Where all the things are at

I just took my last antibiotic. This hopefully marks the end of such things for a long, long time. It’s strange to think that some of the things I thought were side effects of treatment — namely, fatigue and high blood pressure — may have been related to the infection, and not to the trial at all.

I’m beginning active treatment again on Thursday. Technically, this is the start of my fourth cycle, though I’ve only actually completed one and a half cycles in total, plus one random week which counted as part of cycle three, I think. With the exception of that week, I’ve been out of treatment since February 24th. It doesn’t feel like that long, I suppose because I spent so much of that time in hospital being treated for acute infections. March is a blur, it barely exists for me. And yet it’s so cold, I feel as though it didn’t even happen. It feels like winter still, and I don’t really believe that almost an entire month went by without me.

In some ways, it feels like everything was suspended and no time really passed at all. I had a CT scan last week and it was completely unchanged from the scan I had in February. Everything on hold. It makes me wonder what to expect once I start treatment again — will the holding pattern continue? Will I start getting better again?

I have a hard time thinking about the future. I don’t really believe in it. Maybe this doesn’t make sense. I’m not sure how to explain it. I guess I just don’t believe in a future that can even remotely resemble anything I could imagine the future to look like. I remember talking to my psychiatrist in January, proudly telling him how I’d booked a trip to New York at the end of March. It was the first time in three years that I’d booked a flight more than six weeks in advance. I felt like I’d really accomplished something. And then everything fell apart and I couldn’t go to New York and I just felt stupid for thinking I could do something as simple as make plans.

I read an article in this week’s NY Times Magazine about this guy, Adam Grant, who is notorious for helping anyone who asks for help, and is one of the most prolific and efficient academics in the field of organizational psychology. It’s an interesting read, but there was a part that stood out for me, where the author talks about Grant’s death anxiety, and Grant essentially says something like, idleness gives way to anxiety, so to avoid the panic attacks that can accompany existential musings on mortality, he essentially just keeps busy. I think he refers to a friend saying he has productive OCD, which made me laugh because my psychiatrist told me exactly the same thing two weeks ago. (Actually, what he said was, your need to work and organize and keep busy is kind of OCD, and I don’t mean that in a bad way, just that you keep yourself distracted from dwelling on your disease and mortality by constantly doing things) and I kind of laughed, but I guess it’s true. When you have a constant reminder that you won’t be around forever, it suddenly seems more important to get things done.

It’s strange though, and maybe I’m just feeling this more acutely than normal because I’ve had to give up my antidepressants while on this antibiotic, but I get fixated on things, and when certain ideas enter my mind, I just can’t let them go. Like, my dog is old and the last time I was at the vet with her, we chatted about how she was doing for a dog her breed and age, and he said she was doing really well and could easily have another two years or so in her, but that it’s hard to tell with old dogs because they can get very sick very quickly, and decline is often rapid in old dogs. And every time I go to the hospital, I get insanely anxious about my dog and how old she is and various ailments she has or has had, and whether I’ll get another dog after she’s gone, or if I should get another dog before she dies so she can help train a younger dog and so I won’t feel completely bereft when she actually does die, and this time I started looking at adoptable dogs on Pet Finder and saw one who was perfect and I fell in love with him and decided I had to ask about him. He was already adopted, but the thought of Salome getting old and dying wouldn’t go away and now my anxiety about that is through the roof and I have convinced myself that I need to adopt another dog this summer so I won’t be left alone when Salome dies.

Reading back on that, it occurs to me that maybe being off my antidepressants/anti-anxiety medication is affecting me more than I realize, and maybe it’s a little strange to view your pet as a memento mori. At any rate, I won’t be making any dog adoption decisions until I’m fully medicated again.

I titled this entry “Where all the things are at” but I don’t know if I really answered that. Things are where they always seem to be, up in the air, spinning madly. It somehow feels surprising to me, but the truth is, this has been my life for the last three years. Things happen, there are shifts and changes, yet I always feel like in the middle of something. The only problem is, I don’t know what I’m in the middle of — ascending or descending. I don’t even know if it matters.

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About Alicia Louise

I'm a writer, editor, fact checker, storyteller, events organizer, chronically busy yet endlessly lazy, mildly neurotic (though I keep the neuroses well-hidden, one hopes) 32-year-old with recurrent ovarian cancer. I like people and good writing and straight talk. I have a hard time feeling sorry for people, including myself, but the people that I love, I love passionately; one may even say creepily. I try to keep that mostly to myself. I'd like to be charming, but I'm usually just a mess. I'm like a gull slamming into your windshield.
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3 Responses to Where all the things are at

  1. A friend says:

    Girl, it matters. I promise.

  2. Gilleen says:

    I don’t think—but don’t know—that this was the most important part of your post, but it does fucking suck that animals who keep us from being alone age at such a fast pace relative to us. I mean for the dogs it’s not too bad, because maybe if they could live as long as humans are able they would do less well, we would take worse care of them (because it’s already such a struggle for many to even care for them for a decade or two). The anxiety of this relatively fast ageing, of the speed at which the realistic window in which a dog could die approaches, is so hard that I want to call it “unfair” even though I know it’s not.

  3. fotogfoodie says:

    Nothing wrong with a little OCD, whatever you need to do to keep yourself sane 🙂

    P.S. Yay for taking the last antibiotic and starting treatment again!

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