Renal Cell Live!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Funny, You Don't Look Sick

I'll admit that some 3 years ago, when I began this odyssey of metastasis, I looked as sick as I was. Weight loss, anemia, fatigue, and uncontrolled cancer added up to a shattered physical being. I had no energy, I couldn't eat, I slept much of the time, and simply couldn't be bothered with much beyond the basics. Saint H quietly took on all of the laundry, the cleaning, and some of the cooking; I sat in my big red chair and existed.

Since then, I've gained weight, conquered anemia, and my cancer is successfully controlled for the time being. My hair, moving from normal to white to gone and back again, looks much as it did 3 years ago. I now look much as I did 3 years ago, and feel better than I have for years. I'm able to maintain our house and run necessary, normal errands along with doing some volunteer work. But I am definitely not the same person physically. Stamina went by the board along with upper body strength. "Normal" days include fatigue, joint pain, and mild depression.

A couple of weeks ago I backed out of going on a geology field trip because it was cold, windy and raining. One of my fellow students (a very vigorous 75-year old) was pooh-poohing at me over not going - "Oh, come on, it's just a little rain." "If I get cold it's just too hard to warm up again" was what I felt I could say without delving into too much background, and she looked at me like I was from Mars.

Last summer I heard an older couple harrumphing at a young woman getting out of a car legally parked in a handicapped spot. "How on earth did she get that sticker? I'll bet she lied. That's disgraceful. Those parking spaces are there for people who NEED them." Well, my, aren't we judgemental? Appearances can be deceiving and most of us try to look our best, after all. That being said, it's not for someone else to judge another's fitness by appearance alone.

I try to do as much as I can without pushing beyond my known limits, and I try to be healthy enough that my companions won't worry about me when we're out. I would give so much to NOT know so damned much about my health. I would give so much to NOT worry about my fitness to perform. But at the same time, I don't feel I should have to wear a little sign "I HAVE CANCER" to make people think twice about making comments or judgements.

Maybe it's just the weather - cold and windy; I'm barely moving today and my "best effort" is going to be pathetically small. Overall it's been a bad day and I'm sorry to unload here. But this has bothered me since diagnosis and it's not likely to go away.



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