Intermission

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Labyrinthine circuit board lines by Karl-Ludwig Poggemann on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

We interrupt this hard-won linear progression toward my health and general well-being with a harrowing episode, the likes of which can only be properly accounted for when the movement through space and time of a loved one towards his or her bus home chafes against the intractable predisposition of a 100+ year old municipal transit system to create general havoc, especially on a weekend.

J took the youngs to a birthday party mid-morning (after a fearsome and long-dreaded tantrum from Young J, who is starting to go to pieces the longer I stay in bed). Then they had flu shots scheduled.

Mom was leaving today. Her bus was leaving at 2 pm from Penn Station, so I would accompany her to the subway station with her suitcase and she would take it from there. She and I enjoyed a few minutes of calm. I made a feeding schedule for myself (every two hours – just like a newborn) and wrote down all of the possible permutations of micro-snacks and doll-sized meals I can “enjoy,” so that I stay on top of things and don’t space out and go for six hours without eating. I felt good and empowered and ready to handle it all. I walked down the flight of stairs and the stoop carrying her suitcase and didn’t feel light-headed at all.

Before leaving the house Mom asked if I’d checked the subway service status online. I had not. I took a look and it said Planned Work. I clicked through to find about three pages of deviations, warnings, and closings. My heart quickened and then sank. We hadn’t allowed for enough time to take a cab. It was subway or bust.

We took a train that doesn’t typically run on our line. I figured I would figure it out as we went, but the more I thought about it, the less sense it made. Before the train left Brooklyn I spied a chance to switch lines, and took it. It happened to involve the longest walk inside a station in perhaps the entire city, from the 4 at Borough Hall to the R at Court St. On a good day, in top physical condition and with no one else on the platform, one might need 15 minutes walking briskly to traverse this underground passage.

But this is me we are talking about, and Mom, who, even relieved of her suitcase (which I was wheeling) cannot walk all that fast. I felt we lost at least an hour, which cannot possibly be true because of the eventual outcome. There was luck in the sense that we were able to use both an elevator and an escalator during this leg of the trip. But I was growing more panicked by the moment (she wanted to be in line for the bus an hour before departure, and it was already 12:40). At one point as I glided down the empty escalator I started yelling up to Mom, “I JUST NEED YOU TO FOLLOW ME AND NOT SAY ANYTHING!” I wonder if Virgil ever said that to Dante?

We arrived on the platform to wait for an R train, and there were no benches in sight. I leaned against a post. Mom said I wasn’t looking too good. I was sweating. Mom opened her magical purse of wonders and came to my rescue with a Jolly Rancher. I popped it in my mouth and my mind went APPLE APPLE APPLE GREEN GREEN APPLE APPLE GREEN and then I was much more calm. (Note to self: Carry hard candies. They are important.) The train arrived and it was empty and we made our local way to Manhattan, Mom seized by guilt at having drawn me into this transit vortex.

The apple candy went down easily and I decided to have a cherry one. Its flavors were unbelievably nuanced. I tasted something Indian, like rose water. Jolly Rancher, who knew a starving person could find such inspiration in your humble taste? After that I was really okay. I was so okay, in fact, that as a true New Yorker I never stopped looking for an opportunity to switch to a faster train. When we were at Union Square, I saw it, and before Mom knew what I was doing I was barreling across the platform to the Q (which, by the way, would have been the better choice of train for us from the get-go). There was someone crossing in front of me and I literally bent my body in half to keep them from blocking our path to the open train doors. Mom said she nearly had a heart attack. I don’t know what I was having, but I was still kind of high on the Jolly Ranchers I’d had so it almost felt like the opposite of a heart attack.

One station later, we arrived. I could have found a stranger to carry Mom’s suitcase up the stairs (as she often has when she is alone). But I had a daughter’s duty to fulfill. I was going to walk her to the corner of 30th St and point her in the right direction, then turn around and take the train right back home. (She had insisted I take a cab back, but I’d had enough of uncontrollable variables for the day.)

And I made it. WE made it. Little Mom and desiccated, half-starved me, walking through Koreatown/Accessories World together. We parted on the corner and it was only 15 minutes later than she’d wanted to be, a miracle considering what we went through to get there.

