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[cancer] Sacrifices made for me by the petty gods of chemo - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2010-02-10 05:15
Subject: [cancer] Sacrifices made for me by the petty gods of chemo
Security: Public
Tags:books, calendula, cancer, child, endurance, family, heath, personal, process, shellyrae, work, writing
I am finding that every chemo infusion cycle is different. I don't suppose I should be surprised, but somehow I am. Lower GI pattern during after session three has been broadly consistent with sessions one and two, but the details have varied a lot. Less painful and difficult so far, for one, anent which I am deeply thankful. On the other hand, peripheral neuropathy in my feet is just getting silly.

Time management is slowly becoming a larger issue. I'm not having too much trouble holding on to core daily commitments — sleep, exercise, time with the_child, Day Jobbery, writing time (during the phases of my infusion cycle where my right brain unfreezes). Nor my larger social and emotional commitments to calendula_witch, shelly_rae, my family, my friends, my online community. But when individual tasks or habits fall away, reinstating them is damned hard. I'm becoming canalized. Oddly, my left brain seems to go almost manic as my right brain is frozen, hence all the blogging. I rather wish it were the other way around, but I don't know how to flip that switch.

I don't leave the house so much now. There are days when driving is tough, and I virtually never drive at night any more. (Nor do much else at night, since I zone out so early due to the ongoing exhaustion.) This is disconnecting me from my long term practices of social lunches, errand running, and so forth. Which since I live and work alone have been pretty critical to me. Not sure what to do about this, except continued to tough it out. Even the few social plans I do make seem to cancel often as not due to the illness of others — I can't be around sick people as my immune system continues to falter in the face of chemo. I do expect to catch lunch with kenscholes today for the first time in over a month.

Likewise, the focus to read. I managed to finish John Burdett's Bangkok 8. Both Elizabeth Bear's Bone and Jewel Creatures and Mary Robinette Kowal's Shades of Milk and Honey are waiting for me to pick them up. But the narrow bandwidth I have to work on Endurance plus my few other writing and editorial commitments completely consumes the same brainspace that reading does.

That might be my greatest regret, that I've essentially lost books. And I simply don't have enough time left over to make time for them. Writing cannot be sacrificed. Neither can sleep, nor exercise, nor work. Maybe I can peel in a few hours on the non-infusion weekends, but it will take me months to read a book at that pace.

I feel like these sacrifices are being made for me. The choices essentially don't exist, once I've bowed to the core inevitabilities. I don't mean to sound fatalistic, I actually continue fairly cheerful and optimistic through this process. I just don't have nearly as much control over my time or my life as usual. At least I'm keeping on deadline with my fiction, and keeping up with my core commitments.

This will not go on forever.

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User: joycemocha
Date: 2010-02-10 13:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This will not go on forever.

Hold on to that thought. This is but a pause in your life, a time to take a deep breath and let life come to you while you focus on what must be done. Heck, I'm not going through chemo but my reading is as fragmented and tight and sparse as yours is--the one difference is that having the iTouch is giving me back the gift of being able to snatch bits of reading time without having to carry books.

FWIW, my former colleague who went through chemo and radiation reports that everything comes back. And when she comes to visit, or work as a substitute, she's as vital and energetic as ever--except that, having looked the Cancer Beast in the face, her perspective on what matters has changed significantly.
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martyn44
User: martyn44
Date: 2010-02-10 14:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Since my latest bout with the black dog I have found it very difficult to read fiction. Even now I feel as though I am betraying my friends, even if they are friends I haven't met yet. It is getting better, but too slowly. No difficulty writing my own fiction, which is one of the reasons I am beating off the dog. Black dog? Depression.
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User: xjenavivex
Date: 2010-02-10 15:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This is the basis where I relate as well.
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martyn44
User: martyn44
Date: 2010-02-10 22:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Could the link be the other way round, that personalities prone to serious clinical depression may be more interested in heavy consumption of fiction that those who are not?

Interesting avenue to explore. I very much feel a sense of loss at the change. Different folks, and depression is different every time.
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User: mmegaera
Date: 2010-02-10 23:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:garden
Interesting. You don't know me, but I had the opposite reaction. Fiction as escape from the depression. I don't know what that validates or invalidates of my own experiences, though.
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cj_ruby
User: cj_ruby
Date: 2010-02-11 04:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
When I cycle through major mood swings, Depression or Mania, it takes time to settle back into familiar routines. Reading, writing, socializing with friends and so on.
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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2010-02-10 14:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Books keep. Nurture yourself.
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scarlettina
User: scarlettina
Date: 2010-02-10 15:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
...the focus to read. I know it's not the same, believe me, but have you tried audio books? I know they're not as readily available for books in the genre, but they may be a way to help you read and rest at the same time.

This will not go on forever. Damn straight. I don't think the world will be ready when you're done with the chemo for the onslaught of The Jay that will come. Me, I can't wait. ::grin::
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User: xjenavivex
Date: 2010-02-10 15:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Reading and writing require the same headspace for me. Time is finite in anyone's schedule. When you toss in my bipolar swings it crunches it. Mania can drive me into hyperfocus which is nice if you can get it. It can also drive me past the point I can focus on any one project. Depression unplugs every damn thing. It dulls it out.

I feel for you right now. I really do. ::hugs you tight:: Not forever, dear friend.
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cj_ruby
User: cj_ruby
Date: 2010-02-11 04:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Depression dulls life for me as well, reading and other things I love doing become crushingly boring.

One of the things that gets me through is that I know the Depression will lift and the cycle will swing the other way. Mania has its own unique struggles.
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User: xjenavivex
Date: 2010-02-11 15:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
::nods::
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mcjulie
User: mcjulie
Date: 2010-02-10 16:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I feel your pain -- because you write about it so well.

Who's publishing your non-fiction "Cancer Diaries"? And when are we seeing you on Oprah?
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Keikaimalu
User: keikaimalu
Date: 2010-02-10 16:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hey, I learned a new word: "anent." :)

It sucks having external (well, okay, internal, but not created by you) limits imposed on you by circumstances beyond your control. I agree with the other folks here that knowing this situation is temporary (if not brief) is probably the key to moving through it gracefully.

I'd be willing to bet that your writing about cancer has proved helpful to others going through similar experiences. So while you have temporarily lost some things, you've gained a new and valuable connection with people in need.

Hang in there. Many people are pulling for you.

Melissa
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shelly_rae: Bartleby
User: shelly_rae
Date: 2010-02-10 16:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Bartleby
On a side note. I swiped that copy of Bear's book from your bag during the infusion and read the first few pages. I'd like to read the rest. How about instead of watching LotR or similar I read it aloud?

If you wanted to punch it up a notch we could kibitz and send notes to matociquala as we do...Bear's too far away to get us ::looks around furtively::...

See you soon.
Anon
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The NewroticGirl
User: newroticgirl
Date: 2010-02-10 17:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I would like to be in the audience for this!
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martianmooncrab
User: martianmooncrab
Date: 2010-02-10 18:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Time management is slowly becoming a larger issue

Triage time, its critical while you undergo treatment. When you can start adding things back in gradually, it will be okay. You can give yourself permission to do this, and you might consider reading a different kind or level of book instead of your ususal fare, I judge how I feel by what I am able to read...
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