Ever feel like there is just so much happening you can't quite figure out what you are supposed to be doing? Where to go and when? What to ignore so you can focus on the important? Confused by random events? Not even able to make sense of the happenings around you? Wondering if you have forgotten something? Or what day of the week it even is? (Or who you even are!? hehe...) This is me right now. And for that, I warn you that this is gonna be a random all-over-the-map kind of post. I will most definitely be jumping around quite a bit!
There were just a lot of things to take in last week. A lot of bazaar encounters. New things to get used to. Adjustments to living quarters. People being blunt and inconsiderate. These days were just weird. I wish I could blame it on a full moon but I think we are passed that point.
|My new home ain't fun|
No, I am not a fan of staying at the Jean C Barber Lodge in Vancouver. Being away from Mike and my own space was hard for me. Being on my own while I am going through daily treatment is not something I am used to either…even if it is just a quick radiation appointment, it still feels odd to be going solo to these appointments. But I knew all along it would be this way. I'm a strong girl! I can handle it! But it still took some getting used to.
At the lodge I shared a room with someone who didn't speak english very well and was often very confused. I felt really bad for her for that reason but also because she was going through chemo and radiation at the same time. I'm not even sure she knew when to take her anti-nausea pills. Every night she was sick and although I was empathetic towards her situation, I was not getting much sleep due to her frequent trips to the bathroom.
I knew after that first rough night that this was going to be an "interesting" stay at the lodge. Ahhh the lodge…the crazy crazy lodge… Sign in. Sign out. Don't forget your key fob. Don't leave the building without writing down where you're going. Designated TVs for designated programs. Don't remove the newspapers from the common room. Sign in. Sign out. No guests in the rooms! No shoes in the listening room! Don't take food out of the dining room. Don't miss breakfast because it's done by 8:20am. Don't take dishes from the kitchen to your room! Sign out!!
The first few days at the lodge I felt like being there was a punishment… like I was an orphaned prisoner among the sick. Being surrounded by people more than double my age was a bit isolating. I felt so alone and like I was living in a care home for the elderly. There was freedom and yet there wasn't. I guess that's what happens when you live out of town and are a young person dealing with cancer recovery. You don't always fit in.
The food was way below my standard of what I consider healthy… even though I had checked off vegetarian upon registration there was very little I could eat and they are clearly more concerned about cost than people's health (not surprising I guess and good thing I wasn't being picking and asking for vegan cause I wouldn't be getting it). The pork dinners, beef based soups, white sugar, splenda, diet pops, white rice, creepy sugar filled dessert thing is just so not OK to me. It was not AS bad as hospital food but pretty close. And they don't even have a proper recycling set up there! Not up with the times! And forget having a good night sleep… the bed was super uncomfortable… the little twin mattress and my vomiting roomie kept me awake a lot in the nights. So by the time Friday came around I was completely exhausted.
|Tanis and I|
So even though I stick out like a sore thumb, get strange curious looks from the majority of the older guests staying there, being at the lodge does have some benefits. I am trying to see some good in the whole experience even though I really wish I was able to be home during this. But I'm trying to make the most of being at that location even if it does mean I am away from Mike and my own bed. And I am really trying not to think of it as part of a twisted punishment for getting cancer.
"This isn't a punishment for getting cancer. Cancer is our punishment for getting cancer!" …said by a fellow young breast cancer friend. Thanks M! xo
I think because I am overly tired my mind is not all there. I'm not thinking straight and I am sensitive to my surroundings. The effects of radiation should not be causing any exhaustion just yet but it seems that the combination of being in Vancouver, the daily appointments, lack of sleep due to puking noises and being out of my comfort zone have made me pretty bagged lately.
|Radiation Fashion Show in my sweet moo moo|
|Getting lined up for treatment|
|Dad, Mike and I after the first radiation|
The rest of the radiation treatments in the week went fine. I am now less nervous about having to hold my breath when they radiate. In order to avoid beaming radiation at my heart, ribs and more of my lungs they have me breath in and push my chest out as far as I can while holding my breath for roughly 25-30 seconds. There is a little box that they put on my chest that acts as a signal should I drop too low. Even though they are watching very closely, I can't help but feel a little anxious every time they tell me to breath deep and hold. The red light goes on and I can hear the machine make a noise as I stare up at a spot of metal on the machine and think of one of these two things…
1. Somewhere in my future I am running into the ocean on a warm sandy beach with Mike
2. The machine is blasting any little cancer cells that might be hunkering down in my chest wall still
Thinking one of those thoughts usually helps me forget how long I am actually holding my breath and by the time my face goes red they tell me to relax over the intercom, I breathe out and I am done for the day.
