a year ago today: Tumor removal and a lot of Tea to follow.

oh darlings.

has it been a whole YEAR?

since we had our throat slit and tobias-and-his-sisters were removed?

gosh.

we recall the 4AM wake-up call and standing outside in the dark shivering from fear and seeing the cheery presence of Cheltenham-Lady walking down the street as if she had just gone to the second-hand bookshop in Norfolk and found a delicious first edition and wanted to show us – she was brilliant – we tried to talk in the Taxi and stay bright and not fall apart and she kept us going – right to the bit at the hospital when they were going to check us in and we’d not known about American things like having-someone-as-an-emergency contact (we have one now) or someone who could make decisions should something awful happen (um, still working on that one) so that was all a bit scary.

the robe was nice – sort of lavender with Very Clever sensors and electrical circuits clipped to our vital organs and a heat pad to keep us warm while they Took Us Down (where exactly is that?)

william had sent us a 1970s Ladybird (yes, that English children’s classic line) book to explain what might Happen.

it wasn’t Exactly like that (the scrubs were blue as we recall, and the operating Theatre – love that they call it that – was a Very High Tech “space” full of flashing lights and whirring noises and Many People) but it did help to be a bit prepared.

actually, to be Completely Honest for a second, nothing could have prepared us.

and maybe that’s for the Best.

here is our hospital bed that we lay in for a day or so.

usually we make-the-bed but we didn’t have the strength and besides – if you can picture this – it was right before we got Discharged (and had to have a Strong conversation with the Very Young resident – in mime and pencil-on-paper – because we could not speak due to the operation which got Awfully Close to our vocal chords and the Very Tight bandages around our neck) and we were standing holding the tubes still linking us to the drip (on a Not Attractive silver wheel-y pedestal) holding our (forbidden) smartphone device to take a picture.

oh!

we almost forgot we had this one – yes, these are the pumps on the legs that keep one’s blood flowing during HOURS of lying and the oxygen tube stuck up one’s nostrils (not nice) and the drip (saline by this point we believe as our brain had come back nicely – or not-so-nicely – more Dear gods What Just Happened??) in our arm.

why thank you – yes – that was a nice light tan on the left knee (not just on the left knee, but obviously that’s all that’s showing here) – we’d just been in L.A – Quite Freaked out the week or so before.

mC came the next day to visit with a lukewarm milky beverage and a copy of the FT Weekend (we weren’t working, promise, we just like the magazine and the lunch-with-column and the interview with writers about why-they-write)

then Bf came to get us in his Car (we were very grateful and gosh Manhattan was a shock after the relative solitude of a hospital room) and stayed and made us laugh inside our OUCH bandages and brought his dog who comforted us with her Huge Eyes. sob.

and then what happened….

well – we stayed at home for almost a month.

lovely people who lived not-too-far-away came to visit.

So Many Lovely people sent flowers.

and we spent Many Hours lying on the sofa looking at them..

listening to Lots of mix-tapes that delicious people sent to us – for every mood and hour and feeling (dear gods, there were Lots of Feelings during this medical leave)

and Many splendid people sent books and parcels and we started to unwind our poor stressed head for the first time in what felt like a decade.

we spent HOURS in bed – sleeplessness being a Distinct Feature of medical leave #sigh

thank goodness for excellent cotton sheets, silk dressing gowns and Pots of Tea on a Tray.

we had never spent so much time in the bathroom (nausea – we won’t go into this in any detail whatsoever but it was horrid)

and here we are – a year on – with a scar on the neck.

we were Most Grateful to T who peered at it and said (in her sparkly Fashion/British voice)

I rather like it.

the pearls help.

a year ago: the long night before the knives on the throat.

strange how one (almost) forgets.

we woke up at a leisurely hour (it’s saturday in our part of the world – already sunday for our friends-in-Asia, we know) and took the pill that replaces-our-thyroid-and-glands and rested for a while (to let it absorb into our body, we guess, we never asked, sort of don’t want to know how it works, darlings) and then padded to the kitchen in bare feet to make coffee.

while the machine gurgled and hissed and made lovely dark-embrace-of-caffeine-producing sounds, we read our daily meditation (doing a bit-of-a-Zen-trip at the moment) and considered our navel (which was beneath a delicious shocking raspberry silk shift, so not actually considered it, more metaphorically) and looked around.

today’s mediation was lovely – may we share a little with you?

