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Article Archive >> Community

Daze of My Life: Pills' A Poppin'

Daze of My Life
Pills' A Poppin'

Not that I ingest an inordinate amount of pills daily (less now that I've completed the six-month oral chemotherapy protocol of the 12-month study in which I'm enrolled), but I do swallow my share (it wouldn't make any sense if I were swallowing somebody else's share): some prescription, some not, some related to the cancer, others not. Regardless, I seem to gain a perverse pleasure in stacking/organizing the many bottles I have, filing up the current bottles in rotation (to their respective brims no less) with inventory from the bottles in reserve, discarding the empties as soon as possible and then rearranging my reserve stacks in a decreasing and more manageable/viewable array.
If I had to say (and I don't, really), I guess I would characterize this behavior as somewhere between obsessive-compulsive and anal-retentive (the determination of which comes from years of anecdotal and non-specific experiences/observations). Behaviors I would further characterize as completely normal given the severity of my underlying stage IV lung cancer diagnosis. Meaning, whatever a cancer patient has to do, is willing and/or able to do to get through the days and nights of symptoms, treatments, side effects (some expected and prepared for, others not), deficits; lifestyle choices, changes and challenges; and most difficult for me, emotional and mental pressure, in an attempt to live a semi normal and productive and rewarding life is absolutely understandable. Just as there's no rest for the weary, likewise should there be no misunderstanding of the terminally ill: we deserve a wide berth and we've earned your inexhaustible tolerance and patience, like it or not.
Not that any of us should (or would) abuse the privilege (some privilege?), but it ain't easy being us. There are good days and bad days and everything in between, and before and afters, too. Sometimes the feelings come from conversations with your health care providers/professionals (results of lab work, X-Rays, miscellaneous scans, physical exams, etc.); other times, from your friends, family members or co-workers. Every day is a roller coaster of thoughts, fears and anxieties; some you can control (and compartmentalize) and others you cannot. There's no handbook, there's no owner's manual, and there's certainly no road map (nor do I think a GPS device would help).
Oh sure, there's plenty of medical material, opinions and resources readily available online (merely a keystroke away), but in my experience, diagnosis-to-date, it's too impersonal. Nevertheless; I need it, but I want it to be about me, not someone like me. And of course, it never can/will be because of privacy and confidentiality protections. So why bother searching for it? Accepting certain facts, some in evidence, some not, and then assimilating and embracing them accordingly, has been my M.O.R. (Method of Rationalization).
At this juncture, I can't change the diagnosis (don't you know I would if I could; duh!). But I can certainly try to not let it change me. Therefore, whatever I do that helps me maintain my lifestyle and sunny disposition, and am able to do so without going completely crazy (I realize that's a judgement call), is beyond any one's reproach. If I'm going to fight this battle, I have to fight it my way. If and when I go down, I'm going down exactly as I went up: with humor and good intentions.

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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