Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Reality Checklist

Ennis, my diabetic cat, usually asks for food every two to three hours. Small frequent meals help him feel better. It doesn't matter to him whether it is day or night.

If I am sleeping--napping or out cold for the night thanks to a sleeping pill--Ennis wakes me. It often involves a cold paw applied to my cheek. Sometimes, it is just the presence of this big hulking cat standing next to my head and purring loudly.

It might be advancing age, it might be the effects of cancer treatments, but when I wake I go through a reality checklist. First I decide whether I can be woken. If not, I advise Ennis to go ask his "poppy," Jim. Ennis usually doesn't buy that and I get another cold paw on the face.

So I progress with my checklist. I observe the outside light--am I taking an afternoon nap, is it the middle of the night, or is the dawn breaking? I roll over to check the clock. Will my feet and legs move; will they hold me when I go vertical? Up to a sitting position. Do I need to use the restroom?

Get up, grab a can of food from on top of the TV, pop it and scoop it onto the plate on the bed, and head to the restroom. I continue my checklist. If it's nighttime, the checklist goes like this--Did I brush my teeth before I collapsed into bed? Am I hungry? Did I take my nighttime pills? What day is it going to be? Do I have plans for the day? What's the weather supposed to be?

If it's daytime, a different checklist--What day is it? When did I fall asleep and why was I taking a nap? Do I have plans to get up at a certain time? Is Jim home?

I deliberately ask myself these questions. BBC (before breast cancer), those realities used to just pop into my head. Not anymore; now I need a checklist.

Since Monday night, I haven't needed my checklist. I wake up and it hits me--my brother has lung cancer. I just focus on that, and all the other realities flood into my consciousness, smothering the fear I feel rising in my belly.

I hate cancer.

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