This weekend was the dive point in the wellness curve, the start of the most uncomfortable part of a full chemotherapy infusion cycle. I was tired and wanted to sleep but during those days everything itches, twitches, or aches. I’ve lost so much hair that my head is cold, so now I wear scarves and turbans most of the time, and I get chills. I was lying in bed telling myself that I couldn’t wait for this to be over, that I was almost at the halfway point (partway through the third of six infusion cycles).
And gradually, I started realizing that this might not be true anymore: I think I’m becoming afraid of being done with the chemo.
Early on it was easy to make choices and take action: by and large it all led down one logical path. Seek insurance coverage, discuss options with the medical team, take the orientation classes, stock up on supplies, be the best patient I can be. No point in moping or fretting when the path is clear and you are doing something, sure that it’s the correct choice; it’s easy to look brave.
But after chemotherapy things become murky and scary again. New choices to make: genetic testing, surgery, radiation therapy. Conservative surgery, mastectomy, double mastectomy.
Money. Money. Money.
I’m not afraid of dying, but I am afraid of pain, prolonged illness, and being miserable.
I am afraid of being destitute, of the crushing burden of trying to survive the American (lack of) health coverage system.
I am afraid of losing my breasts — I know it’s oversharing, but I love my breasts and I love sex.
I’m afraid of making the wrong choice and just stretching the ordeal. Excessive surgery? Insufficient surgery?
I’m afraid of the morass of bureaucracy, the paperwork, the forms. I can’t convey how terrified I am of forms.
I’m afraid of having to carry the load of income earning and finance management during this time.
I’m afraid that Edmund’s health is deteriorating too — he already suffers from chronic depression and diabetes. I’m afraid of having to care for him even as I have trouble caring for myself.
I’m afraid I’m delaying on actions I should take right now about these fears because I’m too tired and anxious and fear is feeding on itself.
And I’m afraid of using this fear to get comfortable with self-pity, to avoid making decisions and taking action. I need to push away from it.
This post brought to you by Siouxsie and the Banshees.