“Bigger Than Life” (1956) deals with addiction to cortisone in a schooteacher, played by James Mason, who becomes a raging monster as his dependency on the drug develops. It’s fascinating, disturbing, and campy.
I did read a lot of bad press about steroids when I first learned I’d need to take them to calm the gastrointestinal side effects of my cancer treatment. Then I woke up and realized it was much more important for me to feel well. I took my first steroid pill almost exactly a week ago.
My dosage started out very minimal, and with each distressed phone call it has increased. I take them twice a day, a much smaller dose at night. I haven’t been having any negative side effects – no sleeplessness, irritability. Until today.
The kids were at school all day and I slept, dozed, or otherwise flailed around finding every comfy corner of my bed. I’m so bereft at my inability to eat much that bed seemed like the best possible choice. I didn’t feel like reading anything, or even staring out the window at the leaves.
My mom, who’s been staying with us this week and helping enormously, went to get the kids. When I heard them in the hallway, my heart leaped. They came in and I got hugs and was so happy to see them.
And then… I wasn’t. Because they brought their needs with them, surrounding them in a thick cloud. They brought the sense of a schedule, homework, insatiable needs for snacks, and eventually, dinner and bedtime.
Even though I knew everything was covered – that I wouldn’t even need to sit and run through times tables with Young J, that I wouldn’t be expected to wipe Young A’s butt in the bathroom, the whirling vortex of all of these things they would need, from someone, was overwhelming me. My stomach immediately knotted up and I had to retreat to my room, to my heating pad, to my safe space. Later, I needed to work on a journal project with Young A, something I’d been looking forward to, and instead I rushed through it because I couldn’t abide all the excited flapping and flailing of arms and voices around me.
This scares me. Granted, even though I’ve been through a lot and no one expects me to be firing on all cylinders right now, I can’t help feeling ashamed of not being able – and not even being willing – to complete my most basic childcare tasks. I feel like hiding from the world because after all, this is the main thing I do in the world, and I am incapable of doing it now. And my kids didn’t ask for all this, so it feels extra-bad to unload my frustration on them.
I can’t say for sure that it’s a week on steroids making me sink down into this morass of useless thoughts, but I can’t rule it out. I am hoping the inflammation dies down enough to let me feel better on a smaller and smaller dose each day, before my confidence in my ability to handle things suddenly demands other, more grave pharmaceuticals.