Origins

So I have been quiet for the past couple of weeks, mainly a combination of trying to get a last minute freelance job (which paid me more than my regular job ever did) and also having been re-incarcerated in the hospital due to low platelet count (like seriously low, fear of spontaneous internal bleeding levels). But despite my unplanned hospital stay I think will blog a bit more…

So without much further ado, here is the origins of my shitty three years (third year anniversary coming up in a couple of weeks, wohoo! Wait, should I be celebrating this bullshit? Eh, who cares?)

Anyways, it all started with back pain.

Savage back pain, so painful that I could not sleep, instead ending up spending as long as possible under a blistering hot shower, hoping the heat would bring some relief (I was in between houses at that moment so didn’t have a hot water bag to at least press against…in the end I would take four or five boiling hot showers throughout the night). The long nights of showering took its toll, since I was too tired to teach early in the morning (classes started at, meaning I left the house by 7 to avoid the traffic).

So this mixture of back pain and lack of sleep meant I was missing a very important symptom…I couldn’t feel my feet…

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Diet, Exercise, and Showering…

So I am back from the third round of my ICE therapy for this annoyingly “low-grade” T-Cell lymphoma.

(if it’s so low grade, why the hell is my chemo kicking my ass?)

The thing about chemo is that you shouldn’t let it throw you off of your regular activities – namely, eating, moving, and taking a shower once in a while.

Chemo drugs are essentially poison, ’cause, let’s face it, the whole point of chemo is to try and poison all the crap cells (which are still YOUR cells) before the healthy stuff gets taken in as well (this is obviously simplifying the shit out of the whole process).

Food is the big thing you have to take care of, not only eating things you like (thanks to chemo my mouth only likes things that are slightly sweet, but that causes problems ’cause desserts still don’t carry enough nutrition in them to sustain the body through the recovery.) With healthy enough food (here healthy means it has to be nutritious, I don’t care if you do it via biryani or via broccoli, when you are recovering from chemo, almost everything is fair game to be consumed).

The other thing is, you gotta keep moving. Chemo has you feeling like crap and too tired to do anything else either, so you gotta force yourself out of bed, just walk to the living room, take in some sunlight from a different window, the body needs the movement.

Then there is showering, yeah, don’t forget to shower, you might not realize it, but your body is most likely exuding the smell of medicines as your body is filtering that shit out.

Medicines don’t smell good, believe me, they smell like you are one step away from mummification.

So yeah, that’s my quick and quiet advice on how to deal with shitty chemotherapy, ’cause I didn’t follow any of this advice and had to spend an extra week at the crappy hospital (my hospital is legit crap, but what can you do?).

Til later folks!

Preparation by Proxy (Part 2)

Sorry for the delay between posts folks, whenever I have good days I kind of just enjoy myself, but now that I have a couple of days before I do my next round of chemo, it’s time to get some posts up, I know you all have been dying to read more of my thoughts.

So I previously talked about how my aunt had cancer and how she dealt with it basically prepared me for this pain in the ass problem (the nerve damage though was a bonus that I didn’t account for).

So my aunt was kind of a grump with the cancer (in retrospect, I feel like I was overly harsh towards her, though to be fair, I am considerably less grumpy than she is…but mainly because of how she was).

My aunt’s cancer was terrible, and it wore her down physically, and she was a person who always needed to work, so being weak and shackled with tiredness and all this pain in the ass stuff that comes with being a cancer patient must have been beyond torturous for her (I realize that now, back then, her constant complaining got a bit wearying after a while).

So when I finally got my diagnosis of cancer (it was a long and arduous diagnosis, will tell you about it one day), I strengthened my resolve…’cause no one needs to hear my whine and complain as I go through chemo. Instead I decided to face this problem like I faced a lot of things, with sheer “fuck-you-let’s-grin-and-bear-it” attitude.

It’s difficult and I can totally see not everyone able to do it. But if you can, go for it…it makes for talking so much easier. When you are the goofy one and laughing and showing things aren’t as bad as they seem (in fact it was terrible, I was stressed out all the time, but having people laughing at my general weirdness really helped…rather than them being worried all the time) your brain sometimes just goes with the flow and makes you think that it isn’t that bad either.

So yeah, I wanted to approach my cancer (and related troubles) in exactly the opposite way my aunt did…it’s why I do it head on and smiling all the time.

(I kind of wish I hadn’t run out of money though, but being unemployed for three years does that to you…)

Even now, gotta keep smiling, being goofy, and don’t let it get you down. That’s my advice.

Though if you need to cry, go for it too, crying feels good (but don’t cry all the time, you are going to get dehydrated).

Preparation by Proxy (Part 1)

The biggest hardship that my illness has been on is not me, but my mother.

The past fifteen years have not been kind to her. First her husband (my dad, don’t worry not having issues, just being literary) had kidney failure and she spent two years taking care of him and trying to get a kidney donor. Finally, he gets his kidney transplant and seems to be getting back on his feet, but then her sister’s cancer (breast cancer that metastasized in her brain) was getting worse by the day. Since my mother is the eldest of the siblings, she took it upon her shoulders to make sure that her sister was getting the best care that was possible.

