That's the question I spend some of my time trying to figure out. A new pain in my elbow. Nausea if I eat one more bite. A nose so runny I use up one-and-a-half boxes of Kleenex in a day.
I'll go with old age as the cause of a pain in an elbow. Nausea is probably from the chemo. And who knows (nose?) what's causing my constantly running nose.
I suppose it doesn't matter. Cancer, chemo or old age doesn't change the fact of whatever is bothering me. But it might be helpful to know which does what so that perhaps a medication can be adjusted - although I'm not pretending that symptoms at this simplistic level can in any way be compared to pancreatic cancer.
When I was first diagnosed two years ago, my idea was to follow the instructions of my various physicians and nurses while making preparations for my death. The statistics tell the irrefutable story: fewer than 10 percent of pancreatic cancer patients live beyond one year after diagnosis so I've already won this lottery.
Time went by. It took nearly a year to entirely recover from the 12-hour Whipple surgery. The pain I experienced then was anything but a mystery: 22 surgical staples along with the removal and/or rearrangement of several organs.
Some chemo followed but was stopped when it was deemed ineffective. Eventually, my current chemo regimen began and so far, as I have reported here, it is working well and – amazing – with each treatment the side effects have lightened or disappeared.
Just like not knowing what is responsible for my improved chemo side effects, I have no idea how long this situation of such a good response to the chemo will last. It will end at some point; I just don't know when.
The only thing I think I know about living a reasonably untroubled daily life with such a noose hanging over me is that I must find a way to make peace with it. Which is pretty much the same thing as making peace with dying.
The psilocybin session I underwent in December, the benefits of which so far are holding strong, get me partway there. The rest is one of the passages people in my predicament have to deal with several times.
It's doubtful that any of this is unique to me. I'm just surprised that no one I can find talks about it. Does anyone reading this know what I am not too clearly trying to say?