Thursday, October 22, 2009

Welcoming the "New" Normal

Of course, there was nothing wrong with the "Old" Normal. The "Old" Normal had plenty of pizzazz. It had style. But it was lacking one big, gnarly "Thing".

After a couple months of blasting "Thing" with nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons of mass destruction, we are so far holding "Thing" at bay. But the post-war environment has been slightly rearranged, and every month we still need to launch a sneak attack on "Thing" to keep him from spreading across the land. This brings us to the "New" Normal.

Ok, so maybe the war analogy is a bit too much, but the "New" Normal is beginning to finally crystalize. Day by day I have been slowly picking up pieces of the "Old" Normal and seeing if they fit into the new puzzle. I've returned to work, almost full time. I've brought my dog Chana back into my life (with much thanks to JO for...well...everything). I've been gradually increasing my physical activity level. I even picked up my guitar for the first time in months. That said, I know that not all of the pieces will fit, and the final picture will definitely look different than before.

From the physical perspective, the 5 days per month of chemo will likely lead to 5 days of subtle misery; a slight nausea, a loss of appetite, a bit of fatigue, and, of course, frustration. But as my friend "Emmysan" pointed out to me, most women go through a very similar pattern every month, so I have no complaints! There are also several aspects of the "Old" Normal that I've yet to reengage, though I am optimistic that eventually, with time, I'll be able to forcefully press in at least some of those pieces.

From the philosophical perspective, the "New" Normal will have a pretty different orientation. It's still early, but from the outside it must be interesting to guess where this might go. Internally I'm trying not to guess, since that can get a little scary....

In the meantime, as the "New" Normal unfolds, I might not be writing as frequently, so fear not for long periods of silence. They do not indicate a turn for the worse, but more likely a turn for the better. I do once again want to thank all of my friends and family who have reached out to me in so many different ways, even simply letting me know I'm on their minds.

And keep your eyes and ears open for the eventual announcement regarding a fundraiser AGAINST cancer that some friends of mine and I are trying to organize. Good times to be had by all! Except Mr. "Thing"....

Friday, October 16, 2009

Temporarily discharged for 23 days

I've now begun the "gold standard" cycle of 5 days of chemo, then 23 days of freedom. I began on Sunday night, and things felt relatively normal for the first couple of days. By Wednesday evening, I was feeling a little more tired at night, but nothing too severe or different than the old days. Then came Thursday. I was wiped out by the end of the day, both physically and emotionally. I'm still not sure if it was the chemo directly or having not slept well on Wednesday night. One of the side effects of the chemo is an odd "anxiety" that woke me up in the middle of the night. I felt high energy, shaky, and nervous, but there were no actual mental thoughts I could assign to those feelings. It was one of the most bizarre reactions I've ever had. I did have some medication left to treat specifically that, and so on Thursday night I took that as well, and slept far better. Today, my final day, I felt much better over all, though I'm still far more tired than I was earlier in the week. My appetite was also a little down, but I'm hoping the "new normal" will return over the next couple of days.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tumor? Why I hardly...

Go ahead, fill in the blank.

It's been awhile since my last update. I'd like to say it's because I've been out traveling the world, or creating a new source of energy, or just cutting it loose on the dance floor. The reality is that I just haven't felt ready to say anything.

This past Wednesday I had my post-radiation MRI taken. While waiting for my turn, I ran into another person who was on almost the exact same schedule as I am. It's somewhat surreal to keep connecting with others who have very similar medical issues and are following an almost identical schedule of treatment. Of course, relatively speaking, the numbers are still low, and there is no coincidence in running into another brain cancer patient in the MRI waiting room, but still, go figure!

My expectations heading into Wednesday were somewhat optimistic, since I'd already had a previous MRI 3 weeks into my treatment. Advanced optimism can limit one's stress level in the period of time prior to the measurement, but it can also limit one's emotional boost afterwards. Is there always a dark cloud for every silver lining? Either way, the most important result is that the tumor's size has been somewhat reduced, and it is currently showing no signs of activity. This is good. I am now starting my next treatment phase, consisting of 5 straight days of Temodar chemotherapy, followed by 23 days of freedom. This cycle will repeat until (and if) there is some indication that my immune system has been weakened.

So what is this dark cloud I mentioned? For now, I think I'm going to hold onto that one for myself. I'd rather keep seeing my friends and family appear as the silver linings.