Cancer can be exhausting. 

by unfinishedthinking

Cancer can be exhausting.  Some days even if I can’t sleep I don’t want to get out of bed or do much of anything.  I can’t even get in the mood to read or to write.  I feel a little sorry for myself.  I wonder how long this hospice thing can go on.

A couple of weeks ago I could barely summon the strength to walk one block to wish a very good friend well as he enters  retirement  after 20 years or  so at the agency.  I love the guy.  Many of my closest friends were there.  I stayed for about five minutes, then made the “long” walk home.  Where I crashed.

Then I have a day like the next one–so much better. I shave and shower, I clean up some of the messes I’ve made over the past few weeks.  I fix myself a simple little lunch.  Take a little nap.  Go to the agency for an executive committee meeting that lasts two hours.  Take the two-block “long” walk home.  Crash for an hour.  Then dinner and a little tv with Ginny.  A little nighttime reading.  I’m surprised that I’m still having trouble sleeping, but I’m not complaining.  The day was great.  Really, really great.  I know this doesn’t sound like much, but days like this give me new energy.  I start thinking I can do things again.  I feel like maybe I’ve got something to say on my long-neglected blog–and, better yet, maybe I’ve even got the fire to do it.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted much of anything here.  For me, writing takes concentration and more than a little wilfulness.  But it never seemed to take much energy.   Now it does–and energy has been in short supply lately.

I saw the doctor a week ago and got a good report.  He doesn’t think I need any kind of treatment.  The tumors are spreading, but they’re still growing slowly and aren’t causing any particularly worrisome blockages.  He wasn’t surprised my energy level’s down:  I am, after all, dying.  But the good news is, he won’t be shocked if he’s still seeing me six months from now.  (I’m getting a little greedy for good news.  I was actually hoping that the scans would reveal some fixable minor problem involving swallowing or breathing.  I’d love to see some improvements there.)

So once again I face the question:  what do you do if you have a few, but only a few, months to live–and you don’t know how much vigor you’ll have on any upcoming day?

Jason’s family visited for a few days last week.  That’s always great.  I only wish I could have mustered the strength to really engage with them.

Most days someone from the agency stops by for an hour or so.  But for the last few weeks I’ve probably cancelled about half the visits.  I hate that.

Last Thursday started as another great day–the kind of day that helps me appreciate the wonderful things in my life past and present.  It helps me get excited about the things coming up that my family and friends are excited about.  Jason, Carley and Ella have a new home, a newly expanded bakery, Jason’s job at the college.  Ginny’s excited about the second home she’s making for herself in Beacon.  (Richmond will still be her first home.)

But then Thursday night, six hours of vomiting and a bumpy post midnight ambulance ride to the hospital.  Four uncomfortable nights there.  I’m home again now.  Jason and Ginny are both here.  I don’t know if I should report here on the gross stuff; vomiting doesn’t make for fun reading or storytelling.  Since there was no blood, it wasn’t even particularly dangerous.  Still, I suppose this is part of the process.  We get sick for a number of reasons I guess. I suppose symptoms helped us take care of ourselves and helped us evolve.  I’m about 6-foot-4.  I often see men my age and height stooped over constantly.  I now walk slower than I ever have before.  I always knew those days would come for me, but I anticipated them at 80, not 65.  My hands are shaking again and that makes it hard for me to sit at the keyboard.  On the  other hand, I know I’m exaggerating all this.  I’ve never had to worry about losing my natural beauty anymore than I’ve had to worry about losing my graceful way on a dance floor.  I look and feel surprisingly healthy for a man who is somewhere between 6 months and 9 years overdue for the great reckoning.

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