I Am Becoming Rain Man

no parkingEver since I got my second cancer diagnosis, I noticed my increasing need for a specific routine and a rising obsession with every detail of my life. I won’t get up from the bed until the alarm clock rings even if I wake up earlier and feel ready to go. I walk my dog after work and prepare something to eat before 7PM so that I can watch the Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and one episode of something on Netflix. I get extremely annoyed if someone calls me during those times and at the same time I feel incredibly stupid for watching these shows.

I get annoyed in Whole Foods when the radishes in the bunch are not all red but also include white and purple bulbs. I get paranoid about what I eat and feel guilty about every grain of sugar that enters my body. I feel like it travels directly to any cancer cells that may be leftover and blows them up like a birthday balloon.

If I eat a piece of chicken, I think about how it was killed and cry, feeling guilty of my contribution to the problem. Then I go and buy fish instead but think about them flailing in the nets and get depressed all over again. When I try not to eat any meat, I get anxious about not giving my body what it needs and possibly causing myself another cancer.

I eat the same exact thing every day for breakfast and lunch. I don’t feel like changing it. I like it to be the same every day. At least I don’t have to have exactly eight fish sticks. Yet.

I like to wear certain socks, but I don’t have seven pairs of them so I get annoyed when I run out half way through the week. I can’t stand the noise the washing machine makes. I hate when people upstairs walk around late at night, their floors creaking with every step. I wake up multiple times a night because of nightmares.

I want to go out but when I hang out with healthy people I feel like Raymond in the elevator trying to dance with Charlie’s girlfriend. Completely out of touch and going through the motions while my brain flies around in its own stratosphere.

The sight of the hospital and the smell of the doctor’s office makes me want to pound the side of my head with my hand like if the smoke alarms are going off. But then, when I actually sit there waiting for the physician, my brain shuts down and only ponders trivial things like how full the paper towel dispenser is and how often the floor gets mopped.

I fill my day with rituals so I have no idle time to actually think. I read so long when I am in bed that my eyes water to ensure I fall asleep within a few minutes of turning off the light. I am terrified of free thoughts because I know where they will go. This will go on every day until I know the results of my next PET scan. Then I will feel OK for a few weeks. Then it will start all over again. Creeping in like smoke under the door. One ritual after another. I wish I could at least count cards.


  1. It is hard. Coping tricks are fine if they dont hurt you or others. Hang in there!
    Marcy Westerling

  2. I’m so sorry you’re feeling this way. I think a lot if it has to do with control. All of these rituals are comforting and give you a sense of control over your life when so much is up in the air. I can relate completely.

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