Tomorrow I’m scheduled to get my port “installed” (It sounds more like an auto repair than a medical procedure) for the upcoming chemo treatments. I don’t know a lot about the actual procedure, where it will go in my body and what it will look like other than somehow being under my skin (do I get a velcro flap of skin for access) for easy and continuous access to allow for the poisons to enter my body. One on hand I’m quite relieved that I’m getting a port as I’d rather avoid the vein searching and continuous needle pricks I would be getting otherwise, but to be honest, I’m looking forward to this procedure less than I was going into my HIPEC surgery a month and a half ago. This is pretty absurd considering I’ll be put under, won’t feel a thing, and will leave the hospital that day to recover from the anesthesia. Still, I just don’t think I’m ready. I’m not yet ready for the trauma, no matter how small.
Going into the hospital the first time I had no idea what to expect and now that I’m out of there, I certainly do know what to expect…and it wasn’t fun. Then couple that with the weeks of recovery I’ve been spending at my parents and now my own house, and things haven’t been that much better. I have been alternating between good days and bad days, getting out and being active as much as I can on good days, but even my “good” days involve a degree of discomfort. There are never any “great” days or “healthy” days. I never feel strong. I never feel discomfort free. At best, I feel temporarily energized and able enough to get on my bike and go for a long ride or venture to the grocery store for some necessities. Of course, once all that is over I usually find myself laying in bed and falling asleep from the effort. Nothing is easy. The memory of the trauma wears on me and the lessened daily trauma doesn’t help.
So, I guess I just don’t feel ready to go back into the hospital environment, to be stuck for an IV yet again, to have my capacities taken over and my body lulled into a pain-free sleep. I’m not ready to be cut open again, a foreign object inserted into my body, then sewn shut for the duration of the coming 6 months of chemo treatments. Emotionally, I’m just not ready, but honestly, that means nothing. As in every other part of this procedure, it must be done, so I’m preparing for the stupidly early wake up call, the 6 am registration time, and subsequent hours of procedure time that will pass outside my state of consciousness leading into an undetermined recovery time that I hope doesn’t extend too far into the weekend (I’ve got plans!).
Ultimately, I’m just not yet accustomed to the trauma.
After I posted the first images of my scar that runs from just below my sternum all the way down my pelvis, the jokes about zippers and tattoos started to come in. And for a brief minute I thought how great it would be to turn the scar into a trail tattoo, mimicking the map lines I’ve come to know like the back of my hand. I entertained that for only a brief minute though, as the idea of actually allowing someone to repeatedly poke into my skin with a set of needles for hours on end brought up a great revulsion from within. It was one thing to be cut open out of necessity, but to add to the experience willingly seemed..well…just wrong. And this is from someone who already has tattoos. Still, the idea of harming myself, no matter the perceived benefit, after feeling so much trauma already did not sit well. And still doesn’t.
This cancer experience is taking its emotional toll. I fought away the “why me’s” as I’ve described before, but it’s the relative “Woe is me’s” that are really starting to get to me. Since making my cancer known I have become friends with those suffering from various illnesses around the country, sometimes face to face and others through social media. Each individual has their own story and each one is marked by a sense of tragedy and trauma, which has unfortunately left me a little more calloused than I used to be. Now, when I hear others complain about their first world problems or inconsequential Woe-is-me’s, I feel a great sense of frustration from their lack of perspective, in part because of what I’m going through on a daily basis, but also because of what my friends and SO MANY OTHERS are going through as well. I know, this approach isn’t very compassionate or very understanding, I know this, but right now I’m worn down. I’m calloused. I’ve lost sympathy for relativity. Because believe me, I’d trade your “bad day” for one of my “good days” at the drop of a hat. You can have my scar tissue, my shortened breaths, the pain in my abdomen, the overall weakness, the discomfort in sleeping, and everything that is to come in exchange for your bored day at work or whatever issue you may be dealing with. Again, I’m sorry, I’ve lost a lot of compassion at this point.
I’m tired of watching young kids kill themselves with drugs. I’m tired of watching people who have built their own prisons complain about their confinement. I’m tired of watching ones selfishness ruin the lives of everyone around them. THese statements are purposefully vague, yes, but the trauma is real. I’m dealing with enough physical trauma that it’s hard to watch others create and extend even more unnecessary trauma into the world outside of themselves. There is too much as it is.
The emotional trauma is so real that I’ve found myself increasingly sensitive to things that never would have affected me previously. I can’t watch horror movies, dramas or anything that involve a lot of tragedy or physical abuse. Friends have lent me books or suggested TV shows that contain any of the above and I’m instantly repulsed. I can pretty much handle cartoons and comedy at this point, and that’s about it. There is just too much real trauma in the world that I’ve lost the taste for anything fabricated.
Someone posted a new video of animal abuse that I inexplicably clicked on, but almost immediately clicked away from as soon as it started. I knew I couldn’t handle anything like that, knowing that I can barely handle that in my most emotionally healthy of states, but at the very least it had me appreciating the decision I’ve made not to extend that trauma out into the world. It’s a comfort knowing that in my varied states of pain and discomfort that I’m not inadvertently creating the same for other sentient beings, that my small act is halting that physical and emotional trauma in its tracks. But it also had me thinking about relativity, appreciating my ability to do what I can in my compromised state, knowing I’m on a path to hopefully recovering and getting back to “normal”, while the animals trapped in our systems of industrial food production are heading towards a dead end. Compared to their situation, I’m living in a state of euphoria, and that is not lost on me.
This whole experience has opened my eyes that much more to the world around me, to the traumas both unavoidable and unnecessary we encounter every day. I don’t know what kind of person I’ll be on the other side of all this, but I hope I can continue to appreciate my privileges, physical and emotional, and continue to find ways to reduce the traumas we encounter every day.