I want to make myself an empty room:
Quiet whitewashed walls with slant sunshine
And a fresh breeze through open windows.

We do not have enough peace. Yet peace will never be attained by perpetual action. Stirred water never has the chance to settle clear. A tree buffeted by winds can never grow straight. Give up all unnecessary activity. Give up all arbitrary actions. Make yourself receptive. The peace that you seek shall be quickly at hand.

isn’t that delicious?

we resolved to do more drifting, and less action today.

and then we remembered the date today: september 8th, 2012

remember september 8th, 2011 (if you were with us then – and so many of you kind and good RL and virtual friends were there to walk us through that day, we recall)?

the long night before the long knives on-the-throat

look back – but don’t stare.

somebody said this to us the other day.

and we smiled.

 

look back – but don’t stare.

there have been times where we have most definitely looked back in anger (don’t you just love Richard Burton but, on second thoughts, might not want to invite him to your virtual dinner party?) and, talking of Angry Young(ish) Men, we’ve always enjoyed Oasis‘s take on the matter:

Slip inside the eye of your mind
Don’t you know you might find
A better place to play

so we will just take a moment – look back – and then get ready for the day.

if you’re in NYC today, take an umbrella – there’s a big thunderstorm in the pendulous clouds up there…..

 

post illness thoughts

there’s something odd about having been sick – gone through surgery – been confined to the house – vulnerable and Very Poorly for a while – then the return to the Day Job – slow recovery and……………now what?

you see we had prepared for the worst.

Or not the worst, per se, but “being ill” – you know, going through one of the first half of those cancer memoirs, having Big Thoughts about Life and then prepping for the post-illness “Now We Know Better” stage.

And then it didn’t happen.

Yes, we were sick – with three Tumors/tumours/Tobias to prove it.

And sure, we went through the Surgery (OW) and all the other painfully slow painful stuff of crawling through life without a thyroid and inside the melancholic soup of increasing thyroid dosages.

But now?

Once we got the benign diagnosis on aforementioned tumors what were we left with?

Not much of a to-be-written memoir.

Well, not about illness Anyway. Plenty of material otherwise – but not quite yet.

Our health is pretty peachy now.

A little too curvy (effects of synthroid – unexpected Jane Russell cleavage) but even that is being toned and slapped into gorgeous shape by swimming.

Not that we want to go into it here but we also gave up the incessant control around food.

It just became So Exhausting.

Our body seems relieved and, strangely (or maybe not), a tiny bit excited (vanilla icecream with every meal?!) Ha. It will take a Long Time.

The truth is we had mentally prepared to be sick for a while. Because that’s what it looked like was going to happen.

And then it didn’t.

And so we’re left with this Having Learned Big Lessons – being open and softer and loving being gloria and GLORIAous – but Not Sick.

It’s strange.

Is that where all the anger comes from?

We had battened down the hatches, ready. And then it didn’t happen. And we felt that most people (but Not You, darlings) expected us – demanded in some cases – that we needed to Move On.

But we need to do something good with this.

We’ve been writing and photographing and thinking and creating since april 9 2010 (yes, ironically a month Before we got the Tobias official biopsy, isn’t That an Irony – as if the Muses knew we’d need to be gloria to get through It All).

And it’s ten months later……………..

But we’re still waiting for the green card (#sigh) and so can’t be Public (and we’d really like to be – it’s Truly Weird how many times we’re now in places where people know us in RL and here, as gloria) and do the “how to stay sane in a crazy world” picture book or talk about tricks and tools for surviving high stress corporate environments with Something approaching grace and gloriousness ;)

The tumors/tumours/Tobias clearly obscured our diseased glands (also now ripped out) which were full of rage and non-expressed-grief.

Because that’s where we are Now – Not Sick and yet boiling with rage.

And not just because the office dimensions at the Day Job are shrinking (careful).