|Our old hood in Kits|
And so I guess that is partly why I didn't really know what to do with myself in my spare time there this week… I just wanted to be home in-between radiation treatments… my energy was low… I didn't feel like walking to the water… I wasn't in the mood for window shopping… there was nowhere I needed to go that I usually can't get to on the Coast… I made many trips down to the grocery store to kill time… read my book outside the cancer research building… played piano when I got bored at the lodge… walked aimlessly down West Broadway…
I think I just felt lost there this week. I know I am full on whining, but it was just a really lonely few days of adapting to my new space and routine.
I also don't feel like myself lately… I think that would be because I have caught a cold (I blame that on city air) as well as the fact that I have been wearing my new brunette wig Harlow. I don't look like me! I feel like I am walking around as someone else. I confuse people I know with my wig which amuses me. And pleasantly have strangers and other cancer patients at the lodge fooled that it's my real hair. (Which is great!) But it still feels like I am some kind of impostor. It's like I am not Ashley these days.
Whether it's the new moon. The city. Or that the Fall Equinox is nearing… Or maybe it is just the fact that I haven't been off the Coast in awhile… Odd stuff happened this week. I know it has nothing to do with the fact that I have been wearing the wig… but I started feeling different because of it…suspicious of it… like going brunette was making me see differently… like a magic cloak revealing a different world… attracting weirdness… allowing for more randomness to occur… attracting strange encounters… people and things just seemed abnormal.
Every day was just off…
- My Inspire Health membership was questioned when I tried getting my discount at a health food store.
- An appointment I had was cancelled without me knowing until I showed up.
- I learned that you can get a ticket or a fine if you put money in a parking meter that isn't your own. How dare we do random acts of kindness!
- I had a maintenance man at the lodge try to have a conversation with me through the bathroom door early in the morning while I was peeing. (creepy! and wrong!)
- I found myself taking care of my sick roommate at the lodge because I didn't think she knew what to do to prevent dehydration.
- No smoking signs outside the cancer agency are all ignored. (seriously, next week I am gonna lose it on the next person I see doing this)
- I witnessed a group of people outside the cancer agency yell at a lady after she accidentally bumped the car ahead of her while parking.
- An grumpy man flipped the bird to a women I saw in radiation when she tried leaving her parking spot and came close to hitting the man's beat-up Mazda. Three girls sitting beside me eating lunch gawked and spoke rudely about how bitchy the women had been when she tried explaining to the owner of the Mazda that she was going through difficult times.
- A total stranger told me that self-abuse was what caused my cancer. With Mike by my side I was blatantly then hit on by the same random guy whose last name was the name of one of my wigs.
- I had a bald lady with a designer bag tell me she had cancer while begging for change and holding a cigarette.
- Finding out that I was supposed to have a counselling session set up at the cancer agency a long time ago but it was never done and so I never knew it was even offered.
- People jump in front of other people in line ups everywhere!
- I listened to a woman go off about how horribly awful it was that she hadn't had a manicure or pedicure in over a month.
And then two cool things towards the end of my first week of radiation / city / lodge prison popped up:
- After missing the ferry by 7 cars I sat next to Astrologer Georgia Nichols at a restaurant in Horseshoe Bay.
- I had flowers left at my door from people I don't even know.
|Even more strangeness!|
Finally when I got into my own bed Friday night I felt peaceful for the first time all week. And I slept for 14 hours straight. Much needed Zzzzzeds.
And although I have a 2 day break from treatment and city life… the weekend is, as they always say, too short. It has been filled with catch-up emails, Mike working on the perimeter drain of the house, laundry, tidying up, a quick trip to the beach, birthday dinner for my Dad (Happy Birthday D & UB) and reorganizing my bag to leave again.
Back to the land of lodge tomorrow...