Cancer Mythology

I’ve slept more in the past week, I think, than I usually sleep in the course of a month. That may be an exaggeration, but not much. I am in bed by 8 or 9 in the evening, up around 4 or 5, and sleeping in my chair before sunrise. It’s now almost 11:30 in the morning and I’ve just now awakened again. I  haven’t been asleep every minute since sunrise. But most of them. I was awake long enough to drink bottle of Ensure and take my medications. But just barely. I loathe this sense of absolute weariness. It’s as if I am wearing out like a pair of ancient shoes, their leather so thin that a slight motion in the wrong direction will rip the leather into shreds so delicate that nails can’t bind them to the soles. I feel so tired that I must have been forced to stay awake for a month but I know that’s not true. I should feel utterly rested after all the sleep I’ve had. But I don’t.

The pain in my chest, caused by my burned esophagus, doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Instead, it seems to be spreading and going deeper, like my heart is in the grip of a vice that squeezes with each move I make. I spoke to my doctor’s nurse a while ago. She advised me to continue taking the drugs intended to address the pain and to come in half an hour early on Thursday, before the scheduled radiation treatment, for an assessment. Perhaps the pain will have disappeared, or become more tolerable, by then. Perhaps all will be well.

I am not comfortable with pain. I’ve always said I have an allergy to it; half joking, half serious. Some people can tolerate pain; some can’t. I can tolerate it, but only during the course of complaining bitterly about it and behaving as if the pain is attempting to kill me. I suppose I dramatize pain. But  try not to. I try to cope with it and accept that it is what it is. That rarely works. I whimper, silently or not so silently, wishing and hoping the pain will take pity on me and will leave me alone. It rarely does. I can’t imagine how I would react to excruciating pain. I might tear my eyes from their sockets in an effort to distract myself from the agony. I realize that sort of behavior flies in the face of reason, but I am nothing if not reasonable. See, the pain drives me to distraction. I try to laugh but cough convulsively instead.

Today is, as best as I can tell, a gorgeous day. Blue skies, painted with a few white clouds, invite people outside to enjoy the warm weather. The temperature has reached almost 70 degrees. It’s the sort of day that healthy people rush outdoors to enjoy. But I remain indoors, warming myself in a t-shirt and sweatshirt because I feel a little too cold. I wish I were outdoors, sitting in the sun, enjoying the heat and the fresh air. But I’m not. I’m inside, shivering on occasion and angry at the universe for treating me the way it’s treating me today. Bastard!

My sense of humor is attempting to break out of the hard, cast-iron shell wrapped around my body, but it’s having a hard time of it. Why is that, I wonder? Could it be that my sense of humor is reacting badly to the multiple wounds on my chest and back and side? Could it be that laughter is cursing loudly, pointing at evidence of drunken scalpels behaving badly after a night directed to do bad things by wayward anesthesia drugs?

I think I need to go back to sleep. But I’d like to eat, instead. I miss foods that I dare not eat for fear of making my esophageal pain worse: jalapeños, Tabasco sauce, salt, and lemon juice. Instead, I am relegated to drinking 350-calorie food-substitutes, slurries that ostensibly will keep me from losing weight. They (to doctors and nurses who occasionally look out after me) want me to drink six of them per day. There is no way in hell I’m going to drink six bottles of Ensure in a single day. I might go for three. And, if I do, I will agree to cap them off with a half gallon of orange sherbet every couple of days. They want calories, I’ll give them calories.

I’d like to have a shower servant today, someone to gently scrub my skin, just hard enough to remove the remnants of the lotion I’m required to use to battle the “sun burn” I’m getting from the radiation treatments. After my cleansing, I’d like my shower servant to give me a pedicure and, once I’m clean and dry, to rub healing lotion on my back and chest. Then, a wash of healing skin-cream all over my arms and legs would be nice to help ward off the dryness that seems to be getting more and more pronounced. After I’m dressed in a soft robe, a nice glass of red wine would be nice. I am, begrudgingly, permitted one glass of wine per week. Yesterday would have been one week since my last very small glass of wine. My wife won out, though, by telling me I should wait for wine until some unspecified time in the future.  Yes, I should wait until I’m older, that’s it. I don’t believe for a moment that a glass of wine each and every night would be problematic for me. I think the doctors demand wine be eliminated only because they can get away with it. Perhaps they are in favor of prohibition. Or, worse yet, they secretly admire Donald Trump and his lifestyle. If that, they deserve to be impaled on a spike in his bollard wall. I wonder whether my contemplation of wine is making me into an aggressive drunk? That would be an interesting research project, wouldn’t it? “An Investigation into the Physiological Changes Wrought on the Nervous System by Contemplating the Consumption of Alcohol.” The Blue Laws would have to be revised to prohibit even thinking about buying alcohol on Sundays.

I guess I’ve successfully stayed awake for most, if not all, of the time required to write this incoherent screed. I’ll assume the content of what I’ve written can be attributed to some odd form of cancer mythology. Another possible thesis for one of my many master’s degrees.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Cancer Mythology

  1. I wish you had that magic wand, too, Cheryl. I’d like to reciprocate with one for you. And, by the way, I like your attitude about my wine consumption.

  2. Hopester says:

    Every word of this post makes sense to me. I wish I had a magic wand to make it all better for you. And for what it’s worth I don’t think a glass of wine every night is unreasonable at all.

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