Saturday, May 25, 2013

Anger Management

I bet that got your attention.

A lot is written regarding how cancer can make one learn what is important in life - how to be grateful - and how to slow down.  People talk about the gift that cancer is.  Like this woman here.

And although much of this is true, cancer is also a pain in the ass.  It can be a constant barrage of appointments and disappointments... exhaustion and discomfort.  Not that there isn't some good times to be had (I absolutely adore the amazing women I have met through this journey), but let's face it, a great deal of having cancer pretty much sucks.  And the whole time this horrible thing is happening, I secretly wonder... "Why?"  I took good care of myself.  My last physical was excellent.  I eat organic foods.  I do good work in the world.  I don't drink or smoke ...  But I put on a brave face and try to be thankful for my crazy hedgehog hair and my current lack of nausea... but underneath the surface, I can be seething.  Not always... but sometimes. 

Sometimes, try as I might to hold the anger at bay, it seeps out.  It seems that the general victim of my complete anger is the valet company who parks my car at the hospital.  They drive me completely mad.
Before you think of me as an elitist snob worried about her valet parking, I have to say the only reason I use the valet is because I have to.   The hospital is under a lot of construction and the parking garage is quite a distance away.  The walk is along lots of roads with  construction- which is difficult for my asthma.  I have limited amounts of energy - and would rather use my energy to play with my kids or make art rather than walk along side traffic and construction for twenty minutes.  If you don't walk, you must take a van or bus to get to the cancer center which adds an additional twenty to thirty minutes onto my commute each way, due to the circuitous route to the hospital due to the construction and the wait for the van.  

So, here are my valet issues.  There are several parking attendants whose sole job is to just direct people around the loop in front of the hospital.  I have on more than one occasion been told to please move forward - and when I don't, because I would hit a pedestrian if I did, they wave their hands all frantically as if I am an idiot.  The other problem with the valet attendants is that they are rushing amid the chaos and on more than one occasion have darted in front of moving cars and nearly offed themselves.  Whatever system that they are using is extremely inefficient and chaotic.  It reminds me of those times when I have gone to a store where none of the customers at the cash register understand how to form a single organized line.  These things unnerve me.  My over-controlling nature kicks into overdrive and I begin telling people what to do.  One day I drove to the clinic and all of the attendants were wearing straw hats.  I imagined the meeting they held.  "What is wrong with this operation?" they asked each other.  Then they all decided that the problem was a deficit in straw hats.  Perhaps if they all had the same hat, order would follow.  (I know, they have the hats so that they don't get sun damage. - which I am glad about.  And they all do look very nice in their straw hats, but still.)

I do not like chaos.  I would have made a terrible anarchist.    I have said some pretty weird things to the attendants - like the one time when I told them that radiation was less painful then having them park my car.  Chaos is unpredictable and dangerous.  I know that it reminds me of my illness.  My doctors are some of  the best in the country... and still what will happen next is not completely for me or them to control.  I have to find a way to live with the not knowing.  Which for me is about connecting with my breath in this moment, remembering all that I have that is wonderful, finding the opportunities, and letting go of the rest.  But it is something that challenges me and pisses me off.  

Today, they didn't even have a parking space for me.  So, the valet attendant offers me a free parking pass (although my parking is always free) and apologizes.  I think if I could have pulled the radiation from my breast and shot it through my eyes and into his heart... I might have.  I am going to be late for my eight minute appointment... I have to park forever away... I have to take a stupid van... Why the hell don't you reserve the spaces for patients in treatment... I am in pain... how am I going to reach for the parking permit when I can barely extend my arm... and I am fighting stupid cancer.  I didn't tell the attendant any of these things.  I just glared at him, sighed a heavy angry sigh, and drove to the parking garage.  On the bus, all of the cancer patients were unified in our disgust at the valet parking system.  Okay.  Now that I am writing it out here, it doesn't seem like such a big deal.  My anger feels so much more difficult to contain now that I am in constant pain from the radiation.  I guess I will throw away the complaint form I got at the concierge desk. 

So, tonight I thought I would make a silly image of my angry monster.  I gave myself a nice hair do and some radiation eyes.  It made me laugh, which has been needed this evening.  Valet parking is not worse than radiation.  Radiation is exhausting and painful.  My skin is red, irritated, tight, and throbbing.  The other thing about radiation is that it is every day.  Which means, every day I have to find room for cancer treatment in my schedule.  On the bright side, my radiation oncologist is wonderful... and I adore all of my radiation therapists.  They even listen to me gripe about my valet parking issues.  I also have to say that there is one valet attendant who greets me with a smile each day.  His happiness is genuine.  He tells me I am his favorite customer... and I joke that I doubt that very seriously.  But he makes me laugh and for that I appreciate him.   

Since I didn't post last week, I thought I would share my radiation mixed tape for the last two weeks!  These of course were the songs I heard each day while laying on the table.  My favorite memory was when the radiation therapists sang to me when Tears for Fears starting playing.  One said, "Shout, Shout, Let it all Out." and I said, "These are the things I can do without" and the second therapist sang "Come on, I'm talking to you... Come on."   Three more left... 

Week Five

Week Six

Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for visiting me.


  1. I agree...yes, it is a gift in it's own way, but there is much anger involved and revolving around it. And rightly so. And it's so important that we remember to let that anger out -- not keep it bottled inside. The first support group meeting I went to, no one wanted to start speaking and I did. I asked how many were angry? And they just looked at me. I said "come on, don't you just want to throw it on the ground and jump up and down on it and say I'm really, really angry and I hate this?" -- and I did just that -- got their attention!! And it was during radiation that I really let go -- got mad at a nurse and told her off in no uncertain terms. Yes, I was upset with her but it was a build up of all the anger at so many things and she happened to be the recipient because she was my "last straw" and I figured afterwards..she is trained to deal with cancer and it's patients...she can take it (though it looked like she really couldn't). I love your voice on this subject and I love your strength and attitude.

  2. Great post! The valet stuff is funny (if you're not having to endure it, of course) much chaos, sounds like a totally half-assed situation! Made me laugh and cry, I feel angry about cancer too. I hide it pretty well but I feel overwhelmed with anger when I can't reach for the cat food bowl, when the pain is too much, when I can't get up to get my pain meds. Today I'm in major pain--had a fill in my tissue expanders yesterday which was way too much (I thought I was tough!) Passed out cold last night from the pain, and today I'm considering throwing myself out the window (not helpful since I'm on the first floor, hehe). Anyway I'm sorry you have to endure radiation, and I hope that part of your treatment ends soon. Great blog, thanks for sharing! : )