Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hitting the Wall and Bouncing Back

This cancer thing is riddled with bad euphemisms and turns of phrase. As well,there is an amazing panoply of terms for symptoms, treatments, potions and lotions - a veritable encyclopedia of  pharmacopoeia exists to describe the acts and props - soothe, heal, ease, reduce, fight, battle, overcome, subdue.

Also a lot of normal words, that strung together are frankly absurd.  I said to Michael the other day, no one would ever say to a well person -

"soak your finger tips in ice chips as many times as you can throughout the day." I am sure that under normal circumstances it is against the Geneva Convention to submerge people's body parts in ice, except of course, in professional sports. It should be. But it really does help relieve the pain, and will, ahem, assist in "nail loss prevention."  Something well people have to worry about a lot,  I am guessing. Yes, even the fingertips are not immune. They are numb, like you stubbed each and everyone on the fridge door.

But the one that seems apt, true, even is "hitting the wall".

In the 1993 [i think brilliant] movie Fearless, by Peter Weir [my favourite director], Jeff Bridges cheats death in a plane crash, and thinks he has become invincible. At one point he literally "hits the wall" in his car to prove it. He drives his car into a wall. Volvo product placement. True. But the OTHER person in the car lost her child in the crash (plane not car), and she wants to throw in the towel, give up, stop. Not die, but stop. So he drives her into a wall.

But the theory of the metaphor [and excellent Hollywood story ending] is that once we hit the wall, we bounce back. We recover. We look deep into the darkness, and find the means to move forward.

I was staring deeeeep into that dark hole in the wall - last night - day three of not keeping food down, blinding migraine headache, nausea, perpetual internal aggravation of some kind. At a complete loss for words, thought, movement. One thought emerged- Enough. I have hit the wall. This is it. The point where it can't be any worse. I can't feel any shittier. I despair of this state. When your eyeballs burn from crying and your throat seizes up from vomiting, and the room is spinning - for what seems like an eternity - I see how people give it up. of course,of course, you want it to stop. I did. I was an empty tank.

But you don't. Michael held my hand. I rallied. Simple, yet outrageously Herculean of us, frankly. I am astonished.  What a team.

And here I sit. No headache. No nausea. No way. Really? I won't be driving my volvo (don't have one) into any walls - but i feel, um, somehow, more confident in my ability to "bounce back."

xo KO


Anonymous said...

And you will!!! But, still, it is heart-breaking to hear how bad it has been.


Ian Hadden said...

We do bounce back though perhaps not in the way or at the speed we would prefer. Keep holding Michael's hand - from what I recall, he's got a good grip!

Anonymous said...

You are the best, Michael is the best. Together you are unstoppable. V xxxx

Anonymous said...

Kate, my friend Linda and I were talking last night exactly about this...I was telling her about once (while having a gall bladder attack) how fainting actually answered the question, "Hey, I wonder what happens if I exceed my pain threshold?" the point being that the universe's capacity to take care us is truly immense, and whether it makes us pass out or gives us the hand we need to hold, it comes through.

And IKR - those bitches with the hair bug me too, and I have mine.