On the subway ride home I kept my hand tightly coiled around the third Jolly Rancher in my pocket.

Oblivion

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Sleep is returning to my fold. I first started believing it when the kids left for school yesterday and instead of tossing around in bed, feverishly typing another post here or refreshing Facebook like an obsessive, I felt my head hit the pillow with a thud. The next two hours I grappled with sleep, even with my hands, feeling as though I was being pulled below the surface of a lake and even though I was trying to fight it, I finally gave in. I woke at 11 a.m. feeling lighter than I have in weeks. I scrutinized my irises in the bathroom mirror and found that the darkness camping out there had moved on.

It’s the steroids. They are dialing me down off them over the weekend. My high score daily dose was at one point 100mg, which sounds scarily high (especially the one day that I had them intravenously). I am now down to 30mg once a day, and after the weekend, if all goes well, it will keep decreasing. I hope by Thanksgiving to be pretty close to a normal facsimile of myself.

I feel the difference – going even from a dose of 40mg to 30mg, there is a loosening in my chest. A lifting of anxiety. I can spend x more minutes with both kids in my bed before shooing them away.

There are still things I cannot quite face – like most of the rest of the apartment. Things have piled up. A lot of things. All of them seem to be made of Legos and books. When I go out to the living room to administer Netflix to the kids, I have to keep tunnel vision or else I start hyperventilating right away. Our cleaning person comes on Monday, after I put her off for a week already because I wasn’t ready for that kind of upheaval. My pre-cleaning regimen, under normal circumstances, is exacting and exhausting, because I don’t like leaving out anything that could be permanently misplaced. My standards are high, and I don’t know how I’ll meet them this time. The kids are off for a sleepover tonight and I have little doubt J and I will spend our evening in cleaning preparation (which will probably involve me barking orders from the couch).

Mom leaves again today. It doesn’t make sense for her to come back next week because of the holiday, so this is another source of stress. I feel as though if I can have everything arranged just so, with most of the kid wrangling handled by others, I can get through three days on my own. I dearly hope I’m not overestimating myself. I feel incrementally stronger, after each meal, after each night of actual sleep. But the gulf between stronger and back to normal operations is still quite significant. Wish me luck.

Last night J and I huddled in bed and watched (well, I dozed on and off through it) the intriguing 2009 movie “Moon,” with the excellent Sam Rockwell as essentially the only live actor, playing clones of himself on a lunar power station. Watching the same person interact with himself in various states of physical decay made an interesting bookend to my ordeal.

Controlled substance

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Fizzy Purple Grape Soda by D Sharon Pruitt on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

It’s 4:20 in the morning. In the night. A time I have become well-reacquainted with in the past weeks. I become aware now that I have been limiting my window for this period of unpleasantness to two weeks, a moving two-week window of hell, because I keep thinking back to the beginning and realizing, Oh, that? That wasn’t NEARLY as bad as it got.

The actual fact is I’ve now been robbed of three full weeks. And there are certain habits, dependencies, which settle in after that period of time, which may be hard to break.

I spend my day in bed. I do not aspire to leave my bed, because leaving it has generally meant rushing to the bathroom, and an hours-long cycle of pain and relief and more pain filling in where the relief tried. When I am feeling at all better, I get back in bed. Standing up is hard when you have not eaten much, and my height makes it feel like even more of a challenge.

The bedroom has become my fortress. I wonder if I’ll ever continue this blog from anywhere but there, hunkered down with my smartphone.

When a cycle of cramps starts I assume a certain position for self-soothing, rub my belly in a way that does help, fire up my ancient heating pad (it belonged to my grandparents, and when it reaches its full temperature evokes the smell of their old apartment, which is soothing).

What I’ve noticed is that I do this now even when the “pain” is actually a minor gurgle of digestion. This means I’ve downgraded my pain standards. Which had been quite high before. I birthed two boys weighing over nine pounds without much more than some Advil and stitches after. Yes, it goddamn hurt. But there was ample payback there, in oxytocin.

