And I did.
When I woke up, I felt considerably different.
I say all of this so casually at the moment. It may not even seem like I was even really phased by it. The fact is, though, that when it comes to the big picture, it is a piece of the puzzle that brings me to tears.
Yesterday I was craving Mexican food. It took everything I had to make some refried beans and Spanish Rice. By the time I was done, I was sweating and out of breath. To be fair, I had gone up and down the steps a few times before I settled back in my room.
A part of me momentarily was upset at how I felt. It should be nothing like what I was experiencing. But somehow I side-stepped major, emotional fall-out.
I must have been saving it for today. As I spoke with a friend, I started to cry as I said some of the things that had been happening. My friend felt something had to be really "wrong" for me to be having these experiences.
The fact is, the docs pretty much know how I feel, and it is mostly met with a shrug, or medicine that will give me energy - but - may or may not help with the weakness caused by the chemo treatment. Having energy without the ability to do things would most assuredly be torture. Depending on the price, I still may consider it once I have the energy/ability to get out and get the prescription.
My friend figured that my situation had to be atypical, otherwise you'd most assuredly be more aware of people having these kinds of experiences. I am not so convinced. Those who deal with it are often not likely to talk about it. When they are at their worst, you are not likely going to see, or hear, from them. It can give the illusion that things are much better than they really are.
My friend also tried to reassure me that I looked OK, despite the fact that I feel like I look like shit. I am fairly sure if I got myself together and went out into the world most people would have no clue of what I am dealing with. In part, that is the way I would want it to be. But that also prevents many people from knowing the truth of what someone dealing with cancer could be experiencing. It is no wonder people have very little understanding of the scope of the experience.
Sometimes I wonder why I bother to share this stuff. Does anyone really care? And, even if they do, so many just don't know what to do with the information. It winds up being a reason for keeping one's distance, and remaining silent.
Many times people think I do not focus on the "good" enough. Not sure how one comes up with the equations they do. It is easy to say something like that when one is not in the midst of crap. I suppose something good would be much more pleasant to focus on, and in some ways, even more obvious, when there is an abundance of "bad."
The best I can come up with is a drowning metaphor. It is hard to enjoy a beautiful sunset in the midst of drowning. The act of drowning, it would seem, calls all your attention. My guess is it would be very difficult to recognize anything else - even something as bright and beautiful as the sun.
Having said that, I am incredibly grateful for those who do not run. I am grateful for those who find a way through their discomfort, and are still in the picture. I am grateful for those whose only words are that they do not know what to say. I get it.
There are no words they really can say about me, my health, my situation that can help. Many who try to say the "perfect" thing only often wind up frustrating or annoying me. There is really nothing anyone can say - about the situation - that can help. Talking to me, in general, on the other hand, can often be quite helpful. Talking to me as a person can be incredibly beneficial.
It isn't the easiest conversation for me to always have, as there are things that I am trying to process and deal with. But I try to be mindful of that whenever possible. It also helps when others are willing to dance with me, and allow me to express myself without it having a negative impact as a result.
Tonight I spoke with a friend whose mother dealt with cancer. He's aware of what is going on with me and said that his mother went through a very similar experience as I am going through.
I share this not so much because I was validated but more because I was validated, it might mean something to you or others that you know.
Many realize the cancer experience sucks. But most are "content" to just label it that way, without ever finding out the finer details. But the finer details really speak to the experience in a way that a broad brushstroke cannot - and never could.
To think you know or understand something is in some ways to minimize it. In some ways it's even a way of handling or managing it. Rarely does it ever really help the person affected. It may help the person who doesn't know what to say, or how to cope, though. And that self-preservation is probably why we do what we do the way we do as often as we do.
But that leaves a lot of people in No Man's Land. It may give them a shovel when what they really need is a bucket. And that is...if they get anything at all.