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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Songs to sing

At riding on Monday, I was told to pick a song. I should sing this song in my head when I'm riding to keep the pace. I should sing this song out loud in an emergency, to calm the horse and keep myself breathing.

"Mine's a James Taylor song," the instructor said, adding, "I picked it in college."

So what's it going to be? I spent the car ride home cycling through options on my phone, none of them quite right. Most too slow, others I didn't know well enough to be able to count on in an emergency.

I was tempted to pick one of Cheryl Strayed's,  El Condor Pasa.


But that song's more for walking, of course.

Two of Us is the top contender at the moment. Other suggestions?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Begin Again


The stars, the planets, the moon, all tell us things. I don't mean like whether you are thrifty or dreamy or match well with the person in your bed. They tell you direction -- where you're going, where you've been. 

"Look where you are going." 

The ground was soft dirt, loose and dry. Rocks, hoof prints. Grass spread under the fence on one edge, where a horse might like to grab some. Edges of jumps, sometimes too close. Barn cats near the fence. She told me to look where I was going, not at the ground. 

"Look with your head, your shoulders, your hips." 

So I tried to see with my whole body, creaking and cracking and panting (this didn't feel like exercise when I was ten) but it didn't happen tonight. It doesn't happen all at once, learning to see with your whole body. 

"You're trying to lead him with just your fingers. Use your whole hand. Use your arm." 

I've been trying with just the parts that don't hurt. They are few: fingers, eyes. Mind, sometimes. Restriction in anticipation of pain or breaking. 

"Whatever you do with your body, the horse will also do." 

So this is how I will move. Paired with one who mimics me. 

Driving home, headed east, the moon was low, full, and russet. It reminded me of a moon when I was small. In the car, speeding through the night, it always felt like the moon was following us. One time it inched so close it took up half the urban sky. 

Tonight, it felt closer some moments, more distant others, but the message was clear: go on.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Overheard in NY: Cancer Edition

Me, talking about my recent stress eating: I'm sad, and then I go and eat five cupcakes.

Therapist: Is eating five cupcakes necessarily a bad thing? I think it depends on the context.

Best. Therapist. Ever.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nothing to Worry About


Sometimes, I don't know how scared I am of something till it's over. Sometimes hearing that right now,  I'm okay is was makes the tears run hot.

So I had surgery Friday. Routine-ish -- more fat grafting to help heal the tissue damaged by radiation, with hopes that in a few months it will finally be ready to stretch again.

But the story goes back a bit farther. Two weeks before, I felt a telltale pressure under my skin on my left chest. I'd had a seroma (a collection of serous fluid, common post-op) there for months, and it seemed to be back. I went to see my surgeon, and he drained it in the office. We chatted about patients who have no boundaries (um, hopefully not me) while I kept my eyes carefully trained on the ceiling and not the giant needle he was using to drain pocket of fluid under my skin.

When he finished, he asked me if I'd hurt myself. I shrugged. 

"You didn't fall or anything?" There was blood in the fluid.

I remembered that I fell in February (and December and January, and probably March -- I fell around seven times this winter. Thanks Effexor!). Flat on my face. I toppled like the statue of Saddam, was how I described it later to Matt. I told my surgeon.

"That's what it is, nothing to worry about."

So when the seroma reappeared a few days later, I didn't worry. I showed my surgeon in pre-op, he said they'd address it in the O.R. I walked in, got on the table, stared at the ceiling, tried to remember to breathe and imagine the place I wish I was, and a while later I woke up and Matt was telling me the fluid in my chest had been sent for cytology. To see what it was made of. To see, I deduced, if it was not good news.

"Oh," I said, casually. Then I asked for pain meds and nausea meds, and got a bunch of fentanyl and fell back to sleep.

In the following days I spent some time with Dr. Google trying to figure out what could be happening with that fluid; mostly I found clinical studies from before I was born, saying awfully scary things, but not relevant to me. 

Side note: I feel grateful that I now have the knowledge base to separate the relevant from the not relevant. That part of my brain has become stronger than the anxious little imp in there, and that was no easy feat.

So mostly I just waited, and told no one. And today when he texted me and told me all was good, I smiled and texted back "Yay!" and he said "It made my day," I stopped smiling and cried at my desk. Because he was worried, even if only a little, and I realized how scared I'd been without knowing it. Sometimes you don't realize the narrowness of the ledge, the length of the drop, until you take three long steps back.

And you realize, again and again, that it's pure luck, and not because you're special or did anything better than anyone else, that you didn't slip, that the ledge didn't crumble, and that for a moment the air was still. It's pure fucking luck.

I know someone who didn't get that tonight. She didn't get ideal conditions, and now she's facing a whole new drop. Send her your sweetest comfort, loves.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Did somebody say "Ssuurrggeerrryyy?!?"

I'm  in the little changing room, listening to talk about running out of robes.  I'm in slipper socks, but they're XXL for some reason.