So the first two weeks or so after Ethyl's exit to the petri dish was just all about keeping me from infecting myself. Liza was continuing to wipe me down like a high chair, milk the bloody goo from my drain and help me attempt to wash my hair while kneeling under the tub tap. The super witty gay positive and professional nurse at the clinic changed my bandages and tidied up the staples by carefully ensuring each them was free of skin or other potential germs, and i just tried to figure out how not move my arm.
My hair however eventually became beyond unmanageable. On a good day i could find a pencil, and perhaps part of my lunch in it. On a bad day i would find that and a cork and perhaps a napkin. My nephew swears he was lost in my pony tail for an hour one afternoon but i think i just made that up in my head.
A head that was matted itchy and need of proper care. Like hair dresser care. Like getting touched by another person care. Ew. At this point i was still my prickly self - " No one touches the Kelly!' but when i can smell my hair… when i cannot run my fingers thru it when it is wet it is time to give in and get in the car.
Which sucks. Imagine a seatbelt over 78 raw staples. Now bounce over a traffic calming bump, get cut off by an idiot texting, stop at 23 red lights and navigate the second of only two seasons in Kingston; winter and construction.
Eventually after what felt like a month in the car - ok truck - we are gay after all - we arrived at Bea's All Hair Alternatives. Thank goodness they mean all hair.
Bea looked at me and simply summoned for help. This was gonna be a team effort. We chatted about just cutting it all off as it was going to hit floor shortly anyway - or in my case longly. But i really wanted to have my hair for as long as i could. I worked hard to grow it. At 40 i had short hair because i got caught up in that only old bags and witches have long hair after 40 beauty myth. Ridiculous. So i started growing it. Curly hair gets taller before it gets longer so i had to endure that awkward stage for a long time… thank goodness for winter and toques.
The gals gently walked me over to the sink station and began to rinse my head. Usually i have a panic attack. I do not like my head back or my hroat exposed. But i felt ok. Relaxed almost. Perhaps it was the drugs, or perhaps it was the touch of genuine kindness - not the this is my job and i have to time this wash perfectly to get back to my colour touch - but genuine care.
Just what i needed. I think it took about an hour. Warm soothing water, an amazing head massage, wonderful smelling products, and more products, and more water as the only way to untangle curly hair is to do it when it is wet with a wide tooth comb.
Afterwards when i pried my open and looked in the mirror, i felt human for the first time since being essentially disfigured. I felt beautiful. Feminine.
And somewhat like a poodle in Best in Show. There was a pink ribbon in my hair.
But i did not fuss, it was a silent acknowledgement of so many things , of so many , too many women, (and men) so i simply smiled, expressed my gratitude, knew i was gonna have to find a place in my heart for pink ribbons.
In the last three months, almost every time I have been to a new health care practitioner - I have had to try and explain who Liza is and why she is so fierce. Which I can assure you is impossible. On every level and in every way.
I am not sure what 'gay' looks like - but I know what it feels like. Happy. Secure. Terrifying. I just never know - when I - we are safe - and not in the violent way - the way - that way - WAY too many people have experienced - but more in the undermining silent soul suffering way - I just never know when I will hear the scary hyper heterosexual normative standardizing scripting of my life. ( cannot speak for everyone - nor do or will i try. )
" Oh Kelly, I know lots of gay people and they don't act the way you do!" or "Why do you have to make everything a gay issue?" and my favorite - "Wow I had no idea - you have long hair! So who is the man?" Sigh.
In our case there is no man - just the music. And the theatrical flair that is sometimes blatent on the gay gene. That is the point. And so fighting the fear - of getting crappy care because we are gay - the fear of being deliberately shunned or harmed… because we are gay - along with all the fear cancer ignites in yourself and others -
Well it needs to get off the table. on my part and the part of others. no more fear.
What needs to be center stage is patient care regardless of who you are or who you do.
So until the i am ok with gay people as long as they act straight in public crap fades and i can process my own internalized homophobia - I will act exactly as I am. Passionate. Determined. Playful. Activist. Feminist. ADHD gifted /cursed. And drama teacher… well likely former… but here is hoping… so i shall share the beginning scene of our weekly visits - in which we go to the home care clinic and meet the most amazing nurse - um i mean yet another amazing nurse - who needs to check my staples, clean the wound if needed and change the dressing… i am afraid to be real - so i divert to clown mode..
