Sunday, August 11, 2013

the methadone months

1. kozara

I took Nicole out for her birthday Friday night. We spent the first few minutes staring at the menu, trying to figure out what “kozara” was (Japanese tapas, it turned out).

“Sorry,” she said. “How are you?” It was the voice she used when she was tired, but trying to hold onto her manners.

“I’m good.”

“Sorry, I’m just shaking off the week. Work, you know?” 

“No worries,” I said. “I’m shaking off the week too. My week was fine, but just, you know, Friday.”

If you go to Bar Hayama, order the spicy tuna and crispy rice. DO IT.
That week I’d gotten my teeth cleaned and slogged through the building of an online grant management system at work and gone to the hard yoga class and fought with AK about arriving places late. Earlier Friday afternoon, I’d realized I only thought I’d paid my credit card bill last month, and I could no longer say to myself, Yes, but I’m going through cancer treatment.

“Seriously,” Nicole said, and we went back to studying the menus. It was nice, I thought, that our friendship had reached the level of silent menu reading. We didn’t have to be “on” or cheery. I don’t believe in saving your best self only for acquaintances, but Nicole and I had given each other our best selves plenty of times.

2. vestigial

It was a good, mellow night, until I came home and opened some pre-op instructions from the gynecological oncologist who would be extracting my ovaries in a couple of weeks. It was some kind of standard form letter, and the person who’d filled it out had crossed things out and scrawled ballpoint notes in the margins. I missed the classiness of the Breast Cancer Machine.

The letter said I had to drink that shit that makes you shit, before my surgery. You know, that colonoscopy milkshake? Why, I didn’t know. They wouldn’t be touching my intestines, but maybe they just assumed I’d be constipated afterward, my body bloating with anger about what had been taken from it. It all seemed so undignified, and it was almost midnight, and I was pissed. Because even though I’d done my very best to process my ovarian outrage for eight months now—because I’m nothing if not proactive—here it was again, realer than ever, and it was only going to get more so between now and August 29.

I felt like a shriveled-up hag in a world of glowing mama-goddesses, and I felt like it showed on my body already. Had I gained five pounds because I was taking meds that made me pseudo-menopausal already, or just because I liked spicy tuna? These days I (mostly) had the eating habits of a Portlandia episode and the thinking of the fifteen-year-old anorexic I had briefly been.

It's cool, I'll just get myself a nice scepter.
I sort of stomped around and ranted for a while, waking up AK, who was sweet about it. “They’re mine,” I told her re: my ovaries. “They didn’t do anything. I didn’t do anything.”

“You didn’t,” she said gently. “You have a genetic mutation, and you’re making this choice so you can stay healthy.”

And the gyn onc was planning to do a D&C, so I was going to have a virtual abortion, my uterus cramping and crying for the last time before beginning its new life as a vestigial organ.

3. methadonia

I self-soothed with Netflix, settling on a documentary called Methadonia. Before falling asleep, and again when I woke up in the morning, emotionally hungover, I watched hollow-cheeked New Yorkers share their stories of swapping heroin hell for methadone-and-benzodiazepine purgatory. They weren’t doing anything illegal, but they still nodded off in the middle of sentences and accidentally burnt down their apartments when their cigarettes fell to the floor.

Don't do drugs.
The writing, by Nick Pappas, was unusually poetic and wise, I thought. The voiceover said something like, “The story of someone succumbing to addiction and then getting clean is appealing because it’s a story. Methadone isn’t talked about much because it isn’t a story. It doesn’t end. It keeps you alive, but it ensures that average days of going to work, going to the store, remain just out of reach.”

I rolled around in the schadenfreude, as I do, not gleeful, just grateful. Just a little less alone. I, too, was always looking for the story in my story, but after the big tit chop and the baldness, there was a whole lot of late-night ovary angst that was more private, less dramatic and harder in its own way. I was glad my story wasn’t over, of course. I am glad, every day, not to be dead. But I’ve reached the point where, by my superego’s standards, I should be Over It. I should be waking up early and running three miles and cleaning the house. And I wasn’t.

1 comment:

Peter Varvel said...

I try to remind myself, daily, that I got to live, that I survived in one piece after last year's scooter accident on the freeway.

Not that I can even remotely compare that to the past year you've been through . . .

Schadenfreude - another great song from another great musical!