Is that a gift? That’s not why they call it the present.
Well, in a truly amazing twist (as it were), I broke my ankle on Thursday.1 You know, a month before I am scheduled to have a bilateral mastectomy to treat my breast cancer. Ha ha ha. I am tired of being resilient and I’m frustrated and angry that I probably won’t be able to bike or swim until, at minimum, mid-June. I probably won’t get to go to cello class until August at the earliest, more likely October. Hopefully I will be able to walk without a boot by the time I have surgery in late April. I am seeing an orthopedist on Wednesday, the soonest appointment I could get, and only because someone from the breast cancer center called them and asked them to fit me in. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any unsolved mysteries I could work on.
I have done a very good job til now managing my feelings about all of … this. The part of me that is always quietly observant has seen how transformative the weeks after the cancer diagnosis has been, both in my life and inside me. That part of me has always saved my life, has always taken careful measure of what it is I do have, has always added it up to more than enough. But I don’t know about that anymore. That’s not to say I don’t still believe it. But I don’t know.
Is cancer a gift, as the ol’ cultural discourse insists? I don’t know! No! Maybe! It feels weird to even have complex feelings about it because it’s so treatable but the treatment itself is life-altering. I’m having major surgery that also rearranges the meanings of my body and my identity. Is luck simply a question of all the things I am spared here? Everything could be worse—my ankle, my diagnosis, my treatment, my finances, my depression. Things are also pretty bad—my brother is in jail, I am worried about my uncle, I am mourning my lost relationship, I can’t fucking walk, I am having surgery next month, there are extra burdens in negotiating treatment as a queer nonbinary person, I was sick for all of last year and hadn’t gotten much of myself back before I was swept away by this, I miss my parents.
I mean, I always miss my parents. I think about my parents every single day. The part of me that is always quietly observant has had to make this tolerable every day. A few weeks ago, I told someone my mother had died fifteen years ago and she said “and was that hard” and I said “it was horrible” but I probably should have said something ruder.
I’m watching Station Eleven while I sit on the couch and feel sorry for myself. In one episode, a character asks another what he would have done differently if he’d known what was coming. “I would have made the choice I really wanted to make,” he says. I think that’s maybe what this deus ex cancer diagnosis is like: it feels like the chance to make the choice you really wanted to make. I wonder if it’s real or if it’s just a feeling.
I don’t know. Whatever people believe is usually about what they need to believe. (Those beliefs aren’t without consequences, particularly in the aggregate!) We have to be able to live.
That is how things feel today. Is that a gift? That’s not why they call it the present.
Walking by Eckhart Park after swimming, stepped off the sidewalk to let three girls pass, tripped over a tree root I did not see because there was no longer a tree there, just this dead root, fractured my lateral malleolus. Wearing a boot and using crutches.