With my hand on the wheel and my brain in neutral . . .

Diary of My Death, Post #3

Go to FIRST post –> Diary of My Death, Post #1

Chemo #2

Every other Monday I have a treatment, and every other treatment I see my oncologist. Before any treatment, the staff draws blood from me to monitor my status. My numbers are pretty good, the doctor tells me.

From texts I sent to family and friends:

Doctor said that my significant reduction in pain was a very good sign. Then he threw me into a chair with thick leather straps like in the old Frankenstein movies, cranked a corkscrew needle into my navel, and slowly injected various poisons into me all damn day. He’s a bit of a twisted fucker.

The chemo I.V. bags have Latin names, of course, but also brand names to make them easier to identify, just like Prozac or Zantac or whatever. Today my chemo bag names were Family of Origin (toxic), Ex-Spouse (toxic and cruel), and Current Political Climate (nauseating and poisonous.)
I pushed my I.V. stand around so I could sneak peeks at the med bags of other patients. I spied Liquid Lawyer (subtle but with a bite like a snake); Mother-In-Law (tough to take); H, F & TT – Hangover, Flu, and Throbbing Toothache; Insidious Ignorance; Acid Wash; and for kids . . . Scratchy Nanobots and Space Alien Cooties.

Overall, this treatment was noticeably easier to take than the first. It was the same regimen of meds, but my body responded with less surprise and indignation. Also, I managed the side effect constipation better. Thirdly, and no less important, the non-related supplementary drugs with the side effect of constipation had been metabolized or expelled or whatever. I wondered about their apparently major effect on the way my entire intestinal cavity felt. The pancreas pain was much less prominent. I believe the incidental use of the supplementary meds serendipitously helped bring attention to the lurking problem.

In retrospect, over the preceding few months there were signs of illness, but they were all easily overlooked or attributed to much more simple causes. On a daily and increasing basis, I hadn’t been as productive or energetic. Well, it was summertime, and the weather seemed to be either punishingly hot or depressingly rainy. Mix in the vagaries of life’s day to day frustrations and setbacks – some by chance and some by the popping bubbles of slow psychological stewing – and it is easy to overlook subtle signs. Then, surprise, you’re on the floor wondering what the hell is happening in your gut.

My treatments are on a 14-day cycle, and the first two chemo’s can be summarized like this:
#1 – first 8 days pretty much useless, next 3 days half-ass, last 3 days at 90% clear head but with less than normal energy – I’d start each day with an ambitious to-do list but quickly poop out and end up napping before lunch.
#2 – first 4 days pretty much useless, next 3 days half-ass, last 6 days at 90%.

That was an improvement, for sure. During the first round I had wondered whether in the not-too-distant future if the treatments would be worth it, especially as the cancer grew. Why be alive and uncomfortable if you’re not up to even watching a full movie on Netflix? During the second round I began to envision a better arc of treatment: before it gets worse, it’ll get better, for a while, at least. Regardless of longevity, I’ll still be able to accomplish a few things.

The thing is, it is only during the days at the end of the treatment cycle that I can get anything done. When physically you’re feeling like steaming dog crap disintegrating in the cold rain, and emotionally you’re mostly in a somber mood because you can’t ignore the writing on the wall, you just don’t have the energy to do much of anything. That includes small, daily responsibilities along with big, important ones. Do the dishes? Eh, tomorrow. Liquidate assets and update the will? Eh, tomorrow. Maybe. Take a shower? Eh, after another nap, or another day. The first few days after a chemo remind me very much of the long summer I was tricked into that Zombie vaccination.

Oh, and add to chemo the toll of sleeping usually only two hours at a time. During the first week after a treatment, the clock becomes totally irrelevant. Cook a meal at 3 a.m.? Why not?

Another text to family and friends:

Y’know how living on a boat I wear a knit beanie on my head 24/7 from November to March to keep warm? Yesterday I noticed the inside of my beanie had a lot of loose hairs in it. It pisses me off because it can mean only ONE thing – one of my asshole “friends” is sneaking onto my boat while I’m asleep and putting brushed dog hair in my hat!

(My nephew told me I missed my career calling as an ace police detective.)

Go to next post –> Diary of My Death, Post #4

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