Saturday, March 31, 2018

A Cancer Journey ~ Disappointing Expectations

Have you ever experienced this? You are tootling around the house, minding your own business, when WHAM! you get broadsided by disappointment–not that you have a disappointment–you are the disappointment. I hate when that happens. It has happened to me.

Now that I am recovering from cancer and chemo, I am discovering that people have all sorts of expectations what I should be doing and how I should be feeling. My criminy! I'm still working on getting up in the morning; I'm still the Now Girl, but that is not good enough for some people. Plans are being made for Future Girl. Now I don't mind that Future Girl's life is being organized in advance, except when Future Girl is me. It just goes to show that everyone has a plan for your life.

I don't have expectations for people, other than the usual ones. I expect our elected officials to behave like rational beings. I expect our lawmakers and those who enforce the law to be just and equitable. I expect doctors and nurses to be kind to the suffering. These are general expectations that are attached to the office rather than the individual. However, I don't place specific expectations on particular people because I don't wish to burden them. An expectation is a burden; it's an obligation to carry out someone else's agenda.

What is really weird is when you are unaware of the expectation someone has of you, and you don't measure up. Then you are a disappointment–people don't like disappointments, so you have the unique experience of participating in a one-sided fight.

(Note: One-sided fights are not good fights because only one person knows (a) that there is a fight and (b) what the fight is about.)

The only person I have expectations for is me. It's quite enough to deal with my own disappointment in that area.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Cancer Journey ~ What Now?

"What now?"

This is the opening sentence of the second Book of Rhino. It's appropriate that after the first book in which all sorts of things happened that the next book in the series starts with "what now."

I have been writing an account of my journey through cancer in which all sorts of things happened, so it is appropriate that the next series of journal entries should start with "what now."

At the beginning of this journey, I met with my family doctor, who talked with me at length about the disease, its treatment and its prognosis. One of the things that he said which really struck me was that this ordeal would change me. Therefore, in answer to the "what now" question, I must assume that everything I write will be from a changed perspective.

For example, I now view television differently. I notice the ads for drugs that treat various diseases. You know the type—they have a common script.

"Ask your doctor if (insert name of new wonder drug) is right for you."
"Common side effects are (list a plethora of conditions ranging from the sniffles to the ten plagues of Egypt.)

(Note to self: Is plethora the word I want?)

The side effects really get me. I know all about side effects, having experienced a few of them myself. They are not fun. What really gets me is that for one of the drugs advertised, lymphoma is one of the side effects. Lymphoma? Really? What really, really gets me is that lymphoma is casually listed among the other side effects like dizziness and nausea, as if it on par with them. I have experienced both dizziness and nausea, and believe me, they are not the same as lymphoma.

My advice is this: If your doctor thinks (insert name of new wonder drug) is right for you, and a possible side effect is lymphoma, then FLEE! (Or as Junior puts it FLEA!)

How that for change?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Cancer Journey ~ Deported!

Free at last! No more medi-port!

Yesterday the medi-port that dispensed death to my cells was removed. The oddest part about the procedure was that my entire body was covered with a blanket size piece of paper. One of the nurses lifted one side of the paper by my head and taped it to a metal stand next to the operating table. It made a little opening for air.

It reminded me of when I was a child pulling the covers over my head. I would scrunch up one side into a small tent so I could breathe. It always made me feel protected to have the blankets arranged that way. However, I do not think the nurse's intent was to make me feel protected. I was going to ask why my face had to be covered for the procedure, but the drugs took over and put me to sleep.

Last Tuesday, I got rid of all my cancer drugs; now that was a good feeling. I hope my little cells learned their lesson about going rogue–all it gets them is massive amounts of unnatural chemicals. We–me and my cells–are too old to go rogue anymore. I did enough of that in my foolish youth, and all I learned was that it didn't work for me. It's better being rogueless.

Now that I am also portless, the question to ask is "what now?" That is a great question, a thoughtful question, a curious question, a question that deserves so much respect it will have to be answered in another post.

For today, I am going to revel in my state of deportation.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Cancer Journey ~ Complete Remission

What lovely words! "Complete remission!" The PET scan report said "there is no evidence of resurgence or a recurrent of the disease." I'm a happy camper!

My oncologist told me that I'm a normal person now, normal, in this case, being one of the people who walk around without cancer. That's me—normal. Being normal with respect to cancer balances being not normal with respect to other things. On some bell curves, I am an outlier.

Take bone density, for example. My bone density is more than two standard deviations from the norm with means I have osteoporosis, but not cancer. The year I graduated from college less than 2% of the bachelor degrees awarded were for mathematics which makes me a mathematics outlier—but one without cancer.

I was an outlier when I had lymphoma; but now I am not because the cancer is in remission. I am normal. Thank you, God.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

A Cancer Journey ~ A Not-So-Fine Mess

"I had a vivid dream last night—it was all about vivids."
The Book of Rhino

I have messy dreams. Sometimes I dream that I am in charge of cleaning up a very messy room, a room that was trashed by other people. In my dream, I did not make the mess, other people did, yet, somehow, I am responsible for the clean up. However, I cannot start the task until everyone leaves me alone; I cannot begin cleaning while they are still in the room.

I usually have these dreams when there is something disturbing in my life, something beyond my control. When I experience an unsettling situation, I usually have a messy dream. Lately I have been having a  lot of messy dreams. Gosh, I wonder why! Do you suppose the cancer has anything to do with it? If ever there was a situation beyond my control, this is it.

I had a PET scan last Tuesday and now am waiting for the results. Just like the messy dream kind of waiting, I can't do anything about the situation until I find out what the messy people will do. I have decided that cancer cells are very messy people. They have invaded my body and have made a mess of things. Those guys! As guests in my house, they should have known better than to wreak their havoc. Someone ought to sit them down and give them a good talking to.

They remind me of the farandolae in Madeleine L'Engle's book A Wind in the Door. I picture my cells turned messy by rebellious farandolae; I walk about scolding them for their recalcitrance and admonishing them to "deepen, deepen."

Well, I suppose I am talking nonsense now, but that is what I do when faced with a mess to clean up. I nonsense my way out of it. If I cannot control the mess, I can at least control my reaction to it. If I have a messy dream, I can wait with patience until the mess-makers leave.