Monday, March 2, 2015

Just Tired

I'm out and about in the world while I go through chemo.  I go to work, I shop, etc., and try to keep my routine as consistent as possible.  There's comfort in a routine, in waking up at the same time every day, in knowing what's likely to happen for the next eight hours.  That is easier for me than sitting at home, where the only thing I end up thinking about is my cancer.  I need the distraction of real life. Everywhere I go, people ask me how I am doing.  My usual response to these inquiries has been to say "I'm okay, just tired."

Just tired.

What I really want to say is that I am beyond exhausted most days.  Fatigued. What I really want to say is that there are days that I don't even want to turn off the alarm in the morning, because I don't have the energy to lift my arm. What I really want to say is that some days it takes me three or four cups of coffee to feel awake enough to dress myself.  What I want to say is that after I drop my son off, I want to drive back home and crawl into bed and sleep the day away, ignoring all the deadlines and appointments and tasks that never seem to end.

I'm just tired.

Being around large groups of people drains every last bit of strength from my bone marrow. The thought of taking my son to a classmate's birthday party makes me want to crawl into a hole; I don't have the energy to navigate such a social event.  I am even too drained to even get angry when people yell at me; my brain almost doesn't even register that the volume has been turned up.  I've been getting compliments about how calm I am about everything.  It's not calm.  I just don't have the energy. 

I'm just tired.

I'm not depressed.  Depression and I are old friends.  We recognize and accept each other after all these years.  I'm not unhappy, beyond what would be expected for someone going through cancer.  I'm having panic attacks, but that's part of cancer too, I've learned.  Some days it takes every ounce of energy that I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, to go from point A to point B.  I have nothing left for anything else.  Those are bad days.

I'm just tired.

And now I am scared.  My chemo treatments have been every other week, which has allowed me to recover some sense of normalcy.  My energy level has come up significantly that second week, and that has been a blessing.  Unfortunately the next 12 weeks will be a weekly regimen, and I have no idea what is going to happen.  I will try to keep my spirits up and stay positive, but I admit that my fear of the unknown is weighing heavily.

So send some positive thoughts my way, if you can. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

I Was a Troll

The techie guy at work put out a note on our website that used the word "inputted", as in "...the dates will be inputted by the school psychologists"   The way the sentence was written seemed incorrect. Perhaps it was a slow day inside my brain.  It sounded wrong to me, so I mentioned that to the techie person, just in passing.  I wasn't challenging him, I just said that it sounded funny. The techie guy informed me, in the usual condescending tone all Technology Guys seem to have, that he wasn't the one who wrote that particular sentence.

Okay, I said.

What I should have said was nothing.  I should have just kept my mouth shut.  I got a lengthy email the next morning from the techie person regarding the fact that yes, indeed, "inputted" was a word, complete with references to the Oxford English Dictionary, page numbers included. For a comment about a sentence that he did not even write!

But I laughed hard when I read the email. The kind of laughter that comes from your belly and makes you feel as though you just completed a sprint.  The kind of laughter that just forces the positive to surge to the surface and ooze out of your pores, no matter how hard you try to keep it inside. The kind of laughter that clears out the chemo fog and makes you feel energetic, at least for a few minutes.

Why was I laughing?

Because I used to do stuff like that all the time in my teens.  I was horrible about it. I cringe now, but I had to be right. I had to correct everyone's grammar and make sure that their facts were correct at all times.  Since we moved often, I needed some sort of control over something, and being right was it.  The positive side of this behavior resulted in people talking to me and asking me questions, and complimenting me for being "smart".  The negative side of my bad habit was that I was kind of a jerk.  To be fair, I hadn't really mastered the whole social skills thing yet, but that's no excuse.

I was a troll, to use today's internet vernacular. 

This was before the internet, too, so you can just imagine how insufferable I was to be around. How evil was I?  My cousins used to write me letters; I sent them back with errors circled.  It was so important for me to be right that I once humiliated a boy that I had a major crush on because he said that cold sores were not herpes.  I provided him a two paged typed report, with footnotes, which he thought was a love note and opened in front of his peers. I was lonely and dateless on Saturday night, but I was right, by God.

I grew up and got over myself.  I had a major epiphany in college, when I realized that there were a great many kids just like me and got to view their behavior and compare it to my own. They were pompous, insufferable jerks, and I wanted to punch most of them right in the face.  But that anger made me take a hard look at myself.  It wasn't pretty, and I decided to make a change. I began to focus on the person, not on their perceived mistakes, and that's made all the difference.

The fact is that, while I do know some things about some topics,  I'm not always right.  I accept that. While I am well-read and love learning, I certainly don't know everything.  That's okay.   By hyperfocusing on such meaningless things, a person might miss the bigger picture.  I love the big picture. Especially now, with my days being measured out via doctor visits and chemo treatments. With so much to learn, and so many facts changing every second due, who has time to focus on just one tiny "wrong" particle in this vast universe? 

I do not.  And I'm okay with that.  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

It's All About The Attitude

When you have cancer and are prescribed chemotherapy, the first thing you do is panic.  Your oncologist hands you a bunch of paper listing all the side effects of the poisons they plan to put into your body, and you panic.  You panic about losing your hair, you panic about the nausea, you panic about the mention of sudden death, you panic about the impossibly stupid costs, etc.  You panic about just about everything. 

And then you actually start chemo, and everything you panicked about seems...routine.  Mundane.  Even banal.  You show up at your appointed time and the nurse weighs you and takes you to a room filled with other cancer patients.  You get a comfy chair, they stick the needle in your mediport, and the drugs start dripping through the tube.  Then you sit and do whatever you want for however long it takes, which for me is about three or four hours each time. 

My husband comes with me, and we usually bring books, computers, magazines, and whatever to occupy the time.  When we first arrived for our initial appointment, we expected a room filled with dread, fear, and despair.  Maybe a little anger.  All of us have a disease that requires more than a pound of flesh for even the hope of a cure, after all.  Who wouldn't be upset, angry, or depressed about that? 

Reality is a different story. 

I've sat next to people who were quiet or sleeping during their treatments, but that's been the exception.  Usually we are greeted with smiles and cheers.  It's like I've joined a club of some sort, and Larry gets to come along, too.  One visit Larry spent the entire three hours talking to two other gentlemen about the Dallas Cowboys of the 1970s, the Union Pacific Railroad, and East Texas, while I crocheted and listened. 

There's been a lot more laughter than I expected.  One person asks for a margarita to be added to their IV each time I'm there, with the others chiming in with their alcoholic beverage of choice.  We joke about our hair, and gripe about the weather.  When and if we do discuss our cancers, it is always in a upbeat tone, no matter what.  Even the people who end up at the hospital for a transfusion seem happy.  I've decided that having a good attitude is essential to fighting cancer.  Keeping your spirits up, and sharing that cheer with your fellow cancer patients, can make all the difference.

This week, when I was visiting for a blood check, a woman(who has been dealing with cancer for fifteen years) got up from her chair to visit the restroom.  Since she was attached to the IV, she started to pull the IV pole with her as she crossed the floor.  When this tiny, frail woman got to the middle of the room, she stopped. 

"Look!" she said, smiling  "I'm a pole dancer!" 

And she did a very slow turn around her IV pole.  The rest of us applauded and laughed as she took a short bow.

Go visit Mamakat's Pretty Much World Famously Awesome Workshop and check out the other writers!  The prompt I chose was 2. Something that made you smile this week.