I’m Sick. (and I kinda like it.)

So I think I’m sick.  But I’m kind of digging it.  Which, if you’ve seen me squeezing all sorts of fun out of having cancer, may not surprise you.  But this time, it’s a little different.

Allow me explain…

The last couple of days, I’ve had a few new things going on (in addition to the litany of old things going on, [where by “things” I mean symptoms and side effects and, well, just general sick-ness.])

For example: yesterday, I was tired.  All day.  Like, weirdly tired.  But I’m weirdly tired all the time, so for me “weirdly tired” means really weird.  Like, supernaturally tired.  The kind of tired that you’d imagine only comes once a millenium, and requires A Thousand Years’ Sleep to cure.

So last night, I did all I could think to do with one night (not yet being sure I’ll have the luxury of 364,999 more), and I made sure to get a Big Damn Solid Dose of Good Night’s Sleep (a B.D.S.D.O.G.N.S.).  Which worked quite well (I clearly needed it, and the lovely new curtains my mom helped me put up worked like a charm in the morning).

But today… same thing!  Super tired.  Hmmm.  What the devil!  And no new meds, nothing unusual going on in the brain lately that would explain this Sudden Swing to the Super Slumberous.  Why the hell was / am I so pooped?

Speaking of poop (it’s relevant, so I’m going to), I think yesterday I made seven trips to the toilet.  Actually I don’t think, I know.  I counted.   Seven sit downs!  And another four just this morning– which would have actually been five if I had actually made it to the toilet in time for #2 #5.  (I didn’t.  Make it in time.  More on this later.  Consider yourself warned.)

So anyway, all this new shit was odd.  Both the sleepiness, and the shittiness.  I hadn’t eaten anything odd either.  So what the hell is/was going on?

Then this afternoon, it occurred to me…

Maybe I’m just SICK!

On top of everything else, maybe I’ve also got a Regular Person Illness (R.P.I.)… like some kind of flu, or maybe even a run-of-the-mill-non-genetically-engineered virus!  These things seem to be going around at the moment, and a bunch of people I know (including my doctor) have been laid low recently.  So maybe I’m sick!

And for some reason, this thought made me happy.  Which did seem vaguely twisted, even to me.  So I’ve been thinking about that, and here’s what I realized.

A few things, actually…

– It’s kinda nice, just as a change of pace, to have something wrong with me that has absolutely nothing to do with brain cancer.  I mean, it sucks — it still feels like being sick — but it’s not any worse than what I am already dealing with (which I’m learning to deal with a bit better, and more patiently, on a daily basis).

Plus– and this is the important part…

– With this kind of sickness– this kind of Old Fashioned People Gettin’ Sick sickness– all you have to do is get some rest, take it easy, and it’ll just… go away.

Holy shit.  It’ll just go away!?!?!

What a fuckin’ luxury!

No brain surgeries?  No experimental drugs injected into your skull… no weeks and months and (if you’re lucky) years of heavy dose chemotherapy…  no direct-brain radiation, no support groups, not even so much as one trip to the emergency room!

Just chicken soup and sleep and passing time with books and movies and it’ll just… go away!?!

Wow.

So I guess that’s why I like being this kind of sick.  I wish they were all like this!

The only real negative effects of this particular R.P.I. (so far at least) have been:
a) a totally sleepy wasted day yesterday, and
b) the aforementioned #2 #5 that wound up in my pants instead of where I would have preferred it to wind up (or down, as it were).

But even that little mishap lead me to take that really nice long shower I’d been putting off for a couple of days. (Look, when you’re as tired as I’ve been, even the thought of getting wet is exhausting, because it means having to get dry again.  So don’t judge).  And it was a really nice shower.  I washed my (lack of) hair and everything.  It felt great.  I should do that every day!  (Shower, not shit my pants.  And actually, we’re in a drought, so maybe I can still only shower every other day 😉 )

Anyway, where was I… oh yeah, so even this Unexpected Shitting of The Pants lead to an unexpectedly nice outcome.  Maybe I really do like being sick!

