Prince Albert Voice
I had big plans for my garden this year. Much of those fell to the wayside as reality sunk in - I didn’t have time, budget or energy to create the container and raised bed gardens I wanted to. You may have heard of the person at a buffet whose eyes are bigger than their stomach … they take too much food and can’t eat it all so it goes to waste? Well my garden plans were like that this year … my containers have soil? With nothing planted in them and some of my raised beds sit empty but I have packets of seeds waiting to be planted …. A little too late for this growing season but I’m better prepared for next year.
As we leave Prince Albert, my lungs seem to contract in spasms as I cough to loosen up phlegm. I’m sick and it’s my own fault. When the first wild fire came and went near PA earlier this spring, I didn’t have the usual symptoms that I do during wild fire season and my allergies didn’t flare up. So when we started to see, and breathe in, the smoke from wildfires burning up north recently, I ignored my scratchy throat, the headache, swollen sinuses and the tightness in my chest. I picked up the bottle of Benedryl, then placed it back on the shelf in the medicine chest with an arrogance I would come to regret. I know my body’s limitations - and smoke is one of them. Without taking allergy medication as a preventative measure, I can’t even attend a wiener roast or bon fire… and an evening of stories, laughter and s’mores around a camp fire are a definite “no” for me if I haven’t prepared and taken care to ensure I won’t get sick afterward. So, here we are ten days after some major smoke exposure and my allergy has turned into a virus that my compromised immune system is fighting to create antibodies for. And the irony isn’t lost on me - I’ve resented wearing a mask as a precaution against COVID these last eighteen months. COVID is a virus I can’t see, (please note I still wore the mask. I didn’t like it, but I wore it for your protection and mine) and I’m okay with wearing a mask to protect my lungs from smoke inhalation simply because I can see and smell smoke. It doesn’t make sense that I favour mask wearing for one situation over the other since both can be equally as damaging and deadly. But I digress… we’ve left the city and, though the air isn’t clean, the smoke does seem thinner. We are in another summer heat wave and we turn up the radio and blast the air conditioner, sucking air from outside the vehicle rather than recycling the air from the inside. Aside from the smoke, it’s another typical hot summer’s day … the “dog days of summer” that we often associate with being the ideal lazy day we can enjoy, even if we’re in an office for work. At some point we can make our way outside and enjoy even a few minutes of sunshine.
Nostalgia has been a close companion of mine over the last number of weeks. The memories began flooding my thoughts as I sorted through baby clothes I’d kept, “just in case” they’d be needed again. Unfortunately for our family, we lost the little human that was to join us when his family had a change of heart. For this little one, his extended family gains a boy who is loved far beyond biological ties… and for many newborns who will be placed up for adoption or apprehended, love and being wanted is a luxury they don’t often feel until they find the security of the phrase “permanent placement.” Even in biological families there is a “pecking order” where each child is treated differently by one, or both, parents.
The last couple of weeks have sort of blended one day into another as I’ve learned to navigate without a cell phone glued to my hand. I have had a cell phone sporting a large crack across the screen since it was brand new, over four years ago. And then it was dropped one too many times and completely shattered the screen.
When I was diagnosed, my doctor cried and I consoled her. I wasn’t shocked I had cancer since I was told, at the age of 18, that I had precancerous cells that would turn to cancer - it wasn’t a matter of ‘if’ I would have cancer but when. When I was diagnosed I told my doctor then that she was telling my brain what my body already knew. And then I went outside and watched the sun rise. That December 22 was as beautiful a day as any other and I took the time to enjoy it. My doctor phoned at 8pm on December 27. She confirmed her diagnoses from a few days before, told me I had an aggressive form of cancer and asked did my family know this was likely the last holiday they would have with me… I assured her I would beat the cancer because any other choice was not an option for me. And then people I knew started dying of cancer. And for me, survivor’s guilt set in. And so did debilitating depression.