The Cancer Chronicles #1: Goddamned Fucking Fatigue

It’s been about two years since I’ve received my last chemo treatment, but the hits just keep on comin’! Two brutal winters, two gloriously hot, hot, hot summers, fevers, anemia, iron infusions, pneumonia, remission, stage 1, bone marrow tests, PET Scans, remission, fevers, stage 1, B Cells, post chemo hair loss, fatigue, fatigue, fatigue.

When I say that i’m tired, I don’t mean that I didn’t sleep well last night. It means that I’m tired. Goddamned fucking town to the marrow in my bones tired. Exhaustion. Sleep does not elude me. I can sleep for days.

Really.

Days.

Having an almost seven year old darling girl is hard. I want to have energy for her. I want to want to play dolls. I play dolls and all I think about is my big comfy bed in the next room. I look at the clock over and over and over again. I hired a “Mommy’s Helper”. A cute nineteen year old girl who probably spends her cash earned on bags of pot and pregnancy tests, but she’s good. She’s reliable and my girl loves her. A lot. So much, in fact, that I’ve been getting jealous.

Which brings me to today. The school’s annual “Boo-Bash.” A big ol’ Halloween party to generate tons of cash for all of the luxuries that other New York City public schools just don’t have. Chess lessons, a fully updated and beautiful computer lab, yoga,  tennis, classroom libraries. Good shit. My friends’ kids don’t go to schools with all of these extra goodies. So, this school is constantly throwing parties, auctions, bake sales, flower sales, and of course asking for good ol’ fashioned cash in an envelope.

Back to the Boo Bash. My Mommy’s Helper offered to take my girl, but I declined her offer. I need to do Mommy stuff with her before she’s screaming “Fuck You!” at me before slamming her door. I don’t want to go. I’m fucking dreading it. I want to curl up in my bed and doze off until bedtime. My daughter is running around in her Cheerleading costume. The bash doesn’t start until 5 PM and I already feel like it’s midnight. I’ve called my oncologist three times in the past couple of weeks because of this paralyzing fatigue and he tells me I need a PET scan.

Sigh.

At least I can catch a nap on the subway ride there.

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Suzy’s Lapses

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I’m such a lazy blogger. I have a bunch of drafts and a river of ideas running through my mind, but there are periods of time when I just can’t bring myself to write.

It could be depression. I can write several posts on my battle with depression.

It could be fatigue. My cancer doesn’t want to go away and I have “traces” of leukemia in my blood. Not enough to treat but enough to make me crazy, super tired. I have to “watch and wait.” That’s all I can do. Watch and wait. Oh, and have a colonoscopy. Yay Cancer!!!

It could be my single mom status. I’m with my girl all of the time. When she’s with her Dad, I just want to collapse in bed or on the beach. I used to use that time to have sex, but that came to an end last week. (Yes, I’m pissed. Yes, I will write the post when I can focus.”)

It could be my slowly dying MacBook. I really need a new one. I should just bite the bullet and slap it on a credit card.

Whatever the reason is, I am going to try really hard to post at least once or twice a week–even if it’s just a photo with a few words or…oh who the hell am I kidding?? I’m not going to post a damn photo with a few words! I’ve never done that before.

I am going to finish up some of my drafts. I am going to continue my “Great Loves” series. I am going to be present.

I’m scrolling through my reader and I realize that I miss y’all!!

You will see me again soon.

Kisses!!

Beg. Borrow. Steal.

I haven’t been well these past couple of weeks. Raging fevers and general malaise prompted my oncologist to prescribe me 20 mg of prednisone a day and strict bed rest. I didn’t even get bed rest when my ob-gyn thought … Continue reading

Get Busy Livin’ or Get Busy Dyin’

Another hot recluseI am becoming have become a recluse.

Not quite sure when or how it happened. Slowly, over time, but yeah.

I have become a recluse.

I’m sick. I’m exhausted. I’m sad and depressed. This is so honest my heart hurts writing it.

My life has become a mundane routine of waking up, dropping my girl off at school and then off to various doctor appointments or other wretched obligations. I have a hair appointment tomorrow afternoon and I don’t want to go. I’m dreading it.

I’m dreading a hair appointment!

I crawl underneath my covers in a benzo haze and pray for sweet dreams. I wake up to a silent phone.

Where did my friends go? Where is my family? I’ve reached out. I have. They’re gettin’ busy livin’. And I’m getting busy dyin’.

