Going Dark
 
Back in June/July I updated my blog with news of my cancer diagnosis and indicated that I would provide future updates via Patreon.  And then went silent.  The reality is that I wasn't prepared for the descent into darkness I was about to undergo, the journey into the underworld via the combination of chemo and radiation, the physical and cognitive changes I was about to experience.  

My ability to navigate ordinary actions and conversations became something I simply could not count on any more.  Sometimes I seemed relatively fine, and scoffed at my own sense of incapacitation.  And other times I could not bring my head to make sense of anything being said to me.  I am eternally grateful to my aunt Linda for hosting me for significant portions of this time, taking me to the vast majority of my treatments and doctor appointments and being a brain and an advocate for me, navigating the unfamiliar world of prescription medicine for someone who previously never took pills and patches.  She patiently waited for me, coaxed me with food that chemo constantly ruined but sometimes she could find me something edible to keep me nourished in the midst of everything turning to cardboard and metal and weird chemical aftertastes.  I lost one quarter of my total weight this summer.  Even though I'd felt in need of a diet before all this started, losing that much was a bit frightening, especially as finding anything I could stomach became harder and harder between the combined forces of chemo mouth and nausea.  Having to carry a hospital barf bag with you everywhere you go and occasionally ramdomly puking in front of strangers is a humbling experience that I don't recommend to anyone.

Then finally a week-long break in treatment with no more chemo, and a different kind of radiation treatment to face each week in October - less frequent, more painful.  More little ironies and indignities - like being told after the fact that keeping my right ovary was kind of moot, since radiation has most likely rendered it non-functional, along with melting down my cervix.  Or, after being a goth girl for the majority of my life, having a foot-wide swath of radiation-induced tan across my lower abdomen & pelvic region (have to admit that one makes me laugh).  

Meanwhile, as my cognitive capabilities slowly return, I want to make art, but struggle with the limitations I didn't expect.  Like the shakes - my writing looks arthritic, so drawing and painting are currently out of the question, though occasionally I get patches of steadiness of limited duration (and think I might try stringing a few together if I can - it's my best hope for drawing projects right now).  But last weekend I got to reconnect with my friends Tempest & Nathaniel back from touring all summer.  I had previously talked to Nathaniel about getting my grandmother's violin reconditioned before all this hit, and I'm currently feeling a powerful need to make music part of my personal therapy invoking life energy, but was concerned that I'd need to wait through the shakes first.  Nathaniel tells me based on his own experience & observations of others with hand and nerve damage that I should go ahead and start now and it will most likely help me with the shakes.  I talked to aunt Linda about it and we took the violin to the gentleman Nathaniel recommended.  Unfortunately, the damage to my grandmother's violin will take more time than expected to adequately assess, let alone repair, but in the meantime I have a loaner and am now practicing scales pizzicato on a semi-daily basis (treatment days not included), though after 30+ years away from the instrument I don't expect to make any sounds shareable in public for a while - I expect to be grinding through scales, first with fingertips and then eventually, painfully, with a bow, for a long time to come, which is all right by me.

Still, I need to come up with other creative things I can do and share, especially with my very patient patrons here.  Even knitting got difficult these past few weeks - the arm warmer pattern I can normally do with little thought at all got to the point of requiring me to tear it apart and redo the same piece 4 or 5 times over again - I kept struggling to comprehend what I was doing that kept screwing up the stitch count and I only finally managed to make sense of it again last week.

The previous weekend my beautiful friend Shakira came out to this coast for a visit and took me to an incredible fabric store to get inspired, so I have a few swathes to drape over my dressmaker's manikin Silent Betsy, and hopefully once the shakes let up I can start stitching the designs in my head, but I suspect that's going to be a slow process as well.  Meanwhile I get to anticipate playing with the fabric, and have decided to do more organization of my materials while I wait - not particularly interesting for anyone else, but hopefully will help me get off to a better start when I'm finally able to do things that yield visible results.

I'm hoping to get to a point soon where I can walk more than a couple of blocks without getting winded, and maybe get some photos to play with in the process, but at this point I'm not counting on anything.  Mostly, I'm trying to tend to the mundane things that need tending and sorting and tidying, and take any tiny steps I can on the creative front without pushing myself too far beyond my limits, which is a constant struggle because I'm an impatient workaholic.  But since I'm convinced that's a huge part of what got me into this mess in the first place, the reality is that I need to change my expectations and working habits in the first place.  So, for now keeping things going for my stepmother and dealing with the practical clean-up of things in my own life that got derailed by all this is the biggest priority.  But that doesn't stop me from trying to take little creative steps here and there, hopefully to eventually get back to creating and posting more here.

I appreciate my patrons' continued patience, and hope I will soon have pretty things to share.  :)  But since my body is still exhausted, I suspect that there are a lot more naps still needed between now and then...