Transition

If everything goes well, last Thursday was the last vincristine and dexamethasone treatment.

Behind the big generic drug names, what this really means to me is that these couple of days will be the last serious suffering: the last segment of abstract unjustified misery, the last random bout of lack of energy, the last bits of spontaneous back pain — but also, the last opportunity to blame any of those bad feelings on an external chemical source. The last milestone like this was my final lumbar puncture. At last, the regimen is transitioning to the final movement — and what a transition!

Wednesday morning — the guys from the Jubilee Project visited our school, showed us a few videos, and told us their story. Afterwards during lunch, we got to sit with them in the teachers’ office and talk. From what I remember, these guys gave up medical school, a successful business career, and a job organizing Asian-American outreach under Barack Obama to form a non-profit organization to make charity and inspirational videos full-time. I think the story speaks for itself.

It’s nice to have a reminder not to limit oneself and dwell less on high-school matters. It’s a long story, but Ms. Lin coaxed me into saying something about competitions and their replies were roughly, “Wow, I got, like, a 1 on the AIME.” Who cares about high-school achievements when you have beautiful dreams? But before I get too deep into angsty personal reflections, let’s leave it there…

Wednesday afternoon — orienteering in a mystery location, finally revealed after a lot of rumors and counter-rumors to just be Tsinghua University. It’s an outdoor activity where you read a map, run to many orange control points, and get holes punched on a card to record this. This was the third time our school held this event, but only the first for our grade. We were required to visit all the points on our map in order, which was apparently different from last year. Although they passed out maps with six different orders, there were still so many people assigned to each order that we spent too much time waiting in line and managed to locate nearly every control point by looking for other people. My partner MC and I got through all 20 stops seven minutes over the time limit, but this was still apparently better than average.

Thursday morning — basketball game during PE was interrupted by rain. What a great way to set the mood.

Thursday evening — finally, to the hospital: our first visit to the pediatrics department after they moved to the newly finished lakeside building. They had a shiny, well-lit stairwell that turned way more than necessary; spiffy and neat three-dimensional floor numbers; a crisply blue-themed waiting room decked out with colorful stools and curvy neon-blue plushie benches; electronic displays showing the list of patients complete with a medical insurance card reader and a robotic voice greeting; two big TVs showing Disney Channel (Phineas & Ferb) and Cartoon Network (Chowder).

We met the doctor and talked about the mysterious lumps on my feet (not very dangerous, treatment involves liquid nitrogen; sue me, but that sounds exciting, because science), and finally ended up in the chemotherapy room after more walking around in the rain. I didn’t think too much about the actual injection; I just web-surfed the time away while allowing the synthesized piano recording of tomorrow’s performance drill into my head.

Friday morning — self-indulgent semi-vegetative slacking at home, learning for the first time just how important path-juggling is in certain tower defense games. From what I know, the school had a bunch of not-very-important speeches arranged for this day too, so I didn’t miss any classes. I think there were a few cool jokes I didn’t hear, though.

Friday evening — Wreck-it Ralph Charity Night, only the third school event I’ve been to since I came back to school. Why? Why not? It was fun, and not just because I learned to spell Reykjavik and Ljubljana correctly without knowing which countries they’re capitals of.* Kudos to the perserverant performers who prepared for about four shows in one night, as well as the emcees for mass-producing such an amazing number of so-bad-they’re-good segues —

“Hey girl, you know what’s hard?”
“What?”
“Titanium.” *rimshot*

But of course, most notably for me, we had our A Cappella performance. I joined A Cappella this semester after my friends convinced me that it was okay to be a horrible singer, perhaps also under the influence of all the #yolo hype, but managed to have other stuff clash with the scheduled times for both performances thus far: once I was in the hospital, the other time clashed with an informatics competition. I expected the Friday after chemo would also be a bad time for performing, but I made up my mind that I wouldn’t let this hobby and all the practice and enthusiasm I put into it keep getting overridden. Partly I hoped this feeling of determination would make me feel better by itself, because psychology and physiology influence each other a lot. I think it worked, although I’m still curious how we sounded to the audience.

Weekend — and here I am, slacking off all day long, trying and failing to pour these complicated, effervescent emotions into the mold of an English post.

But: I’m here, I made it, I had fun, and I finished all my homework already! Here’s hoping for the best. 🙂


* ^ Iceland and Slovenia. You’re welcome. Yes, 94 Seconds gets a bit creepily robotic after a while.

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