That’s just Irritating.

gender warriors: something a little different, and utterly disarming.

last night we went to the Cabaret to see Justin Vivian Bond.

we know! so Christopher Isherwood and between-the-wars Berlin (many of those darling 30s haircuts in the audience in fact)! the experience was uplifting and unsettling and curiously exhilarating.

as an event, it was also a return to some of the more questioning periods of our life around Gender and Identity and Sexuality – yes, the big questions (we draw your attention for this one to Julie Andrews – no, not as the nun or the nanny but when she donned a dashing chap’s suit and then sequins and life was never the same again under the spotlight).

so – last night – with our friends HH (in from the Other Coast just for the evening – tres glam) and mC and koC (both native east coasters and also deeply experienced in the NYC cabaret scene) – we took our seats for a Most Enlivening evening’s entertainment.

waiting at Joe’s Pub (next to the famous Public Theater on Lafayette) for the night to start (we had just seen David Byrne in the lobby so life was already gleaming and starlike in a very chic way).

we couldn’t get any closer from our supper spot so here’s a better close-up shot of the lovely JVB by Amos Mac from the lovely blog fashion beyond fashion.

here’s how Justin would like to be addressed…..(from justinbond.com)

Key Terms

prefix: mx

pronoun: V

gender: trans or T

full name: Mx Justin Vivian Bond

Many years ago while I was sitting at Cafe Flore in San Francisco, one of my favorite places on earth. I was approached by a transexual woman who engaged me in conversation and during our chat she said to me, “Justin, sooner or later you’re going to have to come down off the fence.”  I was quite taken aback by this statement as I hadn’t really thought of myself as being on a fence. But after some thought I realized what she was saying.  By saying I would have to come down “off the fence” she was saying that sooner or later I would have to make a choice and conform my identity to embrace the gender binary and validate her choice to climb over the fence to the “other side”.  Personally, for me, I have never believed there was another side for me to cross over to.  Sometimes I wish I did.  If I felt there was a clearly defined place for me to go, where I would be welcomed and at peace, I would surely have gone there many years ago.  At times I’ve almost been able to convince myself there was, but for me to claim to be “a woman” would feel just as false as the charade I’ve been asked to play for so much of my life of being “a man”.  Having said that, I will affirm that I do believe there is another side for others; for transexual men and women who fully embrace and are comfortable subscribing to the gender binary -to a polarized notion of gender. But please don’t assume that aspiring to pass is “realness”, because as far as I can see “realness” too is a construct built on shifting sand.  If you insist on serving “realness” don’t be surprised if it is declared to hard too swallow and sent back to the kitchen.  This applies to “real men”, “real women” and all of their enablers.  I’m not interested in the expression of “realness”.  I would like to be afforded the luxury of being free to be as honest as possible and to have my truth be respected.

So I remain on the fence but I am beginning hormone treatments not to become a woman but in order to actualize what I’ve always known myself to be -a trans person.  I want my body to be a declaration and physical manifestation of my transgendered spirit.  When I was younger I used to refer to myself as a “non-op transexual”, meaning I was a transexual who didn’t need to have surgery to assert what I was.  But I was wrong because without assertions people can only make assumptions and I no longer wish to indulge or refute the assumptions or labels other people choose to place on me, I simply want to inhabit my very clear vision of myself.

more here. 

isn’t that lovely?

we’d like to inhabit a very clear vision of ourself too.

and, darlings, that’s Exactly what we are digging into right now, post-surgery. who are we? and why did the blood test results come back with such a bad prognosis? and what are we doing wrong (if anything)? and can our body cope without desperately looking for the missing pieces and trying to overcompensate? where will we be happiest? doing what? is the skyscraper existence merely inspiration for a movie? it is a comedy (we hope so)?

and – in the meantime – through – there will be Cabaret. and Lots of Art and Writing and other glorious stuff.

 

 

four weeks ago…….

we were feeling Rather Melancholic this evening and could Not quite work out why…………….

Oh.

Right.

Four weeks ago we were – you know – preparing to go into hospital in the morning to – oh, right, we remember it all now – have our throat slit and tumours/tumors/tobias removed……

Isn’t it Strange how the body knows exact dates?

we have this with other notable occasions in our life. there will be a wistful or melancholic or sometimes downright irritable and spiky and (eek) a Bit Angry (the “mean reds” of Capote, perchance) and then we recall “oh, right. Today’s date, x years ago, is the day when…….(Insert clearly meaningful date that brings memories Flooding Back).

Not sure if we shared this picture with you before.

