Aside from a flu now and then, and a mystery illness 40 years ago that was never diagnosed but involved 11 days in hospital, I have never had a serious disease or condition until now.
Throughout my adult years, when I felt sickly or was overly tired there was a reason: too little sleep, too much to drink (when I was young and stupid), too many social evenings back to back. In regard to the last one, I've always had a rule to not be out and about two nights in a row, but that wasn't always possible to keep.
Things are different nowadays. The evening schedule is easy to keep without as many social obligations as when I was working and I have hardly had a bad day in these 12 or 13 years since I retired.
That is, if you don't count a couple of colds. In my old age, a cold feels as bad as a flu did in my younger years and have required bed rest. But I haven't had one if five or six or more years.
Generally, I'm amazed at how good I feel – in fact, enough so to fantasize now and then that someone has made a terrible mistake and I don't have cancer. Of course, that's not true but my sense of it reinforces the point that until now I had no idea one can have a frightening disease and feel normally healthy.
But now I cannot count on that every day.
On Tuesday, I had a 9AM appointment for an interview with a local reporter. I'm at my best both physically and mentally early in the day. I'd had a restful night's sleep and should have felt as good as I do on my best days. But my ass was dragging and all I really wanted to do was go back to bed.
Why should be this be? Chemotherapy might be a reason: in addition to the infusions I undergo each week, I take oral chemo pills twice a day and this week was at the end of the 21 day cycle before a week off.
That's a guess although the nurses told me early on that fatigue would probably become a problem during the six months of chemo treatment and would increase as time passed. But aside from the short period of low red blood cell count a couple of weeks ago, I hadn't noticed.
Maybe the cancer itself causes me to be tired although I like to think that the chemo treatments are killing off those bad cells.
Or perhaps it's how busy having such a big-deal disease keeps me (which I wrote about here). And the daily cancer chores seem to increase as time passes – one of them being more nap time because the chores wear me down.
The fact is, I'm not just an amateur at cancer treatment, I'm also an amateur at anything less than good health, and not feeling entirely well is a new experience I have not integrated into my life yet.
I've always been able to count on feeling good enough to do whatever I have planned or comes up on a given day. No more. Learning has been my most trusted life-long companion – always a joy. What I hadn't counted was the need to learn some not-so-joyful lessons.