Thank God, I’m all patched up. Just when I thought I was done sticking things into and onto my body, this became required today:
It’s currently attached to my upper left arm where, over the next 3 days, it will slowly release an opiate-based pain-killer into my body. After that, I put a new one on. Rinse and repeat.
I am very happy. Giddy, even. Ecstatic, I think. Okay, it’s an opiate, so let’s go with immersed in a drug-induced euphoria. I’ve had it on for about 4 hours now, and my back is slowly beginning to stop screaming at me as much.
This cancer journey started two years ago with unexplained back pain; now I’ve returned to where I started – with a vengeance. Yea, put me way to the right on this one.
Doctors are debating and conferring about the cause. Side effect of my crazy meds? Tumor load spreading and pinching a nerve? Full moon during the autumnal equinox? Meanwhile, I am back on the juice. The oral painkillers weren’t providing much relief, so I have graduated to the patch.
Next week I’ll go for another nuclear bone scan to see if there is any relief to be found through external beam radiation. I did this a two years ago to no avail, but apparently the technology has improved. They can cook you more precisely now.
If they overdo it and fry and my esophagus again, I’ll get to take nasty medicine that gives me the ability to swallow my food – but only for 90 seconds. Wonder how many tacos I can eat in 90 seconds?
First, though, another trip to New Orleans for treatment tomorrow. Intense back pain and 6 hours in a car? What’s that saying? “Hell on wheels”?
My “unlikely friend” is kindly taking me (See http://wedonotloseheart.com/an-unlikely-friend/). The patch will probably save our relationship – again.
His wife is staying with Betsy to try to talk her down off the ledge. The break will do us both good. God love her – she’s a saint.
Chronic pain is a bitch. I’m not sleeping at night and it’s hard to focus on anything except the pain during the day. I’m not going to pretend or wave a spiritual wand over this and tell you otherwise.
My apologies to everyone who has suffered like this and I have minimized what you are going through in my mind because your suffering made me uncomfortable.
So what do I do in this new place of pain? As my suffering deepens, I want more than to stoically “accept the things, I cannot change.” Besides, I want change! I’m trying to find some relief – mama didn’t raise no fool!
So what do I want from this experience of chronic pain? Relief, for sure. But I also want to feel my pain so that I better feel the pain of others. I don’t want to get all wrapped up in this or myself as a result of it. I don’t want to be a cancer narcissist. It’s a battle, though. Ask Betsy.
And did I mention I want relief?
Everyone cuts me a lot of slack, but this slack is a dangerous thing. If I lean into it, I can collapse in on myself.
So here’s the agenda for Chronic Pain 101:
Being honest – this is miserable and no amount of sentiment or Bible verses can diminish it (although the patch, I think, is going to be a godsend).
Learning compassion – I want the pain to soften and sensitize my heart to the suffering of others.
I have two people that have been of great help to me in this:
First, my friend (and sometimes enemy), Haley. As you might remember, she runs the infusion center where I get most of my drugs. All day long, she schedules and guides cancer patients like me to our next chemo bag or shot. She keeps the trains running on time and allows no whining – at least not from me. She is not to be trifled with.
Last Friday afternoon, I walked in for this miserable thing (guys, don’t ever drop your pants for this – TRUST ME):
And I was shocked to also get this:
Yes, that would be a Chic-fil-A bag and a Diet Coke! Lunch for me – compliments of Haley’s (also) compassionate heart. The girl has won me back after her chemo comments from last week. How very kind of her.
So now I can get whiskey on one side of the building and Chic-Fil-A on the other. The only downside is I have to have my chest cut open for the whiskey and an anti-man shot for the Chic-fil-A. Still. I cry these days at the compassion of others towards me.
Speaking of crying, Betsy cried when she opened the box this was in that appeared at our door recently (something about it not going with the decor):
It’s hand-made by a buddy of mine, Mark Selvidge. Besides making the best BBQ known to man, he is also a potter of sorts. Over the years he has loved me fiercely – one of those rare guys who isn’t afraid to get in your face or give you a big bear hug (his choice).
He sent me “Bob” (as he has named him), because he can’t be here personally to look after me. Bob is here in his stead.
It’s probably a man thing, but every time I see Bob, I want to cry.
So here we are in a new place of suffering. Pray that my heart will FEEL this pain in a way that moves me TOWARDS other hurting people and not in on myself. Again, this is a huge battle for me.
It helps that God sends compassionate friends to love me and to remind me, through their compassion, that, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” (I Peter 5:10).
One question, though. How long is “a little while”?