Why does it take a crisis to find out who your friends are?What is it about a crisis that brings some people closer to you while alienating others?

We read and talk about people not knowing what to say, or how to behave, but I think there is more to it than that. Not sure what it is, have not read any studies on the subject. Maybe I should. Or not. There appears to be some opportunism or reverse opportunism in all of this.

A bit of – I have no use for this person any more. They have stopped being fun. Turned into a downer. All they talk about it their chronic condition. Not interested in watching sports any more. Not interested in shopping and all the other things that made you fun to be with. Why is the chronic person so quick tempered and angry all the time? Time for new friends, or more to the point, renewed friendships.

People rising to the occasion, visiting, talking, making their presence felt one way or another. Everyone catering to their strengths. Some just dropping by for a visit, companionship. Others making conversation, others lending you their cottages, or places to while away your time. Whether one takes advantage of the occasion, the offers, is hardly germane. One appreciates the sentiment, the offer, the gesture, the sentiment.

People are constantly telling me they might die any time as well. Avoiding the crisis. Death is hardly ever a pleasant conversation, nor is the specter of imminent death, whether speculated as something that is about to happen tomorrow or in ten years, a very pleasant thought to live with. Yet, here we are. Are people attempting to defuse the subject? Is there a benefit to telling the chronic person that there is competition to dying?

We would surely leads our lives differently if we believed truly that we could die at any minute, negating the doomsday scenario that prevails the chronic person. We live our lives the way we should, planning ahead, looking forward to watching in horror as our children grow up. Waiting patiently for the grand children, the travels, the parties, the friends.

Only a crisis provokes serious concerns about imminent death. The concerns soon evaporate as reality set in. We do not know when we will be lining up at the pearly gates. Even my friend who is dying and is seeing the palliative doctors has really no idea when the day will come. We just know that we have to be prepared for it in a way others don’t.

The crisis that is my condition has subsided somewhat. People have returned to their daily lives. This just a footnote to keep track of. So it should be. It is enough that it has disrupted the lives of one family, let alone a need for it to disrupt those of so many more.

The level of confusion, for want of a better word is amazing. On the one hand, it is good news. Let the chemicals run through their routine and exit the system.

Take a couple of months off to reassess the situation.

Ponder the meaning of life.

Start working on all my projects.

Keep away from the routine of the hospital.

Janet was talking the other day about this situation. You start on this adventure in a bit of a daze. You ask a bunch of questions. According to Janet I was asking my fair share of questions. Except that I was repeating my questions. I was getting answers and repeating the same questions. As I said, in a bit of a daze.

You acquiesce to the advice given by the doctors. Specially if you like them. They seem to know what they are doing. Dr. Heldey has a huge collection of articles to his credit. Surely, he knows a lot of stuff about colon cancer and its metastasized state. He is very reassuring. All we can do is follow his advice.

There is a lot of talk of alternatives to the traditional medicines. There are no proofs, just a lot of information. It is very hard to sift through all the information. We have discovered that you tend to make sense of the information as time goes by, as the need arises to make sense of things. So much of the information is anecdotal. We have no idea if people are responding to the medication, the alternative choices, or not.

I have always maintained that I will not live just for the sake of living. I will not go through a regime that seems to be more work than it is worth. What price is life worth living for? All this work and you live an extra two years. Is it worth it? Probably to the people around you, but not for the person going through the chronic condition. At least not to this one. I keep reading about people going through all sorts of programs to live longer. Why the compulsion to live at any cost?

The health network has looked after me for the past year. Diagnosis, operation, Chemo. Everyone looking after the chronic. With a smile, a laugh and a hug. You, the chronic are being looked after by all these people. The chronic is not doing anything, while things are done to him. We are a bit powerless. Go to the hospital, give blood, get Chemo. Make sure you have taken your drugs before the Chemo. Go home, sleep, rest, make the best of the situation.

We have to move now from having things done to us to deciding what we need to do for ourselves. We have to follow through with some of the stuff we have been reading about. Make sense of all the messages we are getting. Again, sift through everything and make decisions.

I find the situation very confusing. Again not sure if that is the right word. I have a lot of projects to work through, a lot of time to figure things out.