The pain I have been in recently affords no such glory. I haven’t even been able to talk about specifically what the pain is all that much (except here), because it turns out that nausea and vomiting is a lot more socially acceptable to speak about and suggest remedies for than chronic diarrhea. (This seems like a socioeconomic discovery, somehow. Only in a society with ample access to safe drinking water can we afford ourselves the luxury of distancing diarrhea to the furthest corners of conversation.)

Before going to bed last night (nervously, without the second dose of steroids I’ve become accustomed to), I held court for Mom and J and told them feverishly about my hopes and dreams for my digestion. “It’s a whole new world out there,” I was saying. “How often do you actually get a chance to start your gut over again? Maybe I should make some changes,” I said. “This is an opportunity. There have been so many discoveries about how food works. And my metabolism had slowed to a halt anyway.” I spoke of caffeine, and other ills and other promises.

Mom and J sat there nodding and bemused, enabling my rant but not encouraging it. I hadn’t chosen the right audience for this sermon. My father, a long sufferer in matters of digestion, would have engaged me immediately in matters of science and nutrition. There are scores of friends on Facebook standing by with advice for me. But I don’t know that I’m looking for a conversation just now (except by phone, in the morning, with the nutritionist at the cancer center, because I am afraid to face the weekend without her guidance).

I’m not looking for a plan yet. I’m not looking for strictures yet – there are more than enough of those. I don’t want to find a forum or self-identify with any group.

I suppose what I want is to return to how and who I was, but with the knowledge of my present suffering never far from me when I decide to eat something. Eating for me has long been a tool of anesthesia, a tool for distancing pain. I know that isn’t healthy, but it’s something I learned long ago from Mom (who has herself been on a long journey in this regard, and is currently in triumph and is my hero for it). When I’ve been really sad in recent days I’ve tried a meditation of walking through my neighborhood and stopping in each place that sells good things to eat (and there are, of course, many) and imagining myself tasting each thing for the first time. It was satisfying… until it wasn’t. (And I kept going back again and again to the place with the Brussels sprouts.)

Somehow I have managed to raise kids who have a much greater sense of balance and proportion when it comes to good and bad eating than I ever had in my little finger. They hauled in an enormous bag of candy in an hour on Halloween afternoon. There was intense interest in it for exactly 36 hours. It has since sat in a bulging shopping bag on a high shelf, untouched and unrequested and possibly even unremembered. Halloween was the very start of my troubles, and as is my way, now that I write about it I want to feel guilty that my pain eclipsed the presence of all that candy. But that’s not it at all! Young J drinks green juice because of the broccoli content. Young A snarfs cherry tomatoes and edamame like candy. These are healthy eaters and yes, they like their sugary treats, but they have their heads on straight about it all.

Which is the most I can hope for myself, and soon please.

Emerging from the cave

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Neanderthal family (detail of diorama) by Jaroslav A. Polák on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

I want to believe. In the upswing, the righting, the great correction.

After a blast of Remicade yesterday I was told I would start seeing some improvement. But I also heard that it might be possible I could need another dose next Monday. Thanksgiving was brought up (not by me, as I’d been assuming all along I’d be fine for that – placing my faith in The Great Pumpkin, I suppose). No one saw a reason to say I couldn’t go. Turkey is a good food for me right now. (Other regular features of our festive meal, like empanadas or my mom’s famous cheesecake, not so much.) It feels good to believe the rosier forecast, but I’ve been smacked down so many times in the past couple weeks that it’s hard not to be cynical.

I had a long chat with the social worker while I was getting the infusion yesterday, but it wasn’t the one I’d already developed a rapport with, so mostly I just kept my eyes shut, talked, and cried. It was fine. But I treasured our even longer chat with the nutritionist more, because it provided the essential information for building me back up again, safely.

Last night J went to shop for the tools of my rehabilitation: coconut water. Canned peaches. English muffins (white flour). Today Mom bought some more items: a chicken breast, pastina. Young A stayed home sick from school today – he is my canary and often succumbs to illness when I do – and my heart almost bubbled over with happiness to have Mom here tending to us both the way she tended to me when I was his age and home sick from school. Chicken soup with stars. I left my room and went to sit at the table to eat – my first out-of-bed meal in days.

