Going on three days’ worth horrible bone pain. Nothing attenuates it. Dr. is unsympathetic. I’m running a solid 9 on the pain scale and he suggests Tylenol in addition to the other meds I take. It does not work. He grumbles and gives me the mildest opioid there is.

I’m not a pill head; never have been. If I could have a couple of shots of Ruby Red, I’d probably feel better, but the thought of alcohol gives me waves of nausea.

I can’t find my ass with both hands anymore. It started November 4, when I got the call that there was a suspicious finding on my x ray. That day turned my world upside down.

CT scan followed the next few days, followed by a phone call that confirmed lung cancer.

The whirlwind of doctor visits, PET scans, MRIs, biopsies, and finally, a lobectomy of my upper left lobe. The tumor was huge, really. That was January 12. Pain still persists and shortness of breath is my best friend.

Next shock: I started chemo yesterday. Not because of mets, but to knock out any lingering microscopic cancer cells lurking in hidden tissue or organs The regimen is short but brutal. I get a triple dose of two drugs every three weeks. If I can handle it. I asked how long the side effects would last between doses and the answer was airy, but blunt. 4 to 5 days, but those few days would be hell on wheels. My hair is going to fall out soon. Nausea is already paying a visit, but I have good drugs for that when I remember to take them. I can look forward to mouth sores, more neuropathy, blood sugar swings, and weekly blood tests for white cell counts. Whee.

I can’t shoot a rifle anymore. The mediport excludes that. My left side has a pacemaker. I asked when I would get the port taken out and the nurse said, ‘never’. That hit hard. I will not be cured. What a kick in the ass. I have a small bit of gratitide for the port, though. My hands and arms are still bruised and tender from the needlepoint they performed for the lobectomy. Now all the blood draws can be done in my chest.

This next part is the most important.

My support system is amazing. I never expected the outpouring of care and love from the people I know even though I’ve not met most of them. Offers of rides, monetary gifts, food, phone calls and texts, you name it. My independent life has been humbled. I’m just now learning to accept with gratitude the help and hope so freely given without expectation. This is the essence of love. I want to hide my face and weep for the grief I feel, but then I am reminded of so many people lifting me up and gladly carrying me, and so I won’t give up. I will never give up.

I always thought if I ever had a disease like cancer, I would know it, feel it like an alien in my body.

It hasn’t been that way at all. The symptoms crept in one small twinge at a time, one extra cough at a time, one afternoon nap at a time.

One day, I was willing to bet I had a touch of COPD. I would have lost that bet the next day.

The medical machine crunk up slowly, idling for a scant week. Then that machine, that infernal machine, kicked into gear and started rolling toward an end I cannot see or fathom.

I’m not sick-yet. I’m not at the finality of the diagnosis-yet. But, I am paralyzed on this new road. It’s not familiar and it looks dark up ahead. The steering wheel is in a white-knuckle grip.

So, tomorrow, the machine picks up speed. Someone said, it’s like being handed a grenade with the pin already pulled.

I smelled spring in the air today and it was magnificent in all its damp, rotting mulch glory

A watery sun broke through some of the clouds and bathed all the dead grass with a brassy glow

it released more aroma of the hay fields down the road, alfalfa turning up the allergy meter to almost intolerable

but it still felt damned good and warm and my skin expanded to its normal size after some weeks of shrinking as close to my insides as possible

it was tight and it loosened with an inaudible sigh

and when it loosened up my mind loosened up right along with it

Winter pinches and squeezes a body more so after fifty, squeezes the mind and the mood and the spirit into drafty little corners of darkness

I’ve felt claustrophobic this year and it feels like a too-small overcoat that chafes my skin

black hanging bridge surrounded by green forest trees
Photo by Kaique Rocha on Pexels.com

I put a new roll of toilet paper . . . On the holder.  It felt like I’d completed a workout in the rain barefooted.

Depression is a catch-all term for a whole plethora of symptoms relating to the psychological and physical inability to function like normal people do in the real world. Allegedly. We depressives tend to not talk much about the various ways our depression will sabotage our efforts to function. I like to write. I like to create. Mostly, what I do is nothing. My bed calls me, dirty sheets and all. And every time I crawl under the covers, right before I sigh with exhaustion, I think, I should change the sheets and throw these in the washer and take out the trash and wash the dirty dishes and clean the kitty pan and . . .

Two hours later, the nap has succeeded in making me feel worse. I still can’t move, though. I should hang up those clothes. I should go visit my friend in the nursing home. I need to write. I have some orders I could be working on. Those dishes aren’t cleaning themselves. Those sheets are getting sadder by the minute.

Depression lowers the immune system. Being the misanthrope I am these days, about half the time I go out of the house, I get sick with something: bronchitis, stomach viruses, strained tendons, 6-5 and pick’em.

My truck had four active recalls on it when I took it in for work. 24 hours later, I felt like a new deckhand working a tuna boat on the Atlantic in January with a violent storm blowing in. My cat curled up on my head, all 17 pounds of him, purring like a kitty generator. I firmly believe that my fever would have lasted at least another day if not for his medical intervention. As soon as I started sweating, he moved down to my icy feet and draped himself over them until they warmed up. Three days later, I’m still not well physically. Kitty did check on me last night, delicately licked my eyelid, and settled down for a nap on my painful shoulder, purring contentedly.

The first glimmer of a break in the clouds just happened a few minutes ago. You see, I try to listen to comedy bits, and they say laughter is the best medicine. It’s actually more like a vitamin supplement: the placebo effect temporarily supplants the depression. This small window of not-feeling-hideous could be used to wash the sheets, I suppose. I’m going to try it, see if this actually makes it to the bedroom. If it does, Ch. 2 might be a progress report.

bare trees against sky during sunset
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

A therapist once told me that I thrive on becoming rather than being.  He was

right, but I didn’t understand at the time it is a double edged sword

The excitement of becoming is a drug that can chase one into madly searching for somewhere to land

Being. Ah, being. Just being. It sounds like stasis. Boring, Stuck.

At this age, I realize that stasis is equilibrium and that is a very good thing. Balance.

Not a teetering on the edge kind of balance, but a discrete place of action and calm.

Pity this wisdom comes so late in life, but the richness of nuance and meaning adds immeasurably to each precious day on this side of the dirt.

Experiences become a symphony of light and serenity

of satisfaction and grace notes of grief and booms of being one in this place

while memories race to claim a seat in reality, they add color and depth

to what is already at hand

I want to taste and feel and understand and stay still in the moment

It is a good thing, a very good thing, to be here.

scenic view of mountains during dawn
Photo by Stephan Seeber on Pexels.com

 

This morning, I arrived at the intersection of mortality and denial.  The past, present, and future sat at a cafe table, sipped lattes, and watched as my steps became hesitant.

The past delicately placed a five on the table.  “My money’s on knowledge.  She’s seen this one before and chose–well, if not wisely, then correctly.”

Present added a fiver. “I don’t know. Lately, she’s been just waiting and not doing. I’m going with what I see now.”

Future smirked and placed a ten under the cold candle. “You all know I have to cover both positions.”

I looked both ways and sighed. There must be a third choice I cannot yet see.  Frost may have gotten it wrong. I took out my notebook and started writing down the possibilities.

Wings sprouted from my shoulders and lifted me up, over the intersection, over the obstacles, away from the cafe. From above, I could see both roads.  I clutched my notebook to my chest and smiled. So, the writer’s way, then.

A passing waiter collected the money off the table and smiled at the trio staring openmouthed as I disappeared.

“It’s a push. Better luck next time.”