Sunday, 29 May 2011

Trading green for blue

Where I live, I hear birds chirping.  All day long, the distant traffic sounds are punctuated by shrill peels of their glorification of Allah.

There is also a constant cool breeze that runs through the house when the windows are open. I look out and see mountains and acres of greenery in the distance.

Then, why, oh dear Lord, why is my heart set on the sea?  Why is it that I crave the whisper of gently crashing waves?  Why do I wish for salt on the breeze?  Why do I want sunshine on my face?

Would I trade green for blue?

Oh yes. Definitely.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Music - Making love

There is birth and there is death.  In between, you keep trying.

The above is a thought from yesterday which I was too tired to post.  Today's nugget of wisdom has not yet happened.  May be it won't. Nevermind.

I am in shopping mode these days....I am spending money on trivialities when in reality I need to be seriously watching my purse.

I am also obsessively humming 3 very different pieces of music. The first one makes love to my ears like a sensual lover. The second one gives me goosebumps given its prayer-like qualities.  And the third is an explosion of sounds that reverberates in corners of my brain and shoots right down to my toes..a bit like how my tastebuds explose when eating pani puri.

Here's my music:



Thursday, 26 May 2011

Aching

I am aching tonight :( Especially my back and my arms.

I don't have the energy to cream up either.  My skin is very dry these days....to the point of even cracking. It'll have to wait. I really cannot be bothered.

Time for a painkiller and oblivion.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Down memory lane

I went down memory lane tonight.

I was looking for my original birth certificate when I stumbled upon a stack of old stuff. 

Now, I am not a very orderly person.  I do not have files labelled and papers double punched and neatly arranged in them.  My organization is limited to throwing what I consider important in one drawer and then hoping it is where I think it is when I need it!

Anyway...I fell on some old cards from M, some as old as December 2005!  And that threw me back into a time zone that no longer exists.

What a life it was!  What a different person I was then! And I wondered to what extent that person still exists in me now...

I also fell on tickets for a show (a gift from A).    And another piece of paper with his handwriting.  These are now in my wastepaper basket.

And the thought again floated in my head....maybe this business with cancer is just what I needed to unhook me from myself long enough for a new me to emerge.

And that is something that only time will tell...

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

39 days

Letting time do its job today took the form of movie watching, wrapped in a red blanket. 

39 days more to go.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Then and Now

Had cancer struck me a decade ago, I would probably have gone nuts.  I was too immature, gullible and emotionally weak to handle it then.

Had cancer struck me two years ago, I would have been totally devastated. I did not have the perspective to understand where it was coming from.

Had cancer struck me a year ago, I would definitely have fallen apart in pieces.  My poor heart could not have handled the heartache.  It was already aching too much then.

Now? Now, I think I can handle it.  I have the perspective, the emotional stamina and the coldness of heart to weather the storm. Alhamdulillah.

All I have to do is sink with each engulfing wave of chemo and come up for air whenever I can. 

But, hell!!!  I'd gladly pass on the nausea!  It is torture at its finest! All it takes is one wayward thought and the torture begins...

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Looking Forward - 42 days

42 days. 

42 days to go till the end of chemo. 

Technically my last chemo date is 1st July 2011.  But since I feel utterly crappy the first two days, I've decided to add one more day to the ordeal.

I need to start this countdown NOW...to see the numbers dwindle. 

With each passing day, I will remind myself that the end is near.

The radiotherapy I'll tackle when I come to the Rx bridge.  For now, chemo is the enemy to overpower.

My Allah, please rush time for me.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Chemo No 4 - Dinner in a washbasin

It is not nice to see your dinner in your washbasin!

But after throwing up, Alhamdulillah, I get to temporarily forget my stomach.

I had a whole post written in my head for tonight.  But I am turning off the switch in my brain. 

Hoping to get through the night without a volcano bubbling in my stomach is ALL I wish for tonight.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Looking back

Tonight feels like the right time to look back. 

It all started on 16th January 2011.  I went for the breast exam package at AB Hospital after about a month of noticing the lump.  It was a sunny wednesday.  Right in the middle of the day.  The radiologist who did my sonomammography asked whether I felt the lump was cancer.

I said I don't know.  In fact, I knew the lump was trouble.  I knew right from the moment I felt it.  Nothing that hard and defined and totally painless could mean any good.

