I did something I’m really proud of last month: I posted a new Zentangle video every day in October. It wasn’t always easy, and the drawings weren’t always good, but I persisted until I accomplished the thing: my Inktober Zentangle 2020 prompt list.
Inktober was something I really wanted to do despite the various things in the world that were working against me: cancer, Covid angst, election angst, roofing contractor woes (that’s a whole other blog post, folks. I can’t even with that right now.)
Before I even started the Inktober Zentangle series on my YouTube channel, I warned Dan of my intentions. I told him to expect me to be pretty much useless to do anything else for the entire month. Because if I know me—and I do know me pretty well—setting aside the time for drawing and editing every day meant stealing it from something else.
That’s because I already triage essential daily tasks like eating, cleaning, showering, and managing cancer as a matter of course. Whatever things I reprioritized to make space for Inktober, they were going to be big-ticket essentials. And “reprioritizing” for me doesn’t mean “I’ll get to it later than usual today,” it means, “I will not get to it at all.” Things don’t move down a to-do list this short, they move OFF the list. Permanently.
So, probably a big “DUH” here for folks in the know, but October was a challenging month for both Dan and me, what with us perpetually negotiating our respective diseases in the midst of my “vanity” project.
The most notable problems we faced: eating and cleaning. On the average, we eat OK. We do not go hungry, which I am deeply thankful to be able to say, but what some people might eat as a treat or a convenience because time’s limited makes up a large part of a disabled person’s diet OUT OF ABSOLUTE NECESSITY.
And moving past eating to the cleaning stuff: Nothing got cleaned beyond a couple of necessary loads of laundry and the evening running of the dishwasher. Every time I look at my surroundings right now and see what needs to be done, my heart breaks and my stomach drops. I will probably have to raise money and hire help eventually, but no one’s coming in our door while Covid numbers are spiking again anyway. So I whisper that line to myself about being able to accept the things I cannot change.
Some evenings during Inktober I’d be on the verge of tears from the exhaustion saying, “Don’t make me do the GrubHub order tonight. I can’t.” And “can’t” was never an exaggeration. If my energy levels are depleted that far on a recurring basis, what manifests outwardly is an overtired 7-year-old girl in a 40-year-old woman’s body. There are breakdowns and meltdowns and outburts. These are not self-indulgent, whiny fits. These are biological things humans do when their bodies and brains “just can’t” anymore.
I imagine what I experience as a woman with disabling brain cancer is akin to a neurodivergent child being forced into an abled child’s classroom every day. The exception being that I’m generally extended a lot more grace because the “C” word is harder to sweep under the rug.
Tangent. Sorry, not sorry.
Anyway, I also knew that when I finished my last Inktober video there was going to be a really hard crash for me at the end. It was worse than I had anticipated though. So far I spent the first three days post-production (I was working 2 days ahead of the calendar the whole time) in various states of distress. It started with exhaustion, progressed to a migraine (complete with aura, numbness in my right arm, heightened noise and light sensitivity, nausea, and aphasia) and then turned into a sore throat, head congestion, and low-grade fever.
My fever broke overnight, but I feel like an absolute trash pile of skin, bones, and pajamas still today.
Because when I am that rundown, my already chemo-blown immune system is powerless to even sneeze at a mote of dust. What my pre-cancer body would have fought off virtually undetected, my post-cancer body is forced to entertain for days—sometimes weeks—at a time.
Coincidentally, this is why at-risk members of the population are absolutely disgusted by the selfishness of the anti-mask wearing crowd during the pandemic. We, people whose lives are already hanging by assorted threads of questionable strength, do not have the time or the energy for the tender care and keeping of some uneducated, overinflated ego.
Fighting cancer is equal parts maneuvering around the disease and dodging other people’s selfish bullshit. And believe me when I say that I’m not living with brain cancer AND smiling while Joe Bob McTrumpster pretends his right to spread diseases to me is more important than my health and safety.
I am not your inspirational cancer porn warrior on Sunday
and someone you can spit on Monday morning.
I’m putting the world on notice: don’t make me make room for your shenanigans. If I put schooling you on my to-do list instead of, like, eating, you are not going to like it.
Ahem. Guess I had some things to get off my chest, there. But let me just sum up this entry by saying that doing a Zentangle every day this past month was rewarding despite my challenges and limitations, and hearing back from people who enjoyed them gave me the strength to keep going. Thank you.