The bath water was scorching—hotter than a backyard pool in the middle of Arizona’s “dry heat” season. It would have been my fourth bath of the day. No judgments, I truly feel that I belong in the movie, Mermaids with Cher and an early Christina Ricci. It’s bizarre that the bath is where I find it peaceful and a place to fully rest my head— my safe haven since my diagnosis.
My black and silver, new pipe flickered in unison with the candle off to the side of the bathtub, as I further emerged myself into the hot water filled to the brim with bubbles. I reached for that new, shiny pipe, realizing that I was officially a pothead— a medical one, but nevertheless a raging, “puffale” (pot lingo…I think). It seemed clear in that moment that I wasn’t smoking to see unicorns and middle earth, but because it had become the only way that I knew how to get from one eight hours to the next. Some would call it depression, but it is so much more than that.
I typically stray from too many young cancer articles, or just information in general. However, I did come across the Brittany Maynard video and watched it from beginning to end. Firstly, what a brave and strong woman she is—perhaps it’s expected with a name like, Brittany (jokes)! I couldn’t be more enthused that she got to complete her “bucket list” and completely understand that in her soon to be condition, there will come a time when it gets far too painful and depressing and she will want to end her life. It’s only imaginable how many people may have an opinion on this subject matter, the subject of death with dignity. While I gather that this is a controversial topic that is now more spotlighted, I can’t help but be envious that she has the right to say when enough is enough. Unless you are terminally ill, I’m not sure this sounds straight, but those of us who are, may we be fortunate enough to have the option to die with dignity.
This above statement is in no way implying that you can’t have a terminal illness and find happiness, it can be amazing and a good balance. Sometimes it even aids in engaging the patient to live life to the absolute fullest. I was there once and it was a brilliant, I was fearless, somewhat unscathed at that point and ultimately I did things I would never have done if it weren’t for my so called death sentence. Death has a way of being contradictory, at times you feel at the absolute top of the world, living with what little time you have left to the edge, or on the contrary, your soul has simply left the building and it becomes a waiting game, while the emptiness and sadness gets the better of what’s left of your body and mind here on this earth.
When I took the first hit through my pipe, the smoke filled up my lungs and the THC ran rapidly through my body. Yet as I released, I was waiting for the sensation of being numb—from everything. I didn’t quite feel that familiar numbness I had grown fond of, however, it was more of an impassiveness sense, like, here we are again—never worse, never better. My life became a state of mind, constantly hanging my head, waiting for no tomorrow. In that instant, I unquestionably lit the lighter and let the flame burn a little longer than the usual and then directly pressed the lighter to my bare and tender skin. I wanted to feel something, feel alive and feel something other than the pains of cancer and the mental/physical shit show that it can have over me. It burned like hell and I loved every second of it. I know for that split few flashes that I was embracing what its like to have self awareness.
At this point I fear that it’s no secret to the state of mind that I have been in lately. Really, for the past several months. More recently I hardly show my face around anywhere at all. At social events I’m a ghost, with little to no urge to socialize much in general and I am living a life of solace in my own solitude. I’ve managed to isolate myself from most things and people. It’s been a very non-organic experience for me. I was always a very social gal, loved going out, trying new things, spending time with good friends and good beer; but then over this past summer, one day, I literally just threw it all to hell. Of course it’s nothing personal to the people I know who are there for me and rooting me on, despite my lack of the friendship pact and I happen to think about these people in my life more often than you’d probably think.
So what’s my problem? The answer is, I don’t know. I’ve reached a point in my life, where I feel I have no more life. I can’t get excited to travel and see the world, because I’m not allowed to travel. I can’t throw on a pair of sexy heels and paint the town red, because I have the energy of a snail. I can’t even get my hair colored at my favorite salon, because every hair follicle feels like it’s experiencing Jurassic Park. Yes, that’s right, I referred to my head as Jurassic Park, where every hair follicle is feeling the race of survival against the dangerous creatures that roam the island. Also known as chemotherapy side effects. See, this is what I am talking about.
On a more serious note, rather than talking about the 1993 Spielberg blockbuster, I have committed to seeing my therapist on a consistent, weekly basis. She makes me feel like less of a freak show and more like a normal human being, LIVING with cancer. The whole point of life is to live it, right? Our main goal is for me to find a place of peace with fighting every day for my life and rebuilding a quality of life fit for my needs. That said; if I ignore your texts and phone calls, please know that I love you and more than ever appreciate your thoughts. If I miss out on get-togethers and parties, which there will be, than please know I am there in spirit. Clearly there’s a lot of missing out on and lack of communication on my end that have happened and realistically will happen again. I could go on for days, but at the end of the day, please know I’ve pulled away for my own reasons, fears and doubts about life and not a single thing is at all personal. My therapist and I are working away at rebuilding what I have destroyed and working towards a happier me, in the face of cancer or depression. As for my own personal goal, I hope to back off from being such a “puffale”.
I’m fortunate enough that in my times of reclusiveness, I have had two very dear friends spend their hard earned dollars to visit me in the month of October, as well as a group of friends that when I say I’m too sick to stick to our Saturday night plans, they come over and we enjoy a night in with pizza and games. My lovely family, too, which when I say jump, they ask how high and a husband who has taken on this challenge of caring for me, which I can honestly say is probably the most annoying job in the world. Cancer is truly not what’s scary, or all of the niceties that it brings forward in it’s war path; it is being alive and not knowing what to do with it.
My point is, I am so happy that Brittany Maynard has shared her brave story and shed some light on #deathwithdignity. Also, happy that I am finally reaching out on my blog to say hello—it’s such a warm and happy feeling to write again. I’m not going to lie and say that I’ll be writing all that much, but it’s certainly a part of my goals and sharing my very own story, one again via Be Still My Heart Blog.
In the meantime, avoid doing as I have by becoming a puffale, or burning yourself with lighters to feel alive. But, continue to live your lives as you do—free yourself from vanity, fear and embrace your soul fully.
On that note, I am off to take a scorching hot bubble bath, before I drink two dollar beers and spend the evening dressed up as the scariest Halloween costume of all—me.
Cheers and love always. x