What a day. What an effing day.
So, yesterday, I thought I was getting my port removed today. BIG event. HUGE. Because, if I'm getting my port taken out, that means my cancer's not coming back, right? Because why would I need my port unless I'm waiting for an opportunity to use it?
This is pretty common with cancer survivors, I've heard. You're like someone living in a half-totaled house in Northridge, who doesn't want to rebuild until you're sure there won't be an aftershock. You live a half-life, waiting for the other shoe to drop. As a survivor, the moment you can let go of your port, because you realize you don't need it, don't want to need it, is the moment you find your first bit of freedom. Me, I had that moment on a deck, in front of a little kiddie pool filled with floating candles. I looked at this tiny little flame in my hand and I thought, "When I put this in that pool, it means there's another life I've got to start living, and I'm not going to need a chemo port for it." I cried and cried, because it's scary, letting go of this perverse security blanket, this piece of plastic in your chest that says, "I'm ready if it comes back." What I realized was, I'm ready anyway. I've been there. I lost my hair, lost a gallbladder, got shingles and an abscess and went broke and had to sell my house and leave my home and get a job in retail. What the hell, if I get more lemons, I'll just keep making lemonade, right? But, I digress.
So, yesterday, my surgeon called to cancel the surgery I was supposed to have today - I wasn't getting my port out after all. An hour later, my oncologist called, saying there was an opening today for a PET scan I'd asked about weeks ago. It's a scan that is sometimes routine for cancer patients, but that she was reluctant to schedule because it exposes you to a lot of radiation and she wasn't sure I needed it. Apparently, my insurance had approved it and she'd changed her mind.
In a strange twist of fate, this week I also gave notice to my work that I wanted to go to part-time, sacrificing my health insurance (and, I thought, the PET scan) so I could begin the process of crafting this new, port-free life. Now, this scan - which isn't cheap - was not only available immediately, but schedule-able in time to be covered by insurance. So, I said yes. And that is how it came to be that today, I didn't get my port taken out, but I did get a PET scan.
Now, I wouldn't say I'm a superstitious person, but I do have a strong belief that everything in life balances out. For every shitty thing that happens, something good happens, and usually, when something good happens, there's bound to be some shit down the road. It's just a story I tell myself, I know, but it helps a lot when I worry about bad things or get too cocky about good things. I guess I think it helps me be more like that old man in the "Maybe, Maybe Not" story (you can Google it) and not get too ahead of myself. It didn't surprise me, then, when I came home from my PET scan to an e-mail about my Kaua'i escrow falling through for the THIRD time (it was SO close!). After bawling my eyes out for an hour, I told myself, perhaps something REALLY good is coming into my life - something that will make buying this money pit nightmare of a property that stole so much of my time, energy, and optimism seem like a bad pina colada hangover.
It's easy to think the opposite, of course - that everything I lost in Kaua'i was payback for the friends I made there and the life my chemo nurses saved. It would be worth it, for sure. But no, I tell myself, this is just too much of a hurt locker. I am seriously not exaggerating when I say that selling this house has almost been as hard as cancer was. I have cried almost as much, lost almost as much money, and wanted to kill myself almost as many times, just to make it go away. I'm not kidding! What's worse, there isn't even going to be a payoff - it's scheduled for a foreclosure auction in a month; this buyer was my last chance. I mean, at least with cancer you go through treatment and in return, you get a clean bill of health. The house, on the other hand, has caused everyone horrible stress and everyone involved is STILL going to lose - me, my Realtor, the guy who wants to buy the house, my lender. EVERYONE! And NO ONE at the bank even CARES, especially not the underwriter. All because of a fucking retaining wall that no one will sign off on, that no one had a problem with when I was dumping MY life savings into a pipe dream!
Now, I know what this is really about, of course. It's about me being mad at myself for not being as careful as the bank's being. It's about me feeling stupid for using a moron Realtor when I bought the house, and lying about my income to get a mortgage I couldn't afford for a property I didn't need on an island that didn't roll out the red carpet just because I had a charitable heart and a big green dream. I know, I know. Believe me, I KNOW - I wrote a book on this stuff! Accordingly, I have pulled out all the tricks in my little toolkit to calm myself down tonight. I have watched my 40-by-40 video. I have looked at pictures from my Moab trip. I have cleaned out my e-mail InBox and sobbed until my eyes swelled (crying is an incredibly undervalued pressure release valve) and, of course, I've blogged about it. I have looked lovingly at my new bike and told myself that yes, indeed, this will all seem like a bad dream in three years, when I am celebrating my cancer-free anniversary (perhaps I should celebrate a house-free anniversary each year, when it finally has been auctioned off?). The process - squeezing, diluting, adding sweetener - has taken the edge off, even if it has not fixed anything.
The reality is, sometimes, there is just nothing you can do. It doesn't matter if someone has died who wasn't supposed to, or a house hasn't sold that was supposed to, or a diagnosis has come that you didn't want. Life will give you lemons, over and over. The only thing to do when they seem overwhelming is make the best lemonade you can and white-knuckle it until it gets better - move through your grief, putting minutes and hours between the heartbreak and where you are. Time heals most wounds, even the ones that feel like road rash.