Wednesday, April 24, 2019

DAY 065 -- "All My Petals"

A return to the road to forever today, two weeks after Day Sixty-Four and my all-in, almost-out flirtation with testing my expiration date.

After a month’s absence, it was back to the chemo- and immunotherapy infusion unit (is it possible to already have nostalgia for the room full of semi-comfy recliners, IV poles & pumps, springy tray tables and the mini-fridge always stocked with those good no-name puddings?). I discover that I’ve missed my sessions there, like finding peace in an anti-refuge of great and small expectations.
And, of course, the staff who treat me like a regular: that same-time next-time barroom patron whose time and tastes are established enough to have his “usual” space and drink reserved and still frosty-full at unhappy hour.

But, today they also surprised me with a strawberry cake and a wonderfully discordant rendering of Happy Birthday, its tempo and unisons way off as they always are, but big smiles in lined-up scrubs harmony.
Then, blood draws for labs … and the sit-down with oncologist doc that I’ve had some fret over:
-- Reaffirmed Stage 4 cancer, tumor statuses unknown until follow-up scans. (We’ll leave the prognosis for now in one of those generic pudding cups.)
-- Plan to resume chemotherapy therapy regimen after I’m backed off the steroids and antibiotics in the next two weeks, but this time without the Keytruda that was quite possibly the precipitant villain of my intestinal near glory hole revolution. Sorry, Merck. 
-- As we talked, lab results came back, and they “look great.” We also reviewed my last two weeks post-discharge at home: bowels returning to normal, appetite improving, extremity muscles reconditioning, mindset optimizing and Harley daydreaming resuming.
-- For the record, they’re calling it (Day Sixty-Four) “immune-mediated colitis.” Doc tells me that folks in my cancer stage boat suffer this “about ten percent” of the time. I’m calling that hospital stay my temporary membership with the liquid minority (for gut-driven reasons we needn’t belabor), and much as I love statistics, I hate statistics.

But, I did leave today resolved for now to at least keep my one thriving and well-watered hurry on spring bloom-in-the-bunch status and get on with it.
Next birthday, however, I’d like to re-join the solid majority and have all my mettle in all my petals.
More as we go, El

Sunday, April 14, 2019

DAY 064 -- "Helium Fill-Ups"

What a difference an eternity makes.

(My mental health therapist has suggested that I’m prone to hyperbole, but she tends to paint my musings with a million mile-wide horsehair brush.)

Surprised? Therapist, you say? Did you think I was neglecting my utilitarian brain cell cancer labors all this time at the expense of its mystic fruits? Yes, I confess: I’ve had regular couch composure maintenance since my introduction to Rad Chemo.

I’ll leave how you and I feel (about what we think of how we think about what we feel) to the philosophers and the guy who rotates my tires:

“If you don’t do ‘em, you’ll be out of balance,” says my rubber side-down wise man Dudley.

I accept this with more depth, timing and metaphor than Dudley the tire guy could ever appreciate. But, it’s not important that he does, because if I tried to tell him how unwittingly street-smart, he was, he’d only puff up and start insisting on helium fill-ups.

He’d plead that it would be a good thing my pressure would be less effected by my temperature, but I couldn’t take the profundity of that, and for ten bucks a tire I’d only yearn for a return to flat or inflated distinctions, body and truck.

  Since Day Sixty-Three there were intense redirects, beginning with an ER admission in crisis. Two weeks in the ICU, a host of frontal assaults from all directions (nurses will get that) and twenty-seven pounds less of me later, we’re back to the complex basics. I was sick enough that my cancer treatment regimen had to be held, but we’ll be returning to it soon.

What happened? When someone asks, I ask them if they want the two-word or the two million-word version. A squirm and wink or two later, I respond with something that sounds a lot like:

I had an intense viral upheaval in my nether region, above and below its equator. I couldn’t stop pooping liquid, and pees came in surprise fits and stops; I couldn’t stop not-eating but I couldn’t taste what I didn’t not eat; I vomited like most of us breathe in and breathe out without a blueprint; I had waves (feelings, not thoughts) of seven-legged arachnids side-stitching up my back and inside my liver (thoughts, not feelings).

Jerky limbs, artsy-fartsy bruise-etchings, pop-up lesions, blocked nasal passages turning my words into Foghorn Leghorn mumblefests, and when I did manage a swallow, it was like pushing sandpaper around a golf ball with lettuce leaves.

Balloon animal bouts of nausea.

Lead balloon animal joint pains.

Sweatless fevers. Moist chills.

Never asleep long enough to reach REM.

Ever-present? My gaggle of docs making rounds, working the problem lists, all options open, seeking consensus in places where generalities and specifics are always mixing it up in spoiled rotten sandbox wars.

Yes, I survived, I’m now home, and my “normal” bodily functions are returning like rolling eggs imitating your college kids on a maxed-out spring break.

One more bonus sidebar thought just for fun and a well-earned reader’s respite:

Up to here, how much have I repeated myself in this diary?
Did Charles Dickens ever have to stop, go back to an earlier draft because he couldn’t remember if he’d given Tiny Tim one or two crutches? Did he ever need to retreat and confirm whether he’d given Mrs. Giniwin a first name, and if not, why not?

Do I want to do that now to both of us? Return and physically check for all the inconsistencies or incompletions or self-plagiarizing repetitions I may have forced upon you up to this point? Had I already been inspired and recorded how my cancer is the great equalizer of lofty blah? Or the final fool’s arbiter of blah blah? Or the ultimate gutter leveler of blah blah blah?

Hell, no I don’t. Let’s go with a broken butter churn handle crutch, call her Dudleybelle, and get on with getting off it.

More as we go, El  

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