A week out from round three of VTD-PACE and I’m trying to get my head around things.
Went in for a blood test Tuesday morning as I’ve been exhausted since Friday and sleeping like the dead (normally I’m a very light sleeper). On Friday, for example, I came home early from work since I couldn’t keep my eyes open and zonked out on a couch. I woke up around 5 pm and asked my wife why the cleaning girls didn’t come only to find out not only did they but they cleaned around me and I didn’t wake up.
Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you view these things, my numbers didn’t qualify for a transfusion. While I was happy to not have to sit in the hospital getting blood all afternoon I am somewhat concerned about how tired I’ve been if it’s not being caused by low blood counts — I’m guessing it’s either the cancer itself or, more likely, the toll all of these chemotherapy drugs are taking on my body? Who knows at this point.
I’ve also been dealing with an almost debilitating level of lower back pain that I cannot point to a cause for and say “aha!” Been treating that in more natural ways but a few nights I’ve broken down and dipped into the opioid well.
I know the number one lesson from sports is never look past your next opponent, but — actually, that’s wrong. That’s the number two rule; the number one rule of sports is never treat a groin pull with Icy Hot. But anyways I know it’s a mistake but I’ve been spending a lot of time looking past this third cycle and at that stem cell transplant looming on the horizon. I’m just not a big fan of the concept right now — the first one I did was a major pain in the ass and wasn’t that effective, so I’m not sure what a second one is supposed to accomplish. We’ll see. I’m not in the habit of getting the best healthcare I can find and then questioning it but this is a pretty major decision to just sign off on without some serious thought attached.
Things have been odd lately around me. I feel like everything is a bit off, from flavors all the way to my initial reactions to events. As a result I’ve been more tight-lipped than usual because I don’t know where my reactions are coming from — the drugs? Depression? My brain is awash in chemicals and unfamiliar responses and I can’t tell any more. One thought pervades through it all, however, and that is how much I am missing diving. Part of that is the purely hedonistic angle — life just isn’t nearly as fun for me without diving, and after four years I am Jonesing so badly it’s not funny. I miss the serenity, the comradery, the feeling of being someone special when I was assisting classes or dive guiding at the aquarium here, the exotic locales, the water.
The WATER. Why I ever allowed myself to live in a land-locked state is beyond me.
One of my old favorite things to do was burn a few days vacation time and assist classes at a local reservoir during the week with a favorite instructor friend. Not only did we work well together but after the students left we’d bust out the mini grill and cook up some burgers or brats and relax, go for a fun dive, etc. Missing that bigtime.
That’s me exploring outside a wreck in Cozumel, picture by a close friend.
Along with those yearnings has come a strong undercurrent of resentment about my disease. Granted that’s always been there to some degree, but lately it’s been more prevalent in my thoughts. I would guess this is coming from all of the introspection this PACE therapy has forced upon me — I’m always feeling poorly these days and there’s no time to even recover before the next round and another week in the hospital, another slew of follow-up appointments, more transfusions, etc. Combine that with the lack of hair and how I look lately and I feel like I’m not even Rich anymore, I’m just Myeloma. As a result I’m resisting, mentally and emotionally, rebelling without a real target.
I miss my old life, who I used to be. I feel like I could be a better person now if I were allowed to return to it free of these diseased shackles but with the full knowledge of where I’ve been and how precarious things can be.
But that’s neither here nor there at the moment. I have an appointment with the oncologists tomorrow morning and on the 19th we start the third and final round of VTD-PACE, followed by six weeks of recovery and then a stem cell transplant. Time to focus on what’s right in front of me and just try to keep the dreams of the past life alive until I can get there again.