Four days of chemo down, the rest of my life to go.
The medication itself is going better than I hoped. The actual appointment was a big swing and a miss. Telling that whole story would take a Tolstoy-length novel, so I’ll just give you a few quotes from my doctor that might illustrate how overall rubbish it was. Basically he gave me a bunch of unasked advice about how to get my life right.
On my health issues:
“Well, migraines aren’t really that bad.”
On hearing, apparently for the first time (yeah, that was worrying. Apparently he doesn’t listen to a word I say), that my migraine is actually chronic and really is that bad.
“Well…but have you even tried to see someone about it?”
We interrupt this narrative to bring you a snarky interlude:
Golly, mister, there’s people you can see for that? I had no idea! I’ve just been getting MRIs and MRAs and EEGs and trying a hundred different medications and going off red dye for the fun of it. I’m sorry, what? AREN’T YOU READING MY CHART?
Incidentally, do you know all the wonderful things that have Red Dye 40 in them? Let me tell you: Swedish Fish, Sour Patch Kids, sour gummy worms, Twizzlers Pull ‘n’ Peel, cherry and strawberry Toaster Pop ‘ems (which are superior to Pop Tarts in flavor and price), strawberry ice cream, maraschino cherries, Lucky Charms, Berry Captain Crunch, gummy bears, Doritos, Doritos Locos Tacos, red and orange Jell-o, anything that contains red or orange Jell-o, including my roommate’s amazing pretzel salad dessert thing, strawberry wafer cookies and red and pink and orange cake frosting/coloring. Life is a little sadder without Red #40.
We now return to your regularly scheduled retelling.
On my concerns about affording lifelong chemotherapy:
“My friend thought he wouldn’t find a good job either, but he went to Harvard and now he’s doing great. Everyone from my class at med school is doing great, and it’ll be just the same for you.”
On my work hours not being conducive to further appointments:
“You work five days a week? But did you think of looking for a job in this area?”
On my desire not to pass my health problems on to kids:
“Health issues aren’t a good reason not to have kids. Angelina Jolie has health problems and she still had children.”
And my personal favorite (sarcasm), on my observation that health insurance is expensive and a future concern for me:
“Since the dawn of time, women have been getting jobs or getting married to men with health insurance. You can just marry someone with good insurance.”
I mean, what?
Although…If any of y’all out there have a single friend with quality insurance, you know I’m up for a good old fashioned blind date. My idea of a night on the town is silently browsing a used bookstore, and I can recite the maternal lineage of King Eldarion I from the creation of Eä. I know, I know, I’m basically a chick flick heroine. But hey, you gotta do what the doctor says!
Except, no. And just for the record, I would like to take issue with the “since the dawn of time” angle of the doctor’s statement. What, Adam was all like, “Don’t worry about the pain in childbirth, Eve. I’ve got BlueCross BlueShield!”? Ha ha ha WRONG. Not even a little bit. Also I’m not sure if medical degrees (from Harvard!) = English degrees in terms of hiring and earning potential. But I digress.
The appointment was stressful, and the medication is irritating because I have to take it four times a day. Let me tell you, I’m not the best at remembering this stuff. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but no, I still had to set four new alarms to remind me. MORNING MEDS! CHEMO 2! CHEMO 3! NIGHT MEDS! I use my phone more to remind me to take medication than I do to call people.
It’s early days yet, and I’m mostly just trying not to freak out over every slight fluctuation in my daily status and call the doctor. I mean, is my headache worse today because it’s a bad day, or…AM I REACTING TO THE CHEMO!?!?! No, it’s probably just a bad day.
You know what’s been good, though? God. I don’t even have the words to explain how He has showered me with love and consolation and the blessing of His presence, particularly in sharing the Eucharist on Sunday morning. Confession: I had a weepy day on my Wednesday commute. Someone donated their Andrew Peterson CD collection to Goodwill, which was a God-thing in itself, because holy cow can that guy write amazing songs. So all week long I’ve just been drinking in all this truth and wisdom and longing for better things in the midst of starting chemo, which began to seem not so very important after all. So thank you for all of your prayers (and doughnuts), friends. They were assuredly felt (and eaten).
Because He’s so good, friends. He’s done so much. Every time I taste the bread and wine, I am left in unbelievable awe. He loves us. At my church, the liturgy says, “These are the gifts of God for the people of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on Him in your hearts, by faith, with thanksgiving.” It’s overwhelming and most of the time I’m not quite sure what I’m doing or what is happening, but I know that we have eternity to continue the thanksgiving. But all week long I’ve felt like I’ve been taking communion again and again, with this surge of my love for Him and awareness of His love for me welling up in my heart, sometimes accompanied by tears in my eyes, even in public.This was a week of green pastures and still waters and feasts in the midst of chemo and silly doctors.
He restores my soul.