Friday, August 31, 2012

The Relief of Mundane Problems

I had an awful day on Wednesday.

Stressful, long, exhausting, nigh-disastrous, its fires still burning (figuratively... I think), and infectious, it was my worst day in recent memory.  Let's start at the beginning.

It rained heavily on the way to work.  The defogger in my car hasn't worked since I last had it repaired, something I've meant to address but between work and my various treatments I've lacked the time and energy to do so.  At least, that's what I tell myself.  During my commute the ventilation blowers kicked on full blast and refused to shut off, even when I took the key out of the ignition.  Maybe the car was trying to dehumidify the interior - impossible to do, given the aforementioned problem with the air conditioner - and drained itself in the vain attempt, but by the end of the day the battery was completely dead.  Jack was kind enough to jump it for me and tried to help me find the problem, or at least get it to stop wasting power, but nothing short of unplugging the battery did the trick.  As soon as we reconnected the battery, the blowers started right back up.  Yeah, this is pretty boring.  It was better at the time, because then it was less boring and more of a tremendous hassle.

So I took my car to the local Sears, which was the only service shop I knew of that was open at the time, only to find that they don't actually do repairs.  About 30 miles wasted, since traffic forced me to take the long way back toward my home, and my usual repair shop.  Their mechanics had all gone home so I'd have to leave the car overnight and pick it up the next day.  The owner drove me home, and it was about 2 minutes from my front door when I realized I'd left my house key on my car keychain, and my spare was locked inside my house, which in retrospect is a really stupid place to ever keep a spare key.  To be fair, this had been the first time I've locked myself out of my room since my freshman year of college.

My parents had my spare spare, but were a good 40 minutes away.  As the sun set, I sat on my tiny deck and watched a spider weave its web in a tree across the way.  The heat of the day relented under a cool breeze.  None of my neighbors spotted me, which spared me the humiliation of explaining why I was suddenly such a fan of fresh air and mosquitoes.  When I asked my father to bring my key, I'd apologized so many times I lost count.  Yet as I sat there, swatting at the insects of the growing dusk, I felt as though I'd won a strange sort of victory.

I'd had a truly rotten day, but not one of my problems had a thing to do with my cancer.  Each problem was mundane and common.  That I could still drive enough to have car troubles, was a victory.  That I could still pay my mortgage such that I had a place to call home, was a victory.

When Dad showed up I apologized again.  We hugged, I unlocked my door, and the both of us went home.  It was 8PM.

I have my car back now, and it's mostly fixed with the few remaining parts on order.  It's good enough to drive for now, and the blowers are working properly again, $230 later.  Good enough to take me to the MRI I had today, then to my parents' place for dinner, and back home again.  Next week I'll bring it back in to finish off those remaining repairs.

In the meantime, I should probably figure out a better place to stash my spare key. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Nocturnal Admissions

The time is currently 4:46AM.

I woke up just a few moments ago, surprised to find myself an unwilling participant in my own dreams.  Not so much dreaming unpleasantly as instead quite abruptly finding myself, in my dream, refusing to keep playing along.  No longer in the mood, as it were.  Possibly by presence of mind (but more likely due to whatever discomfort had spoiled my affinity for the surreal and for sleep), I awakened and tossed about for a few minutes before realizing my uncooperative attitude had followed me.  Each position was less comfortable than the last.  I got up out of bed, and was hit by the most intense nausea I've felt in years.  As I stood in the doorway to my bathroom, insisting to myself that of all the things I was not eager to do this night, vomiting was right at the top, I wondered what in the world could be causing this. 

Tonight is the first night of my 10th round of chemo.  I know my way around a bottle of Temodar.  I'd taken my anti-nausea Ondansetron (aka Zofran) as prescribed.  I could do this in my sleep.  Once my nausea had come under control I got myself a drink of water and popped another Ondansetron.  It tasted of mint.

Ondansetron does not taste of mint.

Rather, a new allergy pill I'd purchased tastes of mint.  I'd taken them all out of their bubble sheet and put them in an old empty pill bottle, an Ondansetron bottle, but I'd taken care to cross out the name of the drug to write, "Allergy" in pen.  I'd also picked up my last refill of Ondansetron at a new pharmacy, one which used ordinary pill bottles instead of the usual, squat, over-the-counter-style bottles.  I would like to take a moment to stress how important it is to know what your pills look like, and not swallow any old thing just because the bottle is the right shape and you're pretty sure you've seen that pill before somewhere.

The time is currently 4:58AM, and I'm typing this as I wait for my first Ondansetron of the night (and morning) to kick in.  I should probably have a trash can or a bucket next to me but I don't.  That cardboard box there will have to do.  I'm already feeling better but I have no idea how this little adventure will impact work tomorrow.  I was hoping to be productive.  On the plus side, my sinuses are clear.

I'd like to end by sending support to Joan.  Some of my regular readers may have seen her commenting on some of my posts.  Her husband Duke had been battling cancer for nearly one year, and Joan had always been very willing to give support and care to his fellow patients, including myself.  Sadly, Duke recently passed away.  They had been married longer than I've been alive, and I feel that the breadth of their experience renders any words of comfort I can find as trite.  So instead, I'll say that I'm here for you, Joan.  Just as you've always been there for me.