I visited the cancer clinic last night. I sat in the chair that I started chemotherapy. I pulled the leg rest up, like I did at the beginning of every treatment, motioned with my arms how blankets were rolled over my legs and began to describe how the nurses would search for a vein on my right hand or wrist. then I started to cry. I didn't even see it coming. the tears, the reaction -- I mean. I cried again later when I talked about the first day and how my father watched me briefly then got up and left. later that night, I spoke with Guadalupe about the experience. I suppose the reaction shouldn't be strange given that I was reliving a traumatic experience. Also, we noted, I never cried or acted that way during chemotherapy. While I was in the thick of chemotherapy, i struggled to not allow myself to be afraid and when I was, to not show my fear. Psychologically, I wrestled with my fear because it could only harm me and my recovery. so I gave it no quarter. i guess until now. the rush of emotions wiped me out for the rest of the evening. after a short visit with the González family that night, I went home, cooked something and crawled into bed early. like I haven't in weeks. honestly, I'm still tired from the event.
I was born to a father who could see me as his child , his baby girl, his delight. I was born to a mother who was blind to my needs, my five little fingers, my five little toes, my sparkly eyes, my winsome smile. Unfortunately for me, my father died when I still had not internalized who I was and what I had to offer the world.
So, after my father's death, all my life lessons were taught to me primarily by my mother - who could not see the world clearly. I learned to be blind to who I was also! Looking into a mirror to see what I looked like, I saw who my mother saw. My intelligence, my sense of humor, so much of me had already been written for me by my mother, the author of my childhood emotions, opinions, issues, and self-worth.
My heart cries out for someone to see me; someone to touch the person I am! I want someone to acknowledge that I am so much more than I was told and had come to believe. The reality is that I will not find that someone, that anyone - until I see for myself the person I have become.
At age sixty-five, I have the chance to define myself. I do not need anyone to confirm my beliefs about myself. It is easier now because of my age and the fact that my world belongs to me. I am not watching a time clock. Nor am I raising children or establishing a professional life. I have been blessed by knowing people who really have loved me as I am and that fact gives me the courage to open another chapter in my life and find what has been buried deep. I have been hesitant to introduce the real me to the world. Wish me luck on this new journey. I will let you know who I find. Can anyone see me?
Yes, I, the holder of your soul, spirit and emotions, can see you clearly. Come join me and I will tell you all! Peace In the World. AMF
You knew some of us better than others! But we all knew you. We saw you with different eyes, with different professional and personal lives, with different knowledge bases, with different hearts and spirits. Some of us were members of your family, some were friends and some were admirers. You probably were not a stranger to anyone. And if you were, it was truly a lose for that person.
I found you every Sunday morning in my home. With a touch on my remote control your face appeared before me and for a time we were together. I was taken on a journey where you as the guide helped me to unpack my intelligence and knowledge. My brain opened so that I could unlock my thoughts as I listened to your questions and the answers your guests gave. Moment after moment I travelled with you to different parts of the world as you encouraged the dialogues. I watched the twinkle in your eyes each time you caught your "mouse" and the intensity was there too when you questioned someone about issues that impacted on our humanity and on our freedoms and political systems.
I wish I had known you enough to have given you a hug. Yesterday, you died and you left a vacancy that no one can fill. For once I have found someone who is irreplaceable. I have been mourning today. I move differently and speak softly not wanting to disturb the silence. I need to hold onto you for as long as I can. Goodbye, dear friend. Goodbye, Tim Russert. Peace AMF
Here's a line from my latest CT Scan report: "No evidence of metastatic disease." translated: nothing has spread and I've been cancer free for eight months. Dr. Ahmann recommended I go out tonight, have a beer and watch the sun set. I'll settle for time with my requinto. Blood tests are clean too. other than weight loss (I'm still below 140 pounds), it's all good, says the nurses and docs. oh yeah, I found this little note on my blood test results -- my testosterone level is 665. The highest it should be is 800. I'm macho, says my nurse.
