As parents, we learn to pick our battles with our children.
As people, we learn that sometimes we don't get to pick our battles. Many battles are forced upon us either from external or internal forces.
Battling cancer is a not a battle we choose to take on. It is forced upon us. It invades our life. Sometimes as fast as a freight train, other times as slow as a snail. Since getting cancer is rarely expected (I mean if you're smoking cigarettes then getting cancer should be expected) then when you learn you have it, it's like your head was clubbed with a two by four. It takes a long time to process everything you are being told. In many cases everything seems very urgent and things begin to move very fast. But your head is spinning with information. That's why it's very important to have someone with you when you have these doctor visits. This person should take notes (because you're really not in the frame of mind to do so) and ask questions if they have any. These supporters are our advocates. We need them. We need their strength.
Rachel's my rock. I would've floated off long ago had I not been tethered to her and her strength. She is by far the best note taker in the family. I suck at it. Badly. She has accompanied me to several of my doctor appointments and always does a fantastic job of taking notes. When she was battling breast cancer last year, she had good friends go with her and they would take copious notes. Yeah, I'm jealous of all these people who are capable of taking such good notes on the fly. I find it amazing.
If Rachel is unable to join us at the doctor visit, then we resort to using FaceTime during those appointments. So she's there. She hears the conversation and can ask pertinent questions. She's taking copious notes. (I think it's just something she really likes to do.)
Battling cancer could possibly be the most difficult thing you may have to do in your life.
In fact, it becomes your life.
Almost every thing you do revolves around your cancer and the corresponding treatment.
Literally, almost every thing you do.
Oftentimes it is overwhelming.
And while the battles between you, the mountain, the mountain lion, and the god damn bear are the main battles, more subtle ones begin to take place.
My newest battle: anxiety.
And it is achingly high.
It's prevented me from eating, has caused nausea, and even a little depression. These all become smaller, yet no less important battles that now have to be taken on. But we only have a limited amount of energy. You do the best you can. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't.
I've never had to really deal with high anxiety before, so it took awhile before I even figured out that's what was going on. It's a horrible feeling and I am trying to keep it at bay with medication and cannabis. Most of the time these work and I'll be able to eat some food. Not that the food tastes good, mind you, but at least my nausea isn't so bad at the time that I can get some food in.
Clearly I should have anxiety. I understand that. The next chemo treatment, even at 1/3 the original dosage, frightens me to no end. It's difficult to not think about this next bear attack, but it terrifies me. I can not overstate that enough. After what happened the first time, yes, I am terrified to get my next chemo treatment. So my anxiety hits the atmosphere when I think about the next one.
I think that's fairly normal. Think for a minute about what they are putting into the bloodstream. That shit is not supposed to be there, so you're body acts like it's supposed to act when a foreign body has entered. It tries to get rid of it. The anti-nausea and other medications are to trick the body into thinking this foreign body is ok and to help keep it in your body.
I guess most of the time they do a pretty good job. Unfortunately, that's not what happened in my case the first time. Here's to hoping for the best for the second time around.
Because of this battle I've been having with eating, I got a g-tube. The anxiety was high that day because what if I have seizure and they can't get the tube in? You know, all the things that can go wrong rifle through your head because you're scared shitless.
To do the procedure they needed to place an air tube up my nose, down my esophagus, and into my stomach. This allows them to blow air into my stomach so they can find it easier. Ok, that's a good thing. Wouldn't want this tube going into my liver.
Now I've had several ENTs scope my vocal chords and throat before. They use some numbing spray that works generally pretty well. The difference here is they don't use such numbing spray. Instead they use some numbing gel. And while the ENTs go to the back of my throat, this tube needed to go down my esophagus. So it has to go in at a different angle. I was told this is the part that most people have trouble with.
I literally screamed "Fuck that hurts!" as he got the tube past the painful part. And hurt it did. Like a burning stick being shoved, and that's the word "shoved", right up my nose. God damn that hurt.
Once we got past that, things settled down and the pain disappeared. So now I'm laying on the bed. with this tube sticking out of my nose. Here's what I looked like. You might click the picture and enlarge it so you can get the full effect.
They then did a CT scan to find my stomach and mark where it was. Then they wheeled me to radiology room where they did the procedure.
I was awake for the entire thing.
Oh they had me on a couple of drugs, but I was wide awake. The worst part (after the nose incident, of course) was when they deadened my stomach. The needles hurt a bit. Once that all kicked in, though, I didn't feel any pain. I could feel pressure, but no pain. I even made a joke during the procedure, so we all got a bit of a laugh during this stressful moment.
They then wheeled me back to my recovery room where Rachel and I waited until we got discharged.
Now the nurse pulled the tube out of my nose, and yes, it hurt just as bad as it did going in. It was not a fun afternoon.
A little while later later Rachel drove us home. Literally, as soon as she parked the truck in our driveway, I began throwing up.
I threw up for the next three hours.
And oh did my stomach hurt.
And this wasn't dry heaves either. My best guess was that when they put the tube in my nose it caused my nose to bleed (there was evidence of that). I think I may have swallowed a lot of blood, and that blood was needing to come back up. It did.
It murdered my stomach muscles. I couldn't move much so I laid by the toilet for around three hours. When the nurse got there later that evening I managed to get into bed. They gave me some meds and I went to sleep. Exhausted.
I know I said earlier that I did not want a g-tube. Mainly from fear of losing the ability to swallow on my own. But now that I have the tube, and Rachel and I are figuring it all out, I have to say that I was wrong. The g-tube has been very helpful. I'm stronger today than I was just a few days ago, and I owe all that to Rachel being able to get nutrients into me. (Of course she's never allowed to tell me what she puts in her concoctions. It's best that I don't know.)
Rachel was messing around with a new app and this was the picture we liked the best. It's the g-tube.
The effects of radiation are starting to kick in, and this week could be the week they increase in intensity. Not looking forward to that.
So that's the latest. Radiation treatments 14-18, and chemo treatment #2, are all this week. Looks like I'll battling high anxiety this week. Ugh.
I'll leave for now with the following:
"We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better, stronger, faster..."
Screw that! I'm just tired of being cut into!
P.S. I wonder how many people got my reference?