Sunday, 6 November 2011
HERE I AM FLOATING IN MY TIN CAN
Next to the coffee table - a small wastebasket overflowing with balled-up tissues. On the table, an assortment of empty mugs and water glasses, a flat of Nicotine gum, my inhaler and nasal spray and the latest issue of a bead work magazine – which looks, from a short perusal, exactly like every issue of every other bead work magazine I’ve ever seen.
In the kitchen, dishes are floating in cold soapy water. The counters need wiping.
Thursday night, when the cold hits in earnest, my temperature is 101.5F - a degree and a half past the point where I am supposed to report directly to the hospital and present the plasticized yellow sheet of procedures from the Cancer Center. The sheet states that I must be seen in under two hours. A mere two hour wait is light-speed for the emergency room. But my nose is running and I feel like I'm trying to swallow razor blades. My chest burns when I cough.
I consider the dire warnings about raised temperatures and infection but my body feels like it's filled with cement. And it’s always cold in the hospital and I have chills. I can’t help believing that sitting in emergency for two hours will actually kill me. All I want to do is crawl under the covers and sleep. In the morning then – if my temperature is still high in the morning, I’ll go. First thing. But right now, I’m swallowing two Adivan and two Melatonin and crawling into bed.
Friday morning, the thermometer reads 99.1F. Although I require a tissue to be propped under my nose at all times, my throat and chest don’t hurt. I congratulate myself on following my own instincts thereby avoiding 5 or 6 hours of hospital emergency hell.
And I taxi down to the Dixon Center for a scheduled chest X-ray, then come straight home.
The plan is: Get Well By Monday Morning. The plan is to have the medical oncologist not lecture me for failing to report to emergency – and most of all not to have my chemo sessions delayed. I stop answering mail and the phone. I leave the computer turned off. I read and sleep and live on Ensure. My temperature gradually sinks down to my normal of 97.5F.
People ask me what I’m doing with my time, what my plans are. The only plan I have is to get through treatment, preferably alive. And treatment could go on until Spring – not including the time to recover from chemotherapy and radiation. I don’t make my schedule – the hospital does and they specialize in short notice. So I’m here in this state of suspended animation, floating. My job right now is to beat a rhino virus with the disadvantage of an impaired immune system. The next job is getting to the hospital on Monday, 7:30 a.m. for blood work, so the doctor can make an assessment at 9:00 a.m. I don’t know how tired I will be on any given day, or how sick, or for how long. I don’t know if chemo will work, or if I’ll need surgery. It’s the perfect Zen setup. I cannot attach to anything but the present.
It's as if I’m living in a parallel universe and sometimes, that makes it very hard to talk to people.