Except for him. I love him. More than any man I’ve ever known. He wants to see me and I push him away. “I’m too sick” I say. I am sick. Physically. Emotionally. I don’t want him to see me like this.

He makes me feel ALIVE. Maybe that’s why I’ve been pulling away. I miss him so much my body aches. His voice. His scent. His laugh. His…

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I fought so hard. I got busy livin’…not knowing if I would actually make it.

I made it.

When the divorce started, sick in my bones, I fought like a boxer. I won. I made it.

This winter was brutal, but I got up everyday, put on my face and got busy livin’. Spring is life. Life. Spring has arrived and I’m too busy dyin’ to LIVE.

I’ve never felt this way before. If it wasn’t for my girl, Oh My God, I’d spend my life in bed. Throw away this phone that I’m writing this from and wither away.

I want to say these feelings will pass, but they’re not feelings. They’ve become a way of life.

I don’t want to lay down and die. That’s not me! I’m a fighter! I’m fun! I’m happy. I used to be.

I gotta get busy livin’, man, because dying, dying is way too easy.

My Baby Made Me Cry Today

It sounds like the first line or a title to an old southern blues song. One of the songs I would sing along with at the top of my lungs while driving to pick up my baby from her day at Kindergarden. I wish it was a song. Today, I can turn it into one, because I experienced it and that’s where all writers, songwriters included, get their material.

(Read this to the tune of Led Zeppelin’s “You Shook Me”, clearly inspired by the American Southern Blues)

My baby made me cry today.
But she ain’t a baby no more.
She’s five years old.
When did she become so cold?

This is not a post I intended to write today. I’m still in shock. I have had all of these great ideas for posts and have been jotting down my thoughts, but, readers, my health has taken a turn for the worse again and all I can seem to do is sleep and even that seems like work because it’s a tortured sleep. Night sweats, chills, fevers, vivid dreams.

I’m sick again.

I hate to write it because I can’t believe it. It hasn’t been confirmed by anyone other than me and my own body. My doctor is on vacation, but I know my body. This is how I felt right before I started chemo last year. Not good.

A while ago, I told my STILL FUCKING HUSBAND that I would take our daughter for half of this weekend, being Easter and all, I wanted to spend some time with her. This morning I woke up and felt like dying. I called him to inform him I would have to take back my offer to care for her today. I was too sick. A few minutes of verbal abuse later, I told him to forget it. I could handle it. But really, I can’t.

She was so excited to color Easter eggs. I pretended to be. I pulled out the eggs, nine cups-one for each color tablet, the vinegar and measuring cups for the water. Boiled the eggs, let them cool, made the color solution, helped her drop each egg carefully into the color of her choice, pulled out the decorations, watched the eggs for color while she found interest in something else, took them out of the nine cups to dry and took an unexpected nap.

She woke me up a while later saying I had taken a long rest and she wanted to decorate the eggs. I had slept for a while-just under 90 minutes. I groggily made my way to the kitchen to help her decorate the eggs when, with her back turned to me, playing with the kitchen magnets, she began to mock my illness.

She was making fun of me.

She was being a mean girl.

“I’m Mommy. I’m soooooo sick. I’m tired. I need a rest. I have band-aids on my arms.”

I turned around. My eyes welled with tears. I put the blue egg on the kitchen table and began to walk away. She called after me “Mommy, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Mommy.” I continued to walk into my room, tears streaming down my face. I didn’t turn around. I closed and locked my bedroom door, curled back under my covers and sobbed and sobbed. I could hear start crying too. “Mommy, please, I was just being funny, Mommy, please, let me in, please, I’m so sorry.”
Of course, I pulled myself up and let her in the room. Wiped my face with a tissue and gave her a hug. I told her if I had one wish it would be to get better. To not be sick anymore so I can have lot of energy. I told her it made me sad when she teased me about being sick. I asked her not to do it again. She promised and promised and begged me to forget all about it. I promised her I forgave her and I would forget all about it.

But I’ll never forget.

All day, my eyes have been randomly filling up with tears. Sometimes, they spill over and I have to quickly wipe them away, sometimes, I just let them slide down my cheeks onto my dirty NY Yankee’s sweat shirt. Sometimes they just fill up and I blink them back like I’m doing right now.

