Reality check

Surprisingly I don’t think that often about the high chance that I’m going to probably die pretty soon from this cancer. I try to think about it, but it’s really hard to conceive of, even when given a life expectancy that is measured in months.  How to believe in that? Why believe in that?  I don’t really know how it will go and it is hard to believe, I guess, even for me.  But then I step back a little bit and catch myself stumping around the kitchen, say, after breakfast—trying to do my part to clear the table—and I walk like a penguin and I almost fall down and I am breathing hard don’t have any energy.  This is not a healthy person.

So I walk to the fridge and put something away, walk back to the table, and walk back to the fridge and I’m panting.  I don’t have any energy and have to rest, but then I don’t always rest because I’m stubborn so I end up wearing myself out like this many times a day.  This morning after breakfast I decided to come up to bed again and sit and read so I had to get all the things I needed to do that and then come upstairs, which is hard these days.  Then I remembered I would want the phone if it rang, and then I needed water, and then I needed to take a morphine, and once I did all that I was just staggering around like a drunken penguin because I just had no energy and could barely get myself to move around. So then I plopped into bed and waited a little bit before I could swing my legs in because I was so tired.

So I keep wearing myself out and I don’t notice all the time how far I am from being a healthy person.  Then some kind of reality check sinks in, like being offered a cut in the bathroom line at the movie because I have a stick to help me balance and I am obviously not healthy. Oh.  This is me they’re offering special treatment to?

On paper right now things look okay.  The chemo we started in December and early February are both working, it seems like from the CAT scans and MRIs, and so on paper my cancer is ‘responding to second-line therapy” blah blah blah but then in my real life right now it seems really hard. Maybe more for emotional and psychological reasons than physical, but the physical – particularly fatigue and trouble walking – is pretty tough right now.

5 thoughts on “Reality check

  1. Susanrachel Condon

    Excellent post. Thank you. Meanwhile, out here in the rest of the world, people who love you and know you are having a version of this that is mutually hard to describe.

  2. Dee

    Yeah, you could conceive of it if you had a life expectancy of pain or discomfort or fatigue, but it doesn’t compute when it’s something you’ve never experienced. Thank you for sharing the rawness of this time with us. LOVE

  3. Debra

    Oh Ellen, this sounds so very frustrating. The cure for this awful thing called cancer is so hard on the body, with so many tough side effects. Wish I was there to carry some of the load. sending much love.

  4. Jon

    I’m happy that you’re “technically” doing better. Maybe your body will follow once the cancer remisses (is that a word) sufficiently? We can hope.

  5. Shelly

    Your sharing this journey is a real gift, as hard as it is for all of us to read it. You are such a strong example of the strength and resilience of the human spirit–and the human body, the way you keep pushing yourself to the edge of (and beyond?) your body’s current limits. I’m sure you’d rather not be this kind of guidepost, and I just goddamn wish you didn’t have this horrible journey to share. Sending (or trying to send) strength and energy to hang in there while the treatment does its worst to the cancer cells.

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