Many thoughts about the world, meditation, parenting, Judaism, pregnancy, teaching, cancer survivorship, moving from West Coast to East and more.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Caps For Sale!

Our Purim costume:

This year most people with young children recognized me right away.

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What The Body Remembers: A Purim Blog Post

I'm currently reading Love's Executioner. It's a collection of essays by a psychotherapist discussing various patients he had and what he learned from them. In one he treats a women who is terribly obese. A really fascinating feature of her treatment is that as she begins to lose weight, she re-experiences traumas that she never fully dealt with when she was that weight previously.

So it's Purim now. There has been some interesting development in my inner and outer worlds in the past few weeks. For one, I learned just over a month ago that an old friend of mine has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. There is no cure and he does not expect to live more than a year or so. This has been in the back of my mind and upsetting me. Then I had the opportunity last week to go visit him in PA and take part in a recording he was making of some songs that friends and family requested him to leave behind.

Now, stepping back a moment. About three weeks ago I had a day when I felt dizzy and as though my temperature kept changing although I didn't actually have a fever. I took the next day off, feeling fatigued but never quite sure if I was actually sick or not. Since then my energy level moved quietly up and down, never quite right, with some pressure in my sinuses, some sore neck muscles and a lot of headaches.

Wouldn't you know, Friday night before my planned trip to PA I suddenly discover my throat is massively swollen on one side. Saturday night I get a positive strep test. I go on antibiotics. I visit my friend anyway. I expect to feel better through the week.

Monday and Tuesday I felt fine... just a little nauseous from the antibiotics. Wednesday morning I get up early to prepare for the Fast of Esther by eating before 5:07 and I feel totally exhausted. I drag myself to school anyway and realize that I will pass out if I don't eat something and I break the fast before school even starts at 8:15.

By Purim night I have a full-blown cold on top of the strep throat. Nose running like mad, scratchy throat, and meanwhile I'm running the women's megillah reading.

So that's my status.

Now what is it my body is remembering?

In 2003 I had a respiratory illness that just wouldn't get better and wouldn't get better. On Purim day I sat in a chair at home, too weak to go to the Purim seudah at shul and U. brought me home a plate. About a month later I would receive my cancer diagnosis.

That year, before the diagnosis, was a very challenging year for me teaching. This year is too. I connected my illness in part to that even though I realize medically it doesn't make sense. This year I found myself beginning the school year with intense memories of my year with cancer. Somehow my psyche is really intensely there this year, thinking more of my body and of life and death, almost as an escape from my daily challenges.

Am I afraid the cancer is back? No... at least not much. I think this cold will pass and the antibiotics will finish and I'll be back to normal in about a week. But how steeped I seem to be in memory right now.

How interesting it will be someday to feel at peak health and to be able to actually complete the fast of Esther... one of these years. I don't want to forget my past at all. But I'd like to remember it in my mind and heart only, without needing to engage my whole body in the memory.

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Thursday, March 01, 2012

Well, it hasn't

Sometimes when I go to my computer or ipod and check it when I was in the middle of something else it's really to see if somehow, in the past 20 minutes since I checked it last, my life (as wonderful as it is) may have changed in some way, and by not checking, I would know it a moment too late.

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