Catching Phrases and Setting Them Free

May 4, 2010

From: Tina Borja
Sent: Tuesday, May 04, 2010 4:13 PM
To: Ed
Subject: RE: Hang in there! No and you can’t make me!

Hey there ~

Thanks for the note. Doing fine despite waking up at nine (was supposed to be here at eight) and setting a series of ‘personal high’ blood pressures starting about an hour ago – 206/150 was the peak. They stopped the IV, added more steroids (to reduce inflammation) and now waiting on Lasix and something for reflux (dunno why) before restarting the stuff that caused the spike (not much left in there) and my final chemo drug. But, as I said, I’m doing fine. My nurse was a little worried that I continued the work I was doing and seemed unworried. I told her that if it would make HER feel better for me to panic, I was happy to do so. She then saw the value of my well-practiced internalization and subsequent filing away of all emotion. Anyway, as a result of both delays, thinking it is going to be a long afternoon.

On a more personal note – I know how difficult it is for those around me to know what to say sometimes but, having nailed two of my least favorites in one email, I feel compelled to let you know. Not because I want to hurt your feelings, make you feel stupid, have you stop talking to me – not because I DON’T like you, but because I do. That said…

“Hang in there” – This isn’t just an “I’ve got cancer, don’t say that” thing. It’s an “All the time, don’t say that” thing. (Unless, of course, I’m actually physically hanging off the side of a building, bridge, chin-up bar…) Here’s why. What’s the alternative? I’m not going to kill myself even though I believe it is my right to do so were I to choose to. And, in considering the alternatives, I’d like to know where is it that I’m supposedly hanging and how far a fall is it to whatever is under me that is so flippin’ awful that I shouldn’t just drop to my feet and get on with things? Hanging in there leaves me feeling 1) useless, and 2) like a sitting duck.

“Being brave” – or courageous or strong or anything that brings to mind visions of stiff upper lips, boy scouts or martyrs. Most of the time courage, strength and bravery are bullshit fronts we put on to comfort others. I think maybe what is most impressive is when those of us that really shouldn’t be spending our energy being courageous, brave or strong for others do it anyway. I actually feel these things – for myself alone – occasionally, but it is never left unaccompanied by sadness that it may not be enough.

So, having now laid (or lain?) your catch-phrases to waste, what are you supposed to say? Try just plain old, “How are you?” and see where it goes. God knows, I’ll probably tell you I’m hanging in there!

Unless I stroke out (BP down now to 150/110 I think), I’ll be in tomorrow.

~ Tina


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