Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Is tomorrow really the last day of classes for this semester?

I keep thinking I'm going to wake up and there will still be six weeks left. I feel like I am just barely getting comfortable in my classes, and I couldn't tell you what I was supposed to have learned over the past three and a half months. I am also sorry I haven't blogged more. I have grown tremendously as a person this past semester, and I'm not sure how well that has come across in my blog posts. I cannot emphasize enough how difficult and rewarding this semester has been. You all have been privy to some of the bigger events and challenges I have faced, but you may not realize that not one day goes by where I don't think about cancer and what it has done/is doing to me.

To illustrate my point, sort of, I got my monthly chemo shot one week ago. When I started my maintenance therapy, I had no idea what it would be like. Last week was my fourth injection, as I only get them every four weeks, and they began in January. Way back in January, I was under the impression that the maintenance therapy was not going to affect me at all. I thought, wrongly, that this semester I could get back to being busy and working too hard. It wasn't until the end of March and beginning of April, when my body essentially mutinied, that I was forced to rethink and reorganize my expectations. Now, you may say, Caroline, in March, you had only had three injections, and even if they are only once a month, you are still getting deadly chemical drugs pumped into your system. It is understandable that you wouldn't know how you would react, and it is absurd that you expect yourself to be able to ignore the fact that you are still getting chemotherapy. And I would agree with you, now. But I was, I still am, so eager to move on from chemo and cancer that I ignored and even completely denied my limitations. All I wanted was to be a student; I didn't want to accept that I was still a patient.

I don't think I have written this yet this semester, but it needs to be noted: I started seeing a psychologist back in January, and we have met maybe six or seven times over the past three months. It was hard for me to enlist the help of a professional in trying to make sense of myself with cancer, but it has been probably the best thing for me. It has taken me a while to get comfortable with my doctor, but she is one of the primary catalysts in my realization that it is necessary and okay to accept my limitations. Haha, I think she was pretty happy when I told her I broke down and asked for that paper's extension. Sort of a, maybe there's hope for me after all, type of deal.

But like I said, I am still learning. I realized (maybe better to say that I accepted) the other day that I am no longer a student. I mean, technically, yes, but not really. The student mentality of invincibility and actions-without-consequences doesn't exist in me anymore. I almost died; I can break. And a few months ago, maybe even a few weeks ago, I wouldn't have been able to admit that. Even this past week I was forced to sigh and accept certain fun and unpleasant bodily reactions to chemo that I had previously tried to ignore. Briefly, I have been having some wicked intestinal issues in response to the drugs. Yes, it's gross, but that's what you get. The injection dehydrates and plugs me up, and yet the steroids I take make me want to eat All the Time. And while I want to eat All the Time, I was strangely craving mostly pizza, All the Time. Now, pizza is wonderful, but greasy cheese is probably not the best thing to eat when your organs could use a roto-rooter. So these past few days I have been trying to find some sort of balance between eating, drinking water and pooping, all while my stomach is contending with gut-wrenching cramps. Haha, it's awesome! And you wonder, I'm sure, how I thought I could just get on with my merry life.

But again, I am slowly learning and accepting and growing up, growing far beyond anyone I thought I would ever be. The best, or worst, part is that it's only (almost!!) May. I still have seven more months of this, but I think I will be able to handle them a little better than I have the past four. Thank you all for reading, and I will try and update with a bit more frequency during the summer because Internship?! Book deal?! Biking?! There are many things to share. Stay tuned, and stay in tune with yourself. Peace.


Heather said...

Caroline, I hope you have a great summer. I hope that what ever you do it is relaxing and fun.

Megan/Yuping said...