Saturday, November 15, 2008

the truth about chemo

It's Friday night, and I am clawing my way up out of Hades. Having descended into hell, I am now ascending into, if not heaven, at least something remarkably better than hell. We hear much about "The Resurrection", as if it were a static event, as if one went from being dead to being alive in an instantaneous flash of golden light. Not so.

Chemotherapy is like dying and being reborn every two weeks. Monday is my Chemo Day. Wednesday is my Good Friday. Friday is my Easter. The requisite three days spent entombed. You slowly fall into a catatonic state of being able to do absolutely nothing. It's like the first trimester of pregnancy, with a good dose of flu, hangover, and depression heaped on top for good measure. "Don't touch me." "Don't talk so loud." "Slow down." When you move at the speed of the elder and the toddler, you realize that the world moves much too quickly. The grocery store is a maze of people moving too fast, talking too loud, buying too much stuff....... so you just don't go. The sight of children running on the front lawn of their elementary school is a scene from another lifetime, and you can't quite comprehend it. Everything is seen through a haze. The body becomes so heavy that to lift it out of the chair is a monumental task. You see the dirty dishes, but are absolutely powerless to lift one pinky to even open the dishwasher.

It's only for three days. But still.

And now, on Saturday morning, the sun is shining and I feel like going for a walk and I'll probably (gasp!) go contradancing tonight. I can read. I want to make soup and plan my son's birthday party and do the laundry and pay the bills(overdue for the first time in years). The living room is filled with golden orange light. I am resurrected. The memory of the past three days slowly slips away. I am nearly giddy with gratitude for the ability to see clearly.

I think I may possibly have a better understanding of what bipolar disorder must feel like.

The first two rounds were bad, but at least then it was novel, something new. I thought I'd try different things to see what works, what doesn't. I thought of it as a great experiment, with myself as the subject. Now, after number three, I see clearly the work that is before me. The fun is over. The hair is gone. I have to do this nine more times. We are entering the dark days of winter, and never before have I felt such a need to withdraw, to curl up, to truly experience the dark night of the soul. I go willingly, because there is much work to be done there, and many things to be learned. There is no way around, under, or over. No shortcuts. No portals to other dimensions. There is only me, and a long dark tunnel that must be traversed.


John said...

Uggg. That sounds awful Sue. I wish you strength and fortitude to carry you through until Spring!

candy said...

Hi sue, I will be thinking of you and sending positive thoughts your way, I loved what you did with the hair, blue then mohawk you have a great attitude, count me as a candle in the long dark tunnel candy

misinfokat said...

I will be chanting to Ganesh for you while I'm in Tennessee and will especially have you in my thoughts on Wednesday, the most beautiful day of the week.