It's now day #4 of me being bald--without hair--feeling like I look like an alien every time I look in the mirror (when I'm not wearing my wig that is).
I've gotten so many email and voice mail messages and comments on this blog that have said that I don't look weird or funny and that my hair doesn't define me--and I really and truly appreciate all those sentiments. Especially because I do feel like one of those hairless cats right now (and those hairless cats have always freaked me out). And if any of you were going through this I'd say the same thing: beauty is within. The external stuff is just that, external. And this is temporary--it will grow back.
Yet, I feel ugly. Or maybe more precisely, I don't feel good about myself. Which has to do with not having hair but I think it also has to do with the reality of the cancer sort've sitting with me. And the reality of my chemo treatment, which is really taxing. While I think the folks at Lineberger are right in saying that the first round would be an indication of how I'd do with subsequent rounds, I also think (or wonder) about the cumulative effects of the chemo in my body. Because I'm definitely tired--I feel more tired this time than I did the last time. Of course, the fact that I have a low level depression going on probably doesn't help. But I also still have a fair bit of nausea, and I was expecting this to be subsiding more by day #7. So I do wonder what rounds #3 and #4 will be like. And there is a part of me that feels like this should be a case of mind over matter. That I need to just tell myself that I'm fine and I'll be fine and that's that. I can't not go to yoga or keep sleeping or watch movies all day long.
I think I make a bad sick person. Because I'm antsy to actually do work, as crazy as that sounds. I don't want to feel tired and queasy. I want to have my normal energy level and I want to be reading and writing and thinking about my book project. And planning my syllabus for next semester. And I want to turn my tenure file in and have that over with.
And maybe, what I should be doing, is to let myself just be with all of this. Maybe that's what the meltdown was for. And maybe the stuff about me not feeling good about myself, physically (in terms of my external features) and bodily (in terms of my internal cellular distress because of the chemo) and emotionally (because of all the disturbances I'm dealing with) is to give myself time to just BE with ME. And to be OK with being bald. And to be OK (as much as I can be OK) with going through the chemo. And to be OK with what this means in terms of my energy level and not feeling like myself. Because I don't feel like myself. I don't look like myself.
But maybe that's OK for now. To be sad. To feel a bit ugly. And to be OK with those things and to just figure out, hour by hour, day by day, what is going to make me feel good again. Maybe this is my time to slow down and sit with myself because I can't really do anything else or be anywhere else. So maybe I just need to be.
And on that note, I'm actually going to leave you with something pretty awesome that my friend Kathy by way of another friend Becky sent to me (all you lit folks should LOVE this):