Young A was happy to see me there at the table. He’d eaten his soup and the pasta they’d packed him for school before he decided he wasn’t going. He popped grape after grape into his mouth. He’s grown up a lot in the past two weeks. His whole face has changed. I want to believe he’s leaning out, stretching into five (three months from now), leaving the baby behind. I can’t quite excuse myself from this transformation. (I’ll stop there, short of catapulting myself on another fruitless guilt trip.)

I feel like I am taking my very first steps from the cave. I feel my strength returning literally by the hour. By Friday I may even be able to walk to the corner, turn around and come back.

Please know this. When I stand at the mouth of the cave, I am going to raise a large club in the air. And I am going to tell anyone who will listen what it is like to lose (as of this morning) 15 pounds of your body weight in two weeks. To spend your days tethered to the bathroom or coiled around yourself trying to quell the great pain your belly is causing.

And then I’m going to stand there and wait to hear what you have to say. Here are some helpful hints. You can tell me it’s awful. You can say nothing and give me a hug. You can tell me you cannot imagine it (I surely could not, until it befell me). You can send flowers (as a friend did last night) or feed my other senses – tell me a joke. Or read me a poem.

What I never want to hear from you about this is that I look great. This is not a concept that has been part of my worldview before or now, and your insistence on bringing it up will make me hate you.

Had you liberated a camp, would you have said this to a survivor of the Shoah? Then why on earth would you say something like this to someone who has clearly been suffering in such a way?

I have heard this from people who should know better. And who acknowledge it and then persist in saying it. And to those who would persist I just say: Picture me at the mouth of the cave. My club is aloft.

You Can’t Be Any Poorer Than Dead

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Flannery O'Connor in her driveway in 1962 (photo credit: Joe McTyre)

Home again. Back in bed again. This time feeling less dreadful and dread-filled.

Another wheelchair ride into the cancer center this morning. This time Quentin was there and asked me what was wrong. I didn’t go into clinical details, but then a second later I had to because we again ran into Dr. S, radiation oncologist, who was seeing me chaired in twice in the same week and needed to know what was up. My mom heard his last name and started speaking Italian.

Today I didn’t have any doctor visit. I was on a fast track to the infusion floor and the nurses met me there. When they come down to a different floor for you that’s when you know you’re extra specially screwed. Nurse Practitioner R met my mom. So did Research Nurse C. I was steroid-crazed and cranky – so what’s new? It was still so, so good to have Mom there, even if I made her adjust the temperature of my drinking water about twelve times.

I wasn’t too badly dehydrated today, and I had even managed to eat an egg and a piece of toast this morning (which didn’t feel so good ten mins later) so I was able to stand for more than a millisecond. What a concept, verticality.

Today, the main goal was to STOP the colitis provoked by the ipilimumab. They did this with a drug typically given to Crohn’s patients called infliximab or, more charmingly, Remicade. The only thing about Remicade is, once you have it – it’s curtains for ipilimumab. I know I’d swallowed the ipilimumab sales pitch and I really wanted to stay with the winning brand. But it’s killing me!

And the fact is, there is more than one way to skin this cat. Once my gut stops roiling and I am feeling better, they will do another scan, probably in late December. At that time, they will see the size of my tumors and assess if I am even in need of further treatment at all. The tumors don’t just disappear right away (at least not usually – though my experience has been so singular that I do hold out hope for that kind of miracle to legitimize my suffering), but they can tell if they’re shrinking. If I do need more treatment, it will be with a newer cousin to ipilimumab, called PD1, or Keytruda (still not loving the naming conventions here), which apparently doesn’t pack quite as much of a wallop as ipilimumab, side effects-wise. It’s perfect for ipilimumab flunkies, like me.

I got a wonderful foot massage today. I managed to get my mom to order and eat a pastrami sandwich without feeling guilty about eating near me (“I am on another plane of consciousness right now” I told her). And best of all, a good long chat with the nutritionist, who gave me sensible tips for becoming an eater again without great pain and setbacks. My gut is basically like a newborn’s right now. It will take time to nurse it back to a state of omnivorousness. Tiny meals, tiny bites. I’m going to be obsessed with food in new and terribly unexciting ways. I’m going to learn how to stop poisoning myself while I am healing.

