Friday, February 17, 2006

Earth to Jody

Hello again.

Remember me?

Indefatigable over here?

The one with the big can-do attitude?

The one with the orange panties?


I haven't told you about the orange panties, have I?


Last time around, toward the beginning of the whole I've-got-cancer-now-what? phase, I was getting dressed one day and happened to catch myself in the mirror. At that moment, all I had on was a pair of tangerine-colored bikini underwear. For some reason—no I can't explain it—this seemed to give me great fortitude. I got a steely look in my eye, stared myself down in the mirror, and said—very much out loud—"F*** you, cancer! I'm wearing orange panties!!!!"

Because, as everyone knows, cancer is easily scared off by sprightly undergarments.

(You knew that, right?)

Well, somehow this became my twisted little battle cry. And those orange panties became my talisman. I wore them to every round of chemo and to all of my big follow-up tests. Even if nobody else (besides Zach) knew about them, they somehow made a difference to me. And yes, I still have them. Wore them to chemo last Friday, in fact.

End of Digression

So anyway, here I am with my orange panties, thinking I can just do the whole I-have-cancer thing on the side, while I'm, you know, out there reporting and writing my stories and making my deadlines and graduating right on time.

Because I've got the orange panties, right? So what's two surgeries and IVF and physical therapy and a freaking port and a few sessions of chemo and 18-1/2 credits and, um, hourlong commutes back and forth to pretty much everything?

No problem. Under control. We're on it, my orange panties and I.

And until about two days ago, we were.

Then the truck hit me.

And by truck, of course, I mean the cumulative insanity of a single week in which we had egg-retrieval day (spa comparison still forthcoming), port-placement day, and first-chemo day. I am quite sure that by the end of the day on Friday, my body was the equivalent of a toxic-waste dump—it just took a few extra days for the various pollutants to make their full effects felt.

But after some initial shyness, boy did they put on a show. Great special effects and everything.

Total exhaustion? Check.

Drug-induced stupor? Check.

Complete personality transformation? Check.

It's a very good thing nobody gave me the keys to heavy machinery. Or asked me to do long division. Or gave me important papers to sign.

The term "not in my right mind" doesn't begin to describe it—I was just non-functional. Couldn't think straight and certainly couldn't speak intelligently.

It was similar to last time around—I felt like someone had stolen half my IQ points and WOULDN'T GIVE THEM BACK. I was impaired, and I knew that I was impaired, but I couldn't do anything about it. If you've ever tried to wake yourself from a dream but couldn't, you might have a small sense of what it was like.

And in the midst of all that fog, I had a very important moment of clarity. It happened sometime early Wednesday morning. I had gotten up around 6AM in order to make a 10AM deadline. I had 750 words to write, and I was starting from scratch.

Two hours later, my word count had maxed out at 13.

First it dawned on me that there was no way I could make my deadline. Then I had the moment of clarity.

I realized that it was just not possible for me to continue with school this semester and graduate on time, as I had hoped and planned.

(You probably just turned to yourself and said, "Duh." And you're right. Duh. But for whatever reason, this rather obvious conclusion managed to elude me all this time. So, yes, you were right all along. But I'm glad you let me figure it out for myself. It's this thing called autonomy, and it's really important.)

The funny thing is that, in the end, I really wasn't upset about it. I was relieved, in fact. Disappointed, of course, but mostly relieved.

So now I'm working out all of the details—talking to my professors and deciding whether to take a leave of absence or continue as a part-time student this semester. There is a lot to be figured out, and whatever I do is going to take some getting used to. But it's the right thing, and I'll be much better off in the end.

In fact, I'm much better off already.


Anonymous Karyn said...

Good for you, Jody! I know it must be disappointing to give up school right now, but it's great that you'll be able to preserve some of your mental energy and sanity! We're rooting for you every day.

p.s. By any chance, do those orange panties say "Princeton" on them?

February 18, 2006 6:35 AM  
Blogger Zachary said...

A Penn Quaker, wearing Princeton panties? I'd have to, like, win a bet or something for that to happen.

February 19, 2006 1:15 PM  
Anonymous Karyn said...

Oh, so Jody didn't lose a bet? I figured that was the only way that she'd have orange panties in her possession. I mean, even I don't own a pair of orange panties (anymore)!

February 19, 2006 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Christine said...


OK--another laugh-out-loud entry.
I actually was one of the ones who was in the "orange-panties-you-can do-it-all camp", which probably stems mostly from ignorance of the energy and investment it takes to battle cancer and also my general optimism. But it sounds like you made a wise decision. I'm so glad you feel good about it!

February 21, 2006 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Liz said...

orange panties RULE! Have you considered getting some in hot pink, as well? And maybe a nice leopard print, if you want to maximize the panty power...


February 21, 2006 10:16 AM  

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