I had a sudden realization whilst at the Halloween parade with Penny. What happens if I go to New Orleans? Mardis Gras? How am I supposed to get beads, you guys?
My girlfriend pointed out that I would never have employed such tactics anyhow, but that’s besides the point. What if I needed some beads to save my life? Like, a murderer said he would only let me live if I could get some beads RIGHT NOW, and I can no longer do the international signal for “give me a cheap plastic necklace?” It’s a problem I’m going to have to add to the list.
Sometimes I hope my daughters will never find this blog. (Just kidding about almost everything I ever say. Mommy loves you. Please don’t flash your boobies. Use your brains to get what you want.)
Anyway, I went back to work last night. Kind of. I only worked a four hour shift, and they let me work with another nurse just to get used to being there again and to learn some of the computery things that have updated since I last worked. I was really nervous that I had forgotten everything ever and that chemo brain would render me useless, but it’s funny how things just come back to you. Like, I even remembered the IT help desk number, which I called maybe three times in five years.
I was nervous, too, because there was a massive turnover in the months of my absence and a lot of my friends left. I didn’t want to show up in my beanie, not knowing anyone, and be only known as “the cancer girl.” I don’t know if that happened, as there were so many new faces, but I guess I don’t care. It was just so nice to see and catch up with the people that I do know and love. Plus, I’ve learned a thing or two about holding my head up and/or mentally blocking stares, head tilts, pity glances, and that look people give you when they’re trying to figure out if your eyebrows are real. (Since I learned how to fill in my eyebrows a few weeks ago, people keep telling me how much healthier I look. Smoke and mirrors, my friends.)
Overall, it was a good night at work and with friends, but I do have to mention this. Because this did happen.
After all the pleasantries of being back:
“Heather, have you gained some weight?”
::Mental pause to see if my coworker really just said this to me::
“Why, yes, I have. About fifteen pounds. Thanks!”
“I can see it. Especially in your face.”
To which, I think I launched into a mini diatribe about how breast cancer specific chemo (and the steroids) actually make you gain weight. Even though my family was worried I would lose weight in the beginning, my doctor assured them that I would, in fact, probably gain 10 pounds. And I’m an overachiever. Don’t people know about the chemo fifteen? Duh.
And don’t people know not to look you straight in the eye and ask if you’ve gained weight? Aaaaand then proceed to tell you that your face is fat.
What do you want from me? When I gain weight, it goes straight to the cheeks. The ass and the face.
Oh, well. Although I was initially appalled, twelve hours later, I kind of think it’s hilarious. I also kind of think it’s time to get to the gym. Remember when I said I got a gym membership and was working out? You see, about that… That stopped after about the second chemo. With my blood counts so low, I got winded going up one flight of stairs or trying to vacuum or walking into the library from my car. And then there was the inexplicable soreness. And just all the other things that chemo does. I am starting to feel better these days, and being called out like that only reminds me that it is time. Time to bring it back.
I’m just not sure how to fit everything in. Even working minimally, my life sometimes feels like a circus of laundry, bill paying, grocery shopping, and itsy bitsy spidering. Some days I feel like the only thing I accomplished was thrice making a mess of the kitchen and thrice cleaning it back up. I know that I am not unique in this way so how do you guys do it? Does anyone have a magic system that suddenly makes it super easy to balance all the adulty responsibilities? (I’m much more of an adult now, you know.) And please don’t tell me to wake up at 5 AM while my children are still asleep because that’s not happening.
And please don’t tell me my face is fat. I just don’t like it.