Thursday, February 15, 2007

Riding the Cancer Nightmare


Eventually everyone--horseman or not--comes up against a mount they just can't seem to get a handle on. I thought I'd met my match in my Paint mare, Pokey, whose random explosions kept me up-to-date on my health insurance premiums until I retired her. Eight years into retirement, heave-y and with 22 degrees rotation in her coffin bones, she's still as feisty as ever and as likely to knock me down as give me a kiss.

Then her son Zip hit the ground dancing, and I thought he would be the death of me. He has his father's butt and his mother's attitude, which makes for an exciting combination when he's in the mood to experiment. Now he's coming 11, and getting lazier and more predictable. Score one for my team for sheer persistence.

This week I bought a whole new challenge when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. So far the prognosis isn't terrible. I'll live for at least a while. But the fear factor has been huge and fascinating.

Maybe it's the horse thing that's coloring my reactions. I wonder: Do all horse women take every negative as a personal affront and just another testy animal that needs to learn ground manners? I'm hoping to hear from a few fellow travelers on that score. Maybe a poll will result that will astound the medical community.

My first thought was for my horses and my farm. Until I was sure I had coverage in that area, I couldn't move past the fretting into the battle. That done, my next thought was for . . . my horses and my farm. Timing the surgery so that I can be back in the saddle when the good weather hits may seem ludicrous. It certainly seemed that way to me when my daughter took the same path a couple of years ago. I didn't get it then. I do now.

My third thought was for . . . my horses and my farm. If I have to have chemo, will it interfere with my riding? How quickly will I be able to get Zip back in shape (and get my own shape back) after this long layoff?

I did save space in my little pea brain for the nuts-and-bolts: the new will, health care directive, power of attorney, tax payments (nothing is as deeply carved in stone as taxes, not even death!), and all the other minutiae of daily life. And I made sure to choose a hospital and surgeon nearby enough so that no one--not me and not family and friends--will have to spend long days traveling while this process processes. They have to have energy enough to also take care of the horses and the farm. They can take care of themselves, too. That would be fine.

After all is said and done, it is what it is. Life goes on. If there's a take-away message here, it's that the impermanence of our existence needs to be acknowledged, and the things, the garnishments to which we attach so much importance should be kept in perspective. Do I care who gets my jewelry if I die? Not one iota. Without lawyerly advice, I'd have left my heirs to thrash out the entire estate among them. If they're doing that, then I'm gone, so why should I sweat about the details? Making sure the horses will be cared for is big, but the farm . . ? Whoever winds up with it can do whatever they like as long as they haven't buried me in the back pasture and sold it to a developer.

NOTE TO SELF: Sit upright in the saddle; don't slouch or lose focus. The nightmare is just another tough horse you need to get a handle on.

1 comment:

Crowzma said...

Oh. Joanne.