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Coincidental Resonance

There's been a discussion about writing and characters and the times when "your PTSD is sitting there on top of the monitor, grinning back at you like a big fat yellow goddamn Cheshire cat" over on matociquala's journal (here).

I have so far had a day where three things have all bumped together in my head in a way that is, if not good, at least explanitory.

This morning the Boss and I were meeting with our account rep and a couple of suits from Nortel. This was the first time that the suits had seen my boss since he was diagnosed with cancer a little over a year ago. Mike is in complete remission -- no signs of the cancer that had him hospitalized for the entire month of November last year. He talked about his experience briefly, and in there he related a couple of things that he had heard or learned from other cancer patients. From a fellow cancer survivor he learned it's never just a headache.

The mental aspects of confronting his illness, he said, are what have really lingered. What the woman he was speaking with meant was that, once you have endured such a life-changing illness the irrational part of your brain leaps on every little deviation from normal body function with the fear that this is the cancer coming back. Mike said "I don't think that cured will ever be in my language. How can you say that you've been cured of something you don't even know how you got?"

This afternoon, walking back into the building from lunch Mark and I both got snootfulls of the odor or gas. It was thick in the hallway outside my office, and thicker in the elevator going up to the main floor. We hiked down to the security desk to tell them ("oh yeah, there's a guy working on putting in some new gas pipes, but we'll check it out"). By the time we got back, the main office stank of it too. Despite the reassurances from security it did not seem right to be there. Working in my office I started feeling headachy and wierd, so I just cleared out. It took an hour of so to feel normal again.

I realized, in explaining this to Asha, that here was my cancer. Once you've been dropped by toxic fumes at work it's never just a bad smell. Whenever something's not right in the air ...maybe the vents have sucked in some exhaust from the street ...maybe there's workers doing something stinky on the roof ...the illogical part of my brain remembers lying flat on my back in webwyrm's office staring up at a bunch of firemen.

This evening I started reading through my friends list and found the extended discussion on writing, characters, and the author's PTSD. In there are many fine comments about how broken never gets fixed; you just pull it together and (hopefully, eventually) find a way to take ownership of your broken. It's never all better, but in time you come to own it instead of it owning you.

What a day.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 6th, 2005 02:32 am (UTC)
I suspect just about everyone I know has some flavor of this, in some stage of development. Personally, I never thought I'd ever be divorced; now I'll always be someone who has had a divorce. One of my closest friends couldn't imagine outliving a child or a wife; now he's doing both. Several friends never thought they'd be survivors of abuse or sexual assault; they now live with it.

The past just sits there: nonjudgementally, uncaring, unmoving, factual, like a big rock in the middle of the garden - dig it up, bury it, break it up, leave it where it is and plant around it, or move - but sooner or later, somebody will have to deal with it.

I have a maul, a shovel, and a wheelbarrow, if nobody has borrowed them.
Dec. 6th, 2005 03:24 am (UTC)
That's a fine analogy - the rock in the garden. And a point worth remembering - that the past is what it is and we make judgements about it. Thanks.
Dec. 6th, 2005 05:06 am (UTC)
I hear ya.

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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