Thoughts from a sixty-something living a richly textured life in Delaware, Ohio.
Monday, December 10, 2012
Update from Cancerland
I have just finished the first cycle of chemo. This is my week off. It is all new and I am still finding my way around the different landscape. Sometimes I think the road goes that way, and instead it goes way over there. In the big picture, I am doing very well. I am feeling better overall and have had more energy in the last three weeks than the last three months. My gains are measurable and real. That being said, being ill again is a drag. In the small picture, some days are just plain hard. I am weathering chemo well and not having severe reactions to it, but even the milder reactions weigh me down. Chemo takes a toll. Despite the resurgence in energy, there are nonetheless personal limits. Some nights I struggle to make it to a reasonable hour ("reasonable" meaning at least 9:30 p.m.) before crashing. I don't enjoy the steroids I take once a week and the havoc they wreak with my body clock. As I said, it's a drag being ill again. My biggest problem is of my own making. I have a hard time recognizing my own limits. Well, to be honest, I often recognize them and then just blow past them. As a result, I tend to overdo all of my days, including chemo days, which means I pay the price for the next day or two afterwards. It is hard to relearn to take care of myself first. I recently had coffee with a friend and talked about my recent decision to take a sabbatical from the active part (the Tuesday night part) of the Legal Clinic. I am laying the groundwork now for others to step into my shoes. I told my friend I knew the decision was right, but I struggled coming to it. "Because you are giving up power?" she asked. I thought about that for a moment, then said, "No, it's having to admit that I cannot do the clinic right now. That's hard." I mean that. I have no problem with stepping out of an activity, even a beloved one, and gracefully ceding power to a successor. But to say out loud, "I cannot do this?" I have to swallow hard to get those words out. For the most part, I do not worry about the myeloma. The cancer is what it is. But I do worry about its impact on my dear husband. At times I feel as if I am coming to him, with both hands full, saying, "I bring you my illness." (Surely Walt Whitman did not anticipate that scenario when he wrote "Song of the Open Road," which is what keeps coming to mind when I present Warren with this reality.) Warren doesn't see it that way, but I sure do at times. (Perhaps it is a side effect of chemo that I cannot think through my days without drawing on poetry: what a wonderful side effect that would be!) Overall, I am grateful for the treatment and grateful that it seems to be working. I seem to be responding positively to it and for that I am blessed. I am also blessed beyond words to have tremendous community support. While we have not had to ask for assistance (meals, rides, you name it), it is nice to know that army of supporters is out there. As I type these words, Warren is at a Symphony board meeting. It is mid-evening and I am tired. Whatever chores are undone for the day will keep until tomorrow. I have gone all the miles I need to before I sleep.