Pampered – Part 2

Fil, the esthetician waxed my legs on a towel on my bed.  During the treatments, my skin had become so sensitive that the wax fell too hot against my skin.  Even the pain that I usually tolerated seemed unbearable.

I had become accustomed to waxing myself, but I wasn’t able or willing to during that time.  Fil usually just took care of my eyebrows, but she did every thing for me that day.

She didn’t even want any money, but I insisted on a really good tip.  That was an amazingly sweet gesture on her part, and I never forgot it.  I’ve told her that I’ve spoken to my friends about how she went out of her way for me, and that she wouldn’t take any money.  Come to think of it, I don’t remember my hairdresser wanting to get paid either.  In any case, it was so nice to be taken care of like that to help me feel like a woman again.  The usual injection of medications had stolen my dignity, control, and confidence.

 

My mother could hear the shower as it turned off, so by the time I walked out in my towel she was there.  She could see how drained I was, and she started to dry my legs with another towel.  “Ouch!  Why are you rubbing so hard?”

She dried my lower legs and feet like she was trying to get rid of dirt.  It wasn’t funny then, but I am thankful she was there to help me get dressed.

I don’t remember whether it was my mother or me who would remove the fallen hair from the shower, but there was so much, it was traumatizing to see.

 

Continue to read… I’m on the re-read and hope to get it to an editor very soon.  Hope you’ll “Follow” and “Share” to get the word out faster.  Thanks again for your support!  

Be well,

Patricia

Pampered – Part 1

One day my sister, Susy, arranged for her hairdresser (who was also my hairdresser) and the esthetician to come to my house for some TLC.  My hair was so uneven that it needed a clean up immediately.  It felt good not having to go out, and avoided my having to explain to others what was going on with me.

I didn’t want any one to see the ugliness that was under my headkerchief.  Giuseppe cut it short and even, but I still hated it.  My face was so tiny and pale, so I still kept my hair covered because I don’t suit short hair – or balding.

Feeling unattractive became brutually characteristic during my treatments, but I really didn’t care to do much about it.  Buying a wig or putting makeup took energy, and I thought it was all fruitless any way.  It wasn’t like I was going any place special.  Enough trouble lay on figuring what to wear from a closet full of clothing several sizes bigger.  My size eight to ten wardrobe became useless, and I had to get some extra-small pieces, for when I had to leave the house for treatments.

My friends bought me a velour hoodie and pant set so I could be warm and comfortable.  There was no escaping the anorexic look though.  I learned to layer my clothing eventually, and avoid strapless tops in the summer, until I felt more confident with my body over ten years later.

 

With all the flooding across Canada, including in my province of Quebec, I just want to wish every one well.  Be safe and alert to warnings. 

As I drive along the Boulevard that runs along the water, and near my home in Montreal, there are quickly rising levels that are intimidating and can be dangerous.  Please be sure to keep your loved ones away from the edges, as there are currents in the water that can be devastating.

This Is It

Then it happened.  What I had seen in the movies came to life.  It was always sad to see, but I never imagined how horrible it would feel if it happened to me.

I don’t remember when it started, but my hair started to fall out.  I was told I would lose about twenty-five percent of it, but following the first dreadful treatments that made me excessively ill, chunks of hair would stay in my hands as I washed it.   I lost much more than expected.  It robbed me of my dignity, my sex appeal, and my hope.   I was disgusted by it and frightened of what it meant.  I cried.  What did this really mean?  Was I dying inside?  What will happen to me?

Since that symbolic event, even the little hair I lose when I wash it is a blistering reminder of facing death.  My legs get weak, a chill runs through my body, and my belly turns upside down.

As I turned the water off, I grabbed my towel quickly to keep away the chill.  I dried myself a little, and wrapped myself again before opening the shower door.

Stepping out, I rested against the wall by the shower to help regain some energy.  I continued to avoid the reflection in the mirrors ahead of me.  I wanted my mom to help me dry off, and she always seemed to arrive at the right time.  Imagine at age thirty-five not being able to take care of yourself, becoming dependent once again on your mother.

 

Once I lost most of my hair, I didn’t wash it in the shower any more. I couldn’t bare to see bunches of it laying on the ceramic in the shower.  My sister, Mary or Lisa, would insist on doing it for me.

