Tag Archives: teddy bear

Poison

When we are faced with the unknowable, we search for solace and reassurance wherever we can find it. Some people turn to religion, others to denial. Although I’m a big fan of denial, I have tried as much as possible to turn to understanding. Early on, I read that my hair falling out was good because it meant the chemotherapy was working. But then yesterday I read that, in fact, all it means is that the chemo is having an effect, not necessarily a good one.

arsenic

Chemo is, in fact, toxic and my hair fell out because the chemo damaged the cells in my hair follicles. It is, in fact, damaging cells in my entire body, as one would expect of poison. This is only logical. If the wife discovered her husband was cheating and started mixing arsenic into his lemonade, then he suddenly started growing taller and more handsome, we would know either she can’t read product labels or we are reading a fairy tale. There is some logic to the workings of the universe.

For chemo, the reality is that while the toxic concoction is damaging healthy cells, which have the capacity to recover, it is also damaging cancer cells, which do not recover, at least in theory. The problem here is that every cancer is different, every person’s reaction is different, and unless another tumor makes its uninvited appearance, there’s no way to know if any of this is working. Everyone has cancer cells in them; most of the time our immune systems can murder the little buggers. Perhaps my extensive surgery and clean removal of the tumor was enough and my natural immunity could have killed off whatever cancer cells remained. Perhaps not. There’s no way to know. And radiation, which is supposed to have the same damage/repair effect, can also cause further damage to my already compromised lymph system and/or ignite some new type of cancer and then we start the whole inexplicable, unreliable, horrible process all over again.

It pained me to discover that the only proof there is that any of this treatment works is statistics. Women who undergo chemotherapy and radiation have a better chance, just a chance mind you, of outliving those who don’t. I can’t help thinking of going to the floating duck game at the county fair and expecting to pick the duck that wins you the giant teddy bear instead of the cheap plastic key holder. Statistically, it is possible to win that bear, but I wouldn’t stake my allowance on it. There are to many variables, too many ducks.

big bear

Yesterday, with all those contradictions gurgling through my chemical befogged brain, we went out for my birthday lunch, and not far from home I managed to trip over a pothole and tumble to the ground, not in that adorable way a toddler falls-down-goes-boom, but arms and legs flailing, ending up on my butt in the middle of the street. At least, much like a toddler, I started sobbing. And it only got worse as concerned strangers stopped to ask if I was all right. One woman even offered to drive us wherever we might want to go and when we said I was all right, she fetched a towel-wrapped ice pack, handed it to me, and drove away. Perhaps my bleeding palm touched her heart. Perhaps the bandana on my head told her all she needed to know. Either way, that simple act of kindness made me cry even harder, not jut from pain but also from frustration and helplessness.

I keep expecting to wake up from this nightmare and discover that it was all a fairy tale after all, that I chose the right duck and won the giant teddy bear. But the fact is that I didn’t choose any of this. Who would? The thing I have to remember is it’s not about choices, or at least not about liking any of the choices. When offered a choice of Japanese sweets, which generally look pretty and taste awful, I can always say I’m on a diet. But what’s the correct answer to, “Are you ready for your chemo now?” And how do I say yes to radiation when I know it may do more harm than good? But at the same time, how do I say no?

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I Think I Can Bear It

This has been one of those weeks where I really have to fight the urge to dig a hole and bury myself in it. I’ve still got this Sword of Damocles writing project hanging over my head, although I just finished half of it. As with many recent challenges in my life, it feels like I’ve reached the summit of yet another mountain and can now begin the descent toward the goal.

Twitchy remains one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, and therefore a heartbreak since we still can’t touch her. I have to remind myself that she has a lot to learn. She’s never been a house cat before and doesn’t know how to do that. She doesn’t know what petting is or how good it feels. Her survival instinct is to see everyone and everything as a threat. So we just have to wait. She’ll come round when she’s ready. Yesterday as I was getting her dinner ready, she got so excited that she touched my leg with her nose and stepped on my foot. It’s progress and I’m grateful, but patience is not really my strong suit these days.

On Tuesday, I had a tooth pulled by the Happiest Dentist Ever. He chattered away, giggling even, the whole time he worked on my mouth. I wondered if he was nipping at the ether between patients. He gave me a cute little case to carry my tooth home in. (The tooth was gross. You don’t want to see it.)

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERABeing at the dentist is like riding in an airplane. Once they strap you in, everything is beyond your control so you might as well relax and make the best of it.  So I was trying to be mature and independent. After all, that tooth had been bothering me on and off since high school, so I was well rid of it, yet I couldn’t help wishing my mommy was there holding my hand. The Happy Dentist said the tooth should pop right out. “Here we go. 3…2…1…(yank, yank) 2…1…(yank, yank)” (Eda whimpers.) “2…1…(yank) There we are!” I don’t think I’ve ever actually whimpered before.

The next day, I had a meeting and the client, who is a sweetheart, told me that basically they wanted me to do an impossible amount of work in an impossible amount of time. I am not exaggerating; she wanted 72 five to ten line monologs/dialogs written in ascending difficulty and according to strict grammar and vocabulary guidelines and could I please finish by 4:00 because she has another meeting to go to. It was 2:30.

I try to be professional and cooperative. If I wasn’t already suffering from chemical warfare in my brain, I might have laughed out loud, but my chin started to quiver, and I thought, “Oh, God. This is it. I’m going to lose it. I’m going to start sobbing right here in the office. Everyone will see me as an incompetent loser. I might as well become the bag lady that I am at heart. I will just collect my things and go sit on a bench in the park for the rest of eternity, birds nesting in my hair, dogs peeing on my ankles.”

Instead, I did carp face, opening and closing my mouth but not managing to say anything. In the end, we did as much as we could, which was most of it, but I’m not vouching for the quality.

And then it was back here to the computer slogging through the seemingly endless writing project. So I did this yesterday…

140718_1303~02…and it helped.

And tomorrow I’m going blueberry picking. I think that will help, too.
The world is a better place because of blueberries and bears.