A week and a day, that’s how long it’s been since I started chemotherapy.
A week and a day, that’s how long it’s been unpredictable.
Gee, did I really think that I’d figure this out and get on a routine? Of course, I did.
The treatment day itself went well. I had no reactions to any of the drugs, and for the first two days I felt fine. Actually, that was probably due to the continued steroids prescribed for the day before and two days after, but I claimed it as a victory. Then, on the fabulous advice on the oncology nurse, I started a preemptive 48-hr anti-nausea drug cycle, and I had no nausea! On Tuesday, however, the anti-nausea drugs were making me too “whirly” and I stopped the meds, but by then I had other issues. Every day since has brought a new reaction, some tolerable and some not-much-fun, with only a glorious pain- and symptom-free Thursday that made me think that I had turned the corner. I hadn’t.
Since I’ve reached the age when my body is predictable, it’s a bit disconcerting to discover that predictability is a joke. Actually, I cannot anticipate what the next moment will be like, much less the next hour or the next day. I’ve been telling myself that today is day 9 but that makes me think “day 9 of a whole lot of days” and that doesn’t sound great. I’m trying to make myself think in three-week cycles and hope doing so will allow all of the moments to blur together.
James keeps reminding me to savor the good moments and the good days because they don’t happen as often I’d like. I’m trying.
Here are the good moments in my first week:
• Hearing rave reviews for my short cut!
• Learning of the creative ideas from guys at school for my transition from short to bald, including having a faux ‘hawk or a mohawk or a colorfully striped mohawk, signing my head like a cast, and allowing Jim Chapman to use my head as an art canvas. (We’ll see...)
• Having my granddaughter Abigail hug me so tightly today and say, “I love you, Gramma.” She hadn’t put those words and the hug together before without prompting from Sarah James, so I was overwhelmed, to say the least.
• Having students stop me in the hall or in the parking lot or in my office to say “I pray for you every day.”
• Receiving notes from people I have known and loved who write, “You may not know or remember me but…” (Of course, I know you!)
• Never ever feeling alone or afraid.
• Getting a helping hand at just the right moment when I am struggling to breathe or to stand or to walk or to move.
• Knowing that there is always someone available to go to the doctor with me, to give me a ride to school or home, to ask how I’m doing.
• Enjoying the beauty of our yard after 40+ BA guys and coaches spent an afternoon planting and weeding and trimming. (James is still amazed at how much they did!)
• Hearing that Sue Gering went to her Franklin nursing home to visit my mother since I haven’t been able to do that in awhile.
• Being able to be at BA every day, to teach and to interact with students and colleagues.
• Knowing that my family and friends are praying for me and loving me.
There have been lots of good moments. The rough patches are, after all, just that—patches, and I’ve learned this week that those patches don’t last. God always is there, in the good moments and the not-so-good ones, in the words and actions of those around me, in the food and the texts and the emails, in the quiet of my soul. None of what I experience is dependent upon what I do or how I react; all of the details since my diagnosis on February 17 are flowing through His hands. There’s something restful for me in that image of the details of my days flowing through His hands—flowing, not stopping or pooling or pounding or striking.
You know what? I’m realizing that there is predictability in my life after all—the predictability of grace and mercy and love, and that’s the best routine I can expect from any day, especially right now.
“Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.” (Hebrews 4:16)