Well, it’s time to face it. My pain level is so high, my energy level so low (aided and abetted by the pain medication, chemotherapy, and other drugs), and sitting is so uncomfortable (a batch of cancer cells sits on my spine in what must be a lump, pushing on me when I sit normally) that I’m just not getting out much anymore.
Add a sick little boy to the mix (just the crud that’s been going around the schools), and none of us have left the house for days.
But are we really missing much?
Our groceries come to us via Peapod. News of the day is delivered via TV, internet, or dead tree on the front doorstep. Mail moved to email and automatic payments long ago. Movies are easily streamed, and even my prescriptions can be mailed to me (although that requires a bit of advanced planning and recurring prescriptions; since mine have been changing a lot lately (more pain meds), we fill scrips on the way back from treatment). My hairdresser cuts my hair out of her home, near the school, and her cuts are even better than the fancy ones downtown. I can order anything I need through the internet, including clothes from Lands’ End and Christmas presents from Amazon. With Amazon Prime, I can even get a razor delivered in 2 days, as I learned from Stimeyland and her mother one day this summer.
I can browse stores and ideas via Pinterest, buy via store web sites, try on in my own living room, and send back what doesn’t fit or flatter. The boys and I got our fall outfits this way, and it’s actually been rather fun — particularly without the whining of physically visiting store after store. There are few things that we can’t do via internet, aside from my cancer treatment — it turns out that even my pediatrician makes housecalls if a child gets very sick on the weekend (what a surprise! But it’s easier than opening up the office, he said, if you both live nearby. It was so nice for us all to be able to be there for his sick appointment, instead of worrying at home while I waited for my husband and son to return).
And as far as social media, a culture that I adopted out of necessity after my cancer diagnosis and treatment in 2007? Well, both new and old friendships are alive and well using Facebook, Twitter, and our blogs, along with phone calls to keep up with the everyday. I used Second Life to attend conferences I couldn’t attend then, reveling in the freedom I suddenly had to talk to other people I knew from around the world while our avatars stood in the same room together, listening to panels and enjoying virtual wine and cheese. It didn’t have to be that complicated, of course; now we know that Ustream works just fine for panel discussions, and WebEx for smaller meetings.
I even have a groovy new tablet computer called the Kindle Fire that allows me to do some social media tasks (email, Facebook, blog reading and commenting) from from bed without the excess heat and weight of a laptop when that angry spot on my spine acts up and it’s impossible to sit too long at my desktop in the room next door. It’s larger interface is perfect for blog reading and commenting is a breeze with the virtual keyboard and memory functions – a huge improvement over smartphones.
The Fire also entertains me, bringing web sites, ebooks, real books, tv, movies, music, Suduku, and crossword puzzles right to my bedside without the startup time of a laptop or the heaviness of its footprint. It’s a new generation of accessibility – as I was happy for my laptop in 2007, I am grateful for my Fire in 2011. As it turns out, there are workarounds after workarounds and we’re doing pretty well, all things considered.
I do, however, miss a few things quite a lot.
- I miss going out with my friends. Seeing many of them over at The DC Moms and on their own blogs or Facebook is awesome, but it’s just not the same.
- I miss greeting the other moms at school dropoff and pickup, exchanging smiles and good wishes for the day.
- I miss going to church with my family, little heads resting on shoulders and valiant little boy attempts next to me to sing the morning’s hymn.
- I miss going to work, cheerfully saying hi to colleagues in the morning and brainstorming together over lunch, even though I still can do my work here, at my desk, or from bed if necessary if the pain is too high or poorly controlled.
- I miss taking walks through the park with my little ones, although I suspect I did that more when they were very little than I might today, with 7 and 5 year olds. Still, I had planned to go walking in the woods with them, enjoying the smells of Fall and the forest, so very many times … and, this year, we haven’t.
I do miss these times away from the house, although I see now that what I miss are the times with people, not the times running around doing errands or shopping for this or that or finding just the perfect whatever-it-is that’s on my list today. As I have good days, and I know I will have good days again, I want to remember to prioritize times with people.
In the meantime, I’m going to start commenting on blogs again. Calling my friends just to talk. And letting you know how very much you mean to me, keeping me sane and happy, even though I’m almost completely homebound.
Nothing is permanent. Although this is how I feel today, as my meds are only poorly controlling the pain, I was able to get out two weeks ago, and it was marvelous. I had a wonderful time at the Women and Mars Conference. It took me days to recover from attending just two panels that day (and then chemo the next day), but it was absolutely wonderful to leave the house and share what I’ve been studying lately. By the way, the panel discussion was livestreamed and recorded – you can view Astronaut Catherine Coleman’s remarks and the Women and Mars Panel 1 from this link - the panel begins at about 1:19 on the clip, and I give my prepared remarks at about 1:48 into the clip. As a bonus, Dr. Jim Green, the Planetary Science Division Director at NASA, awarded me the Planetary Science Division Public Service Award a few minutes before the end, at 2:52; at this point, I was simply jello.