An ode to lists

I’m a list person.  I still keep a handwritten calendar with a list of things to do on it that I either check off or put an X next to if I don’t get them done that day (I know, I’m very, very cool.)


My husband says “wow, you do a lot every day.”  Truth:  I include things like “fold laundry” and “email so and so about that thing.”  

Similarly, when we are getting ready to go on a vacation, I make a packing list. I’ve probably been doing this for 20 years, at least, and I have a folder full of old handwritten packing lists in a folder in the filing cabinet (you know, in case we go to that place again on another vacation).  Now I’ve slightly modernized this system by keeping packing lists in Word – I have a master packing list but still save all my old ones by location.


Yes, like I said, I’m very, very cool.

So when we were getting ready to go to Banff, I pulled up the list from the last week-long ski vacation we went on (Breckenridge with my sister’s family 2 years ago).  We drove that time, so I took off most of the liquor and food on that list, but there was still something wrong with it.  It took me the better part of the day to realize what it was.

That packing list was pre-cancer.  See, there’s a whole bunch of stuff I have to take on trips now that I didn’t before.  The compression sleeve and glove I’m supposed to wear on the plane to help prevent lymphedema in the arm where most of my lymph nodes were removed (I actually forgot that.  Oops.)  I need to be extra sure to carry my health insurance card, of course. I also need to carry the card about my clinical trial and the warranty on my breast implants.  Just for good measure I tucked in the handwritten list I finally created (after the 18th time I was asked last year) of all the medicines and supplements I take and of every surgery I’ve ever had.


(Not mine. I don’t have pretty pictures.)

And no more getting on the plane with just my purse and a kindle – I need a decent sized tote bag to carry my medicines. The clinical trial drug has to be in its original container (a bottle inside a box inside a bag), and then I have to carry every prescription in its original bottle to show that I do indeed have scrips for valium, ativan, hydrocodone, percoset….I rarely take any of these, but I never know when I’ll need them.  So it’s kind of like how I used to take Advil, Sudafed, and Immodium “just in case.”  Now I take all of those plus about 8 prescriptions.

Once I added all of this “cancer stuff,” my packing list was done. And I quite honestly was a little bit exhausted.

I don’t know what the point of this post is, except that even when you least expect it, life has a way of whacking you in the head and reminding you that your life has changed after cancer.  It’s not necessarily bad or good — it’s just different. (I know, “the new normal.” I still hate that phrase and am looking for a different one.)

About Elizabeth

Running and thinking about life one step at a time.
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