I know, she’s just a kid and she is truly sorry for how she hurt me, but honestly, it’s hard for me to forgive her right now. I look at her trying so hard to make me laugh and all I keep thinking is “it’s 1:30, 1:55, 2:30, 3:00… I can do this. After dinner, time flies by. Soon it will be bedtime…”

Today was supposed to be special. It was supposed to be memorable. And the only memory I will ever have of her fifth Easter is that she made me cry.

My baby made me cry today.

Being Single is Fun. Being a Single Mom is…

My Dad died when I was ten, so technically, I grew up with a single Mom. I know the struggles she went through trying to make ends meet, taking care of her five kids all the while dealing with her escalating Multiple Sclerosis. The major differences between my single Motherhood and my Mother’s is that she had a slew of kids ranging from six to sixteen years old and a sister who lived downstairs with us. That alone was a lot of help for her. My older brother and sister were given a tremendous responsibility and times were different then. We could walk to school by ourselves and play outside with our friends with no adult supervision–she had some alone time–not to mention a washer, dryer and dishwasher. (Oh, my kingdom for a washer and dryer!) She owned our home–my Dad made sure the note was paid off before he passed away, so we would always have a roof over our head. My Mom struggled, but I’m quite different from my Mom. She never dated another man after my father died. I, on the other hand, had to deal with a phone call home from my seventh grade math teacher advising my Irish-Catholic mother that I was doing poorly in math because my mind was wandering. She told her I was “boy crazy.”

I still am!

That is one of the greatest aspects of being single again. I can date, I can flirt, I can have as much sex as I want with whomever I want. As much fun as that is, it’s not always so easy because, well, I’m a single Mom.

I spend most of my days at various doctor appointments and almost every afternoon and night taking care of my daughter. I love my daughter. I don’t know what I would do without her. Before any man, ever, she is the love of my life, but damn, that little girl makes dating so difficult. Shit, she makes taking a long shower pretty damn difficult!

Whenever I meet a prospective date, the conversation usually goes something like this:

Prospective Date: So, I would like to see you, maybe a couple of drinks or dinner?

Me: Yeah, great, that sounds good.

PD: How about Friday?

Me: Sorry, Fridays are out, I have my daughter. And Saturday and Sunday are out too, because it’s my custody weekend.

PD: I understand, what’s your schedule like?

Me: Well, I’m free on Wednesday and Thursday nights and every other weekend. I can usually meet up for a cup of coffee on Friday mornings.

PD: Well, Friday mornings are out for me, I work, but we’ll talk, we’ll figure something out. Text me when you know you’ll be free.

I know, I know…it’s so simple…Get a babysitter!!! Not so simple. Babysitters are expensive and the trustworthy babysitters are hard to find in this part of Brooklyn–some of them have waiting lists! Then you’ve got to to the interview, introduce the potential babysitter to your kid, have them spend a couple of hours together to make sure they mesh and the biggest problem with a date night babysitter is…no sex. I’ve got to go home. For a first or second date a babysitter is fine, but there will come a time that sex will become an item on the dating menu and unless it’s my weekend “off”, I can’t stay over–or even stay out too late at a man’s house and I certainly can’t have him stay at mine. Besides, I don’t want to come home to my daughter looking like I just got fucked. I actually have limitations.

I have some family and friends that can help me out for a couple of hours when I have to go to a doctor’s appointment, but they have social lives too, and it’s really difficult to get a trusted friend or family member to change their own social calander to accommodate mine. As far as school vacations are concerned, oh man, forget it. Cancel that week. I’m on lockdown.

One more important difference between being simply single and a single Mom is my apartment. Any man I choose to date has and will know immediately that I have a daughter, but I truly believe that unless said “man” has children of his own, seeing that Mr. Bubble on the ledge of the bathtub is a reality check. The children’s book I forgot to put back on my daughter’s bookshelf after reading her a story in my bed. The random Lego that is so painful when stepped on with bare feet on the way to use the restroom. Being simply single means you have an “adult” apartment, and for the most part mine is, but it is undeniably shared with my little girl…books, Lego, My Little Pony and all.

During the past thirteen or fourteen months since I’ve been separated, I have had some excellent adventures with men. Admittedly, they are fewer and farther between than I would like. I have also bonded with my daughter in a way that I could never imagine happening had my STILL husband and I had not separated. I just wish it wasn’t so difficult to have both. I suppose you can’t have it all, and I would choose my child over any man, any day…but..well, I’m boy crazy!

And I always will be.

