Thursday, June 16, 2016

We've Reached the Pissy Portion of this Shitshow

I’m tired of going to chemo. Literally and figuratively.

Yesterday was not the greatest day for me. My chemo was scheduled for 1pm—later than usual. I felt fine in the morning, but as the afternoon approached, I found myself getting crabbier and crabbier. The thing is, I simply had no desire to go to chemo and, like most human beings, when we are forced to do something we do not want to do we tend to get a little salty.

Chemo itself is not really bad. In the beginning, it was even a little exciting. A new adventure. Something different. The nurses are so incredibly nice and attentive. The Infusion Center is set up to be as comfortable as possible. Any and every magazine you could possibly imagine. Free wi-fi.  Recliners. Cool medical equipment at every turn. As a bit of a morbidly excitable medical nut, I found everything to do with chemo fascinating in those first few weeks.

Today…not so much.

I have completed 7 chemo sessions. I have 9 more to go. I am not even halfway there and, frankly, I am feeling completely and totally done with the whole thing. I am sick of the traffic in downtown St. Paul. I hate the Regions Hospital parking ramp and its multitude of meddlesome poles. I am tired of the bathrooms by the South elevators with the paper towel dispensers that always seem to be on the fritz. The recliners are no longer comfortable. The warm blankets are no longer soothing. Even the snack basket is proving dull. And the ports and needles and IV bags and flushing fluids that I found so fascinating in the beginning are nothing more than tedious inconveniences these days.

After months of intentional and deliberate positivity—of trying my best to see the silver lining in everything—I have reached the “WHY ME?” stage of cancer treatment. It’s not a stage I am proud of, but it has arrived with a pissy flourish nonetheless.

Why do I have to go through this shit when almost everyone I know gets to avoid it? I’m only forty-three years old. I should have decades before I am on a first-name basis with hospital staff. Why do I have to look at stunning vacation photo after stunning vacation photo on Facebook knowing full well that my family is tied to the Twin Cities for the whole summer? Why does my entire extended family get to leave to spend a week at the lake tomorrow and my chemo is keeping my family homebound? Why does everyone else get to live their lives oblivious to the fears and anxieties that we live with every day? Why does my wife have to sit crying in a stranger’s office because she can’t cry in front of me? Why does no one else get to have their chest carved open for a plastic port insert?  Why am I always the only bald chick in every single freaking room?

I don’t have answers for any of these questions. There is no rational explanation. And that kills me. I want to know the whys and the hows. I want to understand what I did to make this happen. After all the shit Ruanita and I have been through in our lives—after finally finding security and love and our very own little piece of happiness—why us? The fact that there is absolutely no plausible explanation makes it all the more difficult to handle.

I need to find a way to come to peace with this because I have 9 more chemo sessions to go, followed by surgery (likely a double mastectomy) and possible radiation treatment. This is not going away any time soon, so I have to find some sort of meaning in it all when it looks like no meaning exists.

All my life, I have been a firm believer that things happen for a reason. The reason may not always be immediately apparent, but there is some greater plan in place. That there are forces beyond my control that are looking out for me. It’s not so much a religious belief—I don’t really consider myself a religious person—as a spiritual belief. A spiritual certainly, even. There have been too many things that have happened in my life that could have gone horribly awry for me not to believe that someone is looking out for me. Even as recently as right before my diagnosis.

While cancer was, unbeknownst to me, sprouting and growing inside of me, Ruanita made the completely uncharacteristic move of leaving a job she knew well and was comfortable with (and incredibly talented at!) to take a job with a different company. You have to know how much Ruanita is a woman who relishes the familiar and deplores the unexpected and new to understand exactly how uncharacteristic this was for her. Change is incredibly difficult for her, but for some inexplicable reason, she made the sudden move. It made no sense to me at the time, but two weeks into her new job, she was approached by her previous employer asking her to come back with a hefty raise and more accommodating hours. Not only did she return to the job she knew and loved, but that raise allowed me the opportunity to not work while undergoing the worst part of my chemo and to focus on my treatment rather than worrying about money. And at a company where they know her and truly appreciate her, she has received a simply unbelievable outpouring of love and support.

Why did she make that uncharacteristic move if not for the fact that someone somewhere was looking out for us? Someone knew that her employer would only truly appreciate her once she was gone. Someone knew that we needed help. That she needed the support she has received from her workplace.  I like to imagine that it was my dad (who died when I was eleven years old) or my grandmother (who adored Ruanita).  But the truth is that I have no idea why things happen the way they do. Or why everything in my life has always seemed to move in such a way as to avoid a seemingly inescapable catastrophe. Something has always pushed me toward happiness. Toward peace. Toward love. I have to believe that that same something will get me through this.

So yeah, I am crabby. And tired. A little pissed off. And sick of chemo.

But I am also alive. And in treatment. In the care of good doctors and amazing nurses. Back at work and contributing…something, somewhere. Earning a paycheck once again. Finally off the couch and able to cheer at my daughter’s soccer games and play video games with my sons and walk around my beloved Target with a latte in hand. The fact that I am pissed is proof that I am a functioning human being, I guess. I have yet to understand the meaning of it all, but I have to believe that there is a master plan in the works.

For now, that’s all I’ve got. 


Tanya Dodd-Hise said...

I'm having some days like that, but I know I got to that point last time. I'm sure there was a blog about it. It sucks, but like we know, we gotta do it! You got this (and you're way ahead of me!) just remember to take care of you. And if you want ice cream for lunch, then you go get it!

Madge Woods said...

Hugs to you and Ruanita. You picked each other for a reason and I believe in fate. You have what each of you needs. I love your energy separate and together. You've got this. And be as grabby as you want. I love you in all your different rants, rages and i know you are strong and will get through this and you will travel to places you dream of.

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