Jay Lake: Writer

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[Cancer]

[cancer] The frame of mind begins to narrow

As I know from experience, my focus tends to narrow when I close in on a major milestone in my cancer journey. This illness induces all sorts of pathologies in me which I never enjoy in the course of my normal life — anxiety, panic attacks, crying, etc. It also invokes an old, old specter of depression, which I struggled with to severe clinical extremes in my teen years and young adulthood.

Walking this morning, I found myself turning over my surgery fears. I don’t actually have much of a negative reaction to the idea of the surgical procedures. In fact, they tend to fascinate me. But anesthesia… I have both a reasonable and an unreasoning fear of anesthesia. My true terror in surgery is that I simply will never wake up.

And boy did that terror dog me this morning.

Yesterday was a perfectly fine day. Day Jobbery, lunch with , got my hair done in the afternoon while Mark Ferrari kibitzed, then dinner with Mark, then a quiet evening at home. But the whole day I was very bundled up, like Randy in A Christmas Story. I cannot afford to come down with a respiratory infection in the next week or two, not going into lung surgery, so keeping my core temperature high has become a significant priority.

And that depressed me, for reasons it took me a while to unravel. What I finally realized was that exaggerated protection from being chilled is also part of the chemo experience, at least for the chemo I’m most likely to be on. Being ridiculously bundled up was like a pre-echo of that extended state of medical fragility into which I will be entering all too soon.

The petulant part of me keeps crying that I don’t want to do this, again, or ever. The stubborn part of me says fuck cancer, we will survive.

Still, the focus narrows.

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