It’s from September 9th. The late afternoon of September 9th. When we still had the IV in our arm and leg pumps to keep blood flowing round the body and a big neck brace with a bottle to catch our blood in (No Darlings! No Photo of That – far too GOTHIC!)

make do with the leg pumps.

by the way, we are thrilled with how taut and muscular and Tanned our knee looks.

all that swimming in the outdoor pool this summer (the one with the keith haring mural) and basking in the two trips to Los Angeles.

we hope to return to swimming tomorrow (indoor pool now) but we wanted to tell you we’re a tiny bit Scared because the Scar feels awfully vulnerable, you know?

thanks for listening.

we think you are Most Kind to do so.

final day of medical leave: 21 days later: so many feelings, no more time.

hmmm. this is a hard one to write.

our last day of medical leave.

we have mixed feelings, to be honest.

a sense of relief (no cancer). a new perspective (god, we have Great Friends). well-rested (not a lot else to do even if lots of the sleep happened during the day and we watched movies and read during the small cruel hours of sleeplessness). well-read (see previous point – the small hours are good with a hot tea and a pair of glasses perched on our nose while snuggled under the covers against Tons of Nice Pillows).

we are also aware that Everything Must Change.

not sure how that will happen.

but we’re ready for it, whatever It Is.

and we have some ideas – including a book and a “kindness kit” business and lots of other hopefully brilliant “gosh where did they come from?!” concepts and the movie screenplay about Holly Hart and her tumors/tumours – hell, yeah, of Course we’re going to fictionalize this Whole Experience – and we’re geared up to write a second movie starring Gloria (see here for more about that)

here’s where it all started…….after the initial “lumps” found back in April 2011, and then the ultrasounds and biopsies and then the Hideous Line: “WE FOUND A MASS AND NEED TO OPERATE” (yeah, it felt like shouting)

Posted on June 17, 2011 by teamgloria

so team gloria has a date for the surgery –

september 9th –

and the rather hideous diagnosis of:

“thirty percent chance of cancer”

and – shocking –

we have three tumors/tumours, not just tobias.

this isn’t the realm of the unwell – it’s a veritable breeding machine inside our throat.

(the rest of this post is here)

and ever since then, we’ve been through So many Feelings (btw, we just deleted a whole bunch of spam in the comments and got Very Cross with one – that may have been an auto-generated-response-bot – that said we were WHINING. huh? our response was unprintable. and thankfully un-typed. isn’t Hitting the Delete Button a blessing, darlings?)

for any reason, if you’ve just joined us (perhaps from Instagram? hello! we Adore Instagram) and wonder what the hell all this talk is about it starts here:

and now we attempt to return to the Day Job. (ahem, no, they don’t know we call it that ;-) #giggle

let’s see what happens next. when this blog returns to documenting our search for glorious people, places and things once more (and our La Vie Jet-Set).

so here are a few pictures from our last blessed day of healing from all-that-has-happened-so-far.

final look at the view from where we take our fake thyroid hormone pills and then the calcium a bit later and have to steady ourselves for the nausea.

we met jT for tea at 10AM (before we had our hair cut to look presentable for Corporate America tomorrow) and he was wearing a magical god from the Incas. it spoke to us so we asked if we could take a picture (we asked jT, not the Inca god).

we then (post haircut) took a walk to meet Jonathan and talk a while and rest at ground support (we wish they had a web site because we’d link to them then but if you’re in the neighborhood/area/locale they’re on west broadway just south of spring).

then Jonathan’s phone rang and his AGENT CALLED (we love these kind of moments) and HE JUST GOT A NEW ROLE ON A TELEVISION SERIES! (isn’t that fabulous). despite his great excitement we persuaded him to pose for an anonymous style shot of the actor, resting, who has just marked down his start date for shooting – he was Very Kind and did this (see below).

we then spent a little while resting (as we Have Been through Surgery just under three weeks ago and our strength is not yet returned) and, after his Day at the Office had ended, the lovely jW (of the CT jW1/jW2) dropped by and we had a brainstorm and a nice pot of tea and a walk (we are getting Lots of Exercise) and then we split some rather nice cheese from a local creamery (so chic and supporting local businesses as we have been doing for the entire medical leave as we couldn’t go anywhere).

and so – tomorrow – back to work. and a New Chapter.

(talking of new chapters – William sent us a final medical leave gift – too kind! of Roy Strong’s delicious book about England – chapter 1 is entitled “Gloriana” – we are Tickled Pink – and will be reading it tonight.)

