A list of my parts that don’t work at all, don’t work as well or no longer exist after one year of cancer treatment:

*Brain – seriously; the fancy term is Post-Chemotherapy Cognitive Impairment; I call it Shit For Brains

*Ears – hearing loss; tinnitus

*Head – this is looking redundant but stay with me; migraines caused by drug therapy, which I will be on forever

*Mouth & Esophagus – mouth sores at the drop of a hat; can no longer tolerate even medium spicy and carbonated beverages make an ow in my throat

*Left Shoulder – limited range of motion; constant chronic pain

*Breasts – don’t exist; medical term for how stand-ins feel is ‘freaking weird’; after-market add-ons on order

*Heart – weakened cardiac muscle; much lower blood pressure and much higher heart rate; more tests needed

*Autonomic Nervous System – possible damage; more tests needed

*Hands & Fingers – peripheral neuropathy; loss of hand strength, coordination; increased sensitivity to temperature; decreased sensitivity to touch; chronic pain

*Left Arm – mild lymphadema; limited range of motion; chronic pain; can no longer lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk

*Lower Back – chronic pain

*Lower Legs & Feet – peripheral neuropathy; difficulty walking, maintaining balance; increased sensitivity to temperatures; tire easily; chronic pain

 

Other general symptoms:

Disordered Sleep – fancy talk for haven’t had a sound night’s sleep in months; when I can sleep, weirdest dreams ever;┬áseriously Hunter S. Thompson on his worst day could not have been more tripped out

Mood Swings – don’t like me right now, fine, wait a few minutes and my mood is sure to change

Hot Flashes – no need for explanations

 

I’m glad I didn’t know a year ago, what it would be like. I’m glad I thought I would be through with everything by spring and ready to see Tosca at the Met in May. It made it easier, not knowing. And now, still, I don’t go to support groups and I don’t read the medical literature or the forums or anything else. If there is something I need to worry about one of the forty-eleventy doctors I see will tell me. I am happy in my ignorance. I enjoy my not knowing. It allows me to be present. Because despite that whole horrible list I typed out above, I enjoy my present. My present is good. Everything I’ve given up, I would give up again. The added pain, I would take on. Being alive feels good.

 

P.S. – I reserve the right to change my mind about all or part of what I wrote. See: mood swings.