I wrote about some of this last week, but I'm coming at it from a different direction today.
It was November 2018 the last time I wrote a cancer update. The good thing is that not much has changed in terms of the disease since then – but my behavior and attitude drift from here to there and back again.
Some of that is a result of chemo side effects. A difficult one is loss of appetite. It's important for my continuing health to keep up my weight but for several days after a chemo infusion, I can barely put a bite in my mouth without retching and in four or five days, I can lose that same number of pounds.
When my appetite returns I spend the next week stuffing myself with all the high calorie food I can eat to increase my weight before the next infusion. And then I start over again.
More difficult than the weight loss and gain, however, is fatigue. I feel fine for two days or so following the infusion; then I'm exhausted for two or three days, sometimes needing two naps and early bed each day for that period of time. After that, I feel like a normal, healthy person until the next infusion.
The most difficult thing that comes with loss of appetite and fatigue is a really bad mood. Terrible mood for two days or so during which it feels like it's time to bring this to an end as I run scenarios of my final day.
It doesn't matter that I've experienced this often enough now to know that it lifts entirely within two days. Knowing that doesn't make getting through it easier.
And yet. And yet.
With all that, what a remarkable series of events I'm living through, especially for a short-timer whose life is unwinding now during a period I had expected to become slower and quieter until time to go.
Instead, some of the most extraordinary events of my life have been taking place:
• Meeting the son (and his family) I gave up for adoption 56 years ago
• Fulfilling my long-held intention to have a magic mushroom experience in the face of impending death
• And, a near dispensation from chemotherapy side effects
No, I didn't forget the appetite problem, fatigue and horrible mood. But compared to the long list of those and other potential side effects I was given to expect when I began this chemotherapy (some of them quite icky), I been lucky beyond measure.
The side effects I have are short-lived – about three days every two weeks – and astonishingly, they have become lighter and easier to tolerate with each infusion.
No one can tell me how much time I have left. It depends on how long this chemo is effective and how the cancer develops from here. My stamina and energy are down; it takes about twice as long to do almost anything I once did faster but I don't dislike the slower pace.
I seem to want more time alone than before and spend some of it digging around for a deeper understanding of myself and of the meaning of life. Fat chance I'll get anywhere with that second one but why not try.
This blog is important to me. I write it as least as much for myself – to figure out what I think and believe – as for you, dear readers.
Living is easier now without ambition, worldly goals and urges to compete. The worst that can happen (“you have incurable cancer”) has happened now and I've become accustomed to knowing that. It's all right.
In fact, this simple, little life I have may be the most contented I have known in my near 78 years. How did I get so lucky.
I know there are a goodly number of TGB readers who have and/or are living through similar circumstances. Does any of this resonate with you?