I mean, I don’t want to be sick forever or anything, but therein lies the beauty… I think if I just wait it out, this particular bug is just gonna fly the coop!

I might even miss it.

Well not really, but we did have some good times together.

I’m gonna go eat some soup and wait it out.


PS: If you suspect I am either forcing cheerfulness or just pathologically required to find positives in negatives, you and I are in perfect agreement.  I don’t know what’s up with that either.  And I offer my sincerest apologies to anyone who feels like shit right now because of the flu, or cancer, or having shat your pants, or whatever might ail you.

I’m not pretending it doesn’t suck to be sick, because it does.

But if it can go away (even if just for a moment), well now that’s something worth being cheerful about, isn’t it?

There’s No Such Thing As Giving Up

I realize the title of this post sounds like some kind of inspirational, self-help aphorism (like, “There is no ‘I’ in “team” [or “cancer,” for that matter]), but I don’t mean it that way.  I mean it literally.  I have learned, only just recently, that, in certain important contexts, there really is no such thing as giving up.  Giving up (as the old song doesn’t say) isn’t just hard to do– it’s actually impossible to do.

I was extremely surprised to learn this.

And disappointed, to be honest.  And most of all, frustrated.  But let me provide some context.

You see– only a couple of weeks ago, I was dealing with a whirlwind of pretty serious shit-wrinkles that suddenly made my life, frankly, harder to bear than I was able.   It sucked.  It was too much.  It was the roughest patch of road I had experienced in 40 years, causing me to (not literally, but very much figuratively) fall apart.

And when that was happening, right in the middle of the worst of it, I thought (many times) “I don’t wanna do this anymore.  I can’t do this anymore.  I don’t know how to do this, I can’t, I want it to stop.”

I desperately wanted it to stop.  I needed it to stop.  I COULDN’T do it.  I COULD NOT bear it.  I wanted to press the “off” button on the red-hot poker that was singeing me in the gut and the brain and all sorts of other sensitive spots that you really just want left alone under normal circumstances, and especially so when you already have brain cancer.

So I thought about this – how to make it stop.  I just wanted to give up!  Yeah that’s it– give up!

But how the fuck do you actually “give up?”

And it occurred to me in that moment that it’s actually impossible.  At least in this context — in the context of extremely overbearingly painful life situations — there is no such thing as “giving up.”

I mean, if there was, what would you do?

You can’t just go lay on the floor and drool stick your hand in the air with a white tissue hanging out of it in surrender.  Because that wouldn’t work.  That wouldn’t change a goddamn thing.  You’d still be feeling and going through all the same shit you were before you started drooling on the floor, except now you’re on the floor and your arm is getting tired from holding it up so you’re actually worse off.

And I know this all sounds really stupid, but I had just never been in this position before– the “I SIMPLY CAN NOT BEAR THIS, I JUST WANT TO STOP” position.  (And I’ve even done yoga a couple of times.)

It just felt to me, in that particular moment, that there should be a way to just give up, to make it stop, to opt-the-fuck-out of the deal that was causing me so much pain.  Or at least I wished there were.  And I thought about it, and realized there wasn’t.

Now I’m smart enough to realize that there IS an obvious op-out solution that fully constitutes “giving up,” and which the more morbid of you have probably been waiting for me to mention, and which I’m not going to avoid just to avoid scaring you, or my mom, or whoever else is reading this.

And that giving up solution is to just fucking go kill yourself.  I mean, committing suicide would certainly would seem to meet all the requirements and qualifications of a very official “giving up.”  And it does.

And that thought did occur to me, but only because in running through the logic of the whole situation I realized that it was an option.  It just wasn’t an option for me, because honestly even that didn’t feel like giving up.

I mean, what I was getting at– what I was hoping for– was a way to just STOP.  If you’re playing in a basketball game and you’re playing terribly and your leg hurts and you want to stop, you can just walk off the court and not play anymore.  If you’re reading a book and it sucks and it’s making you unhappy, you can just stop reading it.

