This is a complicated story.
It started last Friday, when I started coming down with a cold. But it didn’t really just start then either, because it actually started last July when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And neither I nor my brain has been the same since.
So, I came down with this whopper of a cold, dry scratchy throat, drippy nose, sneezing, coughing, low-grade fever, sinus congestion, head feeling like it would explode, etc., etc. Woke up Saturday & knew I was done for. Couldn’t go to work on Sunday or Monday, then I’m off on Tuesdays. Debated hauling myself to the emergency room over the weekend, which in my small town is just down the street, and because I work for the hospital community, I can call the emergency department & find out how backed up they are or are not before making my foray. But I didn’t.
I did eat a lot of soup, drank a lot of fluids, took OTC meds, restocked my supply of Puffs Plus, all on Saturday before I couldn’t scrape myself out of bed anymore. On Monday, I dragged myself to my doctor, got seen, got better meds, traipsed home, took better meds, felt better within a few hours (better living through chemistry) & figured I could get myself back to work on Wednesday.
Today, which is Tuesday, I started to have a voice again, a tad bit of energy, so I thought I’d do a teensy bit of housework. Big mistake. All I did was put a pair of fancy new tights that I’d just worn in the bathroom sink to wash out. That was okay. It was when I went to rinse them out to hang them up that I blew it.
Just Rearrange A Few Neurons
When you find out you have a potentially life-threatening disease, it rearranges your brain synapses, I think. It is so unbearably distracting, it takes over your mind as if you were possessed. It’s not like normal preoccupation. I mean I’d be driving down the road & suddenly find my head whirling about all the aspects of being treated for cancer & all the decisions I had to make & how long I had to be out of work & which of my friends could do what to help me out & the next thing I knew, I’d be in another town & I wouldn’t remember how I got there. We all have this experience once in a while. But after I was diagnosed, I was having it several times a day.
Even when you’re out of the woods, so to speak (although you’re never really out of the woods with breast cancer), when you’ve survived the surgery & the radiation & the chemo & the drugs & the side effects of all of this, your brain is fried. For a long time. Maybe forever to some degree. Your priorities have all been reordered. You’ve been smacked upside the head with the two-by-four of your own mortality. Finding out you have breast cancer, in particular, is like finding out you have a stalker. You may get that restraining order, but you still have to look over your shoulder because you never know if the stalker is going to come back & attack you again.
So, it requires a lot of mental exertion to remember little things that your brain has filed away in this all-inclusive slush pile that can roughly be categorized as “things that are not imminently life-threatening.” The problem is, you don’t always know exactly what your brain has dumped in the slush pile. You generally remember how to do your job, which you need in order to hang onto your health insurance, after all (if you have health insurance — heck, if you even have a job, these days). But housework? Not so much. Paying for that boxed set of all the episodes of Sex in the City that you bought 3 months ago? Chances are you remember to watch them while you’re recovering from treatment, but remembering to pay for them? Oh, yeah…
Into The Slush Pile…
So, back to the tights in the bathroom sink. I remembered to turn them inside-out/outside-in to protect the fancy design painted on the legs. I remembered to wash them in cold water, with mild soap. Heck, I remembered to wash them at all! After a nap or lunch or something, I remembered to empty the sink, squish them out, then refill the sink to rinse them. Then they went into the slush pile. I let the dog out. I fed the cats. I played around on the computer. I called the office to find out how bad my schedule might be tomorrow. But I did not remember that I had left the water running in the bathroom sink. Hours, days, eons went by.
Long story short, I spent the rest of the afternoon mopping up the bathroom & hallway floor, then discovering that the water had dripped down & flooded about half of the basement. It was as much as an inch in places. That was the bad news. The good news is that I got to use my new shop vac. I live in a small house, so half my basement is maybe about 500 square feet, not a lot. My basement is unfinished, just cement, so not a big deal. I didn’t have anything important on the floor. The stuff that was there & got a little wet was unimportant stuff like empty cardboard boxes. I have heat in the basement & was able to empty the shop vac into the washing machine to get rid of the water I sucked up. I finally fixed my dehumidifier, which had stopped working last August because, as I discovered today, a mouse had crawled into it & died, so the fan couldn’t turn anymore. No, it wasn’t all chopped up or anything. Just dead. For a long time. Not too awful. I didn’t even go “Eeek!” this time. So, I turned up the baseboard heaters & the small space heater & the dehumidifier & things are drying out pretty well & my basement is normally very dry so things will be fine. But……
I do stuff like this, fairly regularly. Nothing life-threatening. Nothing unfixable. Just really inconvenient. Like giving myself a flat tire in my new car, but then getting to use the free OnStar Service that came with it. Like thinking the car was in park when it wasn’t & rolling gently but firmly one foot down a sloping driveway & denting the bottom panel on my patient’s garage door. Like forgetting to pay for those DVD’s of the whole Absolutely Fabulous TV series that I bought right before my surgery so I’d have something to make me laugh while I was scared out of my mind. I did remember to pay for them eventually. I even called my charge card company & told them the truth — that I was kinda dippy because I was being treated for cancer. And they removed three months worth of late charges & brought my account up to date.
I’m okay now. I really am. I have clean tights & a cleaner basement floor. And I’m alive. That’s the main thing. So what if the basement is a little damp for a few days? The stalker hasn’t come back yet. I’ve been watching……
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