Loose Strand

Yesterday, I went in for my third Taxol chemo treatment, and my white blood cell count was too low. I was given hydration and instructed to come back Monday for a blood transfusion and an immunity shot. I did not receive chemotherapy which makes me feel two ways. One, having chemo every week has been hard so I’m grateful for the break to boost my body. Two, I am upset because not doing chemo means I still have ten instead of nine treatments left. With a low WBC count, I have to stay home and avoid crowds this weekend to reduce the risk of getting sick. I understand, and I’m grateful for the doctors and nurses who have my best interest in mind, but I’m also irritated by the reminder that I am not in control of what’s going on here. Unable to do chemo has caused lots of emotions and existential thoughts to pass through me today. I keep ricocheting between being patient with the journey and being fed up with the journey. I want so badly to be normal again. I want to wake up with an appetite and a desire to drink coffee and eat. I want to be able to taste my food. I want to brush my hair and feel it fall against my back. I want to go to the gym and break a sweat. I want to dance full out. I want to have a day where my energy is lasting, and I am able to do many things without taking a nap. I want to drink a glass of wine, maybe two.

Instead, I’m stuck in a series of days that are dominated by the effects of the very treatment that is saving my life. I miss Estee before cancer; yet I don’t want to go back. I can go only go forward.

So … I find myself being lulled into these trances where I honestly could not tell you what is happening. I just stare and wonder how I got here. How did I end up with cancer? Then, I snap myself out of it because I will never know this answer. This type of thought pattern isn’t healthy. I’ve reached a point where crying is more of a physical reaction to the stress because my emotions are drained. Unlike when I was a little girl and crying served as an end to something sad or bad, crying is just a relief from my daily fight to not lose my mind. I’ve started taking baths, and a very strange thing happened moments ago. I was in my bath, and I decided before I drained the water that I wanted to use a washcloth to clean the sides of the tub. A long, single strand of black hair caught my eye in the water, and I stopped. Where did this hair come from? How did this hair get here? I used to be surrounded in my hair, and I was notorious for leaving strands everywhere. I forgot what it felt like to find loose strands. I closed my eyes and I smiled. I grabbed the hair and held it oh so delicately as I studied its color, length, and smoothness. This hair reminded me that although I am changing, the old Estee is still here. She never left. Things may be different now, but she can … I can persevere.

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