Three Years Later and I Still Got Cancer Sh*t To Deal With

Sorry about my extended absence. Despite having managed to complete my fourth cycle of ICE for the T-cell Lymphoma, I ended up being hospitalized afterwards due to shockingly low blood counts all across the board.

It was a struggle since my body did not want to trespond to any of the treatments (and I got plenty of transfusions – whole blood, platelets, fresh frozen plasma – still it didn’t take too well). A week later I finally was released and just been recovering at home…and been a butt about it.

But now that May is here and I am going in for my autologous stem cell transplant, decided I should blog a bit more earnestly about all of this.

So here we go, back on the blogging saddle again.

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The First Hospital

Yup, somewhere in that picture is where I spent the first two weeks of my unhealthy life.

You know, despite everything, Aysha Memorial Hospital was not the worst of my hospital stays. It is just that they were not equipped or trained enough to handle my problem.

And that pretty much is what can be said of pretty much every hospital in the country…but as I lost weight and became a more manageable size, that is less of a mitigating circumstance and more incompetence and penny-pinching.

So one of the few things that I remember about my stay at the hospital was that the first night I had a doctor interrogate me at 3 in the morning asking how I knew a certain someone (apparently I went to this particular hospital due to a recommendation from my mother’s aunt who is a big wig…and they were all shitting themselves trying to figure out how much attention should they pay in my care [you might think I am being cynical, but really am not]).

I hope to one day find that particular doctor and give him a wedgie of a lifetime…his of course.

I should warn you, now that I am actually interacting with doctors, I am going to be mentioning a lot of bodily harm that I would like to inflict upon them…but there is context!

Anyways, other than that, either I worked really hard to convince everyone that I was going to be okay and that this was just a minor inconvenience to the point that I seemed to have convinced myself that other than a few things, it was not the worst stay.

Here are the things that annoyed me during my stay:

1 – no way to call a nurse…they required me to have a personal attendant (i.e. my elderly mother in this case), to stick by my side and if a nurse was needed, she would have to go out and find a nurse

2 – filthy…though I think it’s just more to poor maintenance than someone bleeding and pooing on the walls.

3 – poor maintenance – three times the elevator went out…which meant that they had to manually haul my ass up and down a series of stairs when I needed to go to visit a doctor or get a scan done – at least I could sit in a chair, imagine if that happened to someone sicker…

Of course the most annoying thing was that they completely misdiagnosed me, hereby causing me to be in my present condition…but that’s the next post!

Keeping that Brave Face

I got carried off that plane in a stretcher (eventually).

I remember trying to ignore the stares and whispers as I was trundled through the airport. It wasn’t embarrassing per se…it just felt so intrusive, they were commenting on my tragedy on my life (I like my privacy).

We had to rush through the airport, my sister was due back on the same plane that had brought us here (she just needed to accompany me on the flight…thankfully she came out to at least see my mom and dad who were waiting for me with the ambulance).

As soon as I saw my mom, I realized I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t tell her I was afraid, that my world was falling apart, her eyes were already red as if she was holding back her own tears.

I was loaded up into the ambulance and whisked away to Aysha Memorial Hospital…my mom sitting silently next to me (though I could hear her trying not to wail).

That’s where my brave face came on…and I don’t think I have ever taken it off (I tried once, it did not go well…)

So I started to talk, I told my mom that things will be alright, and that it was nice that she got to talk to my sister, and just this and that, despite being so tired from stress and just general traveling (I am a terrible flier in the best of cases).

I dozed off, and the next time I was conscious, I was being hauled up a rickety elevator to the emergency ward of Aysha Memorial…

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…

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!

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…