Thursday, April 28, 2016

Speaking Whale and Other Unexpected Cancer Side Effects

Cancer is the great mystery eraser. The great magic killer. If there is anything your partner does not know about your body before your cancer diagnosis, it will be completely out in the open by the end.

Ruanita has watched me poked and prodded. She has watched me drugged and doped. She has watched me puking and peeing on myself. She has sat stoically through numerous breast exams. More people have touched my boobs in the last two months than in my entire previous 43 years of life. There are no more mysteries. I am all out for Ruanita to see. In all my gorgeous glory.

Case in Point: Just yesterday, as we sat in the Mall of America parking lot--on our way to Sears to buy a new dryer to replace the 15-year-old dryer that finally gave up the ghost because major appliances have the nerve to die even when you have cancer--Ruanita reached over to me with a tiny pair of scissors dangling from her keychain and plucked a long white wayward hair from my neck. I could have probably wrapped it around my index finger a few times and plucked it myself. But there was Ruanita with her keen eyesight and her tiny scissors at the ready.

All the mystery is gone, people.

Ruanita and I have been together for 18 and a half years. We have seen a lot of each other at our best and at our worst, but cancer has a special way of erasing the last vestiges of any veil between you and your partner.

Every morning, I sit at the kitchen table and drink a big glass of what I call my "poop juice" (1% milk mixed with Nestle Strawberry Quick and a healthy dose of Miralax--it's the only way I can seem to stomach the Miralax). Constipation is a real (and incredibly painful) concern with the type of chemo I am receiving, so I talk about poop a lot. I thought when my children left diapers behind, I would give up my weird fixation on poop for good. I was wrong.

Chemo also causes a lot of gas issues. Honestly, my stomach pretty much churns all day and all night. I will admit that I fart in bed now. And on the couch. And bending over to feed the dog. Ruanita and I call it "speaking whale" (a throwback to Ellen Degeneres' character in Finding Nemo). It is not ladylike. It is not pretty. My only consolation is that Ruanita is fluent in "whale" as well. And she does not have my chemo excuse.

And today, Ruanita is going to shave my head. My sisters gave me a very tight miltary-style crew cut a few weeks ago, but now even my extremely short SHORT hair is starting to fall out in patches. I look like a dog with mange. And my head itches constantly. So I am biting the bullet and allowing Ruanita to shave me completely bald with a pink Daisy razor today. Yet another veil ripped away.

Cancer is not pretty. It's a fact. But here's the thing...I never aspired to be pretty. Pretty intelligent. Pretty kind. Pretty creative. Pretty fierce. These are my aspirations. And cancer can't take them away no matter how hard it tries. 


Clare T. said...

I am glad Ruanita is there for you, even if you have hair where you don't want it and more gas than a BP station. I have heard some couples never fart in front of each other and that seems very odd to me, like people who say they never fight. Just stay away from flax, even if you're constipated. Your farts will smell like a mouse died a month ago in the same room. There's a story there should you ever need a laugh. (Says the woman with Celiac and other lovely gut things).

Madge Woods said...

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