 

 

medical leave day 20: how are we? what are our options?

so how are you?

we don’t really know…………………..

however we are aware of the acceptable options: particularly on day 20 of medical leave.

the appropriate responses are as follows:

a. Much Better Thank You

b. Getting There

c. Still pretty weak (“but relieved because they were benign??” as if that’s the only acceptable feeling now. Um, no. There’s no room for relief when one feels weak. One just feels weak, love).

d. Not Sleeping (furrowed brows greet this one “aren’t you Over It Now?” Er, clearly not. We apparently contributed to this concept of Perfection prior to the surgery and hospital stay. Well, that’s out the window now. What a bloody relief)

No.

we’re not. We are not Over it.

It’s been over two weeks, yes, since our throat was slit open, our glands removed, vocal chords smushed and sore and thus no voice, thyroid taken out, 3 – THREE – tumours/tumors/Tobias and his Sisters cut out and sent to the LAB and we’ve been popping the 21 calcium pills (now down to 4 a day) and adjusting to life where one opens a plastic (shudder) bottle (“on an empty stomach” which is hard when one fancies a little morsel of aged cheddar while the coffee is brewing) and takes a hormone which mimics the thyroid function For The Rest of Our Life…………we digress

we don’t know how we feel.

It’s been overwhelming as an experience.

Nor are we particularly interested in soothing the feelings of others (yes, That, darlings, is New). Or putting up with other people’s drama. (No energy and actually zero interest. Make a plan and stick to it. It’s so much nicer.)

we went out this morning with the lovely GB who is in town and got some air, some sunshine and saw friends and there was a shared autumnal (delicious) salad and a roasted veggie (yum) soup.

then suddenly we got tired again and here we are – writing to you – because we like writing to you – back against the voluminous amounts of pillow and a satin wrap artfully tossed at the end of the bed.

we’re going to have a nap.

and then read a little.

Here’s what we Do Know: the land of the unwell is a strange and wonderful one.

It’s a land where one can take time to answer the following questions, all in the comfort of nothing but one’s (large baby blue with a fleck of brown in one iris) in case you’re curious) eyes and nose peeping out from the pillowy depths.

1. Is this how we want to live our life?

2. Do we have the best of friends? And how can we care for those friendships best?

3. Who really didn’t show up? And how can we politely but firmly make space in our lives by carefully distancing ourselves for people who can?

4. Are we living in the city that makes our heart sing? (Are we living in the country that makes our heart sing – and do we have a choice – yes, the canard of immigration will soon raise its ugly head as we apply again for Advance Parole – yes, that’s what they call it – so comforting ;)

5. Do we relish each morning with the tasks ahead a joy – or dread them?

6. What can we change?

7. What can we ask the Universe (insert any other magical concept you like but make it BIG enough to be GLORIAous) to help us/show us/do for us?

So no. We don’t know how we feel (and it’s sort of irrelevant and changes like the wind anyway).

But we sure as hell are getting answers to the questions 1 – 7 ;)

And That, darlings, is Utterly Divine.

We like that bit Very Much.

Illness has liberated us.

Watch out.

attempting to stay just ahead of the depression.

This had to happen.

you don’t go through surgery, anesthesia, 21 pills a day to replace gland and thyroid functions and then be confined to a square block radius of home for over 2 weeks without depression threatening its clouds on the far horizon coming ever closer each day.

here’s what we’re doing to keep one step ahead and stay sane: decoupage, visits and tea (lady of letters on her way at 10! Watching The Women – yes, the original, darlings, with ABM tonight), writing letters, writing this blog here, reading reading reading, naps, walks (can’t wait to swim but wound still too open for another few weeks apparently) but still it threatens to swallow us up, particularly around eleven PM, 4 AM and low points-mid-afternoon.

But it’s Sunday today (we were born on a Sunday – do you know the saying? Yes. We are ;)

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a few pix from our morning-bugger-off-depression-Sunday-stroll.

medical leave day 15: #timetoread (my year off, by Robert McCrumb)

firstly – we picked up the new, stronger (because they removed our Glands and Thyroid, if you’ve just joined us) hormones (*shudder*) – it takes a while apparently before they get the right dosage (yum) so in the meantime we’re a Tiny bit of a Test Case. the most worrying bit (hard to tell these days with the threat of C powers now removed – everything else is jelly beans and smiley faces and iced gems in comparison) is that our surgeon said:

do you know how to take your pulse?

yes.

