Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Growl

A few days before I began chemotherapy, I came home from a day at work and school. In my bedroom, alit in waning sunlight, I peeled off my office get-up. My roommates weren’t home. I loved having the flat to myself so I could blast a boogielicious tune or some rock ‘n’ roll that was born to be loud. Sometimes I would roar to the song, bang my head, even bust out some air guitar flails. I flipped through my spinning CD tower. Metallica’s ferocious cover of Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil?” was what I felt pulsing in my veins. I needed some induced catharsis.

An unexpected thing happened while I stood there listening to the militaristic intro blare through the flat. Like a howling wolf, I craned my head back and roared in the hopes of letting out some of the frustration I had been feeling from Life With Lymphoma, especially after I had to subject myself to a second bone marrow biopsy a few days before. The joyous, playful roar that usually came out whenever I would shout with a rock song was more of an angry, guttural growl. It rattled from my chest, up my throat, filling the room. It felt like something with its own life. Something I couldn’t quite control. Once I finished roaring, I nervously tittered to myself.

And that’s when I got a sense that I was like a human walking volcano. Beneath my surface, beneath my stoic, I’m-being-strong veneer, the tension was building. Bubbling, rumbling, escalating. It was all those hospital visits. Medical examinations. Agonizing lines to wait in. All that time lost in those drab, life-sucking waiting rooms. All those medical terms and cancer jargon I had to become familiar with. All those big decisions to make: should I get a catheter port inserted into my arm for the duration of treatment? Should I have my sperm frozen? And all the e-mails I had to respond to from my family in Peru telling me that they were sorry—that I just had to put my faith in God, that this “nightmare” would soon pass. All the times I had to tell them it’s going to be okay.

As if I really knew.

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