Saturday, January 7, 2017

Midnight & Mountains


I started writing at exactly midnight, and writing feels like climbing, with my arms and legs burning and my eyes stinging from the harsh wind. I want to stop and sleep. But I can't. 

I started climbing this mountain a week ago. I’ve been in the foothills all week and we are nearing the summit now. By Monday I’ll have reached the opposite edge after which I’ll freely tumble down. I’ll take a nap when I reach the bottom.

There is so much here to be said, and I would like to be brief, but you see… I still have this mountain to climb. I don’t get to stop climbing until 1:00am. It’s a decision I made on my own, without fully understanding what it would mean for me, but hear me out. I’m not crazy for doing it.

See, I’ve written about post-cancer life—and yes, I have decided to just call it “cancer” because that’s honestly what it was. Poison is poison, no matter what clothes it may be wearing. I've talked about the doctors appointments, the nonsense I have endured at their hands, the surprise biopsies and terrible responses to what I want to do with my life.

I haven’t written about the most recent and unexpected change in my life, however.

It’s not that I’ve been keeping it a secret. There are just so many details. So many words to be said. So many thoughts to express, emotions to explore. I am actually planning on writing a book about the experience, if things ever calm down for more than four days at a time. It will be all of the funniest things I'll ever say for the rest of my life. Probably.

Here is the not-secret-secret: I got a second job at a restaurant.

This has come with a multitude of complications, of course. It’s the same restaurant where my husband is a server. I work as a host, a job which is easy enough, but requires a lot of energy for a poor introvert like myself.

I am trying desperately to avoid telling you everything about the work I do. I have a multitude of hilarious stories, but they’ll have to wait for another time, because this is a serious post. 

Seriously, I mean it!

Not surprisingly, this job wears me out. My back stopped hurting after a few weeks but my feet still get sore—my right foot in particular is in constant pain because it “suffered trauma” once. (That’s doctor talk for “it broke.”) The hours are long, you don’t always get to eat or take a break, and even if you get yourself something to drink or bring a water bottle someone else will inevitably move your drink, or spill it, or toss it out because it “might get in the way.” (Goodbye, my beloved cup of coffee…)

What I didn’t expect that during these first days of each month, these days where I take a drug (see other blog posts for that excitement) that makes me hungry for odd foods (I am really craving pineapple right now), I would find myself in a state of compressed exhaustion and I would lose my ability to stay up late.

It's really too bad that I must stay up late.

On the weekends the restaurant is open until 11pm. I am often a “last guest closer", which means I have to stay in the restaurant until the last guest leaves. So if a family comes in at 10:59pm and they enjoy their meal until 12:27am, I don’t get to walk out the door until I have watched them leave first.

So, back to the drugs.

I have to take them at the same time every day. And I mean the that. The same. Exact. Time. 

This is not like an allergy pill, or even birth control, where you can take it 5 minutes or perhaps  an hour late and you’ll be fine. If I take this 5 minutes late, the entire cycle of pills is wasted. I won’t get to reset until the next month.

I actually took 2 months off from taking it just because I was so concerned about getting it wrong. Don’t you worry, my anxiety about this was not misguided!

When January came I started taking it again. I concluded, based on my work schedule, that I would take it and my antidepressant at 1am. These are the only two meds I take that require a schedule and so it’s easier to take them at the same time, rather than set extra alarms and carry drugs around with me all day and potentially lose them. I know I’ll be home by 1am and so this was the most logical solution I could come up with.

You get it now? You see that this was logical?

It was logical, I promise. I planned well, to the best of my knowledge. But little did I know that for the next three weeks I would NOT be a “last guest closer;" rather I would be home before 10pm, but I’ve already started taking the pills at 1am and it can’t be undone!

So here I am. Sitting. Waiting. Ready for bed, Wishing I was asleep. I have been in this state for three hours, and I'm getting so close.

It’s within my grasp now; I can see the mountain top. My eyelids are heavy, my breathing slow and even, I am warm and comfortable and totally prepared to plunge my pickaxe into the rock and rest for the night.