Holiday from cancer

Remembrance Day is a holiday from cancer. There is no cancer today. Well, at least there is no treatment today. No radiation and no chemo drugs. Breakfast in bed and extra cups of coffee (I feel so loved) make it extra-special for me. Its pretty comfortable time for reflection.

We’ve spent the last three weeks or so balancing causes and effects.

We start with a softball sized lump constricting the lower bowel. Some painful cramps, difficult poops and a constant urge to “go”. No problem! eat this morphine, you’ll feel better.

Well, that worked.

But morphine causes water to be absorbed into the intestinal walls and leaves the contents dry and constipated. This makes the cramps worse, irritates the bowel and now that lump feels like a loosely assembled ball of broken glass. Ok, eat this stool softener and eat more soluble fibre, that should help. Oh, and lets increase the morphine to deal with the extra pain. Oops, better increase the stool softeners and add some good old fashioned prune juice. There, thats better. Balance attained.

For a few days.

Now lets eat a bunch of chemicals every weekday that will kill and dissolve any cancer cells knocked for a loop by the radiation we’ll beam into the general area every morning. We can back off on the stool softener and adjust the fibre because the radiation causes inflammation of the healthy bowel resulting in diarrhea. But let’s add an anti-nausea medication to counter the effects of the chemotherapy. Oh, and increase the morphine because all that irritation and inflammation is spreading the glass around and when it’s not like shitting a flaming river, it’s like trying to pass a golf ball wrapped in sandpaper.

Let’s try stopping the fibre. Bad idea.

When the stool softeners, fibre and prune juices are easing things up just enough to smooth everything out, the side effects of the chemo and radiation are just a mild irritation of the surrounding area. The pain medication can knock the sharp edges off all that broken glass and everything works together to counter the worst of each others effects.

Its all a harmonious dance of cause and effect. Every step causes an effect that needs to be compensated by the next step that causes an effect that needs to be com… Its the song that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends…

We have achieved the balance this week. I dance as directed and Wendy is a ballet mistress, directing the whole show. I absolutely could not come anywhere near managing this balance on my own.

So today I remember those who fought to give me the freedom to dance and who defended the country that gave us the best healthcare I could ever imagine, but my real hero, the one who has my deepest love and gratitude, is my brave, determined and self-sacrificing wife, Wendy Gould.

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