I don't have any disease symptoms, and with any luck, never will. I will soon have treatment symptoms. But what I have right now are diagnosis symptoms.
I'm doing mostly okay, but here are a few ways this diagnosis has affected me so far:
- For the first two weeks, Friday to Friday, it'll be roughly 40 hours, or 20 hours / week, of dealing with the diagnosis. This is all medical necessities -- doctor appointments, biopsies, MRI, being on the phone scheduling doctor appointments, chasing down referrals, talking to the nurse coordinator about what CDs of what films I need to bring where, talking to her again about it because I forgot the clear instructions she gave me the first time, going to pick up the MRI CD and finding their CD burning device is broken, calling back again, and the next day, to find out it's still broken, etc. and so on.
- I've spent probably an equivalent amount of time talking to people. I had to break the news to family and close friends, which was stressful, and then there was telling the internet, which was less stressful, but all of it was time-consuming -- not so much in the telling itself, but in the dealing with responses. Even though the responses were pretty uniformly wonderful, supportive, affectionate, etc., answering e-mails and talking on the phone or in person just takes time. I think the deluge has passed now, though, and it feels a bit churlish to complain that I have too many friends. I really am grateful for all of you, each and every one, and all your kind words, e-mailed advice, offers to talk (especially from survivors), etc. All at once you're a bit intense, that's all! (Comments on my public Facebook posts are the best, because while I love reading them all, I don't feel socially obliged to respond.)
- This has all taken enough time that I'm still not done with the WisCon Chronicles anthology editing project that I'd expected to have done a week ago, and yes, it's annoying and stressful, having my last responsibilities for that hanging over my head. Will finish and hand it off to the Aqueduct editors this week, come hell or high water (they've kindly taken over everything they can, which I am SO grateful for, but there are few last bits I need to do).
- I have been a bit weepy on occasion, but mostly not, so far. I imagine there'll be more of that once treatment starts. But what I have been is tense. The first day after diagnosis, I snapped at the children several times, until I finally took myself away and let Kevin just have them. The muscles of my back are knotted (when I have a little more free time, I'm going to book a massage), I'm walking faster than normal, and when people move to touch me, even though I appreciate the impulse to hug or touch my shoulder or knee (both my doctors yesterday were reassuring-knee-patters), I tense up a bit.
- Similarly, I've been driving more aggressively, Kev tells me, and making slightly poorer decisions while driving -- you know, the split second when you're deciding whether to try to take that left turn or not? The last week, I've found myself hesitating, then speeding into it, which is undoubtedly confusing and irritating to everyone around. I'm working on being aware of that, being more careful, and minimizing driving as much as I can -- luckily, I don't actually have to do very much of it. It's getting better already too.
- I am tired, with a physical fatigue that feels as if first someone pummeled me with sand bags (not hard enough to bruise, but hard enough to feel it), and then tied a few bags on, so that my limbs are dragging. I'm mostly getting enough sleep and exercise and good food, so I think this exhaustion must be a manifestation of the stress and shock. It should pass.
- I have really limited energy for taking care of anything or anyone else. My kids are fed and getting to school, but Kavi is behind on homework, their rooms are carpeted in clean clothes that got sorted but never put away (which drives me nuts when I go up there, but...), and they haven't had a bath in three days. I just watered the plants on the first floor, and they've recovered, but they were quite droopy, and the second floor plants look like they're about to keel over -- we'll see if they make it. Kevin is doing what he can, but he is, of course, also stressed and wanting to just sleep more than normal. I've been neglecting my friends, who, thankfully, mostly have other people they can lean on.
- I am so grateful for this cancer log -- if I weren't doing some kind of writing, I'd just lose it, I think. And I haven't been in the head space for fiction. I've scheduled a writing day for Thursday, though, and I'm hoping to get back to the novel then. Too long away from it makes me seriously twitchy.