up with the body that gathered her things from that room, left the hospital, went to school and told her family and teachers she had cancer. And got on with it. Took the treatment like a grinding kick in the face and a wet cold punch in the stomach, week after week and sat there quietly and didn’t say anything. And didn’t yell at god or the world or the doctors for A: letting this shit happen and B: letting the treatment, the cure be so goddamned miserable that it destroyed her feeling and her heart and her youth and made her lose her hair and the oh dear god, fucking pic line.
They called the thing they put in me a Pick Line. THEY CALLED IT A PICK LINE, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU? They put this tube into my veins and all the way down into my heart and I didn’t want it and I didn’t understand what they were going to do until they already were doing it. They exposed me to way too much radioactivity in the process and sewed it up into my skin like it was no big deal and it hurt, it fucking hurt.
Then there was this big gaping wound and a tube sewn into my body permanently and they forced a long tube into my heart and I didn’t want it and it wasn’t necessary and that was the worst rape I’ve ever experienced. And I never cried. I sat there and was good and quiet and cooperative because I trusted that they knew what they were doing and that they could save my life.
And they did.
But me, the real me who talks and has feelings and still can’t comprehend the fact, that cancer was inside of me, that it even could be. The me that still can’t wrap my head around something so unfair and unpleasant could happen to the blessed child who led a charmed life. She (that me) is still in the hospital. Because the shock, the pure and blessed numbing shock of the news that cancer was in me froze her in time. It froze her so the me who is numb and unfeeling and quiet and detached and removed could take over. Take the chemo, take the treatment, take the tragedy. And hold space for the sadness of others. The me who I generally associate with is just beginning to de-thaw in that hospital room, shake her head and wonder how the fuck did I get here and where do I go now? I’m hoping, I mean I think, she can come join me now.
(Musings on her future writing…)
The Stories We Will Tell Our Children
The journey of a 22 year old cancer survivor
Why this title is important:
Dr. Miller told me on our last meeting that all this would just be a story I would tell someday (an unpleasant one)
The realization that I want children came with having chemo and being told I couldn’t.
My children will exist because I had cancer not the opposite (strange)
This is my history
Buildings, ie hospitals and doctor offices are going to be the transitional and pivotal star points for this experience. THIS IS THE STRUCTURE FOR YOUR STORY ELIZABETH. IT HAS ALREADY BEEN GIVEN. THIS IS LUCKY. BUILD THE STRUCTURE/SECTIONS/CHAPTERS OF THE BOOK AROUND CHEMO ROUNDS AND HOSPITAL VISIT AND DR. VISITS.
Interview Mom, perhaps others as an example of how narratives vary
talk about trauma theory and troubles with perception
there is a lot here.
Now, should it be a biography or just this story?
Other ideas include:
“High Tales and Desert Winds”
“For My Mother”
Mama: How having cancer brought me back to my mother (The journey of a twenty two year old cancer survivor.)
©Elizabeth Blue, 2012