My Coldest Winter Ever

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My coldest winter ever actually started in November. My Mom, the strongest woman I know, the woman who raised five kids on her own, who has battled Multiple Sclerosis for over thirty years, who turned seventy five last July, who has nine grandchildren and who has always taken care of me whenever I was in a crisis ranging from the flu to my scandal became seriously ill with a septic infection. My doctor advised me not to go see her in the hospital because of my own immune system, but I couldn’t stay away from my Mommy while she was ill. She’s always been there for me and I would be there for her. I took the long drive out to Suffolk County, where she now resides with one of my sisters and her family and in my bag I packed the bottle of Lourdes Water that she gave me when she found out I had cancer. My sister rubbed it on her wounded leg, but unlike the “magic” it seemed to work for me, she ended up needing two surgeries on her leg to remove the infected tissue. We had no idea if she would be home for Thanksgiving and being a single Mom dealing with my own illness, I only got to se her once in the hospital, where she stayed for three long weeks. Her recovery would be long and painful and she’s still not fully recovered, but she was home for Thanksgiving and that’s the last time I saw her. I think about her everyday and I know she’s in wonderful hands, but I’m scared. I don’t know what I would do without my Mommy. I don’t even…no…I can’t even think about it.

December was madness. I was broke, it was Christmas time and I have a Christmas baby. I had to plan her 5th birthday party, use my credit cards to purchase gifts, fought with my daughter’s father (we’re STILL married! Longest divorce ever!) about money every single day, decorate the apartment, schlep a tree into my tiny abode, send out birthday invitations and  my Christmas cards (I never miss a year, though according to the ratio of the amount of greetings I sent out versus the amount I received, I think they might be going out of fashion–what a shame.) December wasn’t so cold temperature wise, but I just didn’t feel so jolly. I couldn’t wait until January. 2104. A new year, new beginnings, no resolutions, just hope.

My most sincere apologies to T.S. Elliot, but you’re wrong. January is the cruelest month. I can not remember a January as cold and miserable and snowy as the one that just passed. I’m talking sub-zero temperatures, blizzards once a week, cars iced into their parking spots for days. I’m truly trying to think about one good thing to say about this past January, and in all honesty–I can’t. Complete misery. Layers upon layers of clothing, hats, gloves, long johns, snow boots. Oh, how I want to burn my snow boots! Just throw them in a fire and watch them go up in flames. My apartment is old, so the radiators rattled, banged and finally started spraying boiling water all over my kitchen and bedroom. I still have the towels stuffed under the valves to protect my belongings from water destruction–and the worst part about it? You would think that mopping boiling water from your kitchen floor would leave it with a sparkling shine. Not true. The snow in New York is dirty. Trudging through my hallway into the kitchen wearing the boots I want to burn left them forever scarred. A reminder of the cruelest January I can remember.

February, in my mind, was a joy–only because it has twenty eight days and would make the winter months disappear into spring just a bit faster. I was wrong. Still freezing, still snowing still depressing. My daughter had an entire week off from school and, of course, I had to be a full time Mommy. I had no choice but to put off all of my doctor appointments until she went back to school and before I knew it, the symptoms of my cancer, which has been in remission since late September started coming back. I didn’t get to see my Oncologist until the last week of February and when my blood results came back, they weren’t very good. I’m anemic again and started iron infusions this past week. I have to get another PET scan to see if the cancer spread and there is a very good chance I may have to start treatment again. More waiting… But before I write February off as a complete disaster, there was one warm and wonderful day I will never forget. February 14th. Valentine’s Day. It was the best Valentine’s day of my life. I spent all morning into the mid afternoon underneath my warm covers with an amazing lover and all night with the love of my life. My daughter.

And now it’s March. Oh March, please be good to me. The month started out pretty well. My STILL husband and I signed our custody agreement–joint custody (meaning we make all major decisions about her school, religion, medical conditions etc. together) but I am her physical custodian. I remember just a few months ago, warring with her father and thisclose to giving him custody. But I pulled myself up by my foul winter boot straps and stayed strong. It means so much to me knowing that I won this battle and it’s not about the money he’s going to have to pay me for child support in addition to my alimony; it’s a victory. It’s a sign of my strength and my unending love for my daughter. I may never have another child again, but I have her and she makes me strong and happy and useful and loved. Watching her grow up into a little girl is the most beautiful experience I could ever imagine. I won! My cancer may be back, but with her love and excitement and growth, I gain the strength to keep fighting. Everything.