(pause)

no. not really.*

here’s how you do it. because if it’s over 90 – you need to call me, urgently.

blimey.

*we had a habit of checking our pulse at 3AM outside nightclubs in the very late 80s – we didn’t know what we were doing – you can probably guess – but we got sudden recall when he asked. and then it occurred to us that we had no idea How to Take our Pulse so we’re not sure Why we Used to do it. apart from the obvious panic of the very late 80s and its accompanying recreations.

we also had another amusing piece of dialogue with our surgeon (we sent him a thank you note – do hope we aren’t the first to do that. probably the first with a crisp white envelope inset with gold and pink stripy paper now we recall our choice of stationery). here it is:

so I heard you went through with the decision Not to take opiates post-surgery.

yes, doctor.

how was the pain?

excruciating.

but manageable?

not really. but we knew it would pass.

ah. well. yes. (cough)

plus (we continue brightly) we just happened to see a couple of friends the other day who – um – happen to have been addicted to – um – narcotics – at some point in their life and we throughly enjoyed telling them we did post-operation pain on extra strength tylenol.

(doctor looks astonished and mystified)

well – the straightening of the back, the slow look into our eyes, the subtle nod of the head – we know what that means…..

r         e         s        p        e       c       t                               (cue: Aretha)

(doctor not sure whether to laugh – we did – so he did too – hell, get your kicks where you can, love, we got us being a Bit of a Martyr ;-)

Another Lovely Parcel!! lady-of-letters sent us the Most Excellent Choice of books.

and as it was pouring with rain (all bloody day) in manhattan today – we stayed in and read a whole book.

we picked Robert McCrumb’s “My Year Off” as our first choice for a few reasons:

1. it’s about what happens when you’re sick – and your concept of self (deeply interesting as you know We Are Going Through This Now)

2. we are connected to the story through our own story (see below)

3. we wanted to respond “to the text” (as they say in the seminars at Universities) and we’ve done that below too. hope you get something out of this – even if it’s just to confirm/or not that you’d like to read it too.

firstly – our connection –

on the 29th July 1995, Robert McCrumb, Publishing Star of London (Editor in Chief at Faber and literary lion about town hanging at The Ivy, Groucho etc) had a stroke.

on the 31st July 1995, we were standing in the newspaper office where we worked, in London (as minnow level reporter), as the news of Robert’s stroke spread through the office like a wildfire. He was 42 years old. we were standing between several men of the same age (we were Much Younger) who all went white and we understood why – the thought that went through every man’s head was:

that could have been Me.

and

the lucky bastard had everything going for him – fame, fortune, and a new young blonde American wife – jesus christ – what’s the world coming to?

we slunk off back to our desk and return to filing copy and answering the phones (the phones rang a lot in those days as email was still relatively new and we were one of the few people who understood how to use it on the newspaper as we were writing about tech which no one thought was that interesting – or would take off in anyway – which is why they let a minnow level reporter – (and a woman) – write about it ;-)

until lady-of-letters sent us the books today, we hadn’t given a thought, honestly, to Robert McCrumb from that day until this. we knew he survived. we heard he got another plum job in publishing. and that was that.

and then we read his book. and realized how devastating his experience of illness and loss of self had been.

forgive us for making this about us (but this is, you know, Our Blog) but we found we had a lot in common with RmC – and also a very different way of dealing with confinement (RmC scoffs at any kind of mystery/magic/fate and we Adore It) and, well, we’re not a literary lion, or a Man with a Reputation for being a Man About Town that other men envy (not this lifetime, anyway, we’re pretty sure we experienced it previously, judging by our karma with women – for Another Time that one ;-)

we do encourage you to read the book – however (and here we concur with lady-of-letters) the extracts from RmC and his wife Sarah Lyall are just irritating, they don’t work at all. diaries, by their very nature, are somewhat petty and mostly about minutiae as well as a recording device. it is only in the hands of a writer (a fine one, like RmC) that the details are transformed into prose that communicates – evocatively and honestly – the experience therein (and thus endeth the lesson….read on, darlings).

the italics are ours

“we will quote RmC like this”

ok? got some tea/coffee/juice? let’s go….

p. 2: “to all concerned, this book is meant to send a ghostly signal across the dark universe of ill-health that says, ‘You are not alone’.”

