Alas, some of the best laid plans often go awry. I am no closer to knowing when my treatments will begin than I was last week. Since my last entry, I’ve been injected, scanned, poked, prodded and had more digits up my kiester than a Jim Henson muppet, but I’m still no closer to a schedule. That makes me crazy. It also makes me more than a little apprehensive. Control issues aside, the fact that there is still so much uncertainty on the part of the learned medicine men from the Citadel is more than a little sobering.
This round of tests has been particularly grueling, including injections with radioactive isotopes which, contrary to expectations, didn’t imbue me with any kind of superpowers other than ninja nausea and a heroic headache. My least favorite episode, so far, has been entertaining the whoop of mountain gorillas that gang raped me while I was ensconced in the magnetic space capsule. I will not be giving any details, except to say, if you’re a guy and the pretty little MRI tech tells you she is going to insert a “coil” into your dark place, prepare yourself for some serious unpleasantness…
As things stand right now, if the current tests are negative – i.e. the gut goblin hasn’t decided to infiltrate bones and/or surrounding tissues and organs – I’ll most likely still be making a few more trips back to Mordor before actual treatments can begin. There are preparations to be made, injections and implantations and, no doubt, more excursions into the Mines of Moria. Ooh, and hormones to suppress testosterone, which will lead to hot flashes, mood swings, cramps and more. Yes, I will spend several months as a middle-aged woman. Think I’m cranky now?
I’ve also got yet another biopsy looming, which is going to make the gorilla encounter look like a church outing. Seriously, there is nothing more sobering than pissing blood for a week, except maybe having to “express” the blood clots that pass for semen after the procedure. That may have been TMI. Ordinarily it would be for me, too. I never mentioned it the first time around, because gross, and honestly I hoped I would never have to endure that indignity again. Now that it’s imminent, however, I know exactly what to expect and that, in and of itself, is horrifying.
Okay, so what’s the bright side of all this distasteful discomfort? There’s got to be a silver lining, right? As a matter of fact, there is. Several even.
During our visits to the burning plain, I’ve gotten to spend quality time with my son and his lovely girlfriend (including the best damned Father’s Day ever!), my wonderful woggie family and Donny’s patient and loving parents. We’ve had a few wonderful meals (one of my favorite pastimes in the land of Scorch), drank way too much (which is to be expected when I’m not allowed to tote along my nerve palliatives), cracked wise, laughed like loons and talked about the future. And we even hung out with exotic critters at the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a stingray suck chum from your fingers.
I’ve also done a lot of thinking, which is something people used to do before cell phones and iPads. I thought about how lucky I am to have a wonderful and understanding husband and to be surrounded by people who really give a shit. People who honestly care and are bending over backwards to ensure my passage through this Valley of Fear and Pain is, if not comfortable, at least bearable. I am truly beginning to understand what they mean when they say Cancer is not something that affects only one person.
It still causes me a little anxiety to know that I’m the cause of so much unease amongst loved ones, but I’m resigning myself to the notion that it’s human nature to care and there’s nothing I can do about that. To be honest, I’m grateful. Very grateful. There are those who have distanced themselves from me in the aftermath of initial diagnosis. I understand that to be human nature, as well. Some people just can’t handle the knowledge that somebody they know is undergoing a life-threatening illness. I halfway expected that to include everybody I knew. I truly thought this would be a long and very lonely journey. It has been anything but.
Yes, I do miss a few of the friends I often counted on for support and guidance, but in the process of missing them, I’ve discovered a whole new level of support from those closest to me. And even from a few I never expected to give a damn. Then, of course, there’s family, which cannot be discounted. My parents, my brother, my niece and my adorable great nephew all live within a few minutes drive now, and that is nothing short of a blessing. It doesn’t matter how old one gets to be, nothing beats a long, warm hug from one’s mama.
Isn’t life interesting? Every single day I find new reasons to enjoy life and accept this course not as a punishment, but rather a learning experience. Any moment that can bring a smile to my face, or even better, a belly laugh, is a gift from the universe. A reminder that every single moment is precious and imbued with more mystery and grace than can be embodied in long term goals. I’ve always taken things one day at a time, because the future is so uncertain. But now, I’m learning to take them one precious fleeting moment at a time. One smile at a time.
It seems to be working, despite so much uncertainty. I hope I can remember that during the post-biopsy unpleasantness, the hot flashes, the cramping and let us not forget, the repeated forced entry. Also, with luck, the next few trips into the Inferno will be far less dramatic and much more sanguine. Are you listening universe? This is me blowing you a kiss. The occasional reach-around would be nice…