Out and about cancer - a dramatic work in progress - Working Title: Myrtle plays solo - but not with Hope Solo - or Han Solo different subtext…
Setting : Dingy borderline scabby paint peeling office in a mall.
Mood: TERROR. (Liza can not even stay in a 4 star.)
Dramatis personae: Stoned one boobed clown, very serious understarbucked hugo boss wearing blonde bombshell, assorted ill, one miserable paper pusher, and a saint.
Door opens. Kelly and Liza enter.
Long silent slow motion gasp as Liza says:
" Don't touch anything - stand here - Oh my god - this is a disease playground - how do you know if you have ebola - ?"
Paper pusher behind 'desk' . (Read paper strewn barrier. )
"Hello. What time is your appointment for?"
end scene. or begin. i am sure you can imagine how things went next… i have no idea. I was way to high on pain killers. but i do remember saying -
"This is Liza - my girl Liza - as in like spirit fingers - like cabaret - "
Then signing " Life is a cabernet my friend!!! Along with "I am pretty and witty and gay!!"
and then when i saw the staples on my chest for the first time - all 78 of them…
i went right back to the music man… belting out the songs i could remember.
Then the nurse - who had undressed me - peeled off the bandage - cleaned me - wiped my tears - let me sing - very simply owned me - and took all my fear away in one quick witted quip.
" Well we are all done here - but Liza, i hate to say it - but your girlfriend is a little flat."
Welcome to a classic ADHD moment with Kelly. I shall begin with the shame spiral brought to you by the voices of both my loved ones and those who despise me. And yes sometimes they are the same group of people.
YES I AM BEHIND IN MY BLOG
" You never finish anything you start."
" You have an excuse for everything."
"Why have you not been writing in your blog?"
"Every single time something good happens to you your ruin it."
"Why would i waste time and money on that when you will get bored and give up?"
Um, the answer to the last one is simple.
BECAUSE I AM WORTH IT. I AM WORTH WAITING FOR.
( at least i think i am…) tears….
shame and spiralling to the bottom - and thump.
However, my rock bottom now is Italian Marble. Solid as heck and a tad slippery when covered in snot and tears, but so very beautiful.. I imagine mine as a deep rich blue - like you might find in a bath…
And now i shall continue on my classic adhd moment with the emotional tangent...
Which by the way i have had not since my surgery which was almost a year ago. The thought of it freaks me out. One lone Myrtle bobbing alone propping up my Archie comic digest. Which since they killed him off i can no longer read. If he can die so can i… i have had lots of showers… but as Liza says - daily please - not bi-weekly...
Wait didn't i already die trying to defend gay youth - not really it just feels that way…
Feelings are powerful. Are you following along? This is what it is like in my head these past few months.
Cancer is powerful. So is ADHD. I have said many times it is my gift and my curse. At the moment it is a curse. Chemo and adhd are a NIGHTMARE combination. I need a book mark for a one panel comic. I have read the same novel 3 times. I still have no idea how it ends. If the sun did not rise and set i would have no idea a day passed. Nor what i did in that day.
So i got distracted - but by what?
Taking the time not to have cancer.
Taking the time to learn to love my new body.
Taking the time to process the sheer bloody war of fighting to stay alive.
Taking the time to celebrate and grieve my heroes who did not win their own war.
Taking the time to forgive friends who walked away - and left me in silent confusion…
Not excuses. Reasons.
I promised Shaun Proux i would finish - i just did not say when… ( giggle)
I have not been writing because i am distracted. Someone gave me crayons…
If a bride can ruin the dress …
and like i say to my students - i believe in you - take your time - the race is only with yourself.
i will win the race.
I just have to get back in it.
Thanks for the love everyone.
Right back at you.
End classic ADHD moment.
"Dear heavens " - pronounced heave ans - Gasped Gretchen " What ezz zat smell? It's like rug burn and a baggie full of tuna had a baby."
"It's me darling - It's your beloved Penelope - Penny for your thoughts? Here are mine sweetie - I think I have zipped my hair into my marsupial suit - gotton my nightgown caught in the velco shoulder strap and maybe just a wee bit of peezer is on my leg. Could you unzip me dear Gretchen before thou wretchen? I think I need a Mac wipe - kisses!"
