May 2, 2011

Progress continues!

It has been far far too long since I have updated this blog.  I really do not have an excuse except to say that I have been so absorbed in trying to find myself after the cancer treatment, I just could not come to terms with what I should say here.  All of you that have been connected to me for so many months have seen inside me in ways no one before you had access.  While I was able, I shared thoughts with you I normally would never let leave my mind.  I needed to say some things but wasn’t ready to say them…
Today when I go back and read my own words and those of my brother Larry and my sister-in-law Sue, I become very emotional.  The words bring back memories that today I find too hard believe were actual thoughts and events in my life.  The trauma of the entire treatment process was so intense, it fell in that category of terror that the human mind often bottles up and locks away.  Interesting, as I now go through the recovery from the treatment, I find bits and pieces of my thoughts from those terrible days and nights suddenly pop into my mind; thoughts I cannot initially recall having.  Some of these memories are so vividly full of the pain and despair I was going though, I have to escape to a private place to let the “feelings” come so maybe they will return to wherever they will reside for the rest of my life…hopefully in a deep deep part of my mind.
The most alarming and sad memory that has surfaced is a week long period in the final days of the radiation treatment.  It was during this time that I suddenly refused to go forth with the final days of my radiation treatment.  I simply could not do it even though I had only nine more days to go.  What no one knew was that inside me, I had decided I wanted to die and was struggling to will my body to die.  Those thoughts occurred at a time that easily was the lowest of my entire life.  Never had I been so emotional, mentally and physically drained with absolutely nothing left to carry on with.  Actually, I did not want to die…I love life and have lived it that way.  But, for the first time, I was at the wall and could not take the pain and fight any longer.  I was ashamed to feel this defeat and could not pull myself up from it. 
It was only the struggle of my wife Lieska, Nurse Mary and Doc Q that defeated my own personal mission to make my body die and give me the release I was seeking.  They would not let me go and each day for most of that week did everything possible to not let me go….all the time not knowing I was not in the fight with them although I think there was some suspicion on part of Nurse Mary.  Eventually, their efforts made my body feel well enough that I decided to see if I could go back and do those last nine terrifying sessions inside the radiation equipment.  The memories of those last nine day are  beyond words…I have no idea how I overcame the terror that owned me each morning just before I “committed” to lay down and let them put that mask on my head to lock me to the table and put me in the radiation machine.  The drugs just could not sedate me any longer. There is  no doubt in my mind that only an act of God that I was somehow able to get through each of those final nine days…
I recall during this time thinking of all the people that had sent me emails and cards and how sad I was that I was going to die without being able to say Thank You and a final Goodbye.  I remember lots of tears from that sadness.  I give all those people credit for also being a factor for pulling me through this very dangerous time.  Thank you all for your thousands of message of encouragement and best wishes for beating the cancer.
I wish I did not have to share the above words with you. I would prefer to be the big brave tough guy so many of you wanted me to be through this.  I tried but didn’t quite make it and did not measure up to my or your expectations.  But, from the beginning of this blog it has been my intentions to share the good, the bad and the ugly of this whole thing, no matter what the ultimate outcome.  So, memories of this moment had to be told…I was too far gone and away from real life commitments at the time to fulfill my responsibility to all of you and share the intent to die with you.
Today, two months after the last treatment, I am alive and trying hard to get well.  I am pushing myself as hard as I can to get my act back together and get on with life….mainly so I can discover who I am after the six months of hell.  I truly do not know.  I am certain my views on some things have changed but those changes are not clear to me yet.  I find I am still stumbling along day to day.  I try to do things I used to do and discover that many times my mind and/or body simply are not ready.  The realization of this fact frequently sends me into short rages of frustration.  I never had been a patient person; that fact is easily to witness as I push to find some normalcy in my life. 
I know also that the stress of not yet been totally convinced that the cancer is gone heavily eats away at me.  Apparently, I am about to get what I need for final confirmation one way or the other. I believe the docs are about ready to do a very special CAT Scan and a PET full body scan to search for any traces of cancer in me.  I probably will not find peace until these tests are complete with the results I pray for.

A quick summary of how I am doing today:
I go to physical therapy three days a week to rebuild my right shoulder and right arm.  My range of motion has some small improvement. Doc Y tells me that over the next six months he will be able to restore most of the range of motion to this arm but never all of it…just not physically possible for a handful of reasons.  However, I will once again be able to reach out and reach up to a kitchen cabinet to get a coffee cup.  I’ll take that.
My hands and wrists are quite weak and I am constantly dropping things.  Only time will fix this as the muscles rebuild.  Same goes for the legs, back and other muscles that turned to mush during the months and months of inactivity.
I stutter and stammer a bit as my mind and my mouth try to connect up again.  It’s frustrating to not be able to get out what I am thinking but apparently this is normal at this stage of recovery.
I still take most of my nourishment through the stomach G tube.  I am able to eat most soups now, though. Occasionally, I am able to eat some solid things in small quantities like eggs, a bite of bacon, a few bites of apple, etc. However, most solids still taste like chewing cardboard.  And, this too, is apparently about where I am supposed to be at this stage of recovery.
I am going to try and do some work at my office starting this week.  I am certain it will not be a regular thing but I want to start trying. Do my fellow employees a favor and pray for them…
So, I am making progress.  Its going too damn slow for me but that fact alone means I am getting better!