I am the kind of person who likes to plan in advance. I like the sense of anticipation, and frankly, my dance card fills up quickly anyway. If you want to have dinner with me, chances are good I won’t be able to before next week, and more likely, the week after that. I once made a reservation for a restaurant a full 16 months in advance, and people who knew me nodded like I told them I was going to the dentist.
Well, cancer put a monkey wrench in that life style. You see, with cancer, the only thing you can plan in advance with certainty is your next appointment with a doctor, technician, nurse, therapist, social worker or what have you. The invention of the smart phone made this easier, allowing me to look at my calendar, CrabbyCancerMan’s calendar, while coordinating with the doctor’s scheduler and the lab’s scheduler. And of course, with stage IV cancer, the doctors want all of these appointments as soon as possible. “Can you come in tomorrow? Great!” As most of our doctors and lab offices are within a mile of each other, we have been known to spend a whole day out there with appointments back, to back, to back.
These appointments take their toll. They are mentally and physically exhausting. So first thing’s first – we stopped going out socially. Sure, friends would come over to bring meals (thanks, friends!), but we regularly need to call it an early evening. Two hours and the patient is worn out. Friends are understanding, so they don’t mind (even when they have shlepped an hour to get here, which I think is way above and beyond), and if they do mind, well, they send lots of funny cards instead of coming over in person. It’s all good.
But I do. I am crabby that I am missing time with friends due to energy spent on these insane marathon appointments with doctors. I am crabby that CrabbyCancerMan is worn out from becoming a human pin cushion.
And then there’s this other category – the special occasion. Weddings, bat mitzvahs, retirement parties, birthdays. We are thrilled to be invited to these fancy parties. We want to come, we want to put on our dancing shoes. CrabbyCancerMan likes it when I wear pretty dresses, and I love the way he looks in a tuxedo. But really, some weeks after this no-so-merry-go-round, it’s hard to get out the front door to check the mailbox, ya know?
So is it better to just respond with a “no?” The ever mysterious “maybe?” Or yes, with caveat that “there’s a 40% chance that we just won’t have the energy that day.”
Once again, for in case you missed it the first time: this is just another way that cancer sucks.