Dispatch from the Face-Plant Queen

Time for an update. First though, an anecdote, another nurse-lined hallway one. Waiting to see my oncologist yesterday after nearly five weeks in bed, numb clubs where I once had feet, a vacuum where I once had quads, and morphine and general mud where I once had brain tissue and balance, I decide to visit the washroom. Knees hit the floor first, then forehead. Nurses appear in an instant. “I didn’t pass out,” I reassure them. It takes a while, but I convince them.

“Nice goose egg,” they tell me. I make my way to the washroom; they’re right; it’s a goose egg. But it’s nothing, not in the greater scheme of things.

In the five weeks leading up to yesterday, I’ve travelled nowhere, and everywhere. From a first-round chemo reaction that felt like I’d been poisoned and charred from my skin to my bone marrow, to medication-induced oblivion, I’ve graduated to wobbly first steps down the hallways of our condo, the parking lot, once even to the mall in a wheelchair.

The excellent news is that my oncologist takes all this in without missing a beat. “It’s the Taxol,” she says, “We’ll remove it from rounds two and three,” she offers. I can’t believe my good fortune. Another two rounds of chemo, yes, but they ought not to be anything like that first one was. And then, icing: “We can postpone tomorrow’s treatment for another week if you’d like, yes, allow you to gain a little strength back.” I’ve almost won a lottery. Still, I’m frightened.

Back home though, I’m elated, hopeful, eager, and for a moment think my life might resume tomorrow. I swing back to fear. And back to eagerness. I speak to my family doctor about reducing medication dosages. My life apparently won’t resume tomorrow, and medications will be necessary for some time yet, doses titrated down slowly. “This will take months,” she says, but it will get much, much better, and it will pass. But it’s so nice to hear your voice!” I’m deflated. But how nice is that, a doctor who returns a call and changes a prescription without insisting on an office visit?

Patience has never been my forte. I will have to practice.

I love all of you. The young adults forever tied to my DNA and my soul, whose voices and eyes and bodies, even through the oblivion and across the miles were such potent medicine. The mother-daughter familiarity lying on the bed next to me when I surfaced from my oblivion states, whose smiles and tears made me remember all I needed to know in that moment. The man whose love has so often carried me over the years, and who is now completing an intensive course in patience, and in finding new TV series and bites of food just the right flavour for me, and in patience, and in domestic and kitchen literacy, and in patience, and in worry and sleepless nights, and in patience. The man and woman who gave me life, whose tears I felt across town, the sister who kept offering to drop anything on a dime to come meet my needs.

I love those of you who sent their magic from across the oceans, those who sent their love from the pews of their places of worship and got their friends on board to do the same. Those who, a short time ago, I knew only in a service-provider capacity who stepped beyond those bounds to offer their amazing healing skills, their empathy, their acute intuitions and minds and just the right metaphors and insights to get the frontal lobe of my brain crackling in ways that—science journals now tell us— literally and in measurable ways alter the biology of our cells. Those who breathed the endless human capacity to be selfless for an hour or two and from distances large and small simply channeled the divine. Those who offered to dance despite hardly knowing me, those who transmitted their energy through their hands on mine, their eyes locked into mine, those who refused to take offence at my family-only visitation request. Those who supported via healing circle ceremonies, bone broth, foot massages, wheelchair outings, fuzzy socks and pretty things in general, via stew and kabobs and open-eyed conversation for my tired newly-graduated nurse-husband.

They’ve been endless days and nights, and may be for some time yet, though hopefully not to the same degree. But the memory will fade, the injuries and fear will heal, the cancer will give way. And I hope that what will remain is the awareness of wealth, of divine holy goodness.

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11 thoughts on “Dispatch from the Face-Plant Queen

  1. Connie! Obviously your writing skills have been exempt from any cancerous side effects! With this update you’ve provided to the rest of us, nourishment for hope. Kudos to your chef and entertainment guru!

  2. Deep thank you for this Connie. I ache and elate all the way through. Your soul, heart and art…a package of magnificence.

  3. Your generous words for others has Sorting It Out returning with a more gentle though no less meaningful impact than the one that had your head meeting a hospital floor. Yikes Connie, crazy woman, putting a humorous headline on such a trauma. But then to rise from what must have been an awful shock with such grace is who you are and it’s no wonder why we love you. Welcome back.

  4. Concurring with all the above comments from all your truly wonderful friends who say it more eloquently that I can . . I am quite frankly heart broken reading the journey you have come through. ……..
    It’s you – that little girl I remember peeping at me shyly from behind some ‘place’ when I was invited to your home by your kind and warm parents for Christmas one year so long ago it seems a dream . . . You were so petite, but so energetic, so smart and competent then already – –
    And now, you must draw very deeply to continue taking one courageous step at time.
    I love you for whom you have become for me through these blogs .
    And I pray always – for you, and for your husband, and parents and family – all those who share this journey in a tangible way .
    Thinking of you and your elegant resolve, and those who encircle you in real-time support, I am reminded of the last part of Tennyson’s “Ulysses” –
    >>> We are not now that strength which in days of old
    moved earth and heaven. That which we are, we are; . . .
    made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. <<<

    • Ah Veronica, so thoughtful and kind, as always. I’m honoured that you continue to visit the site, and as always, feel nourished and loved by your words. And today, as icing, I also feel an unadulterated childlike joy in response to your description of my young self as petite, energetic, smart and competent; thanks! It’s been a crucible like none other I’ve ever been in, these past 6 weeks, but the window has been opened, I’m mending daily, and have been promised that my final two rounds of treatment, missing the offending component of the cocktail, will make them much more tolerable. ….the result of which is much gratitude alongside the rest. Thanks and love to you!

  5. After deeply inhaling emotional spring air from the “Queen” Ginny and I were encouraged to go for a walk by the Sturgeon River to savor life by breathing in fresh spring air as we were serenaded by exuberant sparrows. Spring is in the air! Thanks

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