Today was a beautiful day in Brooklyn. Fifty degrees. No jackets required. Tomorrow will be sunny and forty one degrees. The snow is melting, leaving dirty puddles everywhere, but slowly, my coldest winter ever is coming to an end and Mr. Elliot, I can’t wait for April!

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Suzy Queue’s Update

I haven’t posted in a while because my life has been absolutely crazy the past few weeks. I’ll give you a quick run down…

The divorce: Ex trying to push it off further. Practically abandoned our daughter for his new girl. I’ve been driving her to school, running around to doctor appointments, picking her up from school an basically living the life of a single Mom. It’s hard!

My Health: My doctor is positive about my cancer. He thinks I can stop treatment soon and then he wants to monitor me closely. There’s a good chance it can come back after it goes into remission.

As a result of the bevy of prescriptions I have to take because of my cancer, I now have ulcers. Endoscopy scheduled today to see how bad they are. Daddy is actually picking up daughter, but I had to put up a fight about it.

Love Life: Quiet and lovely. Spend the entire day in bed with someone the other day. I wish I had the freedom to go into details like some of my favorite bloggers, but I can’t. Too risky.

I hope to finally finish some of my drafts by the end of the week.

I’m off to drive my daughter to Kindergarden!

Too Tired to Blog

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I have three drafts calling my name and a guest blog I still need to finish for LittleMissLola , but I’m too tired to blog. I can’t keep my thoughts in one place. After my insane daily schedule last week (think four doctor appointments in two days,) single Mommying for five days in row and running around Brooklyn all day today, sixty pounds of laundry–I own so much clothing, I can go weeks without doing a wash, it’s a sin, really. Can you imagine my shoes and makeup collection? With all of the starving children in the world, I should be absolutely ashamed. I’m going to hell. But, I digress, I am just too tired to blog.

Please forgive me.

I think I’m going to watch “True Romance” and drift off to sleep. I’ll be back tomorrow, refreshed and revived and ready to complete “The Departed: Part II (Kurt loves Courtney)” a fantastic update on my cancer and maybe a post about how being a single Mom can drain the shit out of you. But for now, I rest.

“The nicest thing for me is sleep. Then at least I can dream.” –Marilyn Monroe

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My “Enchanted” Life

My friend LL tells me I lead an “enchanted life.” I’ve been through a lot (haven’t we all?) and life keeps shooting it’s bullets at me, but somehow, I keep on dodging them. I don’t know if that’s exactly “enchanted,” but it sure is a beautiful way of expressing what I’ve been through.

This past year has been a series of enchantments, heartbreaks, and breakthroughs. I can’t write about a lot of the juicy stuff right now, but I promise…I will.

I like to say “I’m just a girl from brooklyn…” 2013 has taught me a hell of a lot more about myself. My husband of 7 years left me in January, just as I was diagnosed with cancer. Anger…Rage…Crying…For two months it wasn’t even a “day to day” type of life style for me–it was hour to hour.

The worst part about the divorce and the cancer was and still is the waiting. It’s been seven months, and technically I’m still married…waiting…waiting…waiting…

I was diagnosed that very same month (coincidence?) with a rare type of Lymphoma for my age and gender. Those are the three words you never want to hear when you are a 36 year old Mommy. “You have cancer.” The tests, the waiting, the results, the waiting, more tests, the waiting and finally another three words no one ever wants to hear– “You need chemo.”

I don’t know what happened to the anger, the rage, the crying. It slowly dissolved and in it’s place I have found the strength to battle an acrimonious divorce, cancer, and suddenly becoming a single Mom while never forgetting what matters most to me and where I get that incredible strength–my daughter. I can’t start writing about her now–I’ll go off on a tangent and lose myself in describing all of her innocence and beauty and healing powers.

I made a promise to myself when I first found out I had cancer. I WILL NOT BE A SICK PERSON. I will put on my cat eye and red lips to every chemo session, I will keep in touch with and still visit my friends, my family and I will have them visit me! I have learned to accept help when it’s offered, though I’m still working on asking for it when, truthfully, sometimes I could use it. I will window shop, I will grocery shop, I will laugh and I’ll have a glass of wine every once in a while on my tiny Brooklyn fire escape, looking out as the days turn into beautiful nights and I will cherish every last sip.

LL calls me “enchanted” and I don’t know if that’s exactly true, but I love her for that.