Well it's been a weekend, a week and then another weekend since I enjoyed my first "chemotomy" (short for chemo lobotomy, of course).
As the photos above & video below suggest, I had absolutely no idea what the days after my first chemo infusion would be like. The following list summarizes:
1. VOMITING - None. They give you so many anti-vomiting drugs that it feels like your gut actually gets switched to "off" for about five days.
2. NAUSEA - No nausea per se, but because your gut isn't doing anything for almost a week it feels like you have someone else's guts in you. It's a very annoying feeling.
3. FATIGUE - Yes. Napping daily for the first week. Serious three hour naps.
4. DIZZYNESS - Yes. The chemo kills the blood to starve the cancer of what it needs to grow (I guess). What the chemo's doing to the cancer the chemo's also doing to everything else that needs anything from your blood.
5. LIKE BEING PREGNANT - I never really understood how annoying it can be to have something foreign take over complete control of your body. It totally sucks. After being pregnant with three our kids, my wife Nancy is my new hero! (Sorry, hon. I never new!)
6. CRANKY & IRRITABLE - Absolutely. Ask my poor family. I hope now that I know what chemo feels like I'll be mentally better prepared & not let the surprise put me in such a miserable mood.
7. THE "HUH, WHAT?" EFFECT - Some call it "chemo brain" but I like the term "chemotomy". All I can say is that for about five days all I did was wander around the house between naps trying to remember what the hell I just started doing two minutes ago. I now understand why people who get dementia also get mad. It's really quite annoying.
8. LOSS OF APPETITE - I wish! Instead of giving you drugs that turn off your gut they ought to give you something that turns off your appetite and your desire to engage in "happy hour" to make the misery go away.
All in all though, since I wasn't puking my guts out or curled into the fetal position for a week I'd say the whole chemo thing went a whole lot better than I thought it would.
RECOMMENDATIONS - For those of you reading this blog & freaking out in advance of starting your own chemo I humbly pass on the following:
A. Eat Light & Skip the Spices - For some unknown reason my stomach was not happy unless it was full. Think of the hour after Thanksgiving dinner. Stuffing your gut is not something you want to do when your gut is closed for business for about five days. Plus, I used to eat hot sauce and spices on everything. No more. Trust me, I tried.
B. Skip Exercising for a Couple Days - Unless you like that dizzy, almost-falling-over feeling.
C. Just Smile, Don't Speak to Your Poor Children - If that "hey look at me" noise teenagers love to make every waking hour of the day isn't something you're crazy about to begin with, chemo doesn't make that sound more pleasant. Buy some soft foam earplugs (really), and go take another nap behind a closed door.
D. You will Feel Normal Again - Like I'm an expert after one chemo infusion, right? I can say that by the beginning of the second weekend (I had chemo on a Thursday) I felt pretty much back to normal.
E. Skip Lots of Direct Sun - For some reason my face turned beet red after being in the sun just a little bit the first couple days after chemo.
Video Anyone? Speaking from personal experience, I know that for the month or so between the time you think you might have cancer ("Oh shit, I'm gonna die!") and the realization that having cancer is not a lot different that getting a second (or third) job, ("Like I got extra time in my life for one more stupid, time-wasting activity"), "cancer people" have an unquenchable thirst for any and all information about what they're about to go through. For all you happy cancer campers out there in blog-land I humbly offer about 12 minutes of my life in the chemo chair. (Videograpy services cheerfully provided by the "always ready for the next adventure", Mrs. Cancer Dan AKA my loving wife, Nancy.)
more poking and prodding this week in the latest installment of blood tests and CT scans...arrrr. I had a blood draw this morning. I'm hoping everything works out with my insurance. I'm still fighting over the last blood draw. What once cost me $50 all of a sudden went up to $550 when I got the bill for my last blood draw in April. Tomorrow morning i go for the routine CT scan. ugh, the tasty contrast. Next week, I meet with Dr. Ahmann.