It's four months now. Four months. Three chemos.  Two surgeries. One fact: I have cancer.

I no longer cry over that one fact like I used to.  I still cry.  But not like I cried in late January.

Sometimes I wonder.  Do I have cancer cells somewhere in my body right now?  I think maybe, or yes.  Don't ask me why.  That's just what I think.

Four months, Dear God!!!  What a roller coaster ride of a life I am living!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

On being appreciated

No matter how old you are, there always resides in you the need to be appreciated.

You may think you've proved yourself enough, surpassed others, left your mark and generally grown into a mature, well-balanced adult capable of handling distance and avoidance, but it takes one little truth to expose the need to be valued in you.

That need is in all of us, even though we may deny it with our tongues and shrugs. And that's a good thing.

In this world of change, it is good to occasionally encounter naked solid facts. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

When less makes for more

Today, it was with relief that I heard my sister echo a sentiment that flitted through my brain yesterday.    

See, it is never easy to take a decision.  Especially if that decision is irreversible.  In many cases, you don't know whether you have made the right decision.  You convince yourself that you have and you move on. 

To have your decision confirmed as the right one is comforting.  It enables closure.

Yes, it is a strange thing to say, but sometimes less of you makes for more.

Monday, 16 May 2011

It's all about packaging

These days, cancer seems easy. 

Easy because somewhere, someone else is lying in a bed completely drugged up to numb pain of a magnitude that my disease has not inflicted on me.  Her disease is not cancer.  But in her case, it is worse than cancer.

According to my onco, my cancer has sat silently in my left breast without making itself seen or known for about a year.  And it likely would have stayed that way for months and months, if not years, before saying hello, probably to be followed by a quick adieu.

I guess what I am saying here is that my cancer is a silent stealth killer. There are other diseases that come differently packaged.  Some can be a loud pain in the bottom that rob you of so many sunny days of your life that you end up forgetting what sunshine feels like.

Each disease has its own ugliness.  When I think of those afflicted with Alzheimers, Multiple Sclerosis,  paralysis of some kind or other, etc., I am comforted by the thought that my illness is not debilitating. Alhamdulillah.

Sure it would be nice to be disease-less.  But of all the diseases I could be afflicted with, cancer is afterall not that bad. 

Now, that is a thought that I need to remember this coming Friday.  It would comfort me. 

Meanwhile, I hope and pray that she smiles, even through her pain and numerous painkillers, comforted with the thought that her packaging did not have a label that read cancer.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Free of All Needs, Worthy of All Praise

In Islam, you sing praises of Allah, the Almighty.  You sing with happiness and sadness, in easy and difficult times, with your lips and your hearbeats, alone and with others.

Today my mom sang Allah's praises with her tears.  She sobbed continuously, copiously, visibly, sat amongst all of us. 

Around the time of Eid last year, my mom started crying.  At that time, it alarmed me to see her cry. 

Today, seeing her cry, I was less alarmed.  See, my mom is sad.  In  fact, she has plenty to be sad about and she has all the good reasons for that too.  Reasons born of present circumstances, past events and future uncertainties. 

If a person has all the good reasons to be happy and is not  happy, something is not quite right.  In the same way, if a person has all the good reasons to be sad and is not sad, something is not quite right either.

Sadness is a profound emotion.  It takes courage and humility to be sad.  It is not an emotion you let in.    Sadness takes you in. 

So my mom cried.  She is sad.  That is as it should be. It is right. 

See, one of the absolute, sublime beauties of Islam is that the human condition does not matter.  What matters is whether you sing Allah's praises.

Allah, Most High, who is Ghaniyul Hamid.  The One free of all needs, worthy of all praise. May we sing Your Praises endlessly My Allah. Ameen.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Retail therapy or not?

Blogger spat my post back.

The chemo has not yet messed with my ovaries.

Cleaning house is one form of service to oneself that everyone should try.

I thought shopping would not interest me at this stage but Amazon is stealthily tempting me with watches and shoes daily via email!  My reluctance/resistance to indulge in some retail therapy is thinning quickly.

What should I do?

Friday, 13 May 2011

Blogger ate my post!

My last post was eaten by blogger!!!

I am VERY upset.

I am not writing until I figure out what to do!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

The wind

Tonight was for comparing notes.  On all and sundry.

