Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The home stretch.(from August 16th, 2008)

I've been crying again lately. Partly, I think, it's the exhaustion. I can't begin to explain how tired chemo is making me. Each round it takes me longer and longer to recover. I thought I was tired when my daughter was a newborn. Not even a little bit! I have days where, after a normal day of not doing much, I feel like I've just spent 36 hours traveling half way around the world. That kind of tired where it hurts to even open your eyes and you just want to sleep for three days. But then I can't sleep. It's 1 a.m. and every bedroom in the house has someone sleeping in it, and I'm wide awake. I didn't sleep during my nap today either.

But also there is another kind of tired. The kind where your body just doesn't want to do anymore. Most days I get that feeling after about 10 minutes of doing just about anything. We've just moved into a new house and we're trying to get the place unpacked and set up and livable. But if I hold a hammer for 45 seconds my arms feel like they are ready to fall off and I start to sweat. I need to sit down and have a rest.

It makes it really hard to give your daughter a fun summer. We have this fabulous new back yard but I don't have the energy to even put water in the wading pool. And forget exploring the neighborhood to find playgrounds or toddler groups. I'm worried that if I start off on an outing I'll get too tired to get us back home. I feel a bit house bound and I am relying way too much on the Backyardigans to keep Indiana entertained.

I think that adds to the weepiness. Feeling like a terrible mum. The guilt piles up and it really doesn't matter what anyone else says.

I think that, so far, the chemotherapy has been going so well that I tend to get into this head-space where there's nothing really wrong with me. This is all just a "what if" scenario and there never was any cancer. But then reality comes roaring back and it's like I'm being diagnosed all over again. I was reading on-line today about life insurance. We've been dealing with that lately with the death of my father in law, and I know that I should have some, but am also pretty sure that no one will sell me life insurance right now. Maybe not ever. When you look into life insurance you are forced to think about your mortality, and when you have cancer your mortality is a much more tangible thing. There is a very real possibility - no matter how well I'm doing in this battle, no matter how much I am winning - that in the end I will die from cancer, and that it will happen much much earlier than I intended.

I always thought that I had no reason to fear death. When people would say that thing about how, the number one fear people have is of public speaking; Death is second; I always thought - "Well, I'm not afraid of public speaking and I really have no reason to fear death." I always feared my loved ones having to deal with my death more than death itself. But I don't want to die before I am ready. I want to die when I am very old. And I want to be one of those old ladies that just refuses to go. Like my friend, Matt's, gramma who hadn't had any food or water in over a week and still wouldn't die.

But it creeps up on me; The notion that I might die before I'm ready; The notion that Indiana might have to do things without her mother there - get married, have her babies... And I know that any day anyone of us could get hit by a bus. I know that. But the bus isn't following me around. I do have cancer.

And it's getting harder. Each treatment is harder to bounce back from. Each treatment my blood levels almost aren't high enough and they threaten to put me on drugs to help with that and it means I'm not as strong as I want to be. Each treatment the side effects increase.

The last treatment I realized something. I always get a bit jumpy during the first half hour or so that I am in the chemo room. I am always a bit keyed up. The nurses keep saying its from the dexamethasone that they give me to help with the nausea. But it's not. The jumpiness always happens before the dex has even hit my system. But I realized that it is the same as the jumpiness that I get when I go for a tattoo. I had a tattooer tell me once that the rush you get from being tattooed is similar to a cocaine high. And part of the rush is from the sudden release of blood that you get when the tattooer first starts to work. You get into the chair anticipating the pain and once it starts, when the pain is less than you expected, you relax and get a sudden rush of blood to your limbs. I don't get the as much of a rush anymore when I get a tattoo because I've had enough of them that I am not anticipating the pain so much. But the jittery jumpy feeling I get in the chemo chair, it's the same. I get very nervous on chemo day, now. And as the treatments go on, I get more nervous. The last few times the IV has been harder to get in and it has hurt quite a bit. I've started anticipating that. I've started anticipating the low blood counts and I have been waiting for the side effects to be worse. So I go there all tense and ready for a fight, and I get in the chair and nurse starts the IV and it's like - "Oh. Yeah. This. Alright then."

I think I want the whole thing to be a breeze because then it means I was never really sick. And if I was never really sick it can never come back. I'm home free. Or maybe I think that if it is a breeze for me, then I am tougher than cancer.

And maybe I am. Tougher. But being the tough one means fighting the big battles. It's getting really hard. And it's kind of lonely. Because I can't really share it with anyone. No one else knows. No one else can understand. I guess it is kind of like being the slayer or any other superhero. You kind of have to go it alone. No matter how many people are around to support you. Cuz no one else is the slayer.

Supposedly this experience will make me grow and bring about things in my life that I wouldn't have otherwise. That there will be something good that comes out of all this. But I'd rather not be doing this. If I become a millionaire, somehow, as a result of this battle, I'd still rather be poor and not have cancer. I'd rather be the person who takes it all for granted.

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