The Daily Discomfort

The bottom line is, I just don’t feel well. Constantly. Every day.

This is to be expected, of course, considering I suffered through an extensive surgery not even a month ago, but the greater frustration lies in not knowing what to expect through this recovery, not having a timeline for feeling better, not knowing when I’ll be able to function relatively normative throughout the day instead of wanting to crawl into a hole and hide. The only thing I AM sure about on a day to day basis is just how crappy I feel and what meager efforts I can make to manage the discomfort. Unfortunately, I know others are still not able to understand how I feel and are concerned about the person I’ve become, in contrast to the person I was. I think a lot of people thought I would be this hyper-exciteable, go get ’em, physically and emotionally active person through all this, which is what I tend to be in my normative state. Believe me, I wish it could be that way. But, as we all experience in moments of sickness, the people we are become drowned beneath the weight of the illness and we succumb to just waiting it out. That’s kind of how it feels to me right now…I’m just waiting it out…not wanting to make an effort and would rather hide inside a dark cave until it all passes.

To be more exact about how this all feels, I’ve been explaining it to friends this way. It feels like I have the flu….times 2.

You know that feeling you get when you have the flu, where your back is achy, you get the chills no matter what the temperature and your skin is SUPER sensitive, whether to the touch of skin, clothing or anything else? Yeah, well, that’s how it feels all the time. And it’s the sensitive skin that is the worst above it all.

It’s funny, because cancer is just this….thing. It’s just these tumors that are there, causing problems down the line if unchecked, but it’s all the crap associated with dealing with those tumors that cause all the discomfort and misery of “having cancer”. For me, cancer is not the problem. The problem is whatever part of the process that is causing this great and continuous discomfort I can’t seem to shake. That’s the part that really wears a person down and compels one to just hide and wait it out. But even that’s not good. It gets old.

I’ve watched more TV in the past month than I have in the past 3 years of my life. I know far too much about where our culture stands in both morality and entertainment than I really care to know. My days have become so repetitive that there is little surprise or excitement, and even if there was, I don’t know if I would enjoy it. To help explain this unenjoyable existence, this is how my days are currently going.

I wake up every morning at 7am, feeling rather miserable after an entire night without a pain pill, and so the first thing I do is reach over and swallow one of my pills. I roll back over and wait out the following hour for the pills effects to kick in, erase that horrible sensitive skin feeling and give me enough relief to go about my morning. An hour later, about 8 o’clock, I’ll have enough respite to brush my teeth, make some oatmeal, take a shower, check up on social media and maybe do some reading if I’m feeling up to it. Then about an hour and a half later, around 9:30, the party starts to wind down and the discomfort creeps back in, slowly compelling me to lay back on the bed and try not to move around too much, keeping the blankets off my stomach and my t-shirt from rubbing the same.

I find myself passing the morning watching TV or reading, counting down the hours until I can take my next pill at noon. Right at 12 I’ll take another pill, wait out that hour for things to kick in and then hopefully do something productive for that short period of relief. Lately, that has meant going down to the coffee shop with my dad (or alone) to just hang out and do some reading or writing, just anything to get me out of the house, out of the bed and away from the TV. On my best days I can plan a trip to the workout room to get on the treadmill, but I’ve struggled with getting back there the past three days, whether due to a greater feeling of discomfort or schedules not lining up. Regardless, I still have that hour and a half window of relief before, again, the unpleasantness of the whole process comes back and my emotional misery grows in concert, driving me back home to the safety of a quiet environment where I don’t have to make an effort to converse, move around too much or become annoyed by the trivialities of daily life.

The countdown begins again to 5:00 when I take my 3rd pill of the day, allowing me to get some much needed nutrition in me and to just feel better as I lay into the night watching TV or movies until bedtime takes over, which is when I take my final pill to help lull me to sleep amidst the overall achiness and horrible feeling of sensitive skin to even the most slight of movements.

And these are my days, everyday. A constant attempt at relieving such a terrible annoyance of sensitive skin that compels me to do nothing but sit still all day, or pop pills like they were tic tacs, which unfortunately, is not an option for either.

The worst part about this again being the complete lack of timeline for recovery, having no idea when this is all going to end, coupled with not even understanding what causes this in the first place. I mean, it could be the residual effects of withdrawal from a few very strong pain meds. It could be the lasting effects of having my insides literally washed with poison through the heated chemotherapy treatment that took place during the surgery. Or, hell, maybe it’s the fact that I was basically gutted through a massive incision, parts taken out, other parts scraped and beaten, and so on. Who knows….I don’t…but ultimately, I don’t even want to get back to great, or even good, at this point….I just want to get back to functioning. I don’t want to rely on pain pills to get just a few hours of non-consecutive relief during the day. I want to meet friends any time of the day instead of scheduling them in accordance to when I took my last pill. I want to entertain friends that bring food to me instead of suffering through conversations with barely any energy to be exciteable. I want to meet friends in public and talk without effort, without wanting to put my head down and just go to sleep, without feeling the urge to cut them off mid-sentence and say, “OK, i’m done. Sorry.” and then walk away. Because that’s how I feel, and I’m sorry.

Like I said, I don’t feel well, and it sucks. And I know this isn’t how people perceive me, but in this physical state, I’m having a difficult time wiping the sourpuss expression off my face everywhere I go and being a little more civil and predictable. So for that I apologize, but in the meantime, I’m continuing to keep my contact limited to others, because frankly I can’t handle much right now. Whether it’s extended conversations, public noise, literal bumps in the road, and so on. On the other hand, I can’t handle much more TV right now, much more sitting in bed, much more daily repetition.

Of course, all this will pass. I know this. I’m in a waiting game and that’s all I can do right now, but hopefully this will give you an idea of what I’m trying to wait out and why, despite being out of the hospital, you may not be seeing me around, or if you do, why I may not be the most pleasant person to be around. Above all though, I look forward to getting past this, feeling functional, and able to enter the real world without issue again. I’ll look out for ya.

7 responses to “The Daily Discomfort

  1. John E. Sowers

    Scott, Thank you for your continued real updates. You give such a sense of what you are thinking and feeling. Your writing is powerful. Each passage has given me new insights into what it means to be deal with serious illness and mortality. I am, as always, keeping you in thought and prayer. I expect there will be many and varied chapters in the book you are now writing. Even though I am far away if there is anything I can do let me know. I will be in the area over the Memorial Day Weekend. If you are up to visitors let me know, but don’t push. I will only be present if it is okay for you. I am driving home on Sunday after church and back to Rushville Illinois on the Tuesday after Memorial Day.


    • John, I’m glad my writings can give some insight to the process…it’s really my ultimate goal with all this, to offer one more experience to those who, hopefully, never have to go through something like this, but can gain some insight on handling the fragile nature of dealing with illness and the individual. It’s certainly not easy, not for those on the “outside” and even those dealing with it directly. I just look forward to the days I can detail something more positive and hopeful. Take care.

  2. i DO know how you feel scott. not exactly your experience, of course, but i lived my own version, for four years. i teach in franklin this monday, may 20th, if you’re up to meet. reach out. stephanie g.

    • We’ve all experienced our own traumas and there are similarities for sure. I’m glad you are past yours!

  3. Ugh, sensitive skin feeling is the absolute worst. I am sorry you have been feeling this way for so long, I hope the turn around is soon!

    • Laura, it really is. This is something I didn’t expect, but it keeps me from being active on a continuous basis and I’m almost watching my body wither away from inactivity. I sure hope this turns around soon. Take care!

  4. Scott…..This is Dana. Thinking of you and praying that you are restored to be stronger than you were before….Love, me

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