Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Promises, unrealized

Last week, in my blog tease after a couple of postless weeks, I said I felt refreshed and ready to return in the new year to the M&M fold. It hasn't exactly turned out that way.

Not only haven't I been blogging but, I'll confess, I haven't really been feeling refreshed either. After my monthly oncology appointment yesterday I drove to University Village to meet Michelle for lunch and ran into a guy from work. He asked me how I was doing. I gave him my pat answer, usually true, about how I always know it's time for another round of chemo because I notice I'm feeling so good. But when Mich e-mailed me this morning asking how I'm doing I gave her the more honest answer: up and down -- not so great, really -- especially emotionally.

Part of that is cyclical; although I usually feel good physically at this point in my monthly treatment, I always get crabby and anxious about the start of a new chemo round. But I feel more down and irritable lately than usual. I hear myself snapping at the girls or Michelle, which embarrasses me and bums me out, to say nothing of the effect on them. Also I can't seem to get up for anything. I sit around, accomplishing nothing.

This surprises me. It shouldn't maybe, being that I'm sick and everything, but so far throughout this ordeal I've mostly managed to be Mr. Cool. I like that; I don't want or expect to morph into Mr. Malaise. Even as the new year approached, without resolving to run more, as Michelle did, or freeze the butter like Kaye, I felt optimistic about the future. The past year, I figured, was all about physically recovering from surgery and dealing with chemo, which I've mostly done pretty well; now I could focus on relighting my creative pilot.

Weirdly, though, as the holidays passed and Michelle went back to work and the girls returned to school, I've felt less energetic or optimistic than I can remember.

At the doctor's appointment yesterday, Jennifer ticked through her checklist of symptoms, part of our monthly ritual, halfway paying attention as I answered: seizures, no; nausea, some; blurry vision, no; depression, yeah ... kinda.

Michelle asks me about depression once in a while too, and I'm never quite sure how to answer. It sounds like a question about direct cancer-related depression, and I never sit around thinking: man, I have cancer, what a drag. But I also know that these symptoms and feelings I'm describing add up to something that sounds a lot like depression. And I do in fact have cancer, and so maybe, yeah, all this stuff is related.

I hesitate to write about this here. It feels maudlin and like a total buzzkill on the awesome M&M vibe. But, you know, I've written about other aspects of the illness experience, like fond memories of surgery or the funny and inappropriate feelings of superiority while observing the health profession's idiocy, or even the thrill of a good blood draw. And I gather from comments and conversations that one of the things people like about this stupid blog is its occasional, unexpected moments of honesty amid all the goofy banter.

So there you have it. Plus it's another excuse for my failure to post lately. Sorry to be such a drag. I'll snap out of it one of these days; maybe a good movie or afternoon poker session would help.


michelle said...

Hey baby, thanks for the nice post. I've been feeling sad too, as you know, and not much like posting. ...

mich said...

Mark (and Michelle too!), you both have every right to feel sad, depressed, anxious and all that on occasion (if not more often). Those moods are going to strike, and the timing won't always make sense.

I'm glad you both have the courage or wisdom or whatever to face it honestly, whether that's in private or here in your "public" space. If you feel like spilling, then spill. If not, and you just want to disappear for awhile too, then do that.

The blog has become a great place for us to keep up to date on you, to be entertained, and to to meet, reunite, or catch up with friends. But don't ever feel obligated to us. That'd just be wrong.

Mark, I'm looking forward to Friday. We'll have some laughs, and I don't even have to worry about remembering my wallet. See you then.

freda said...

hey guys, sorry you aren't feeling so good. That's not fun. I hope that letting it out is somewhat of a release. Here is a little update on this part of the world, Steve has found an apartment up in Ma. and will be moving Sandy and Matthew up to be with him at the end of the month. That is good, he misses them. John and Yulan are busy house hunting, in Virginia, and I am helping. Last I heard from Renee they were all fine. I will be going home on Saturday, but things will continue to be crazy before and after. I will however be checking to see how you are doing. love you

kateco said...

Dear Mark and Michelle: We are here together. Nothing is required. Our goofy exuberance is not irrational; our sadness is wide and deep. There is no "one or the other," everything is present at once. Here. You are so dear, my heart breaks. Still, here is where I want to be. Because when we say we love this stupid blog, we mean that we love stupid each other.

I want to say more, but a damn migraine is pressing in. I will try again tomorrow. thank you for letting us know how you are. Love k

Rita said...

I sometimes feel like a psychic, but it's just those stong vibes that start with motherhood and never end.

Thanks, Mark, for the shared feelings. You're right - it is a part of the blog that keeps us all so close. I do agree with Mich, though, that what you decide to post should be your call but never your obligation. If it helps to vent at times, I can't think of a greater support group than this blog!

Michelle, I love the way you share Mark's feelings.

Hang in there, both of you.

Ronelle said...

Hey M&M,

I am sorry that you both are feeling a bit down - I think all of us can understand. I am once again inpsired by your openness and ability to share your feelings -not only with each other -but with all of us too. I can't add to all the sentiments already expressed here except to say that the love that you have for each other -your family and friends is actually palpable on this blog - it is awesome! We are here for you -when you are posting AND when you are not. I bet just sharing your feelings will be a big step toward feeling better. Here is a quote I think about when I start to feel that life in general might be winning the battle...it makes sense to me and I hope it will help you too:

Life always gives us exactly the teacher we need at every moment. This includes every mosquito, every misfortune, every red light, every traffic jam, every obnoxious supervisor (or employee), every illness, every loss, every moment of joy or depression, every addiction, every piece of garbage, every breath. Every moment is the guru.

Love to you both and to everybody here who loves you too!

Janice said...

Sorry to hear you're feeling low. I hope this blog doesn't turn from the positive outlet that it has been to something you feel obligated to do! It's a possibility and you need to decide to keep blogging based on how it makes you feel not based on how it makes us feel, as hard as that is. Things go in cycles and fighting it messes up the rhythm.

LaSue said...

I thank you for your wonderful entry and willingness to be honest. I just want to make an observation that I have noticed with both the ill and well this past week. There is a post holiday depression or sadness. We are tired of the endless running around, dinners and having a weird 6 six foot green thing in our living room, but we still miss it. We want our boring life and yet we don't. Even if we haven't written or spoken New Year's resolutions, we are all making them mentally. So it is a time to sort out or sit in our mental stuff. Allow ourselves to have these feelings and process them in whatever fashion and time they take.

This past weekend I cried liked I hadn't cried in a long time. Still thinking about crying makes me cry. Where it is all coming from? I don't know? I'm working on figuring it out.

I made a weekly check-in call with a friend back east and she jokingly chastized me for a "bummer" phone call. My retort was that I couldn't always be happy. Into each life we have saddness and with our good friends we our willing to let down the veil of the smile.

I always feel like I'm on the outside looking in when dealing with my patient's and their response to ongoing treatment. Thanks for letting me have an inside look. I'm sorry your nurse only appeared half-way interested in your responses. I heard you.

Mark said...

Laurie, what a wise and thoughtful note. It's nice to see you coming out of the blog shadows. Thank you, and thank you to all of you for your understanding and support and love. Very cool.