The Uncle Herb Effect

No sleep for me. Dreading Round 3, I quit all attempts to calm myself into any sort of slumber and spared Bernie my tossing, turning, and sighing. Brodie needed extra hugs tonight. He gets nervous about the chemo but reminded me, “Mommy, you feel really great NOW, right?” And with a hug and a happy twirl I convinced us both that he’s absolutely correct.

This whole thing ought to be either harder or easier. If I’m going to need all of this help, I should be shrouded in blankets and coughing consumptively into hankies. Instead, I’m just tired and bald. Because I am normally efficient and unfailingly vain, this is difficult enough. I also fear I’ve become a source of unsolicited boring or horrifying information. Recently asked if my implant surgery has been scheduled, I may have given a tutorial on tissue expanders with embarrassing, helpful hand gestures. Also, “chemo brain” has robbed me of good conversation skills and I am repeating anecdotes that didn’t require airplay the first time around. I knew this crap would take a toll on my charm; I just never dreamed Cancer would turn me into Uncle Herb*. Luckily the steroids are beginning to kick in, along with the Stockton family habit to more than occasionally eschew couth for the sake of comedy.

For a bit of fun, I’ve been playing my Cancer Card. This week I got a pretty good deal on my roof replacement, a steal on house painting, an advance appointment to open the pond (and happily swimming fishies to watch), and a next-day dryer vent repair. Although home maintenance doesn’t stop for pesky health woes, I’m finding that Cancer is a bit of a Groupon. After years of loyal patronage, muffins, and referrals, I feel no guilt. Tacky it may be, confessing my medical condition to these handy men, but so is posting my weekly over-share to 194 of you at 5am.

And now for the Upbeat Final Paragraph… today (yesterday?) was lovely and I’m thrilled that Brodie saw how OK I am. I watched my little boys pass footballs in the back yard, discussing what professional teams they’ll play for someday. I grilled steaks and veggies and tucked my soaped and scrubbed kids into clean sheets. I will not be able to repeat a day like this for a bit, but I’m starting to believe the brave ladies who have been down this road. They promise that by summertime this will be just a memory jogged by my chic-short hair. I’m also hoping that sparkling social graces are revived with my follicles. But by then I’ll be holding the stem of bubbly spirits instead of a mug of antioxidant tea… and even Uncle Herb can be hilarious after 14 beers.


Uncle Herb


*A necessary I love Uncle Herb disclaimer. We all love Uncle Herb. But I’m certain I’m not the only relative who listened to an itemized list of the new microwave functions or a lecture on the frivolous luxury of automobile air conditioning (on the same day… I was 8 years old). But my old-school, country judge and lawyer Uncle from Terre Haute, Indiana unexpectedly and graciously accepted my Taiwanese husband with open arms, and I’ll never forget it.

Mixed company conversation...

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