Liza then pulled back the covers to reveal what I suspect can only be described as a sedated Miami Sound Machine drag queen swaddled up quickly by a Martha Stewart Impersonator in a polyblend zip up casket of stench. And drool. So much drool. Oddly salty.
"You do not need a mac wipe. You need to be strung up and dipped in bleach. I am going to Costco. "
Liza actually went to Costco. Touched a cart - stood in line - watched desperate families and isle trolls feed on samples of what loosely can be described as food and then returned home with sacs of seminary - (EW- best type o ever - so leaving that one) SANITARY wipes for all occasions. She dumped them on the bed like rose petals.
I could hear my hair tearing and breaking as we wrestled me out of my marsupial wet suit but I could not quite feel it. I could see great curly chunks flying about - but I was not worried. In a matter of weeks it would all be on the floor anyway. Ahh the savings. No hair cuts, highlights, Malibu treatments, no shampoo conditioner scalp massage no decent gay gossip....
and clearly no dignity.
There is no dignity in sitting in moist* underwear while your girlfriend scrubs your skanky scarred body with things made for babies, car interiors, shop floors, false teeth, and something that smelled slightly like it might peel paint. But oh - OHHHH did that ever feel good. The love I could feel. Best two hours of being a useless fetus ever. Which is how I really felt. Morphine as I have noted makes people ( ok me ) super creepy. And itchy. And bunged up. And drooly. Which Liza later informed me was not drool from my mouth but my nose. Toddler on.
"Okay Penny - wish it was Marshall so we could make a movie - Darling!! You are all sparkly!! Let's get you ready for the home nurse's visit!! Ups a daisy!!" cooed Gretchen as she coaxed, prodded and stuffed Myrt and me into a fresh marsupial suit. " Two when did we get another one?"** and carefully waddled me down the stairs. My hair must have been in an up do - as I could see. Very unpleasant.
"Home nurse dear Gretchen ? is the house sick? Oh dear - that sucks poor house - I wonder what is wrong I hope not roof cancer - that sounds stupid... full stop. OH. Hello who are you?
Beside me, sitting in the chair always reserved for Liza - was a short haired spotty small round woman with unusually small feet. Feet that looked like they could secretly be hooves. There was some chatter of sorts - fever? No - "Oh you give me fever Gretchen" giggle. No signs of infection. Open "open what?" The little person beside me who smelled of all things Gruff and Billy was rooting around in an overstuffed sac for for for for - a thermometer. One that had likely recently been in a goat.
"NO." No Buckley's no goat bum. Liza produced 'Pengy' - my personal thermometer that I know has not been in a goat , straddled me and pinched my nose to get my mouth unclenched. Only to have me blurt out in a stage whisper -
"Liza - pppsssstttt - Liza - I think you brought something home from Costco. From the Scottish Bridge isle. Under the Bridge isle. look Little feet. If you smell cabbage run." I closed my eyes began singing Disney theme songs and hoped it would go away.
Liza thanked the very kind, understanding and 100% underpaid nurse for dropping 'bye', and walked her apologetically to the door mentioning something about Betty white and Ford trucks and promising to have me in the Clinic the next day - so no need to ever return. Ever.
When I finally opened my eyes Liza's older sister was sitting opposite me on the couch staring at me like she was watching Joan Rivers being embalmed. Who knew pupils could be so large on a sober person.?
"Ummm - High?" She said with all the loving Tallen sarcasm tone she could muster. Do you want to watch the rest of Frozen or should we just guess the ending?"
"Ummm " I said, slowly, crawling out from under the comforter - slowly realizing that I had missed most of the day - yesterday and almost all of the days of the past week - BUT very quickly realizing that I had not missed the point of Liza getting me up, nor the point of the movie paused on the TV - and certainly not the wry comment about sisterly love being able to over come anything. Love it seems cannot be dulled by any drug, It is in and of itself far more powerful.
"Yes." I replied weakly. "High." But only for a bit more. It should wear off soon. So what say we just let it go? " snap. "Unless you wanna watch Scoobie Doo that would be so fun! Where's Gracie?"
"Time for bed Penelope. Be a lady not a tramp. A lady always knows when to leave."
"Good night Gracie. I said to the room... and up the stairs I went all by myself...
* for helping me on my Journey's! (great shoe store with amazing staff)
** Bea's All Hair Alternatives and Mastectomy Boutique - ( without whom... let's not go there...)