Friday, December 18, 2009

Robe of Color

Well, here I go. Finished my first week, well, half week of radiation treatments. Okay, 3 days anyway. Starting the routine of things. A friend came with me the first time, but I drove myself the rest of the week. I realized it's the first time since May or June that I've driven anywhere myself. It feels good to have some energy back. When I show up, my buddy, the valet manager, is glad to see me. He shouts in fondness, "she's my favorite one" and gives me a giant bear sized hug as he momentarily neglects his work. He treats me with respect and we have a good time teasing and joking. It's good to come into the front door of the hospital with a smile. They do their jobs well, it makes showing up pleasant. I have an ugly "job" to do and the staff cause me to look forward to coming to the hospital. The valet manager is happy to see me driving myself. "You look good kiddo". Ironically, my father says the same thing when he sees me. "I'm just so happy to see you, I mean I'm not happy to see you here, but I'm happy to see you doing better". He stumbles to simply say he is glad to see me but not for why I am there. He takes good care of me in and out the front door. I could not simply park in the lot anymore, as showing up like a sort of celebrity begins the day with a brighter side.

I walk in quick stride down to the Center. I have not had a good pace or upright posture in a long time. It feels good. I feel stronger. I'm working hard on what health I have control over. I walk, I lift weights, I stretch. I brought my own robe today. I just decided I'm going to go in with some style and comfort. I spent two days in the oversized ugly hospital gowns. Today I showed up in my old Victoria's Secret cotton robe with bright bold red poppies. Of course I was greeted with smiles and surprise. "Well, look at you, fashion plate!" "Are we going to be seeing more of this or is this just a Friday special?" The technicians support me and we all agree, "why not?" Might as well be comfortable and have some fun. They seem surprised though and admit to me that I'm the first one they've seen to bring my own attire. "You may start a trend!" I figure, I just don't care and I'm going to do it my way. I may stand out, but it will be for all the right reasons!

The treatments are going quickly now. Getting the measurements done was grueling. It was long and difficult to hold such uncomfortable positions. My range of motion is extremely poor and I can barely lift things with my left arm. I ache now, but I will manage. I need to continue working out. The stronger I am, the better I can deal with the radiation and chemo. Someone is coming with me one day next week. She insists I cannot do that much by myself.  I have both chemo and radiation in one day. This weekend, I hope to forget for a moment. Holiday baking is planned. I had hoped to be finished by now, but I ended up at the hospital instead. I became so sick from the treatments I needed to go back to the hospital. It will be nice to spend some time doing normal things that don't revolve around being at the hospital. It is so much. This is the long haul. Some have slowly fallen away. Neighbors caring efforts and attentions have quieted. My husband remains by my side. A few close friends are still here. My family is still here. I am tired, but I am still fighting. I'm trying to find my smile. I'm trying to find my strength. Just getting up and getting dressed and putting make up on helps me feel alive; a bit of myself. I don't honestly feel beautiful anymore, but I feel like if I go through the motions of putting myself together with clothes and make up, I might feel more dignity.  It was my routine before.  If I put sweat pants on and don't bother with a little make up, I feel like I'm giving up.

I can't let it take over. It tries. It tries. That's why I bring my own robe to treatment. It puts a bright side on something so depressing. I will find a way to put a little class to this experience. Why wait for the party? I will make it a party now. I go into this knowing that looking back is just as much a part of life as looking forward. My robe of color represents both.

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