Thursday, December 3, 2009

My cancer stay-cation

Barely eight hours into the first day of my medical leave from my job, I can already see that this staying-home-from-work jazz is gonna suck.

I'm missing everything about my job, even those things about jobs that are universally hated.

In the long run, however, negotiating a medical leave with my company's HR director was a good decision. So if I may take a cliché and adapt it to my sorry situation:

I'm gonna stick to my gums.

I can already see some of the upside of staying home sick.

When my usual waking time rolled around this morning, I didn't have to drag myself out of bed and get ready for work, despite not having a full night's rest. Instead, I knocked my alarm clock to the floor, and went back to sleep for another hour.

The alarm clock bounced beneath the bed, I think. Sometime before the end of the year, I'll make an effort to look for it.

Later in the morning, when I was struck by fatigue and struggled to keep my eyes open, I didn't have to hide how I felt from my co-workers. Instead, I threw a blanket over my head and treated myself to a nap.

And when secretions built up in my mouth and throat and needed to be expelled, I didn't have to duck into the bathroom at the office to discreetly clear them. Instead, I was able to grab a paper towel and take care of business without regard to how disgusting I sounded or disrupting my office mates.

I'm not sure how long my medical leave will last although I have promised myself that it won't last a day longer than necessary. But the pragmatist in me has already collected the forms that I need for long-term disability and assistance from the office of State Disability Insurance, and I'm completing them as quickly as my bum right rotator cuff allows.

As long as this leave lasts, I do know that each and every day I am going to need to seek out some kind of interaction with another human being.

Today I had plenty. I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond to find a new pillow that help me train myself to sleep exclusively on my back and avoid rolling over on my side and keep my right rotator cuff from healing. Every six feet, a bright and buoyant BB & B employee chirped, "Hello! Are you finding everything that you need?"

I know that it was in their job description to do that, but it still felt good.

And early this morning while feeding myself breakfast I picked up the phone and heard my aunt's voice on the other end of the line.

I didn't do such a hot job at keeping up my side of the conversation, but it was a real treat to hear her voice. And I don't think that she called because it was in her job description.


A community memorial for HIV/AIDS activist Howard Jacobs will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6, at Fiesta Hall or the Community Rooms at Plummer Park, West Hollywood.


  1. When did you stop using the earthquake clock?

  2. I'll never replace my ShakeAwake alarm clock. And I bet I feel the vibration tomorrow morning even though it's beneath the bed.