I certainly expected there to be ups and downs over the course of these treatments and I haven’t been disappointed. They are highly correlated with the actual chemo sessions. For example, in the days right before a treatment I’m feeling very nearly normal. Which means I go in to work. Which I count as one of the “downs.” A few days after chemo, I start feeling very tired, wiped out, and sick. So I sleep a lot and therefore count that as one of the “ups.”
Exactly how I’m affected changes each time. I’ve had three sessions so far and so far the damage after each has been different. And with three or five more cycles to go, combined with the cumulative effect of the juice, I could be in store for all sorts of fun.
“How do you cope with that?” my imaginary friends ask me all the time. My very real answer to that is, “I can’t.”
And I don’t mean that as “Oh, I’m so overwhelmed and can’t cope with any of this!” No, what I mean is: I actually lack the wiring in by brain that would allow me to even treat any of this as something that requires anything like a coping emotion.
Leonard: Have you considered telling her your feelings?
Sheldon [exasperated]: Leonard, I’m a physicist, not a hippie.
My approach to this is most certainly what Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s approach would be: pragmatic. In fact, about the only emotion I felt when I first got news of this was relief. Because for the few hours prior to that point, I was under the impression I was almost out of liver, and that sounded like a far worse problem.
The hospital: You’ve got Bob Hoskins Linoleum.
So my view of this is very simple: I have a known issue. The medical community has a standard treatment for it. And I just show up when and where they tell me. I’m not on a journey, or fighting a battle, or anything along those lines. I’m not looking to inspire or be inspired. I’m immune to platitudes. My brain boils it all down to this: just follow the established treatment plan and everything will be fine, right?
I suppose another word one might use to describe this is “denial” but it’s not like I’m completely oblivious to what’s going on. I understand this is worse than catching a cold and that very bad things might still be in store for me. But I’m also reminded of one particular line from The Fellowship of the Ring, written as the company took refuge in Lothlorien:
The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have any power over the present.
At this point my imaginary friends are likely asking, “Are you some kind of robot? And if so, what kind of powers do you have? Do you use them for good or for awesome?”
Yes, I am some kind of robot. I’m a highly complex machine with quintillions of moving parts controlled by a three pound central processing unit stored safely in a nice, hard shell. My approach to this isn’t something I chose. I never voluntarily sat down with a spreadsheet and listed the pros and cons of various coping mechanisms then picked the empirically best one.
No, I just am the way I am. I can’t help it any more than I can voluntarily change the color of my hair or voluntarily get that song “Somebody That I Used To Know” driven clean from my head once and for all.
Forget all the philosophers, theologians, and great thinkers that ever lived. Popeye had it figured out. “I yam what I yam and that’s all what I yam.” And as of right now, it’s two o’clock in the morning and I yam very tired. So me and my quintillions of moving parts are going to bed.
Blog Post: Part Deux
But not before tossing in a quick status report. I’m two weeks out from the third treatment so it’s an up week. (As evidenced by the fact that you’re actually reading a new post.)
In spite of the fact that last month I thought I was a mere days away from losing the rest of my hair, most of it’s still there and patches are actually growing back already. The beard is extremely thin on the sides but I’m still left with enough of a goatee and mustache that it’s not too bad.
Of course, lots of stuff still doesn’t taste right but I’m months and months away from that changing, so I deal with it. The tips of my thumbs and forefingers are constantly numb, which is annoying and something I hope goes away eventually.
Bloodwork each week and overall progress is looking normal unless they’re just outright lying to me, which I’d be okay with too. (Helps with that whole denial thing I mentioned above, you know.) My weight has stabilized around 195 and I’ve recently discovered this new thing called “dietary fiber.” If you haven’t looked into it yet, I highly recommend it.
So all in all, I’d say more ups than downs, all things considered. Here’s hoping to continue that trend.