“Can you please bring me coffee. I’m dying!”
This was the first message I got from Jaimie this morning. I forgot to buy her sugar for her tea so she had to get through the first half of work without caffeine. That’s a torture that no one should be subjected to, especially a pre-school teacher like Jaimie. So Day 3 of Self Care started with a trip to Starbucks to get Jaimie coffee.
It was kind of perfect. I felt like I had a purpose. Apparently I only feel useful when I’m doing things for people. That sounds like a humble brag, but it isn’t. Maybe that’s Lesson One of my month of self care? I’m more than what I can do for others. I repeated that mantra over and over again as I left Jaimie’s school and headed back to my apartment.
I was in a better mood this morning than I was yesterday. Yesterday the prospect of relaxing and taking care of myself freaked me. Maybe it was the remnants of the steroids from the previous day’s treatment. Maybe it’s because I always feel the need to have things going on.
June was the busiest month I’d had this year. I was writing everyday, I was traveling and performing Stages. Not to mention two rounds of chemo on top of it all. I loved every minute of it. Except for the chemo obviously. It’s hard for me to feel whole without my work. I know I’m not the first person to feel that way. Despite the coughing, despite running through airports short of breath, something about an active schedule makes me feel invincible. Like I can’t be sick, look at all the tasks I have to do!
Despite my annoyance at having nothing going on, I muscled through! In the morning I sat by the pool and read Act One of The Flick by Annie Baker. At about 1pm I took a nap. Or rather, a nap took me. After treatment I find that I don’t so much fall asleep as it pulls me under. Like it’s the only way for my body to deal with these mutant cells and the medicines that are fighting them.
I woke up and went to the store. I bought some brown rice and broccoli to make the Chinese food left over from Saturday appear healthy. Then I took a walk around the park. I did five laps, which is three miles. It was the longest I’ve walked and the least short of breath I had been, so I chalked it up as a victory on all sides.
Then I went back to the pool. I was going to take a quick dip after my walk, but there was a group of people standing in the shallow end vaping. It was disgusting. Just in case you’re wondering, it is impossible not to look like a redneck standing in a pool blowing out clouds of vape. What are you trying to impersonate a dragon? Did someone shout “Drakarus” and you thought it was your time to shine? I found a chair as far away from them as I could, and judged them from a distance.
I did finish The Flick, by Annie Baker. It’s a really good play. It’s about a small movie theatre in Massachusetts that has one screen and has yet to convert to digital. The characters are the three workers who find themselves there at various stages of their lives. One had just started the job during his summer break from college. The other was 35 and had worked there for years. No wife. No girlfriend. No promotion. You couldn’t help but feel like his life was passing him by.
He was defined by his work too. Huh.
Why does it feel so lazy and spoiled of me to simply sit here and attempt to heal? Why does taking care of myself feel like a luxury I can’t afford? One that I don’t deserve? Why does two days of not working, one of which I was getting chemo, make me feel like that guy in the play watching his life slip away?
Maybe that’s lesson two of my month of self care: Convincing myself I deserve it.
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