I’m kind of in this weird stage right now.
I feel mostly normal. I feel good. Sure my voice has changed a little, my smile is lop-sided, I have a heck of a time saying words like “thirty-three”, and I take a sip of water about every 15 minutes.
But overall, and certainly relative to times early this year, I feel great. If I bump into someone that is seeing me for the first time since March or April, they usually do a double-take. Shoot, I even took my shirt off at the pool a couple of times this weekend to flash my 157 pounds of white flesh.
But while feeling good, well, feels really good, I’m constantly wondering what is going on inside of me and if I’m actually getting better. I have my next immuno-therapy infusion on July 11th and then another on August 1st. Sometime after that I’ll have a CT / PET scan and we’ll find out how my body has responded to the Keytruda (and the gallons of carrot juice I’ve been drinking). So I guess we’ll know more then.
Being a patient patient can be a struggle sometimes.
I like writing “in the blog”. But mostly, I have loved the thinking and introspection that always precedes the writing. Initially, and naively, I thought by about this time of the year the blog would be winding down, I’d be in remission, and we’d all move on from this experience better people, but we’d most certainly move on. The way I look at things now is pretty different.
This is going to be a long twelve round boxing match, and it might even be like a best of seven series of twelve round boxing matches. It is always going to be there and we’ll always be fighting it in some capacity (physically, mentally, so forth). Boxing is the worst, amirite?
So what does that mean for the blog?
I don’t know.
I intend to keep updating when there are major health-related milestones since that was the initial purpose. But during this period of time when those types of updates are only occurring every few months, I might slip in a few entries on some retrospective thoughts from this experience.
My wife has a motto that she’s lived by for years and clung to for the past six months — Choose Joy. It is a great concept and a great motto and probably something that most of us could do more of most of the time. There really is a lot of good in life and we would do well to accentuate the positive and choose joy. But that isn’t always the case. Some of us might feel like joy is elusive some of the time. Or all of the time. Or at least right now.
Over dinner this weekend my wife and I were talking about some of the really tough challenges that several people we know and love are currently facing. Just to name a few…chronic and debilitating health conditions, unrelenting depression and anxiety, a suicidal teenage child, an unfaithful spouse, and the list goes on.
She made a profound comment that I had to share. I’m paraphrasing below:
I think there are some situations where you really can’t choose joy. You are paralyzed by the challenge and choosing anything, let alone joy, doesn’t seem possible. You have to get help that comes from outside of your own agency. Maybe it is a friend or a family member or a doctor or even a medicine, but something has to help you get back to a place where you are again free to choose.
There’s a lot there to think about.
While our conversation over Chick-fil-A was focused on some of the challenges our friends are going through, I thought back to so many family members, friends, doctors, and even medicines that have helped me get back to the place where I could choose joy.
It was a great reminder that we don’t do anything hard in life entirely alone. During the worst times of treatment, I probably fooled myself into thinking I was being pretty awesome by putting on a positive face (which is not the same as choosing joy). I’m kind of dumb like that. The list of who and what it took to get me to a place where joy was even a choice is a lengthy list, no doubt.
And for that, I am grateful.