Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day 39 at the grocery store

This would be yesterday's post because I didn't realize I wanted to write about what happened yesterday until today.

Most of the day was pleasant and lovely. Diane came for a visit. We had lunch at the Loaf and Ladle and Diane graciously played Apples to Apples with Ellie and me. It was a nice, comfortable, lovely visit from a long time, lovely friend. It's like that line about all happy families being alike, but each unhappy family being unhappy in its own special way; all lovely visits are kinda similar, but the unlovely ones, see below.

Later in the day, we needed groceries so Terry and I went to the store. I was wearing Ellie's floppy straw hat that I sometimes wear in public and sometimes don't depending on the sun, the temperature, etc. We ran into the family of a girl Ellie used to hang out with a few years ago there in the pasta aisle. I could see the mom's eyes flicker around my ears which is where you would expect to see hair and where instead you see stubble. She asked about our health a couple of times, then we moved on to are you having a nice summer, did you have a nice trip, what teacher does your daughter have, blah, blah. Then we said bye, enjoy your summer and left. I did not mention leukemia at all.

It's weird because it's not really like I care if she knows and it's a small enough middle school that she will know about twenty minutes after school starts--as will everyone else in town. She's a nice person and would have asked all the questions in a well meaning, kind fashion, but I just did not feel like going through, "leukemia, chemo, Lebanon, very nice, one month, not too bad, five more if everything goes well, bone marrow biopsy, virus, March, mid December, thank you, I appreciate that" one single more time at that moment. I feel badly because her questions would have been well meant, and it would not have been unreasonable for her to ask, but I just wanted my toilet paper and rice and to go home.

Sometimes even very kind, well meaning people can't help themselves and ask the next question, "So, you're gonna be...OK, right?" The answer is, "yes, we caught it early; I'm getting the right treatment; I've got good doctors; I seem to be tolerating the treatment well and having remarkably few side effects, my health is otherwise good and I do everything my doctors tell me to do so I have every expectation that this will not shorten my life." That is really a nice paragraph to be able to say anytime you have a Big Diagnosis like leukemia, and I know when people ask, they are asking out of concern (and maybe a little fear for themselves--could this happen to me? what would happen if it did?), very human and positive emotions, but there are times when I just want to do my shopping and get back home.

I never realized before that one of the privileges of appearing to be in good health is going about my business without feeling guilty for having a bit of privacy in the pasta aisle.  I want to be perfectly clear; I really feel like the questions even when they come from people who barely know me are well meant and genuinely concerned and I appreciate the concern. I just want to get a bag of rice without having to think about the stupid leukemia.

I could get a wig, but I think I will continue moth eaten and claim the privilege of the apparently healthy. In which case, a lot of eyes will flick over my hairline and a lot of "yes, I did have a nice summer, did you?" will be said.

I hope you appreciate your privileges and are able to claim easily any you want and lack.

1 comment: