I thought it was over. I thought the rest of treatment was just enduring the meds that came at me until the time was up, and after a year or two I could officially move into, and then immediately ditch, the status of “cancer survivor”. I used to tell myself I didn’t talk about it because privacy and all that, but I realize that I didn’t care for this issue. Normally, I try to ignore the fact because being sick automatically makes me feel extra weak and incapable, while at the same time conferring a kind of superhuman courage I don’t have. Courage is standing up to things, fighting the tide when other people couldn’t and it’s actually practical to give up. All I did was endure what came my way, and I know there are people who have to suffer much more every day than I do. For me, I could really pretend to manage life normally most of the time. What I expected was to put more and more of my focus onto school and competitions, until after a year or two the schedule just faded out of my life.
When my body and mind seemed to feel generically crappy, I knew what was wrong, and I knew it would come and go inexorably. But no, there’s more and it ends with me resigned to starting, and probably spending entirely, my coming birthday in the hospital.
Where do I even start? Things started Wednesday, after only a feeble attempt at running left me breathing with a little difficulty. Then I went home, went to sleep, and woke up at 2 in the morning with a wild fever. Thursday we met the doctor, Friday we entered the hospital. It was likely a form of pneumonia for which I should have been taking preventive medicine, but hadn’t, and the reasons for this are long-winded and not relevant but I think all involved parties have learnt their lessons. (Courage would be standing up here…) Well, on Saturday more coughs developed and I ended up with an oxygen tube in my nose that I was continuously unsure was helping me other than through the placebo effect but I kept on anyway. And last night it escalated again, in the middle of the night. I was quite cognizant of the mysterious substance in my mouth because the doctor had promised to stick something down my throat if I couldn’t offer up any sputum for testing. It went into the vial. There was an awful lot of it too. Only after we turned on the lights did we see the ominous-looking blob of crimson that had formed. My mom pushed the call button.
For a while, it was just like when I first came to this hospital. I was back to wondering, what was wrong with me? What if everything turns out wrong and I die? But after a lot of sleepless nights in childhood, I had burned the worst of the panic out of this question a long time ago, so the rest was more indifferent contemplation, ideas about what the world would do. How would my parents drown themselves (figuratively) in guilt? How would friends, classmates, teachers finally remember me? What would happen to my terrible coding projects or dozens of half-baked essays or place on the rankk leaderboards or all three (?) of my blogs?
Writing that does feel different — somewhat jarring — now that I know this post will definitely get a few hits from non-referral-spammers. I feel a little bit tied up. But I’ve thought for a long time and I think it’s okay, except for the parts where I suck at writing and I am a terrible procrastinator even when I have stuff I want to say.
It had been months since I had needed to sink into a wheelchair and get pushed around for tests. But they were clearly necessary, so at one o’clock in the morning, cocooned in a tiny blanket, that was how I got to the emergency room’s X-ray. I made the necessary postures, but holding my breath had the same consequences of setting off another spate of coughs. Thankfully, two or three images and it was over. Apparently, the doctors saw nothing wrong, which is bad news when you’re watching House but actually reassured me I wasn’t so likely to die.
Anyway. I use “anyway” too much. But I think the worst part is over with. I’m not actually sure if this should be the metaphorical peak or valley, because it depends on if you’re using the metaphor for height or for difficulty, but the fact that I’m here still arguing this should be solid proof that in either case I still have my hyperactive linguistic senses about me. Seriously, think about it. If I say “it’s all downhill from here”, does that mean I think the coming metaphorical path can be smoothly metaphorically coasted over or that it will have decreasing values of metaphorical altitude, which more or less means dignity and quality? I can’t believe I never noticed this before. This post is going to have an extremely strange set of tags.
We’ll see. Well, at least my ward number is the same power of two that numbers tomorrow’s puzzle.