“Come, I’ll wash your hair.”  What was left of it was gently washed in the laundry room sink.

“Awh,” I sighed.  Even though they did all the work, I didn’t feel like taking care of my hair.  I didn’t want to see it, so I wore a headkerchief.  The tied fabric around my head kept my hair pressed to my scalp, which made it look worse.  Since I kept it covered all the time, and I hated the damp feeling that left, I would let them wash it.

Looking at myself was intolerable, because I could see what the chemo had done to me and to my long curls.  I became afraid to touch my hair, for fear of losing more.

 

Me and my big mouth!  I recently announced to my family that I just surpassed my highest weight since the operation.  A couple of pounds may seem like a small feat, but they were as happy as I was. 

Although I weigh myself much less now, the following day, I weighed less – under my threshold.  Maybe the manual scale wasn’t well calibrated.  Over a week later, weight seems back up again.  Just goes to show how unimportant the number is.  I feel and look “bigger” since only two-three pounds is noticeable on me.

Be well,

Patricia

Cleaning My Soul

After breakfast I would tell my mom, “I’m going up to take a shower.”

“Why don’t you leave that today?”

“No…  I sweat during the night.  I can’t stay without a shower every day.”  A day doesn’t go by that my shower gets missed, even when I could barely stand.  Especially during my treatments, the hot water on my skin was cleansing – cleansing of the chemicals that were being forced into my body, and helping me forget for a moment the chills and the sadness that enveloped me.

“So then wait for me, and I will come and help you.  I could wash your back and feet.”

But I continued on upstairs, huddled in my cozy robe for warmth,  struggling to get up the fourteen risers, as my architect had put it – but I had to raise my weak legs fifteen times to get to the second floor.  I tried to avoid going up and down the stairs during the day, except for my shower and to turn in for the night.  My mother always insisted on getting whatever I needed upstairs during the day, because she hated to see me suffer.

I unrobed myself, trying to avoid the view of my naked, skinny body.  The washroom has large mirrors, so it’s almost impossible.  The process of covering my feeding tube was a nuisance, but it was the only way to get myself under the soothing hot water.  It wasn’t perfect, but the plastic bag I would tape to my skin did the job.  Even when it got wet a little, the nurse would be coming in the next day or so to change the gauze.

The water created a mess of blood under the gauze, so I would use the hair drier to remove some of the dampness.  The nurse often labored to detach the bloodied cotton gauze from my skin, apologizing for causing pain and discomfort.

I hung the towel over the shower door, and I wouldn’t step in until the hot water created steam.  “Ahh!”  The heat on my skin was too much.  Making it less hot was necessary to avoid my sunburned torso from scathing.  I was told not to wash off the markers penned in for radiation, but that they would undoubtedly fade.  Since the stubborn ink never completely disappeared, the radiologist could easily darken the lines, without having to measure again.

 

Moments during our lifetime that seem large and that we feel define us, become smaller as years pass, leaving us with the wisdom to make us stronger – use it wisely.

Patricia

Shop And Drop

On the weekends, one of my sisters or niece would take my mother grocery shopping.  Mariano never did the shopping in our house, except when he needed his ice cream or items for his lunch at the office.  But if my mother needed some thing during the week, my sister would drop it off on her way to work.

I never understood why my husband couldn’t get into that element.  Learning to buy groceries is not difficult, especially with a list.  Over the years, he’s picked up on some basics, but I’m not the woman to leave her grocery shopping to her husband.  And with reason… the first time I sent him for asparagus, they weren’t fresh.  Lesson learned.

There was a lot of activity in my house for those long months.  My mother-in-law would take the bus from her house almost each weekday to help my mom with the children.  She always reminds me of the warmer days when they would take Marco and Isabella for a walk by the river that is steps away.

I dreaded going outdoors.  Montreal is so cold in the winter, the lowest temperatures that year went to minus thirty degrees Celsius, with wind chill rendering them to minus fifty-two at one point.  With winter clothing that fit too loose because of my drastic weight loss, the freezing air tortured me.  More rain and melting snow caused rising water levels in the province.  But thankfully, 2005 experienced record sunshine.

 

Find comfort in the sunshine, in the snow, in the rain… they each offer some thing beautiful.