November 13, 2019
Second Friday treatment went better than the first month. Last month, I spent the Friday evening wrapped in multiple blankets, shivering so hard I couldn’t hold anything without dropping it. This month I slept until Saturday, then had a three-day headache. Both times I’ve been left with a lot of pain and fatigue and generally feel like I’m much older than I am. But two are down and one is left, and between now and then I will be in England for two weeks to teach and meet with family. Probably shouldn’t be going, but we arranged it long before the treatment was set up, and I can’t afford to eat the cost of rearranging everything. The next two weeks then will be an interesting balance of trying to make sure I get enough rest and recuperation and yet still get everything prepared for the trip.
Today I’m back to writing, scheduling appointments, and sorting out time to finish unpacking. Yes: I’ve lived in this apartment for a little over a year now, and I still need to finish moving in. It will be difficult to not want a clone once they perfect the science. I probably could use two about now.
November 6, 2019
Made it through week 3 and most of week 4 of my treatment. Spent the majority of last week traveling, including an unexpected side trip that had me not flying back home but taking a cross-country train. The train ride extended from Chicago to New Orleans (Tuesday and Wednesday, 29 hours), then back to Chicago (Thursday-Friday, another 29 hours) and on home to Portland (Friday-Sunday, and more than 50 hours). Even reading that is exhausting, and it was.
Someday I would like to make the Portland-Chicago portion of the trip again, when I am both prepared for it and not in the midst of so much other stress. It seemed like it would’ve been pleasant, had I not been running behind and in no position to afford six days without internet (and thus working) access.
Home again and finally starting to feel the ground beneath me and not a monotonous swaying and clatter. The enforced quiet time was good for my brain in some ways, and I arrived home with lots of ideas on how to make some current projects go better. In other ways it was far too much time to be alone with my thoughts and staring at a pre-winter landscape with largely nothing in it between Wisconsin and Montana. If you can’t be alone with your own thoughts, you have some personal work to do. That said, there’s still a space where just like any other company, you’ve spent too much time together and you need a break.
October 18, 2019
Week two has begun and the side effects have fully settled in. So far it’s still better than my previous experience, though it being different every day has been strange to navigate. One day I’m in bed for 10 hours and the next I feel fine except if I try to eat something. The “this is really happening” part has sunk in along with a strange sort of isolation that only those who have been gravely ill will understand. It is a mixture of feeling like the rest of the world is going on without you, tempered with your own alternating between wishing to be left unbothered and yet wanting more support than you feel like you’re getting and both at the same time. Confronting your mortality via illness is terrible. One can find strength in getting through it, but I would not argue that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. What doesn’t kill you doesn’t make you stronger. It just doesn’t kill you - and it leaves damage in its wake that must be healed along with the body’s healing.
In other news, I am not just staring out a window contemplating my illness. Final edits have come in for a small writing project, and I’m nearing contract stage on another. The work goes on and the life goes on, even if I’ve downshifted to head up a mountain at the moment.
October 11, 2019
One week down. One treatment down. So far, the experience is not as awful as it was in my 20s, for which I am grateful. That being said, it still has its awful moments. Already noticing a marked difference in my short-term memory and instituting countermeasures against the cognitive fog. Blood sugar is up but not so far that I can’t adjust for it. Hopefully that, too, will stay where it is now and not get worse as we continue. Once again, I am fighting insurance over who gets to pay for my three months of misery. Once again I am also dealing with many more emotions around this than I hoped to or cared to.
But one week is down and I am alive and the hairdresser thinks I should keep my hair, and autumn has come to Portland, and Zigzag is being a very kind nurse. I have book projects and other work to keep me occupied, and beloved family bringing groceries and distractions. Outside my door where the leaves of the dogwood are falling in pink and crimson, three crows come by each day to greet me. Even if the rest of the world outside my door seems to be upside down in a trash can on fire, a few good things remain to remind me that there is more to life than any one bit of adversity, and the only way out is through.
September 22, 2019
I killed a laser printer. This would not bother me nearly as much if this printer wasn’t a replacement for another printer I also somehow managed to kill not six weeks ago, simply by printing. Through good times and bad machines have always been my friends, and now they are turning on me. At very least, a good warranty means there’ll be a new printer shortly. I promise, printer gods, that I will treat your new child with far more reverence. Have mercy on us, poor writers, now and at the hour of our deadline.
About Life getting in my way that I alluded to in a previous entry: In other news, far more important than my relationship with printers, I will be doing three months of intense medical treatment beginning in October. These words are less upsetting than the other word that was used, namely “chemotherapy.” I have done this before - even using the dreaded c-word. I’ll even be doing the same treatment I went through several decades ago, when it was done over a much longer spread of nine months. I know what to expect (TL;DR I get to feel terrible for a few months so I can feel better for the rest of my life). I am optimistic that this will be fine and that it’s the right decision.
None of this optimism saves me from a deep resounding “not again” echoing off the edges of my brain. I also am not enjoying having to tell people about what’s happening, so that they understand I may need more time and support as I manage the reality of surviving a medicine that needs to murder the cellular kidnappers holding part of my body hostage. Here’s hoping for a positive hostage negotiation.
September 1, 2019
I think I have fallen in love with typography all over again.
Thank you, Leon.