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

Diary of My Death, Post #9

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Chemo #4

My infusion meds are the same, but it seems each successive treatment is easier to take. Well, the treatment days are the same – boring, boring, then finish with a hell of a bother – but the days afterward are easier than the preceding round. I don’t know if this is because my body is more familiar with the drugs or if I am more familiar with and accepting of the effects. (As always, in life there are no isolating the causal factors and there is seldom a solitary agent in play.)

This round, even though I was short on sleep the night before the infusion, when I got home I slept for only 1 ½ hours. I watched a movie, took a 3-hour nap, and at 2 a.m. got up, made tea, and turned on the computer. I was sleepy but could not sleep.

The chemo side effects made themselves noticeable. First, during the final IV bag at the infusion, my thumbs quit working. I could move them, but they were suddenly clumsy and numb. Holding anything took intentional commands and a little patience. It was a weird, Twilight Zone sensation. Gratefully, it passed in a few hours.

Also at the infusion, during the final, most potent bag, there were no foot cramps as before. There was the hot but clammy skin, for sure. The new thing – and I’m not making this up! – is that I had the feeling my eyeballs were swelling. Just a little, just enough to make themselves known as I moved themselves around in their sockets. And they were slightly itchy. Again, a weird, Twilight Zone sensation. (Googling it revealed it is real and due to water retention.)

Texts to friends:

This round of chemo is making my eyeballs swell. It’s by about only 1.35%, but that’s enough to make me feel like a lizard. If my eyeballs start bulging out and moving independently, there’s no need to be startled. Occasionally they did that before, y’know.

Y’know how your foot “falls asleep” if you sit on your leg the wrong way? Well my ASS fell asleep! I could tell cause I kept hearing it snore.

The next neuropathic disturbance was my left quadricep, the front muscle of my left thigh. It would tighten on its own, especially when I was lying in bed. My whole body would be relaxed and shifting into sleep mode, but I would notice my left quad tensed. I’d command it to relax, and it would, but then moments later I would notice it tight again. It seems strange that of my entire body it was only the one muscle that was doing this. I know people grind their teeth in their sleep, so is this one leg muscle a similar thing or a direct effect of the chemo poison?

I am quite aware that there is very complex and strong connection between body and mind (though so many people believe their mind and maybe their soul is separate from their brain and body), but lately, because my body is surprising me, I’ve been thinking of them as distinct entities. I hear myself thinking things like, “I want to do something, anything, but Body says we must sleep again.” Ad-hoc modifications of the Good ‘n Plenty candy jingle from my youth run around my mind like earworms: “Body says, gotta get up and piss, Body says, do it NOW or make a mess, Body says . . .”

The cancer tumor itself is also gaining its own identity. The image of an organic PacMan – not solid cartoon yellow but a marbleized green-slime-and-phlegm-puss color (with feather tip brushes of burnt orange), and with a twisted, malevolent mouth and one bloodshot, insane eye – invades my consciousness more often than I like. It doesn’t have a name yet, so for now, more often than anything else, I call it, “Little Fucker.” It lives under the right side of my rib cage, right on my pancreas and liver.

As the chemo week progresses, so does the amount of dreams in my sleep. Apparently, the chemo, or Body dealing with it, results in a brain barely in gear. When even your subconscious isn’t cooking, and all you want to do is sleep, you’re real close, too close, to merely existing. Again, one foot into The Twilight Zone . . .

The days pass through a series of naps (sleep, snack, snooze, repeat.) The clock is totally irrelevant. The days of the week become the Week of Daze. Gradually, level by level, my mind returns. By Thursday or so (Monday infusion), I don’t want to sleep, but I don’t want to work. By work I mean anything productive, such as this blog. By Friday or Saturday I realize that regardless of what Body wants, I don’t want to sleep. I want to do something, anything. I’m bored, and that is a very good sign. Body and Mind want to participate in life!

This feeling reminds me of the terrible time I was trapped in a sensory deprivation chamber called an “office.” No kidding, years ago, after taking a new job, I was shown to my desk, which was alone in what before must have been a large closet. No windows, dingy paint, poor fluorescent lighting. If a person weren’t depressed before spending 40 hours a week there, he surely would be afterward! The work itself wasn’t the least bit social (even through email!), so I would go home not wanting to go to sleep and end the day. I distinctly remember repeatedly having the thought, “I didn’t live enough today.”

So, yes, being bored is a damn good sign that your heart is still in the game. With a two-week chemo cycle, it seems from now on I’ll be “one week off, one week on.” At least I’ve had some practical training at this!

Go to next post –> Diary of My Death, Post #10

Comments on: "Diary of My Death, Post #9" (2)

  1. The little fucker is a great name. I had to give my nighttime roaming villainous metastatic whole body encompassing shit a name like Canferatu. He now has a brother named Cancula. Easier to spell with chemo brain. Which would be much easier to live without. And when your ass falls asleep and makes a noise it could result in people running away from you. I’ve experienced both the ass numbing effects as well as random bass level gas that I pass, always and without fail in line at the grocery store or while a friend is over for a rare visit.

    These are the voyages of the starship chemotherapy.


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