Thursday, March 3, 2016

There is a pony, there is a pony, there is a pony ...

I still have cancer.

There was a time I knew what that meant.

You got sick, you had pain, you got treatment- radiation or chemotherapy- you got sicker, you got better, you might get sicker again.

Then, at the end of it all, you either got better and went back to living your life, all be it with a new understanding of how fragile an enterprise life was, or you didn't.

There you are. Cancer in a nutshell. You're welcome. Don't forget to tip your wait staff.

Of course, I knew all that before I actually got cancer. Then I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and it was then that I had cancer.

I initially saw the disease as a flat, static sort of thing. I had absolutely no idea how complicated a statement, “I have cancer” was.

My having cancer begins each morning with me lying in bed, trying to make up my mind whether or not I want to get up. There's nothing new about this. I've written about it before. What is new is the number of options I now need to review each morning.

Over the past year, the big dog in my get up/don't get up tussle, has been nausea. It's been a constant companion this past year, even more so than before. Feeling sick every day grinds you down. I fight to maintain a positive attitude, but when your eyes open in the morning, you take your quick inventory, and you realize you feel nauseous...again? Well, it can take quite a bit of rooting around the bed to find anything positive to make swinging your feet over the edge to begin your day your choice.

Then, too, having cancer isn't only about feeling nauseous. Multiple myeloma attacks your bones and there are times mine could probably file a detailed police report. I heard multiple myeloma described as turning your bones into cottage cheese. Nice thought, huh? Look, I've never liked cottage cheese as a food source because of its consistency. You can guess how I feel about it as a description of my bones.

There are so many times during the two and a half years I've had cancer where I've felt myself, shall we say, intellectually lacking in how I look at my disease. Remember when I used to write about my belief that I would be able to feel cancer eating through my body like Ms. PacMan? I didn't believe it wholeheartedly, perhaps, but I wasn't entire sure it might not happen. (It didn't.)

Having my cancer means being tired... a lot. I wrote about it last week, but last week isn't the only time I've felt like that. Take away all the crappy things that happened to Sheri and me to make us feel even worse, and we're still left with a fatigue that makes even the simplest task difficult some days. I hate having to take a nap in the afternoon. Hate it. Hate! It! Oh, well. Let's put it to a vote, nap or no nap?: Cancer, eleventy-seven gazillion for; Jim, one against. Lay your head down, kid.

You see what I mean about having cancer being complicated? Right? I've gone through a spell where deciding to get up has been tougher; where it was really easy to believe my bones had the consistency of cottage cheese, except that I didn't think cottage cheesy feeling could mean so much discomfort; where nap time could easily begin within minutes of waking up in the morning.

On top of all that, I'm going to be turning 67 in a little over a month, so there are days when I get to enjoy a new game: “Is it cancer or is it age?” That new pain in my side, back by my ribs... age or cancer? Is that bone supposed to bend like that? Age or cancer? Loss of appetite... age or cancer? And one that I would never, ever have spoken of in public, never mind written about prior to my current state: blocked bowels...age or cancer?

So, who says cancer has to be feared? Cancer scary. Hah, my Aunt Mary! I can entertain myself for hours playing “Age or Cancer?” There isn't even anyone to argue with me about which color I get to be or whether I can have the old shoe!

There are a variety of versions of the story that gives this blog its name. The pony is the constant in all of them. A man is on his way to a party when he comes across a young boy shoveling ass over tea kettle at an enormous mountain of manure. The man asks the child if he wouldn't rather go with him to the party than shovel all that poop. The kid says, “No way man. With all that poop... there must be a pony in there somewhere