Thursday, June 13, 2013

Still Alive And Kicking

The world is gray and exceptionally rainy, the soggy sluicing of car tires against the roadways punctuated by bouts of thunder and flashes of lightening that threaten to banish the dog to her favorite hiding spot behind the chair and away from the windows for the rest of the day.

It is the perfect day after chemo, because all that my body wants to do this morning is cuddle into a chair with a soft and warm blanket, and spend the day reading and doing as little as possible.

I may not get an entire day of relaxation, this being dance recital week and all.  But I can at least get a couple of hours of calm and quiet to savor, right?

Yesterday's chemo was a rough round.  I had a horrible reaction that felt like a burning elephant was crushing my chest and that I would never again be able to draw any decent breath -- it came on so quickly that I barely had time to gasp out a word to the mercifully attentive staff, who were already racing to my side because my pale skin had gone raspberry red in an instant.  While this is not unusual during chemo given that they are pumping you full of poisonous ick, it resulted in us having to stop the drip, immediately add in a lot of steroids and benedryl, and then go more slowly for the rest of the treatment.

They will have to tweak things going forward to deal with my body's attempt to save itself from the very thing that is being used to save me from cancer.  Go figure.

Two down, two more to go.  Then several weeks of radiation.  Then several years of tamoxifen.  And who knows what else.  It is a long and winding road, indeed. 

But if it means I don't have to do any of this again, ever?  Then I will take the road now, thank you very much, to be able to giggle over something silly with my daughter or read with her snuggled in bed or watch The Peanut graduate from college and walk down the aisle and snuggle with grandchildren and laugh my way through another wonderful vacation with the family I love so much and just sit and hold the hand of the man I love so dearly.

More of my hair is coming out.  I wheeled the trash can out in the pouring rain this morning, feeling the drops of rain spatter directly onto my bare scalp and then roll swiftly down through the sparse remains of what can only kindly be called bits of fuzz on my head. 

It is oddly freeing to be stripped so bare of all the usual accoutrements of beauty, while at the same time so very cruel to reach up to wipe away a torrent of rain only to have your hand come away covered in more tiny hairs than you can count.

Where is all this hair coming from, I wonder, given how much has already gone into the trash and onto every surface in the house despite all of my precautionary hair trimmings.  I'm already down to a stubble-sized nub, but it keeps molting all over the place.  Thus far, I have held off shaving entirely, having been told that regrowth is really painful with a blunt edge...and with this latest round of chemo, I doubt there will be much left by next week anyway, so it is likely a moot point very shortly.

The thunder continues to rumble here this morning.  I find it oddly comforting, because we needed the rain, and because I have always loved a good summer storm to clear the air of its oppressive humidity.  You can literally feel the roses outside our sun room windows reaching up for more rain, as the drops come pelting down. 

In contrast, our westie has just scurried out from beneath my chair and headed to her spot behind the chair furthest from any windows, after another flash of lightning rent the sky outside. 

I understand where she is coming from, having felt the same way about scurrying to hide from this cancer diagnosis more times than I can count.  But am trying to face it head on, regardless of the fear, because what else can you do?  At least facing it directly, head up, chin held high regardless of the indignities and the fear, gives me something I can control inside myself as this toxic sludge courses through my system yet again. 

What I have learned about myself so far is this:  fear really is the mind killer.  Knowledge is my key to conquering my own fears, because the unknown is what can truly be paralyzing for me.  But over-analyzing things is no help, either, so I have had to learn to balance my need to understand everything with failing to live because I trap myself in an endless loop of thinking about cancer and nothing else.

So today will be about the pursuit of balance.  Actually, this week will be dedicated to thinking about that.  If folks have suggestions on things that help to find your center, even when everything around you is roiling, please share in the comments. 

Lord knows, with all of this going on at the moment, balance is an elusive and ever-morphing construct for me.  But I need to find more of it to survive all of this intact.  Any help or ideas on that would be much appreciated.

(Photo via Brenda Anderson.)


Ruth said...

Thanks, Christie, wish I could give you what you need to hang on, but all I can offer is my recent experience. Leaving my home of almost twenty years, I found a real list from letting go of and leaving behind things that I found out didn't really matter. Material stuff that I would be stuffing in and carrying, then finding a new home, suddenly showed themselves as being so much wasted space. It was freeing, and leaves me with open space.
Hope today brings you sunshine and lifting.

Christy Hardin Smith said...

We're definitely getting more sunshine already today than we got the whole of yesterday, so the aspect of the outside, at least, is far more cheery. Hooray! As for me, I am doing as well as I can under the circumstances. After this weekend's dance recital, our commitments to "stuff we have to do" reduce substantially, and my plan is to slow down and use that time to think a little more deeply about where I want to be and go and do moving forward. A little rejuvenation of the heart and mind, if you will -- might as well use this time for something to propel me forward, right?