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 Spent yesterday doing something I love and haven't done since before I fell ill - I sang, in public!!!, at a Mòd, which is a Gaelic singing competition.  I only took one medal, but I don't mind.  I didn't really go looking to win anyway.  The chemo did a number on my vocal apparatus, and for awhile, I was afraid I'd never sing again as I had before.  But I've been working with a vocal coach and also working on my stamina (singing, believe it or not, is very physical) and I'm pretty pleased with how I did.  I'm not ready to head to Scotland to compete in the Royal National Mòd yet, but I might be, in year or two :-).

Now I need to spend sometime catching up with emails, LJ and fb . . . rumors of internet access at the hotel where I was staying were greatly exaggerated.  It's amazing how a weekend without internet access feels as if I'd been to Mars or something!

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kellychambliss
Sep. 13th, 2010 04:16 am (UTC)
Oh, my dear, what a moving story -- I'm so sorry for what you had to go through (happy ending notwithstanding, it sounds like hell) and so impressed by how graciously you have dealt with it. I'm sure you must have had many dark moments, but you've obviously faced them and triumphed.

I think the guilt is a very common feeling, rational or not. When my mother had her first chemo treatment, it lasted for nine hours, and I spent the day with her at the treatment center. It was a pleasant day, considering: the room was as comfortable and cheerful as the staff could make it, all the nurses and workers were kind and funny and helpful, my mom and I had plenty of time for a good talk, but periodically, she would say how bad she felt that I had to "be stuck there" with her. She'd say similar things whenever I'd take her to the doctor or sit with her in waiting rooms or spend time on the phone with insurance people. And of course, I wanted to do it; I was more than glad to help; I would happily have done more if I could. But I think it's only natural to want to spare your loved ones trouble, and so the fact that none of the illness is anyone's "fault" is sort of beside the point. It's all a piece of the disruption.

Nor do I think your feelings about your hair show any vanity. Something like that is so central a part of our sense of identity that losing it is truly like losing a part of oneself -- it's a psychic blow. And your voice: I can only imagine how difficult that would have been, like losing a hand or something. I know that chemo can interfere with one's concentration, and when I think how that might affect my ability to read and write, I find it terrifying, for without those things, I'd fear that I'd end up being a different person, somehow not "me" any longer. Very scary. I admire your determination immensely, and I'm so glad you're singing again, in all your different ways.

I'm going to try to take a leaf from your book and put my own life in better perspective (although I can't promise to enjoy committee meetings /g/).

Thank you for offering this piece of your story, of yourself.
albalark
Sep. 13th, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your kind thoughts and compassionate words. I feel pretty close to what passes for normal these days, though there are days when I feel utterly giddy with the joy of being alive, and days when it feels as if I have PTSD and I can still feel the Hickman in my chest, every twinge means I'm sick again or I look in the mirror and don't recognize the woman looking back. I wish I could keep the former and ditch the latter! Happily, the extreme lows are happening less frequently and not lasting as long.

I don't know that I was particularly gracious during the worst of it. I could have given Snape some competition at times. Since you weren't there that day I begged everyone to just leave me alone because I couldn't take the way they were looking at me, or the day I told the hospital minister that I didn't believe any of that religious crap and I'd appreciate it if he'd stop patronizing me, take his bibles and his pamphlets and get the hell out of my room, or the day I let my husband's barber cut my hair in a buzz to "minimize the trauma " of it falling out while I wept hysterically, or witnessed my less than even-tempered frustration with myself when chemo-brain made it impossible even to read, well, I can excuse you being over-generous :-). Like anyone under duress, I just coped the best way I knew how, and tried hard to minimize taking it out on others. I can be a bit sanguine about it now, but I think I was simply in shock, for most of it.

My deepest sympathies at having to watch your dear mother go through this!! About the only thing worse than having to go through it yourself is to watch someone you love suffer and be unable to do a thing to stop it. I read an earlier post which you wrote in memory of your mom, so I know it didn't end well. I am so sorry to have dredged up such awful memories. ::hugs you and offers flowers for your mother::
kellychambliss
Sep. 14th, 2010 01:26 am (UTC)
I don't know that I was particularly gracious during the worst of it.

I should hope not /g/. Seriously -- I think a goodly amount of damned furious rage is absolutely required. Any graciousness is going to be occasional, not an all-the-time thing. Thus I refuse to be considered over-generous at all /g/ -- just getting through it, and retaining some sense of yourself and the things you love, and, as you say, trying to minimize the damage to others -- being able to do any of that is impressive.

Thanks for your sympathy about my mother. I don't mind at all thinking about her and talking about her experience. She handled things graciously, too (though not all the time, of course, and I was actually pleased when she would get angry and not suffer fools gladly; she wasn't letting the illness change her too much).

I hope that some day you'll post a clip of yourself singing.