Because I'm at Oregon Health & Science University today for doctor appointments and a chemo session, it would make better sense for me to have saved this post for Friday or Monday. But it's been on my mind for a few days so why not.
What continues to amaze me is that I can be under a death sentence and still feel as good as I do. All cancers are different in different people but I did not understand before that it is possible for a terrible disease to be secretly ravaging your body while you go about your daily business unaware.
Not counting chemo after-effects, I wouldn't know I'm sick if the doctors hadn't told me.
Well, most of the time. It took two days after my previous two chemo sessions before the flu-ishness took over. I spent the following two days in bed feeling pretty much as I have with any past bout of influenza – aches, pains, sleepy, miserable - and then I got better.
That was the first time. The second time, the sickness lasted longer by a couple of days and following that, my energy has been the lowest I've felt since last year's surgery. Not to mention a few days later when out of nowhere my temperature jumped to 102F. But it was back to normal by morning.
Still, I have more good days than not and as long as that is so, I will continue the chemo. I know some cancer patients forgo chemo altogether and that's their choice. Mine, according to the doctors, slows the growth of the tumors and will give me six to eight months of reasonably good life before the cancer takes over.
And I definitely need the time. It's amazing how much work it is to die.
My end of life documents are in place. Arrangements have been made for my financial accounts to be available to my heir immediately following my death. She and I have regular conversations so she's aware of a good deal of what she needs to know.
Nevertheless, I am making a booklet for her with the details of all my household and other accounts, computer passwords, necessary email addresses, locations of important papers, insurance, auto information, etc. There is a whole lot more to do than I had realized at first thought.
And I still haven't arranged for my cremation. I can't tell you why that is and I need to get it done. For god's sake, it only takes a phone call.
Also on the list is to clean out all the detritus from the house. Guess how far I've gotten with that.
So these things, with the blog, are my days. I have no idea how other people in my predicament spent their time but I like my little life and want to keep it for as long as I can.
Oh, did I mention I lost most of my hair after the last chemo session. Do you recall that phrase people often use about their hair “coming out by the handful?” They aren't kidding. It's exactly true.
Four or five days after the chemo infusion, I was shampooing my hair in the shower and a huge handful came out. Then another. And another. And another leaving me with four or five hanks of hair hanging from unrelated areas of my head.
It was ugly so I chopped them all off and tried to even out what hair remains with the scissors. I have no doubt I'll lose the rest after today's chemo session. I have plenty of hats and a wig is also in my near future. I don't want to scare people with my bald head.
Day to day, I worry that the doctors will find reasons to stop the chemo before my six-to-eight months are done.
And I'm frightened some of the time in an overall, existential way that makes it hard to breathe. I may have a solution for that I'll tell you about soon.
Meanwhile, here's something I'll bet you didn't know about cancer: it takes away your cooking skills.
Okay, not exactly. It's just that I have lost all interest in and patience with cooking. After a lifetime of finding it to be an interesting, creative, not to mention tasty outlet, cooking has become way too tedious and time-consuming.
Nowadays, if I can't just heat it up in the oven or microwave, I'll eat a peanut butter sandwich. I am also investigating restaurant delivery services.