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Just to be clear – cancer sucks.
Actually, there’s more to that statement but it involves language that my folks would not approve of and my Dad would stay up worrying that I have ruined my reputation – like that’s possible.
Last week was chemo week. The worst part of chemo week was the night before. Lisa did not sleep – at all. Apparently, sitting still while someone infuses toxic waste guaranteed to make you feel like death warmed over into your veins is more of a mental challenge than a physical one.
The first day of chemo began 26 minutes late at 5:26 AM resulting in a mad scrambling catastrophe. Trying to leave in a hurry with Lisa is like running through quicksand. Nothing happens fast. After losing the keys, slamming my fingers in the car door, finding the perfect hat for Lisa, we were off to the interstate which was at a standstill. I was less than gracious, I am afraid. Lisa is not a new friend. She knows better than to talk to me before coffee. For what it is worth, I only pinched her oxygen tubing twice but I did hold her pain medications out the car window and threaten to throw them into Tampa Bay if she asked about the time even once more.
The ride could have been more pleasant but suffice it to say that until I am in a different state or a neighborhood where bullets are flying, I will not ask Lisa for directions ever again. I asked, ‘Is this our exit?’ Her response is as complete as I wish nursing documentation was.
“Yes,” she says. “Go here and then turn to the right and drive for about two miles. Be sure to get in the inside lane so you can turn. After you turn, you will see a Dunkin’ Donuts. Keep going. Don’t turn until after you pass the museum of arts and science. When you see Panera Bread on your left, get ready to turn to your right. Get in the turn lane early. You want to go to the third light.”
I stopped listening after ‘yes’.
That Shoe Thing
Some magical anti-nausea drug that lasted three days was wonderful until it wore off Monday night. At that time I gave her a pill prescribed for nausea which caused her to be a little confused. Oh my.
Lisa has a rich inner life centering exclusively on shoes. I know this because she talks in her sleep and because when she is overly stressed or drugged, or short of oxygen, she ‘talks out her head’. That’s the official medical term for confusion. Whether it is shoes for an upcoming cocktail party, dirty shoes that should have been left on the porch, Michael’s shoes, her missing shoes or having shoes ready for Sammy, I will hear about shoes at least once a day.
I admit that I have never shared Lisa’s fondness of shoes but this is ridiculous. I don’t even like footwear. One night, I am going to snap and throw all her shoes away. If I send an SOS out for shoes, just send a pair and don’t ask questions.
That Estate Thing
I thought Lisa’s situation was unique but sadly it is not. It would seem that once a person assumes room temperature, everyone who once knew the person begins shopping their belongings. Upon Michael’s death, the house that Lisa lives in went to his mother. This gives Michael’s mom the erroneous impression that she can come and go as she pleases except that according the law, it is not so erroneous. The law does not mandate manners which is a colossal bipartisan oversight if you ask me. Keep in mind Michael’s mom is an elderly woman who recently lost her only child so I don’t really feel good about telling her she isn’t welcome in a house that she owns. I’m getting soft in my old age. Having said that, I didn’t feel bad about asking her to call first until I actually made the request. I will spare you the details of her response until my psychiatrist says it’s safe to talk about it.
While I am stunned at the behavior, I am told it is completely normal for people who lose a loved one to go out of their mind temporarily and start drama over stupid stuff. They make notoriously bad decisions and dismiss manners and kindness as inconveniences. Who would have thunk it?
Maybe it is easier to think about who gets the watches and cash left in the house than it is to consider that someone they loved very much is gone. At least that is what I choose to believe because the alternative would leave me in need of a criminal attorney.
And I bet more than half of you reading this do not have a will.
It somehow does not seem fair that a person faced with a life threatening illness and the recent death of her long term fiance must also worry about mundane stuff like groceries, getting a kid to the bus stop, bathing, and avoiding conflicts with scheduling the Oxygen delivery, medication refills, MD appointments and the ever present fatigue that is the hallmark of cancer. But, it’s true. Life continues to have demands whether you are capable or not of meeting them.
Since the responsibilities of life will not let a person rest while they undergo chemo and grieve, we decided that no part of life should be put on hold. As Lisa feels well enough we will participate in real life – not only the routines imposed by cancer. Instead of waiting for the opportune time! we’re gonna find adventure when we can and rest when needed. Sunday, we went to the gardens in Sarasota. Last night when Lisa was feeling poorly, we cruised around YouTube listening to music. There’s a show we really hope to attend on Sunday but it may not be possible. But, if she feels good enough on Friday or Saturday, we may very well look for something to do.
The strange thing about beginning chemo is that Lisa stopped thinking about the long term survival rate and the odds of a cure. There are no secrets. The odds are stacked very high against her and she may not make it through this. Truth be told: Dying Sucks. Failure to live while you can sucks more.