Killing yourself, on the other hand, is the equivalent of setting fire to the entire basketball court or the book in an effort to stop participating with it.   But it kinda makes you participate with it even more– just in a different way.  First, it takes a bunch of work.  And it’s gonna make a HUGE mess.  And it’s definitely gonna piss off a whole bunch of other people.  And you might not even succeed at it!  You could fail at giving up!  And so killing yourself doesn’t feel like giving up at all– it feels like a real pain in the ass.

It feels like you should just be able to lie down on the floor and fall asleep and have all the bad things stop.  But you can’t.  I was extremely disappointed to learn that life just doesn’t work like that.

So my point is this: if your life is causing you so much pain that you just don’t know what to do and you can’t possible bear it for one second more… you’re just kinda fucked, because there is no way to give up.

See?  It’s true!

There is no such thing as giving up!

How’s that for inspirational!

Wait, so if you can’t give up… then what the hell can you do?

There’s only really one thing you can do, and that’s to JUST KEEP GOING.

And just see what happens.

And so that’s what I did.

And wouldn’t you know it– things got better.

I’m now about a month out from the deepest valleys of the shitwrinkle.  And owing to a lot of wonderful friendship, a bit of craftiness and hard work, no small amount of spectacular luck, and the kindness, grace and generosity of some unspeakably wonderful people… I suddenly find myself back on my feet.  With real solid ground to stand on.  And my mom just got me a beautiful new rug for my place, so I’ve even got that to stand on!

Oh how the tides can turn, if you just keep going.  And what the hell else can you do?  Because clearly you can’t just stop!

So I still feel like shit, on a daily basis.  My brain is such a foggy semifunctional haze that if you had to jump into it for ten seconds you’d be shocked that I can get a fork to my mouth, let alone string coherent sentences together.  But I’m getting used to it!  I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I have a “new normal,” and this is probably it.  It’s a far shittier “normal” than what I had 4 years ago– or even 1 year ago, but it still (miraculously) includes me being able to walk, and talk, and laugh, and smell roses.  And with solid ground (and a nice rug!) under my feet, that ain’t so bad.  That’s called a life.  And I’m happy to have it.

I don’t have to stop.  I don’t even want to give up.  I get to keep going!

And I think I will.

Oh and yesterday I learned something that’s going to help quite a bit with this whole not-stopping-keep-on-going-thing.  And that is the results of my latest MRI, which I had on Monday, under my awesome new health insurance plan (which is another major miracle).

So yeah those MRI results… I had a full scan on my brain and spine, and other than the fact that I was in the machine for two hours and it got really boring, the results… were good!

It appears that all the cancerspots™ that appeared on my last MRI in December (spots which had already looked relatively stable compared to the scan before that) are now all of three varieties: exactly the same, a little bit smaller, or just not there anymore.  There’s still stuff in there that’s clearly cancer (as there has been for four years now), but the point is, the small bit of cancer that’s in there is not really doing anything.

And since my cancer (glioblastoma!) is the equivalent of a Bloodthirsty-Combination-Scorpion-Lion-Dinosaur-Octopus (B.C.S.L.D.O.), for the shit to just sit there and not do anything for months at a time is nothing less than miraculous.  So something must be working– or some combination of all the various things I’ve exposed my brain to in the last few years.  Either that, or my B.C.S.L.D.O. just isn’t as bloodthirsty as they normally are.  Or maybe he just felt bad that I had to go through that annoying series of shitwrinkles, and felt like he should give me a break for five seconds.

And a break I have been given.  Several, in fact.  More than anything, I’m just so relieved that I won’t have to subject myself to any new surgeries or chemotherapies or experimental virus treatments, for at least a few months.  I can keep on keepin’ on and continue getting used to my Totally Shitty New Normal That Is Perfectly OK Because I Am Still Alive And Roses Still Smell Really Good!

So I’m glad that there was no such thing as giving up.

Because it sure is nice to be around, and I can’t wait to keep it up!