Tuesday, May 16, 2006

May 15, 2006 - Eye of the Hurricane?

It’s good to be done with chemo. With each day that passes, I start to feel a little more normal.

I’ve experienced this before, of course, in previous 3-week chemo cycles: as week 2 rolled into week 3 (the week our friends Don and Charlotte learned, when he was undergoing his chemo for NHL, to call “Party Week”), I could begin to keep something resembling a normal schedule. But always it was short-lived. Always I knew that the day of the IV drips would return, and for a week or so after that I’d be laid low by side-effects.

It’s different now. This time, Party Week will stretch on beyond that third Wednesday. While everything I’ve read about cancer fatigue says it takes many months to fully dissipate, at least I should be able to look forward to slow, incremental improvement – at least until I begin my radiation treatments. Yet even with those, everything Dr. Lerner and others have told me suggests that most people find that radiation’s side effects are not as severe as those associated with chemo.

Right now, I find myself living through a brief, diagnostic interlude. Today I go to Ocean Medical Center for my four CT scans – neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis – and everything goes smoothly with that procedure. No results yet, of course – I’ve learned that the technicians can’t tell you anything on the spot. It will take several days, at least, for the radiologist to read the images – and, if past experience is any guide, Dr. Lerner will phone me as soon as he knows anything. Next Wednesday is my PET scan, which will tell us even more about what “hot spots,” if any, may remain in my abdomen – areas of fast-growing cells that are likely to be malignancies.

As I cast around for a metaphor to describe these in-between days, I’m reminded of the eye of a hurricane. I’ve never lived through a direct hit from a hurricane (the north-south expanse of the Jersey Shore is parallel to most Atlantic storm tracks, so we tend to get near-misses), but I’ve read descriptions written by survivors. I’ve heard the hurricane’s eye described as a time of stillness, of eerie silence – and even, in very large storm systems, of reassuring intervals of sunlight. Then, inevitably, the far side of the circular storm passes over, and the howling winds and torrential rains start up again.

This brief season between chemotherapy and radiation is like the eye of the hurricane. While I’m waiting for the scan results, I get a bit of a breather. With hurricanes, they say the trailing edge of the storm is typically not as strong as the leading edge – though it still packs a wallop – so, maybe that’s similar to the somewhat weaker side-effects of radiation.

I can’t say that I’m able to enjoy this time – knowing that the other side of the storm is going to catch up with me eventually – but at least I can rest up a bit.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you expected anyone except your family and those who know you to read your journal, but I came across it and I wanted to say thank you. I realize that may sound strange, but as I'm going through a health nightmare right now I find it tremendously encouraging that there's someone out there who is still trusting God through it. Thank you. "May you be covered with the dust of your Rabbi." I'll pray for you.

~Rhuel

Carlos ("Carl") said...

Rhuel,

I'm glad you're finding my blog to be a help. You're right, when I began it I envisioned it as mostly something that family and friends would be interested in. I've been amazed and gratified that people from all sorts of places have somehow found it, and are following it - literally, people from around the world.

My good wishes and prayers for healing are with you, as you face your own health challenges. Shalom.

Carl