We had a central air conditioner installed this past weekend. Our furnace died about three years ago. It was a year of failures. We were having a Christmas party at our house. Lots of people generating lots of body heat. No one noticed that the furnaced had ceased functioning. I was not too concerned as long as there were people to heat up the house.

People left. Damn. I had to tell Janet. She would have figured it out anyways. We live in a 100 year old house. There is no insulation in the walls, except on the third floor which we renovated when we bought the house. The temperature started dropping slowly overnight. Winter decided to rear its ugly head with one of the coldest weeks of the season. Diana lent us a space heater which was moved from room to room. The fireplace helped a bit, though fireplaces tend to draw heat out of the house.

We found this guy name Amit who owns a company called NASA Heat and Air Conditioning. I have no idea what NASA has to do with it, and how he gets away with using that name. The furnace was installed within the week restoring heat to a very beleaguered family.

Janet decided that this was the year we would install air conditioning. I am not a big fan of these things. They suck power and give you colds. People tend to keep the temperatures way too low causing a shock the system when you go outdoors. We have promised ourselves to avoid those issues.

We have just had a heat wave in Toronto. Daily temperatures in the low C30′s. The problem has been though, that night temperatures have not dropped making the situation far worse than the daily highs would indicate. The city kept issuing heat alert advising anyone with a chronic condition to stay indoors. That is me this year. We sprung for the AC.

Amit tells us that we may be disappointed with the effect of the AC on the third floor where our bedroom is. Old house, old vents badly installed. We are lucky. The third floor is cooled down sufficiently for us to sleep in peace. We open the windows which might defeat the purpose of the AC. We like open windows in the summer. So much more pleasant to sleep that way. Heat rises, and we are on the third floor. The open windows should not affect the AC any.

We have set the thermostat at C25. We will monitor things and see what the best temperature is for our comfort.

Amit warned us to not react to the heat with a keen jerk reaction. The heat will pass. We have lived in this house for 11 years without AC, why now? The house tends to heat up toward the middle of July. We have fans everywhere to cool us down. We suffer through the months of July and August before things cool down in preparation for the coming winter. So why now, Amit wants to know.

We tell him about the cancer and the need to pacify the chronic sufferer. We have this conversation on Thursday afternoon. The AC is installed on Saturday. He would have installed it on Friday, except it rained making it impossible to do any work. He is a charming and accommodating man.

The installation is done in about four hours, as promised. We sit and chat for a short while. He tells me I should look up Swami Ram Dev who teaches people breathing exercises that have produced miracle results. Do I speak Hindi? The good Swami has a show on television. Among the many languages I speak, Hindi is not one of the preferred. Look him up on the web. He is amazing.

My car wash guy wants to know how I am. Now my furnace and AC guy is trying to help me as best he can. How amazing is this world and the people within it.

I have said this before, and I will say it again. The support from all sides has been amazing. The sources of the support have been amazing as well.

I went to get the car washed the other day. Let me know if I have told this story before. This is one of those drive though joints with surly men who dry your car at the exit. You have to get out of the car and the chain mechanism in the ground drags your car through the wash. Our Mazda 3 has windshield wipers that react to water on the windshield. They come when it starts to rain and turn off by themselves. Wonderful technology. I have to always remember to switch them off.

I got out of the car. Somehow the seatbelt caught my colostomy bag and ripped it off. Needless to say, a mess, on my hands, my shirt, my pants. Pretty much everywhere. There is guy who guides you to drive the car to the chains. He also sprays the car to loosen the grime in preparation for the wash. I am always amused that they only spray the drives side. The passenger side obviously does not get as dirty.

He did not even flinch at the sight of the mess. He immediately pointed his hose to the gutter and told me to wash my hands. No fuss no muss. Much appreciated. I went inside looking for a washroom. There were two reserved for the staff only. The girl at the counter was not much help. Sorry, staff only. I lifted my shirt to show her the damage. She did not hesitate and passed me the key to the washroom. I cleaned up and went back out to talk with her. She had reacted so quickly and again without appeared grossed out by what she had seen.

I thanked her for the keys and her lack of reaction. Oh, she say, I volunteer in an old people’s home, see this all the time. How are you, she continues, looking just a bit concerned.