this is one of the reasons we write team gloria too. and also so we don’t forget what the experience is like. those who forget, are doomed to repeat. we know this one, bitterly darlings ;-)

p. 2: “throughout my period of recovery I was often alone with my thoughts. When, finally, I came to record these, this book became the mirror of an enforced season of solitude in the midst of a crowded life.”

if you’ve read the section “la vie jet-set” – you’ll know that we used to like nothing better than jumping on a plane and getting the hell out of here. this enforced solitude has changed us. we’re grateful to live where we do – in a lovely part of manhattan – if you’re going to be confined to a square block radius of the planet – this is a pretty beautiful place to be. but to not be able to go further – to keep walking – because we get so exhausted and cannot get ourselves home – is humbling to the extreme for someone who has not bought a full size beauty product in a long time. our bags are always packed with travel sizes. but today the bags are in the hall closet. empty.

p.3 “I have been forced into a renewed acquaintanceship with my body and into the painful realization that I am, like it or not, imprisoned in it.”

we had no idea we had a thyroid until they removed it. we had no idea what our glands did until we had to take 21 pills a day to replicate their function and help them grow back. we used to think our lack of knowledge was amusing. now we know better. our body was not amused. and we are now learning to take care of a body that we abused (we’re not going to go into details – we’re sure you get it) in so many ways over so many years. and now we’ve stopped. now we are the guardian of our body because it’s where our soul lives. and we never want to have the feeling we did in ICU (post-op emergency room) where our body was soaked in sweat from the 5 hour surgery, it felt tortured, even under heavy sedation as that lifted, and the nurses were rushing to soothe us and make us stable and we could hear the panic in their voices. we felt like we had a choice – not necessarily to die – but to fully commit to being in our body – and we had the sensation of sinking deep inside and drawing on our strength and coming back and taking down our temperature and submitting to the care of the nursing staff – “she’s coming back” – we heard that. we did. “she’s coming back”. from where? we have no idea. but we went there. very briefly. as they removed the breathing tube and gave us an aspirator to open our lungs we took the biggest breath and tried to scream at the pain as our lungs opened on their own.

p.70: “Sometimes I wondered when I was going to open the newspaper and read my own obituary”.

there is a horrible inevitability in los angeles and nyc right now of reading the female executive obit. you see none of us were important enough – a generation ago – to get the kind of obits that male executives got – but now they are starting to appear – breast cancer, ovarian cancer, heart attack – shortened lives. we don’t think this one would have killed us – and we want to make sure that the next one doesn’t either – there has to be a better way. and we now know that when you’re sick, they don’t know how to cope. but they sure write a lovely quote when she goes.

p: 76: “To top it all, yesterday, I bit my tongue as I was eating.”

our whole head felt like a foreign land the first 72 hours after surgery. swollen. tortured by the too-tight-but-necessary-to-reduce-swelling bandage around our whole neck and fastened with no mercy (we understand but please, never again) and we kept biting our tongue and the inside of our mouth because we had no sensation of the dimensions of inside our head. we had forgotten this – until reading this line. it helped us to remember how far we’ve come. it was just two weeks ago tonight that we were lying in the hospital bed for several hours on our own post-surgery. unable to talk. unable to sleep. unable to read (and our bags were still locked up downstairs). unable to sip water even. they came every hour to draw blood and check on our vital signs. we sunk into a depression. we started to weep unceasingly. “don’t cry!” said the nurse-aide. we looked up at her as if to say (because we could not speak) “our throat was sliced open, we have a burn mark from the heart monitor because we were under for so long, everything hurts – this is an appropriate response” and then we threw up everywhere from the general anasthetic and just quickly (maybe it’s against the rules?) she smoothed our hair back, the smallest and the kindest gesture, and then went to empty the sick bucket).

p. 145: “I shall never forget the moment when Salman very sweetly read a page from the opening chapter, ‘doing the voices’ with characteristic brio.”

we didn’t have Salman Rushdie come and read to us – but we had So Many Other Friends Who Did. we’d forgotten how NICE it is to be read to. it’s soothing to pull up a black (hard to get but ever so much nicer) pashmina and snuggle under the gray cashmere scarf that CM bought us and lie back on the couch cushions and hear various American accents read Armistead Maupin’s fine words.

