Back again for more chemo! Which it doesn’t even seem like it, in all honesty, especially after the normalcy/relational highs coming back from a retreat this past weekend. Being refueled by love and sun and strength all around me. What a retreat from my own circumstances, my own selfish thoughts and onto others instead.
Mother and I arrive to breaking news: a new room. No longer am I going to be receiving my chemotherapy in room 15 (which I have claimed since the re-starting of my treatments this past August) but now instead a room over in room 17. As silly as this sounds, this is a shock to not have my room haha. Room 15 has now been taking over for the overflow of patients who are taking a chemo called Vincristine (which I also take, only on Mondays though.) The hospital’s change of Vincristine protocol is now changing my own protocol, my own schedule.
Switching from room 15 to room 17 is really not as bad as I thought, similar to how the move was from when I was younger from sharing a room with my sister to just having myself to entertain in my own bedroom. Room 17 still has a window view (thank God! I need natural light in this place) that is still close enough for mama to watch the helicopter pad and landings near-by, her source of entertainment. (We dare not turn on the TV while we are here, ever.) And for me, I still am close by to a hallway, my source of entertainment: to watch people come in and out, in particular the employees still so that I can wave them in to come into my room. I can’t help but smile: this is truly a sign, a piece of evidence that I am a people-person for sure.
Down the hall, I see Joel briefly. So funny, such God-timing. I had thought about his face earlier this past week, wondering how he was doing. His chemo-winter season is to be ending soon, soon! and soon the spring-life is coming once again for him. I am rejoicing for him, for his anticipation for that season to come, for life to return (and yet “normal” life to also not return again. The paradoxical life of a cancer survivor, oh my. What is normal after cancer, truly?)
Cara visits me today, and one of the chemo stickers I receive today is the perfect gift for her, for our time together: a turtle with a hat!
After chemo today, I receive a CT scan. If only all of my medical check up and scans could be like a CT! So quick, so fast! An in-and-out procedure. I lay down on the machine, place my hands above my head, and wait for the cartoon face above me to glow and the machine to dictate for me to “breath in…hold your breath” and to “breath” once more. These CT scans are to done to check my lungs once more; although I haven’t had anything really alarming cancer-wise there for years, I still need the check ups.
After the brief scans, I ask mama to take me back home (which is which that I am referring to? My home on campus, with my wonderful roommates, or my home with my parents, my home of growing-up moments? How is it that I can possibly have two homes—sometimes three, my hospital home—all at once?) At home on campus, Kendra and I rest and get smoothies, smoothies and conversation for digestive physical health and mental health. Oh, how I am constantly being affirmed how I need others in my life to talk to benefit all sorts of health: social, physical, mental, spiritual.
And yet, even after a nap and nutrition, I am still tired. What? Why? How can this be?! I am in my bedroom now of the attic floor, on the floor, using my bed as a rest for my back to lean on. How can a simple task of changing, getting together items, carrying a bag downstairs all of sudden feel so daunting? I text Roz, my form of SOS, to help me in my pathetic feeling state, both mental and physical. Sometimes the smallest of tasks–getting ready to go somewhere, choosing to go to a meeting or not—that would normally be so normal and second nature, take on immense anxiety with chemotherapy swirling and rattling your brain, heart and bones, absorbing and on the proactive mission it seems to steal all of the good within you. Roz, although a new friendship in my life, is willing to be patient, patient, and listen, listen and give, give help. I so appreciate her, and her presence on the floor across from me reminds me that even though I have matured in this area, I am still so stubborn, I am still wanting to do all the things I feel like I should do and am called to do on my own. Sigh. I still have a lot of progress, a lot more learning on how to not just rest against my bed here but on Him alone.
Even though I was extremely tired in the evening last night, my subconscious anxieties of starting chemo back up again this week as well as the very physical effects of multiple, intense drugs weigh on my brain, on my heart. I sleep for no joke between the hours of 11p-2a and then I stayed up from 2a-7a not by choice but chemo and medication anxieties coiling, their potential energy whirring within my cells, longing to escape! And they do escape, digging trenches directly it seems to my brain, a circumference of pain around my skull, of now potential energy whirring within my thoughts. Must write them down, must write them down. Oh how I know the teeter-totter of chemo brain so well these days.
Even though I manage to sleep for only a total of 4 hours today, chemo day 52 is not as bad as I thought. I know I did not have the most pleasant of moods though while being taken to chemo by my father (bless his patience!) and somehow I was able to still have a coherent visit with my friend Caitlin today. Small glimpses of graces every where.
I do though crash after chemo, once I am back to my parents home. Typical. And also typical of the two of us, Dad and I go to the grocery store later that evening together. Somehow, in some way, being surrounded by food, of potential meals, potential memories, is soothing for both him and I, I suppose.
And here I am again, typing the night away. And my dad comes to ask if he can interrupt me for a moment to flush out IV. You see, I keep my IV in my arm every night that I have chemotherapy. It’s not a needle persay, but instead a small, mini straw that is eager to always be hooked up and aborb whatever fluids might come its way (steriods, chemotherapy, fluids.) As long as its happy, I am happy. To maintain its happiness, Dad and I nightly have a routine that he gives me a mini shot-like tank of fluid, a procedure that we have down at this point 3 minutes or less. We make an impressive team. He has become over the past 10 years my eager in-home nurse, learning how to give me shoots in my arms with real needles, to pill-giver and reminderer, to now flusher of IVs. Perfect lessons for a mathematical and stable man who lives on his schedule. And yet, although mathematical and stable, longing for perfect answers, he is always scheduling time in for me in these moments to come out of the equation with something greater than the equation’s solution should be: love.