As I said, support comes from the most unlikely sources.

Thanks to all.

Who knew these bastards have such an effect on a person.

Today is Neulasta day. You can almost feel the energy draining from your body. Have I been compensating? Trying harder to make a go of things? Or do I really get this weak? It is truly a maddening set of circumstances.

My prescription was not ready. Waited an hour but no one appeared to be around. Sent eMails to all. Finally went home to rest, only to receive an eMail asking me where I am because the prescription is being prepared. Went back, waited a bit, got my shot. It is really hard for me to stay mad at my Doctors and Nurses. They are all so wonderful to me. Caring and all that wonderful stuff. One does wish things would go just a tad more smoothly at times. This sort of stuff is very exhausting. It takes a lot of concentration to move around at times.

It occurred to me this morning, that life appears to be a lot like buying a new television. You buy a new TV but the crappy programs remain the same. I wake up in the morning, and my crappy program has not changed either. Same old bag, same old chronic condition.

I had a bite to eat at Druxy’s which appears to be the only place to eat at the Princess Margaret Hospital. At the very least, it is conveniently located on the first floor by the doors, just in case you need to make a quick exit. All their tables are for four or more people, which is a bit strange, but who am I to quarrel. There I was enjoying some sort of pasta, looking forward to the bowl of fruit that was waiting next in line, when this lady comes up and asks me if two people could sit at my table.

I love the way we talk. How to answer? I suppose they could. Depends on their weight, disposition, and God knows what else. I smiled and said of course they could. She promptly sat her friend down in front of me while she went to get some food.

Her friend was the patient. She, in turns out, is the neighbour and long time friend. They live in Barry, which is an hours drive North of Toronto. They come in every day for radiation therapy. Lets get real. No one is here for entertainment. We all have some sort of cancer or another. This very charming woman has cancer of the nose and throat. Her nose has been removed. There is a big bandage in its place. Soon to be a new nose.

We had a very long conversation. Specially since I have this wonderful way of asking questions, as in: “So, what happened to you?”. So friendly and delicate of me. I hastened to explain that I too had a chronic condition. Interesting watching the two of us talk about our conditions. Both of us are still totally baffled by our circumstances, wondering what the future holds, and what we can do about things. How to stay positive, busy, active. The same stuff keeps making the rounds.

There I am with a bag, and she without a nose. Damn.

Her husband died three years ago of cancer. Her neighbours husband also died of cancer. I got their address, just in case you want to know what area of the city to avoid. We talked about death, which seems like another recurring theme amongst cancer patients. Nothing heavy or teary making, just a normal everyday conversation about the end of our personal times. Can you spell surreal? They asked me to look up their husbands if I get there first. They are the ones drinking beer, and fishing. Easy to spot.

The conversations amongst cancer patients all seem to revolve around the same topics. I am hardly surprised by this. We talk, come to terms with, and accept a situation, only to go through the same path when we meet someone new. Do you cry? Feel down once in a while? Put on a brave face? Wonder, and keep wondering? Tired? Exhausted? From the situation? From thinking too much? Are you reading? Can you concentrate?

In spite of everything, it was a great conversation. I have to end this with a a story I told the ladies. We were wondering why we find it so hard to sit at  table with a stranger, specially in a place like Druxy’s where there is an obvious shortage of tables.  I had a training contract with the Federal Government. We were located at the Sheppard Centre. The mall had a food court, as they all do. Their tables were huge and round accommodating about ten people. The chairs were those really silly mushroom stools.  You had no choice but to sit with strangers. One of the employees I used to have lunch with was excessively shy. He hated sitting with strangers. Lunch must have been a very tense experience for him. It turns out it was, specially when he went with me, since I will sit and talk with anyone.

There we are finding a place to sit when I locate two seats beside these cute young girls.  No fool I, we sit beside them and I strike up a conversation. So , how are you. The first girl tells me that she is having a terrible time with her period. Cannot believe how hard it has been. You could hear my friend hitting the floor in a dead faint. He didn’t, thank God, but he did mention to this to everyone back in the office. Felt really bad for him.

© 2010 I Have Cancer Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha