Monday, November 12, 2012

I Am Apparently Not Very Good at Having Cancer

In the first few days after my diagnosis, I was doing remarkably, surprisingly well.

The obvious explanation for that was that I was in denial. But I wasn't. I had digested the information from the retina specialist. I knew that things could end badly, by which I mean I knew that I could die from this, although statistically speaking, it was more likely that I wouldn't. I was not bitter when I saw other people experiencing happy life events; in fact, I was comforted: there is still good in the world, and I can take joy in it.

But man, have I ever tanked lately. To put it simply, I have been depressed. Not the constantly-crying, feeling sad kind of depressed. The "Nothing Seems Terribly Interesting or Worth Doing" kind. I have managed the bare minimum of household chores. Enough laundry gets done that people don't need to turn their underwear inside out to get another day's use out of it. There is enough to eat, because I have gone to the grocery store. I even managed to produce a fairly nice dinner and cake for my husband's birthday. But the twice-weekly vacuuming has fallen by the wayside. Don't even ask about dusting. Things pile up on surfaces because I lack the energy to put them away or, more frequently, to instruct their owners to do so. I still give a damn, but not enough to do anything about it.

It is just after noon, and I am still in my bathrobe, because taking a shower seems like an awful lot of work. It takes a long time for the shower to heat up, and there's not a lot of water pressure. Meanwhile, I have to stand in a cold bathroom and marvel at just how dirty white grout can get in a short period of time. I had intended at one time to have the bathroom redone, but my tile budget is going to get eaten up by CT scans, and that ticks me off. I feel like a drain on the system.

And speaking of drains on the system: one of my son's few chores is unloading the dishwasher. Not reloading it, just unloading it. When I pointed out to him in the nicest possible way that the dishwasher has been ready for unloading since yesterday, and that my cleanup of the kitchen sort of hinges on my ability to put the more recently dirtied dishes in an empty dishwasher, he rolled his eyes at me. He rolled his eyes. When I inquired, in the nicest possible way, why he rolled his eyes, he responded that unloading the dishwasher "isn't very fun." Whereupon I unloaded upon him a litany of things in my life that "aren't very fun." I didn't use the word cancer, which we have not introduced into the discussion yet, but I came perilously close. I did use the phrase "washing your underwear."

I went downstairs and waited fifteen minutes for him to unload the dishwasher. When he failed to do so, I did it myself, as loudly and as passive-aggressively as possible. When my son and his sister timidly inquired as to the reason for the ruckus, I might have intimated that they would find themselves the subject of an episode of "Hoarders" by the end of my five-day hospital stay. Then I burst into tears. Perhaps I should ask if I can get some electroconvulsive therapy while I am cooling my heels inpatient. 


  1. (((Becki))) I *think* this is normal. Or at least I hope it is, because frankly, I'm still there.
    It's not that I don't care, I just don't care enough to do it. And also, I had fricking cancer so shouldn't someone else have to haul the freaking laundry down to the laundry room and wash it? Which I know, sounds terrible, doesn't it? And yet. I think it.
    Thankfully, not every day. Still. Too many days. And it takes it's toll on the entire family.
    Also, I have, in very bad moments, thrown out the I had cancer so don't even talk to me about how much you don't want to clean the dishes up to the kids. Then I feel like an @$$. Because who does that? Oh, yeah, me.
    All of this to say, you are not alone. And you are not a horrible person. And I'm thinking of you.
    And someday, I hope we can get together in person and complain about cancer and treatments and then find that one thing to laugh so hard we cry.

    1. Thanks, Brandie. You wouldn't believe how much better it makes me feel to know that I'm not the only one who thinks these things...much less says them.

  2. Oh, Becki .... I'm here thanks to Brandie..... I just want to say RANT AWAY..... I'm listening and I will continue to listen as long as you need to talk. Cancer sucks. Don't ever forget that you are NOT alone... there is a whole gang of us ready to jump in and offer a shoulder or help you steady your step. I'm going to catch up on your earlier posts. Wanted to be sure to just let you know you have another person at your back.


    1. Welcome aboard the Eye Patch Express, Anne Marie! I will take all the new friends and good support I can get. But why couldn't we be in the lottery winners support group instead of the cancer one?

  3. Rebecca, Just learned of your blog...will subscribe and try to keep up with you. Prayers...and by the way, I've seen the son's eye roll too...major ugh!

  4. Aside from being some of the most entertaining prose I've ever read, your honesty with this is so important. Whether it be cancer or any other challenge we face, learning to manage the "martyrdom" is surely something that takes as much effort as the healing itself. My dad was sick most of my life and it was tricky to try to grow up feeling normal when other kids' parents were just fine. No need to sugar coat for the kids, but letting them be their usual idiot selves is really important in helping them maintain their own sense of balance.

  5. I just read this today Becki. It sounds totally normal to me, and I haven't had cancer. You're allowed to be emotional. Don't worry so much about always being nice to your kids. They need to learn that you love them fiercely, but you're not a pushover! And the more you MAKE them do the chores, the better off they will be when they are on their own. You can still be a loving mom--just be more than that, for your sake and for the kids. Don't make my mistake--I know now that I should have been tougher on my kids.

    Imagine your son being trained by a Marine drill instructor. It happened to my husband, who was probably treated very nicely by his mom. Gunny loved to terrorize him. You need to toughen that boy up! When you get the eye roll, add another chore! Pretty soon you'll be Gunny Mommy. Children don't respect passive aggressive. The little buggers, they're smart. Plan some responses in advance. The reply to "unloading the dishwasher isn't very fun," could be, "No? Well, when you get done with it, you can clean the sink. You might like that better." No rants. Just calm, calculated discipline (not punishment--training).

    Take care of yourself. Don't cater to the children, there's no character building there. The chores don't belong to you, they are a fact of life. And when the chores are done, an acknowledgement that everyone doing his part makes you happy, and that makes you want to plan some fun family times can't hurt.

    BTW, did I mention how much I admire and love you? No? Silly me.

  6. OK cuz- really- you vacuumed 2x a week? Are we really related?

    I have all the faith in the world that you can beat this and get thru it- you do have a lot of Mokhiber blood in you- and you know they were all fighters! Plus you are still willing to wash teenage sons undies- if you can do that, you can do anything.

    Always here to listen to you rant...


    Miss you guys!