I am toooooo tired to blog about the whirlwind of a day that today has been.  But there is one thing I must absolutely remember.  That is regarding faith. 

In good times, it is easy to have faith.  Faith is that wind that keeps your boat floating on the waves in calm azure seas.  In clement weather, the wind blows like a child's kiss and your ship sails smoothly.

In bad times, it's sometimes less easy to have faith.  Unclement weather will see your boat rock. In fact it sometimes gets so rough out there that your boat gets tossed and slapped repeatedly, making you sick to your stomach.  You forget the wind, even though it is blowing and bellowing loudly.  You may even blame the wind.

But isn't it a fact that only the wind can bring a boat to safe shores or cause it to sink?  Isn't it a fact that the wind, invisible and untameable, is the only force that can pull your boat from tumultuous seas to calmer waters?  Isn't it a fact that without wind, a boat will be a deserted still vessel?

It would appear that the weather is rather unclement for us these days.  Our boat has been swaying and tilting much lately.

But I am counting on the wind.  To bring along a sweet little breeze after the storm.  A whisper so llight and flimsy that our boat will gently rock to sleep on its distant lullaby.  IA. :)

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Constipation, Cat, Call

Today has not been one of my better days. 

I woke up with tummy ache (probably a combination of constipation, impending/suspending periods and eating too much) which by mid afternoon had turned into a mild headache and total fatigue, with the consequence that I feel like a whale and I have been and still am in an awfully bad mood.

Also, I am having to breathe through my mouth to get enough air!  I really can't figure out what my body is doing today.

On the up side, the Cat called me this afternoon.  See, the moment I found out I had cancer, I had a list of people whom I had to inform about this.  He was obviously one of them.

In fact, the morning after my biopsy results confirmed the lump was malignant, I was in his office breaking news that I myself had difficulty grasping.  I guess one of the reasons I wanted to see him was because he is familiar with this disease.  And at that point in time, I was only a beginner in cancerish.  I badly needed a crash course on cancer.

Now, the Cat is a busy bee and when a busy bee takes time away from the beehive to check on me, I feel particularly good. 

And that's something I am learning to apply myself.  Towards others.

One quick sms, a one-line email or one phone call is sometimes all it takes to make someone feel good.

Ain't that just fabulous?

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Tickle my brain

I want to watch a good movie. 

Something as brilliant as "Analyse This". 

Something so effing genius that it tickles my brain.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Indecency

Past a certain point, it becomes indecent to rule as if you are a king. 

Simply because you look ridiculous being all mighty and holy when in fact, you are no more than a frail piece of life that's hanging on to past imaginary glory.

Also because your kingdom no longer counts faithful soldiers standing in line for that glance/word of approval from the king.  That kingdom is now a fiefdom with warlords who specialise in covert operations complete with artful camouflage and guerilla techniques.  That kingdom is a snakepit.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Extraordinary

The sweetest, cutest moment of today was seeing Ouma and Matt dance for their audience. 

With carefully rehearsed steps, their own mise en scene and happiness shining in their eyes, they remined me that this life is indeed extraordinary. 

How else can you explain so much contrast and harmony?  So much of ALL that exists? 

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Alhamdulillah - Part III

Tan's sister is getting married this weekend.  Defining moment for the bride, groom and their families, but also for me!

I will remember this wedding as the one I attended while on cancer treatment.

A long time ago, I read on someone's blog a beautiful post on how you sometimes take your heartache/sorrow travelling just to see how the heartache/sorrow would "behave" next to old monuments, landmarks and other touristy sights and activities.

If I remember correctly, the post concluded with the realisation that wherever you go, whatever you do, you've somehow carried your heartache/sorrow with you all the way, a bit like that old baby blanket that you find yourself holding on to, even though you may be an adult with your own kids and cats.

I think somewhere deep down I was curious to know how I would react to going to a wedding with cancer. 

I can tell you it went just fine. Sure enough, my cancer kept me company but in a very docile way.  It let me enjoy the atmosphere, the people, the food, the conversations, the happiness all around. 

When I crashed for a nap in the afternoon, it was with a sense of satisfaction that I closed my eyes. 

I may have an artificial bun made out of fabric and no hair, I may wear heels and makeup that adequately mask the pain of a bad headache or fatigue, I may smile broadly to show you that your caring words and concern have touched my heart, but through it all, I am deeply content that I made it. 

