Tuesday, February 3, 2015

It's a Chia Pet's Life

Per the silly title, there is really nothing medically earth shaking to report.  I actually haven't seen my oncologist since early December, which is weird, and I will not see him until the middle of March.  And at that point with the obligatory echocardiogram, bone density scan, and chest/abdomen/pelvis CT, all the usual anxiety will return, along with the Posting of the Results.  All I have today are some relatively useless between-scans musings.

A classmate at yoga this morning looked at me and shouted (she probably didn't; it just felt like it to me), "Awwww... Your hair is just growing like a little chia pet!"  She is a sweet person who meant well.  I know that everyone means well and I am aware that it is hard for people to know what to say to me, so no harm no foul.  I choose not to be offended or upset by attempts at communicating with me, however, um, interesting those attempts end up sounding.  It just is what it is.

It got me thinking about appearances though.  I know I have many more urgent concerns these days than what I look like, but it occurs to me that I've spent the last two years going out in public in varying states of hideousness much of the time.  Please don't say it isn't true!  Today, to complement my apparent chia pet hair, all the blood vessels in my left eye are broken, rendering the white a solid red.  I resemble a zombie from The Walking Dead.
In 2012 and again in 2014 I had the enlightening experience of doing my grocery shopping with no hair (the hat only enhances the cancer patient look), no eyebrows, no eyelashes, and a complexion and undereye circles in varying shades of gray.  More recently a small allergic reaction to my infusions caused me to enjoy the challenge of doing my daily business with an intense, bright red, swollen rash completely encircling both my eyes. Thankfully, I finally learned to solve that one with Benadryl.

I don't have a history of being overly concerned about my looks.  I generally ponytail and go.  I dress from Good Will and can spend countless
days wearing the same jeans and fleece pullover, or just never changing out of the yoga pants.  I didn't wear makeup (yep, 51 years old and aside from a brief eyeliner phase in college, no makeup) until my second bout with chemo when I just couldn't emotionally handle the brow/lash-less alien look, so I learned how to use mascara and an eyebrow pencil.  All that said, I don't believe there is anyone including me that actually really, truly does not care about how they look.  If you think you might be one of these lucky people, try shaving your head bald, shaving off your eyebrows, and removing your eyelashes.  Then, go to the store for milk and bananas.  You will quickly realize that in fact, we all care about how we physically appear to others.  

This bizarre and unasked for psychological experiment in which I am my own unwitting subject has netted some interesting conclusions.  On many occasions during the last couple of years, I have literally had to decide if I have enough mental energy to go to (fill in the blank) yoga class, the grocery store, any social event, a coffee shop or restaurant, because of whatever new and unsightly version of myself woke up that morning.  As more time passes and I realize that as one "nuisance side effect/reaction" gets better there is probably another patiently waiting in the wings, I am finding it easier and easier not to care about what I look like.  To ACTUALLY really not care, which is the only available option if I want to leave the house at all.  And in a way, this has become a liberation.