Monday, July 16, 2007

Petty Woman

Yesterday I treated myself to a visit to one of my favorite clothing boutiques in Pasadena. During their semi-annual 50%-off sale, the prices begin to enter the realm of affordability.

I tried on a feminine, empire-waisted, brown and white polka-dot dress with cap sleeves and a scoop neckline. As I twirled in front of the three-way mirror, I felt, well, pretty. The cap sleeves floated gently over the slack skin on my upper arms but revealed the PICC line on my right arm. No problem, I thought. That's getting yanked out on Wednesday.

But then I remembered that the PICC line is being replaced by a Hickman catheter in my chest. Instead of the two inch plastic tubes that dangle from my arm, the Hickman will feature tubing that's long enough to serve as a Boogie board leash. So much for the feminine scoop neckline. I shimmied out of the dress, waved my apologies to the owner and burst into tears as soon as I hit the sidewalk.

As you're reading this, you're probably thinking what a petty (not pretty) woman I am. After all, the Hickman catheter is a temporary, not a permanent fixture. And with everything else going on, isn't a polka-dot dress a frivolous thing to cry about?

But the tears weren't really about the dress. Just like when I had my hair lopped off, the sobbing was about moving from the theoretical to the concrete world of cancer. That pretty dress mocked me as I twirled.

"Hey, how pretty do you think you're going to look when the catheter is poking out for all the world to see?"

"Those cap sleeves are covering up your hideous upper arms NOW, but at the rate your slack skin disease is spreading, don't you think you need LONG sleeves?"

For the most part, I look healthy. Most of the time, I feel healthy, both mentally and physically. But every once in a while I experience something, like a pretty polka-dot dress, that reminds me in a very concrete way that cancer sucks.


Piper Robert said...

Remember the story I told about you wearing correction shoes and then proceeding to kick the dog snot out of James? You said, "I can do anything in these shoes!" Go back to the boutique and buy the dress. It's affordable (the Scottish DNA), you look and feel pretty (sounds like Mom), and it's YOU. Put on the dress and say, "I can do anything in this dress!" NOW, proceed to kick the dog snot out of cancer. Don't let cancer sit on your shoulder and whisper attacking remarks. BUY THE DRESS. You'll need it as another example of victory when you fully recover.

Philipians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

What color is the dress? Will the boas go with it? Love ya!!!

p.s. If you don't buy the dress, we'll buy it for you as a birthday present. (August 15, just in case anybody is curious.) Karen or Paula or anyone else, find out what store and let's all buy the dress for Sue. Send me a bill.

Carolyn H. said...

Yeah, it does. E-mail is a lousy medium for it, but I'm sending a big hug. Go ahead and cry. S**t happens and ya gotta deal with it. Just remember that a brighter day is coming.

Lilli said...

You, petty? I think not. You, pretty? Definitely, both inside and out.

You're entitled to some wallow time, as we discussed at the last Coffee Gallery gathering. Tears are a part of the proces.

Frankly, if you never cried we would all start to feel like there was something wrong with us for crying all the time. Okay, maybe I'm the only one who cries all the time. Or at least frequently.

Anyway, fashion plate that you are, I can totally understand your dilemma with the dress. So shed those tears when they come. Then move on to find another fabulous dress that fits you better for this stage of your life.

Role model that you are, I'm sure you already have. And you'll look just as fabulous.

Paula Johnson said...

Listen to your brudder. Get the dress or another equally faboo frock. Save it for your post-transplant party. Spring for a white straw hat, too.

If your upper arms are problem (because of the skin condition or the biker chick tattoo I keep lobbying for you to get), then find a cute little white cardigan or shrug to top off the dress in a jaunty fashion.

This should work out, because I've seen you do jaunty. You rock jaunty.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan, I am looking forward to seeing you this weekend. Mary is giving me a day by day update to see if you are up to traveling. I just got back from Las Vegas for a work trip and I was reminded of the time we spent together checking out the drag shows with Mary on her 50th. Pretty hilarious memories. I have enjoyed reading your commentaries especially at this time in life when we all must get "Comfortable With Uncertainty" (my bed time nightly reading by Pema Chodren). Hope you can make it this weekend. Love, Kim

Susan Carrier said...

Thanks for all of the lovely comments.

Ya' know what - I've been thinking that it might be nice to pull out that dress next spring or summer when I celebrate any number of things - not having a Hickman catheter, being in complete remission for (fill in the blank) months, being alive, having great friends. Sounds like I have and will continue to have a lot to celebrate.

Mathews Family said...

YES! I agree. You need this dress or another pretty dress for your victory party. That catheter won't be there forever! See it as another way to punch cancer in the face. We love you! And...when you get a moment check out our new post. I'd love to hear a story from you.

Mathews Family said...

Ps. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. If I was with you I would squeeze you so hard and cry with you. And then I would say what I just said :)

Karen said...

I second -- I mean "third" -- Robert and Paula. Buy the dress! It sounds just like you, and from your reaction to it, I am sure it is just like you! Of course, now that you're not having any more chemo, you won't have polka dot skin to go with it, but that's OK. No one will notice if you get that big white hat, like Paula suggested!

I think Robert's quotation from the Bible is right on. Wiser words have not been written. Focus on the good things, on the things you love, on what you think is beautiful -- which includes THAT DRESS, and YOU inside of it!

I've always thought that the 60's saying "you are what you eat" is wrong. You are what you think about and focus on. What's obvious from your blog is that, the vast majority of the time, you focus what's right and good and wonderful about this world. Which is why you are such a remarkable, beautiful soul!!!

And that is also why Lilli is so right: petty has nothing to do with you, inside or out. No one who knows you even the least little bit could or would ever, even for a nanosecond, think of you as petty. But they would ALL think of you as pretty. In pink, in orange, in yellow, in black, in any color at all. Especially brown and white polka-dots.

So, as Robert advised, BUY THE DRESS!! Then let all of your inner and outer beauty, the beauty that everyone who knows you sees surrounding you like a halo, 24/7, really SHINE!!!

Much love,
Mrs. Duck

Barbara Roth said...

I think what you are describing is so real, it could never, ever come near the word petty. Petty is negative emotion brought on because you can't get a new mercedes to replace your honda. Pretty is the grace and courage you indeed have. You've been my style advisor for years, I trust your decision on this dress.

Emmy said...

In case you need to read it one more time, BUY THE DRESS.

Lisa Cooper-Keil said...

Dear Beautiful Susan;
Please go buy the dress and wear it NOW. Your PICC line and Hickman catheter are nothing to be embarassed about. They are simply tools for your recovery and anyone who would be uncomfortable viewing them has a problem. Don't "save the dress" for the future - wear it now and say it proud - I am beutiful and I will not be defined by my cancer but by the woman I am! I love ya, Lisa CK

Suzy Keleher said...

Dear Susan, Young lady, please march right back to that store and get that dress...or we are gonna get it for you! It is perfect for you...PRETTY WOMAN! My tears are with you. Your tears are so precious to God that He saves every one of them in a bottle (actual Bible verse). Remember, I have one shoulder to cry on and one to punch! Love you, Suze

Margaret Finnegan said...

Whether you buy the dress or not, it seems like you are already wrapped in the warmth and support of people who really love you. Fashion is fickle. It comes and goes. But trite as it may sound, this sort of friendship cannot be bought or sold. And it never goes out of style. Best.


Lisa C. said...

No, not petty, never petty! Susan, I agree with your brother - BUY THE DRESS. NOW. Don't you remember that famous saying, "if you keep thinking about the clothes you should've bought it?" Too true!

Lisa C.

P.S. You look Mah-vel-lous:)