I made it to the wedding.  To living a life as normal as humanly possible.  And for that, I say Alhamdulillah.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Silence

Here's how a person dies from cancer http://penmachine-bu.appspot.com/

Reading this has taken away my rant. 

Peace to all those who've departed this way. 

Knowing death is a few days/weeks away is something I have not known on this journey. 

No one can know unless they are there. 

We think, imagine, infer, but we wait our turns to know.

I don't know.  So I will keep silent.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

I hate you!

Amy, over at Babies or not, just blogged about hating chemo.  Funny that I too have intended to blog about hating since this morning.

I have been feeling this emotion for the past few days in fact. Hatred. It's not a mild dislike or an annoying displeasure. It's flaming red-hot HATRED.  An emotion so intense I don't think I've felt it often in my 35 years, if at all.  An emotion that makes my adrenaline flow with a vengence.  An emotion that might have very costly implications in the future!

Yes, I hate you!  By you, I mean my bathroom, my kitchen, my sofa, my bed, my bedsheets and pillowcases, my bag, my clothes, my mirror, my talcum powder, my creams, my facewash, my toothpaste, my fridge, my shower gel, my own body odour (yes, I can smell that too!), my laptop and the list is endless!

By you, I mean, all smells that I know and did not know I could know.

It's hard to describe really. All of a sudden, my nose is like a magnet, picking up on the minutest pieces of iron in this wide universe.   I smell things! And my synapses link all of those things directly to the hospital bed where I have chemo. And it makes want to barf.

I've tried cover ups with air fresheners, detergents, and other chemicals, but those make me ready to barf in fewer seconds! 

Lavender is something I hate with great intensity these days.  So please, if you wear lavender perfume, don't befriend me.  It's best for you, trust me.

Today, while chatting with OJM about this heightened sense of smell, we diverged onto intimacy issues.  Usually in hard times, the best thing to have is a supportive companion (spouse/boyfriend/partner/whatever). 

But let me tell you this.  With my nose as it is, I'm almost glad there is no man in the picture for me.   I am pretty sure I would have hated him too! 

The damage in terms of re-doing the house, my wardrobe, my entire self at the end of chemo may amount to a little forture, but at least with me, myself and I, I need not worry there would be any irreparable damage done to another poor soul.  Because, you see, with the level of hatred coursing through my veins, the potential for damage is very very high.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Go to the manual

I have put on weight.  I guess I must have known it on some psychological level, but it took Tan's explicit statement yesterday for me to openly admit that yes, I am rounder around the tummy and just about everywhere else!

Of course, all those snacks, sweets, juices et al add on the Kgs while taking away the bad taste in my mouth!  But hey, I'll live with being round.  Just please let me have my self back!

Tan is in town with her boys.  She is another one of those mommies with boundless energy.  A real engine. 

But Tan is not just an engine. She is an engine with a manual.  A leather-bound manual. 

What do you do when you are stuck?  You go to the manual. Therein you will find a range of possible solutions to your one problem. 

That is Tan.  A manual clearly laid out, efficient, practical, logical, functional.  A DIY step-by-step guide to living. 

I am real glad she is in town.  Without her knowing, she'll fix a few broken parts of me.  She is one of those people whose love does not stay within the four chambers of the heart.  It comes spillng out to you and your parents and your sister and your nephew and if you had a duck in the backyard, to the duck too.  That's how generous a spirit she is. 

Looking forward to going back to my manual :)

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Holding my breath

This 3rd chemo round is the worst.  I am not joking here.  The nausea has trespassed the confines of my mouth and throat to reach my stomach.  So I stand over my washbasin to retch and heave and spit until I feel reasonably ok to move away.  Since Friday, putting anything in my mouth feels like taking a risk.  Thank God for yoghurt.

It is labour day in this country and today marks 3 years exactly since I returned from the United States. Three years of episode after strange episode in my life.  There was the confusion, followed by the best friendship I was to know, then came the massive heartbreak, more of the confusion, the desperation and then illness in its varied forms.

The good parts must have been there but they seem so distant for some reason.  Oh yes, the trip to Malaysia and the cruise to the Indian Ocean islands with the parents and of course the invitation to Islam.

Three years later, I am in a strange place.  A place I never imagined I'd be.  Somewhere where I feel that my head is under the water but I am neither sinking nor floating.  I am just holding my breath.