Monday, February 06, 2012

The Other Kind of Fair

Late last week, there was an awful smell in the common areas of my apartment building. As I was coming in with my laundry late Friday afternoon, I finally figured out what it was: a container of noxious stink beads sitting on the cupboard in the lobby, evidently something another tenant was giving away. Fortunately, a man I’d never seen before was just coming down the stairs as my eye fell on this dispiriting item, so I said to him, “Hello, I don’t know you, but could you do me a huge favor and take this outside?” He pleasantly obliged.

On Saturday there was a note in the lobby from the building manager asking who had made off with her “air freshener.” I immediately sent her an email saying I was the culprit. I said I’d thought someone was giving it away, which was a relief to me, because the smell seemed unbearable. I told her that theft was not intended and that I’d reimburse her, and of course appended a short treatise on artificial scents and their deleterious effects on humans. I concluded by offering to pick something else up at Rainbow.

Then I was, as usual, terrified of getting an angry note back—I wished I’d skipped the treatise, anyway—and I felt extraordinarily stressed out. It seemed like some kind of final straw, that one last little horrible thing on top of everything else, and so there was immense relief when I got a completely nice note back.

When I went to Rainbow yesterday, I got a couple of air fresheners containing natural ingredients, and was going to leave them outside the building manager’s door with a note, but decided that a pleasant interaction in person would be even better, so I knocked on her door and we spoke briefly and she was perfectly nice.

Last week I spoke with my surgeon, Dr. P., on the phone and of the medical oncologist’s prediction that my breast cancer recurrence risk is 5% over five years, he said, “That’s too high,” and of the risk of a new breast cancer being 13% over five years, he said, “I don’t know where he got that.” Even more satisfyingly, when I said that Dr. W. was unaware I’d had intraoperative radiation, Dr. P. said, “That’s interesting information. I’m going to make a note of that and make use of that information.” So I feel entirely vindicated and have abandoned any thought of sending Dr. W. a letter.

I told Dr. P. I’ve decided not to take tamoxifen and he said I’m making an informed decision and mentioned that it’s hard to prove that taking tamoxifen actually changes survival rates. If I do have a recurrence, I could have a bilateral mastectomy if I wanted to, but another lumpectomy and more radiation might also be options.

Since I won’t be taking tamoxifen, do I simply have my six-month checkup and thereafter just have annual breast exams and mammograms under the direction of my ob/gyn? He said no, that I have “bought” him and will see him every six months for five years. That was a relief. I will not be dangling alone in the breeze with my DCIS.

So that is that, for now at least, and I can get on with other things.

When I go to sleep at night, I affirm that when I’m dreaming, I will realize it, and when I’m awake during the night, I will practice Stephen LaBerge’s MILD technique for inducing lucid dreams; I’ve now had 51 lucid dreams that I know of. Then I ask myself what I enjoyed or appreciated during the day. Lately the list has been rather short, partly because one thing I really enjoyed was riding my bike to work, but no work means no bike ride to work.

I have been making a point of taking a walk just about every day, but the only time I ride my bike lately is to Rainbow on Sundays. I like to walk, but it doesn’t bring the kind of joy cycling does, so today I rode my bike into Golden Gate Park and back, and felt just splendid afterward. Cycling endorphins seem to be more powerful than walking endorphins.

Post-ride, I gave my father a call to see if he thought I’d wrecked the entire rest of my life by losing my job. He doesn’t think that.

While I certainly ponder what the future may hold and notwithstanding the call to my father, I don’t actually brood that much about having lost my job. My losing the job was either perfectly fair, in which case so be it, or it was the other kind of fair, unfair. In which case also so be it. Sometimes unfair things happen.
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