Another week, another treatment, another grab bag of side effects, though much milder than last week. I mostly just feel ‘off.’ Mentally, especially. One moment I’m elated over something, then suddenly I’m mired in a complete funk, feeling bad for myself. Wahh, I have cancer. Things that have helped: A cathartic Reiki session by the lovely Jenna, a long bike ride with Mike where I got attacked by a million of those hairy caterpillar things dangling from trees, and a couple deep, deep stomach cries.
Physically I’ve felt okay, though now I have an extraterrestrial implantation in my chest - a nub's coming out there now, like a knuckle. It's a Port, a device accessible by IV that will save the veins on my arm from jabs and abuse. No more spending several minutes with my forearm under warm water and apologizing for their stupid small size. I don’t like needles, so you can imagine how fun this whole process has been so far. I can’t even look at the bag dripping into me. I pretend it’s not there. Until I have to roll the cart into the bathroom to pee, then it’s unavoidable.
Right now my hair status is this: I run my fingers through it, and several strands come off. Not clumps, but several strands. It’s like they were lightly glued to my head and a slight tug sets them free. If I’m writhing around dancing at a wedding this weekend, will the dance floor become layered with my errant hairs? Here I am worrying about my bed pillow. Who’s to say I won’t be laying a hair garden wherever I go?
I was just reminded of a movie on TV when I was younger, around age 6 or 7. My father was watching me—not sure where my siblings were—and he was popping in and out of the living room avoiding me. He wasn’t avoiding me, per se - although, I can see my 6-year-old trollish self being super annoying— but he was definitely avoiding the movie I was watching. Even I knew it was a terrible film, but it was entertaining, and I had that yearning, when you want your parent or sibling to Like What I like! Feel what I feel! Same as an adult trying to get someone to like a song you’re into. "Just listen, wait for it- this part, wait, it gets better…"
Anyway, it was a bizarro piece of shit movie about some little kid who starts losing his hair and the only remedy was to slather peanut butter all over his dome to make it regrow. This is about all I remember about the movie, and come to think of it, maybe this is the root cause of hair loss is so traumatizing for me. I’ve faced a lot of premature hair loss in my life I guess, first - my Dad, one day he was a hairy mustachioed dude and the next - it was gone. But I don’t even think my father was sick yet at this point, or if he was, he had his hair, because i don’t remember freezing up and worrying he’d be offended by the whole no-hair business.
Oh my God. I’m writing this in real time and just Googled “movie kid with hair loss peanut butter” and the movie popped right up, literally titled "The Peanut Butter Solution.” Please, please watch the trailer:
It’s all coming back to me. The kid wears this horrific absurd wig to hide his baldness and the kids at school rip it off his head like complete savages, laughing maniacally and pointing and staring and eventually they run him out of school. What kind of sick freak thinks up something like that? It gets worse (or better?), moving over to Wikipedia to learn more about the scintillating plot:
[SPOILER alert]: "Michael reveals to him his concoction, Connie decides to apply some to his pubic area, in an attempt to create the illusion that he's going through puberty. Connie soon discovers that the joke is on him. Pretty soon, Michael and Connie's hair grows to such lengths that it has become a nuisance...Connie discovers that the hair will stop growing by yelling at it."
I’ll just leave that there.
Sometimes I hate that the few vibrant memories of my father are marred by stupid movies about peanut butter heads he didn’t want to watch with me. But for the most part I’m thankful for whatever catalyst wedges him into my consciousness, stupid movie or no stupid movie. It sets off a chain. I then remember the day we got a VCR; we rented and watched my favorite movie of all time, Princess Bride. I remember the entertainment unit he painted and kitty-cornered into the wall for the TV to sit on. I then remember scooting around the basement in my rollerblades as he buzzed and sawed and painted away in his little workshop down there.
I’m mostly thankful that after a tumultuous week where my emotions have ranged far and wide, instead of burrowing into some dark, mental abyss I’m still afloat, looking back on everything with a newfound wonder. And looking forward positively, too. What a long strange trip it’s been (sorry, saw the Grateful Dead on TV recently) - and what a long strange trip it’s yet to be. Life, man. Life.