p. 171: “In some ways this whole experience had been like a punctuation mark in the middle of my life.”

some people have said “what will you write about on team gloria now you don’t have Cancer?” and we laugh because the original premise (read About) was never about illness – that just happened and so we wrote about it. because that’s what writers do. and That’s the Interesting Bit. we had forgotten that we were a writer and that was our response to life. we made our living as a writer in england for seven years. but to come and to stay in the USA (as well as for a few other reasons which we can’t go into, darlings but one of them was our life falling apart in 1997 – finally) we became a suit. we do a Very Nice Impression of a suit (much of our finest dialogue is ripped off from entire scenes of movies – some Joan Crawford, some of our own age – anything set in an office gave us some kind of background) but we don’t really know how to be one. watch this space for how That Revelation turns out. as one of our favorite (he’s an American so we’ll use just that spelling) readers wrote to us (in the email – sort of offline of the comments to preserve anonymity as he’s Rather Well-Known and Celebrated) “we’re dying to see more anecdotes about The Day Job once you return”. darling, we skate close to the wind as it is ;-) but we’ll try not to disappoint…

p. 175: “At times I felt an anger inside me, a rage that could come out in sudden and terrible ways.”

ah. feelings. bloody feelings. we didn’t have many before. or if we did, they were buried under work and rushing and commuting and caffeine and withdrawal from caffeine and back on caffeine and travel and arriving and leaving and meetings and rushing and falling into bed exhausted. there’s Nothing Like Time to see feelings rise to the surface. and boy, are some of them downright ugly. and occasionally dangerous. like the blog post we wrote the other day but the universe scrambled and didn’t send. but at least we wrote about it. at least it’s not in our body. but now it’s Out There (ahem) we have to face it. but not today. today our throat still hurts, we can’t yet talk on the phone comfortably and sod it, we’d like to heal first.

p. 204: “I went to a publishing party, supporting myself with my cane as usual, and found myself being asked, ‘Did you hurt your leg?’. ‘Yes,’ I replied, moving away ‘but it will get better.’ I felt obscurely angered by this innocent question, as if I wanted recognition for what I’d been through.”

oh god, yes. we freeze up when someone looks closely at the scar which is healing nicely and says “is that it?” as if to say “what were you making such a fuss about?” and we want to kill them because you have your throat slit and then tell us how you coped. and then when people say “we’re so relieved it’s not Cancer” we want to punch them. because we still Went Through Surgery and we’re still in pain and it still hurts our soul and we’re bored and frustrated at home and we’re going to have to take medication for the Rest of Our Life and every 6 months for the Rest of our Life we are going to be scanned and prodded and blood taken and tumours/tumors/Tobias’ cousins searched for and one day there they might be on the screen again just like before and we’re terrified of what it’s going to be like when we go back next friday to the Day Job and we haven’t answered any work email because we wanted Them to Take us Seriously and if we answered Anything we knew they’d say we weren’t that sick. we are scared that people minimizing our experience is going to lead to homicide. or at least a bitchy snide cruel aside and that’s Not Good for our Soul.

p. 215: “Outwardly, then, I am fine. I can meet people who do not know me, and pass for an unafflicted forty-four-year old. Inwardly, I still have something missing.

we definitely have something missing – physically – our thyroid, our glands and – if this scratchy voice is anything to go by – a bit of our vocal chords are a bit roughed up. and spiritually we have something missing too – five hours under general anasthesia while our throat was slit and the strange response we had to whether to re-enter our body and breathe for ourself again in the ICU. and we have known what it is like to be confined to the hospital room, attached to an IV drip, and then to our bed at home, with B and sophie staying next door to help us, and then to our apartment when they had left, and then – like we are now – to the square block radius around our house. we take a cab – but only with other people. we walked back from the movies the other day and had to stop on every street corner, our hand on our wallet checking we had enough cash to get a cab if we needed to. and foolishly we kept walking. because we’d just found out we didn’t have Cancer. and we wanted to show the world (why??) we were strong again. but we’re not. which is why we spent almost the whole day sleeping. exhausted by the trek home. we are not ready. and we need to remind ourselves. we are healing. and that, darlings, takes time. which we have. six days more of medical leave to go……

a final note from RmC:

p. 233: “I have acquired a quite new view of the world.”

we have too.

thanks for reading, darlings.

off to watch another episode of Doctor Who!!