I woke up this morning to find my that my hat came off in the night.
This wouldn’t be a first for me: hats long to slip off friction-less surfaces, and my head—as I slide my hand over my skull this morning—is indeed becoming friction-less. Where is the short sycthe remains for Ruth to come pick up from Boaz’ left over crop? I feel around my head, my circumfrance, and it is smooth, bald. The remains of the crop have now clearly been uprooted by chemo and trampled over by the drugs, creating a smooth pathway now in what was once crop furiously growing months ago.
Amazing, how chemotherapy is still taking away parts of me, pieces away from me, even though I have been undergoing it now for 8 months. There are still moments of in-between weeks of treatment that I catch my hair growing to then only be weeded and fertilized out by the big drugs themselves.
It still sometimes surprises me, in all honesty. And I look to see what remains of my eyebrows, eyelashes. Amazing, that some are still in tact (how on earth did that happen?)
This morning I am beating my father in his own strict-scheduling tendancies. I am eating breakfast, taking my medication, drinking my vitamin mix, taking a shower, packing up lunch all before the time we should be leaving. Impressive, especially for day 4 of 5 for chemo week. By this time I am sluggish, unwilling to get up from bed, want to sleep, sleep more.
We arrive to the hospital, and there is a note that I will later that afternoon get an MRI scan. Ugh. Necessary and yet so draining, especially when its scheduled for 3 hours after chemotherapy is over for the day. Dad though promises me a trip to the Book Loft in between chemo and MRI, which I gladly accept. (Oh how Daddies amazingly know their daughters!)
As I wait to get chemotherapy today, the art therapist comes in. My hands have been pleading to create another collage with her recently, so I am excited that she is at my doorframe this morning, her cart of art supplies never-ceasing.
I am an unusual 23 year old collage-crafter. I take out all sorts of shapes, cuts, images that the art therapist has in her wheeling set of drawers. I assess by color (dark blues, purples, greens, nature, grays, wooden patterns) as well as what is on the other side of the images that she has cut up for her patients. I long for the text, the words behind the images. I also see that one of the images is from a calendar. The image is not what I want, but the calendar squares themselves are. (Obession with time?) I don’t even know what year this calendar is a part of it, or of its exact month either. But all I see before me is time. That is what I want to be forever placed and encased in this collage of works.
The chemo part of my day is over, and Dad and I go venture off to the book break that he promised me. He can’t even remember the last time he visited the Book Loft, while I clearly can (earlier this winter.) Here is the maze of rooms filled with books, books that I wish I could magically touch all of their spines and absorb their knowledge. I am currently attracted to: memiors, graphic novels, religion books, classic literature and notebooks (always, always notebooks. Will my thoughts ever one day translate from blog/notebook form into a book on these shelves I’m now passing? One day we may see…)
Dad and I have to head back to the hospital for the MRI. (Oh yes, arriving back here today, looking for a parking space alongside with him, getting into a wheelchair, is all a dejavu like experience.) The MRI today for some reason makes me more nervous (perhaps the break wasn’t really the best idea after all) and I go in and lay down for the machine again.
I swear, today the MRI’s goal is to drill into my skull with its loud noises, to drill deep into my thoughts and then funnel whatever thoughts it longs to do so. The noises today are seeming to shake me more, make me sweat more in this tunnel of attrition, and I long to want to jump out and run. And yet, I would just be brought back to the mat of the machine once more, adding more minutes to be in its company that I truly do not want. Must submit. Must be stable. Must not move. And yet, someone during this 1.5 hour procedure, I fall in and out of sleep despite the loud shrapnel noises against my ears. Some “rest” though!
day 54: check.
It’s Friday. TGIF! I can praise for this moment just like the fellow employees and chemo nurses are.
And yet, even though chemotherapy surrounds you with a ton of people, I don’t want to be anywhere near or around them today (What is wrong with me? Someone who longs to be around others now wants to shut them out? What is happening to me God?)
The closest to human contact, human connection I can make today is to listen briefly to a teaching while I close my eyes. Even reading another human’s thoughts/words seems too difficult today.
Where do my ears land on today? Timely (maybe?) of a teaching entitled “Life Lessons From A Dying Guy.” Is this too morbid? Oh, but here I am clingling onto my fellow-sufferer-sibling’s words—
“In fact, I’ve said God, I don’t know if I can do this. His answer was no surprise: you can’t, but I can. I must tell you that I am coming to know even more about the character of God. He loves me and cares for me and my family more than I could ever hope or know or understand. He has promised in his scriptures that all things come together for the good of those who love our Lord. His character is to be trusted.
A friend once told me: sometimes God is glorified by changing our circumstances, and sometimes God is glorified by changing us in our circumstances. Both are true, and yet God remains unchanging. His character past is the same as today. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8)”
Dave Chilcoat, author of Nobody Tells a Dying Guy to Shut Up & pioneer of Columbus, OH Young Life division
I’ll admit to you here: I didn’t listen to all of this teaching, but I know I should go back to it. And yet, this paragraph was more powerful to me than anything else I had read/heard/seen all week this week. Lifting me outside of my own situation, outside of my (new) hospital room #17, to get back onto reflecting (if even so briefly) on Him and what He could be possibly be doing for me, for my friends, for my family, the people around me, in this moment. Although I have seen brief, brief glimpses, today they seem farther away than ever. And yet will I remain confident in His character, His Unchanging Character like my fellow-brother Dave? Oh, help me in my unbelief! And yet, that is exactly where He wants me to be in order to receive the help, the grace that I need. That I, in turn, somehow always, am running away from, or am trying to sleep off, or am stuffing my ears with radio, music, television shows. Oh, how I can knowing/unknowingly drown myself in these things, in these thougths! And yet, He is here and near, patiently waiting on this impatient patient of his.
Thank goodness that it’s Friday.
I look forward to the rest of my brain, for the recovery of running back to Him, to his people, even when I don’t feel like it.
Thank goodness for his graces and for his unchanging character.