Monday, March 22, 2010

Destination "NORMAL"

Last time I was here, I was pretty angry. Angry enough to title my entry as such, but that subsided as soon as I finished typing. From that point, it became necessary to figure out exactly how I am going to deal with all of the latest developments. Anger is always a flashover for me. It happens fast and it’s really hot, but wanes as fast as it arrives. Thankfully, I just don’t stay angry. So, I decided to do something about it, to the best of my ability. I made a phone call, and went that evening to my nail lady, Lynn, to see if she could help. Turns out, she can. We’ve established a plan and sufficient camo for my nails as long as they don’t get much worse. We will see. She’s a miracle worker so far. But, I now have 6 of 10 that have been affected to one degree or another. So, I don’t yet know what the outcome is going to be or how long I can mask it.

As for the rest of the physical changes, well they’ve become quite the pain. Originally there was some time advantage to losing my hair. I can do my hair in the evenings, put it on the stand on the dresser and slap it on in the morning. Sounds like a time saver. That is until the brows and lashes go…

Now, I spend 30-45 minutes a day trying to glue and paint on the hair that is supposed to be there. Since I have 1 hair left in my left eyebrow and only a few on the right, it takes quite a long time to recreate them in a realistic manner. The goal is that no on notices the difference. I can achieve that, but it takes time! One wrong stroke and you can look pretty weird. I certainly don’t want to look surprised all of the time or like I’m glaring at everyone. They can’t be too long, too short, too fat, or too slim. “Too” anything is a definite problem. Dr Seuss could write a book...

It’s also very important that I take my brow kit with me when I go to work or anywhere else. I learned this the hard way. It’s pretty funny really. I was in a meeting with one of my co-workers not that long ago and got an itch on my forehead. So, I scratched it. No big deal, right? Wrong!! I forgot that one good momentary swipe could remove 10-15 minutes of work and a brow.

He looked up from the document we had been working on with a strange look about the same time I noticed all of the brown stuff on my hand. Being tragically shy like I am, I said, “Crap! There goes my eyebrow! Can you tell?” Talk about taking a meeting off task…I don’t think he looked up from the document another single time for the duration of the meeting. I had to chuckle. If all of these things weren’t happening to me, I’d probably be uncomfortable, too. But, they are happening to me so I get to laugh at other people’s discomfort. It’s pretty funny.

Turns out, the answer to my question was YES! you could tell, although he was too polite to say so. I walked around the rest of the day with a left eye brow that was about an inch long because I didn’t have “the kit” with me. So I have learned that with cancer, the brow kit is like American Express. Don’t leave home without it!

So, about the eyelashes. Here’s a bullet that I thought I dodged because chemo has been over since January and I still had enough lashes to look normal. That was until the week before last…Now I don’t. I have none on the bottom and what I can only describe as several on each top lid. That’s more than 3, but less than 10. It’s a pitiful state of affairs.

I’ve seen people that lose them and you just can’t really tell the difference. I’m not one of those people. Without my eyelashes, my eyes disappear. So, I am getting used to gluing them on.

I found some that look almost exactly like my real ones. So, they look good as long as they stay on, that is. I haven’t quite mastered the exact science of how much glue is enough. I have one more than half hanging off my face by the end of the day about 30-40% of the time. On those days I have underestimated. Last week I overestimated. I had glue all over me, the bathroom counter, the eyelashes, my eyelid, just about everywhere.

It’s tricky stuff! It doesn’t set up right away. You have to apply it, wait for about 2-3 minutes and then try to stick them on. The “wait 30 seconds” recommendation on the box of glue is a gross underestimation. If you do it too soon, they won’t stick. You just get glue everywhere. Then when it sets up, whatever has glue on it gets glued to something. I have glued my eye shut. I have glued my eye open. I have glued my fingers to the lashes and to the eye. There are any number of ways you can get it wrong. I’ve accomplished all of the ones I can think of so far. But, then there’s always tomorrow… The funny part is that I make all of this effort each day to look normal. That’s such a low standard! I’m not trying to look “the best” or to stand out in some way, just achieve normal.

The irony of that hit my while my finger was glued to my eye the other day. How many people do I pass each day that are doing the same thing for far less obvious reasons? How many people do I encounter each day that are putting on a good face, but are so broken inside? They look normal, but are one small disaster away from giving up. People that are one more late payment away from homelessness, or one broken relationship away from feeling complete rejection. Their troubles are so much greater than mine. Do they know that there’s actually a place of unconditional love? Do they know how much has been given for them already? If they don’t, I hope that one day I will have the chance to tell them. I think it was Mother Theresa that said, “You don’t know Jesus is all you need until he’s all you have.” For me, that required many wasted years and a little cancer. But that’s ok. The lesson was well worth the price.

©2009 80% Sporadic | by TNB