My aunt passed away in 2013…and then in 2014 I fall supremely ill with my tumor and cancer and no longer being able to walk (I still have major walking issues, but got better…though this chemotherapy has kind of retarded my progress).

When there was first suspicion that I might have cancer I remember thinking back about how my aunt dealt with her cancer. She was anger incarnate and went after each and any possible treatment that could cure her. She was optimistic, but man was she angry.

Her downtimes were her worst, post-treatment she was weak and whiny and had to have everything just so.

I thought about her a lot that as I waited for my own diagnosis…

Mentality

The thing about cancer is that it is a mental game.

Your body is crapping out on you, no matter how healthy you were, your body is now rebelling and it’s decided to take your brain with you.

Don’t let the bastard win.

The only thing you can do is prep to fight. This may sound cheesy (’cause it is) but letting yourself fall into despair is not really worth it (this of course doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get sad or depressed or miserable even).

But in the end what’s the point?

Being miserable, being sad, being depressed only makes you feel worse and just make people pity you more and just make the whole situation more dour.

So fuck it

Take a big step, greet the damn cancer or what have you with a bear hug…and squeeze the life out of that asshole.

There is another good thing about being positive…you see, I am not a very positive guy by nature (I tend to overthink things), but the face that I show is one of positivity, ’cause it keeps people from saying stupid things (“be strong”, “life is full of battles”…ugh) and they actually respond to you and make you feel like a regular human being.

So if all else fails, take that with you, you get better conversations with a positive face!

Hope and Starlight

I hate visitors at the hospital.

I know people mean well, but there is this awkwardness as people try to figure out a comfortable place to sit and I lay there like a living corpse, turning my head to show that I am happy that they have come to visit.

Then there is the “talk” – which basically comes in two flavors, where they ask me questions that make me wish my doctors were so concerned (the doctors in Bangladesh are…fucking shitty, but that’s a different blog post) or the other type of conversation…the inane small talk as I can hear the clock in their heads count down to when they have done enough visiting.

My mom tells me that they are being kind, which, yeah, I know, but really, I am okay with no one visiting – it might have to do with me being used to being alone most of my life (mentally, I of course have wonderful friends, but I have a solitary, selfish headspace).

I don’t want to deal with the awkward pauses and uhmms and ahhhs as people try and figure out what to say as I pray that I don’t crap myself in front of them. I don’t like seeing my mother trying to pretend that they are guests in our home and be congenial (we are at a hospital, my white blood count is through the floor, I really shouldn’t be exposed to anyone, so yeah, you not being here would be better actually) to them when in fact she just wants to sit and pray and hope that I don’t collapse again.

The worst question is when they ask, “are you getting better?”

That manic, wild look of hope in their eyes, it’s kind of frightening. I have to get better, ’cause if I don’t, then if they ever get sick, they don’t have a hope of surviving it. I don’t want to be your beacon of hope, I just want to get through my day, unannoyed, and somewhat functional.

I sometimes find myself comparing myself (’cause I got a literary mind, I like writing stories, even if it is about myself) to starlight. Alone, in the darkness, shining, just for myself (exoplanets be damned).

I am not your hope, I am your starlight – I don’t guide you, you just have to follow after and figure out the path on your own…

 

It’s All About Prep Work

I kept putting off updating the blog, mainly because been depressed lately.

It’s hard to keep being depressed, especially when things were on the up and up for the most part – I had started a job, I was socializing (okay that was hellish…so was the job too ’cause my schedule sucked, but what the hell, I am freakishly powerful so it didn’t matter that much…well, except for the fact that the job itself was terrible, but the state of teaching and students in Bangladesh these days is a whole different rant), and I finally had money in my pocket.

Now, I got pretty much one of that.

*sigh*

Anyways, will complain about those things a bit more, but at a later time and probably more vociferously.

Despite shaving my head, my hair stubble keeps falling out – it’s kind of annoying.

Anyways, so tomorrow is round two of my chemotherapy and I have a better game plan in place. Got my diet ready (food is ridiculously important since the chemo last time wiped out virtually every bit of my blood [I exaggerate of course, I had some blood left, but it wasn’t enough to keep my body running well enough] and so a good diet from the beginning should go a long way (when I first did R-CHOP for what was then B-Cell Lymphoma [currently am doing ICE] I had terrible stomach upset, to the point that not eating was preferable…it didn’t help much, but mentally felt better at least – I thought I could head all that off by going with a simple diet that didn’t affect my stomach, it just kind of made things worse ’cause my body wasn’t getting the right nutrients and so I crashed two days later).

Anyways, food! Gotta have a good variety of protein a nice range of veggies (sweet potatoes are a godsend) and just not stress about it.

Reminds me, I should put up some recipes on this blog, even for those without cancer might enjoy them.