All this sounds good, but tapering off the steroids – the current main goal for the team, me, my brain, and the entire universe – is the main thing I’ll be attempting this week. Wish me luck for a seamless return to not-crazy.

Purgative/Purgatory

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I’m heading back to the cancer center this morning for more drugs. One in particular, infliximab, which is supposed to arrest the colitis-like symptoms that were brought on by my gangbusters immune response to ipilimumab. They want to get me off the steroids. I want to get me off the steroids. Win-win, let’s hope.

While I wait for a callback from the doctor, who somehow neglected to tell me when she called me at midnight last night whether I do or don’t take steroids this morning, I’m going to try to purge my mind.

It’s two days away from my tenth wedding anniversary. What J and I were going to be doing this weekend: spending it in a fancy hotel with a good bathtub. Eating lots of great meals without the kids, wandering around and visiting galleries. Napping. “Reconnecting.”

None of that is happening now. I can’t do any of that – and a bath is the last thing in the world that would feel good to me. I’m living in a state of near-constant agitation, under siege from within, and the only semi-coherent thing I’m able to do is post here. I can spend time with the kids only in short bursts (last night I did story AND lullaby at bedtime and it was very, very difficult). I can barely even get out of bed. It’s kind of awe-inspiring to see just how low I have been laid, but I am rabidly curious to see how quickly I can bounce back.

My relationship with J feels so uneven right now. I can offer literally nothing to him. He is doing all of the giving, nurturing, heavy lifting. I’m transported back to the bleary days after the kids were born, when he was in the same role, just as sleep-deprived as I was but still devoted to making things work. He is a resolute doer, a solver, a fixer of problems. Which makes him, I guess, the perfect match for me, feeling as I do now like an inexhaustible source of new and shitty problems.

At our wedding, J serenaded me with this Dylan tune, which he had sung to me over the phone when we were first dating. I hope that everything about me will stop bringing you misery, babe. And soon. I love you.

http://vimeo.com/m/86346303

Vouloir et avoir

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Doughnuts by Jenny Kaczorowski on Flickr licensed under Creative Commons

Adrift on that gulf between wanting and having. I’d love a stack of doughnuts that look like a hamburger right now. I could also plow my way through an entire tray of roasted Brussels sprouts with Sriracha glaze. A crate of raspberries. Or just a cheese pizza. A bowl of fresh radishes with salt.

It took me most of the day to get out of bed to make a turkey sandwich. Then I ate it and immediately got hiccups because it was sort of like gulping sand. I washed it down with room temperature Gatorade, which is what my gut can handle right now. Then for a treat I ate the only fresh fruit I can have right now, a banana. It’s warm in the apartment and the bananas are a little spotted and when you eat one like that it sort of lingers. Not good.

I’ve been avoiding at all costs looking at food websites but just absent-mindedly clicked through a slideshow of top dessert spots in my city. At a remove of weeks from any indulgence remotely approaching those pictured, I felt like an anthropologist. The photos did not arouse much beyond curiosity, and certainly not anything approaching desire. I wonder at this. I wonder if I should mourn about it, or be grateful for it, or both at once. I know I am grateful it isn’t a permanent condition.

Reset button

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Back at the cancer center this morning. My arrival here this morning was dramatic, chauffeured by my friend A, and I asked for a wheelchair from the car. This seemed to surprise the porter I see here every week who has only ever known me to walk under my own power. My man at the front desk, Quentin, was not there today. I was hunched down in the chair and J spelled my last name and it was misheard and I just wanted to die to get past the front desk.

On the way to the elevator we passed Dr S, my radiation oncologist. He seemed a little surprised to see me, his healthiest patient, so reduced. (Maybe I was projecting. This is after all his line of work.)

Phlebotomist B worked his magic on my desiccated vein. He never got the letter I mailed praising his skills, so I guess no coffee card yet. Damnit! The little I can do did nothing.

I declined to hop on the scale because it would have meant getting out of the wheelchair, and I wasn’t about to do that. I know I am thin. I know what I’ve lost. I’ve only spent the past two weeks horrified, hunched over the numbers in the dim 4 a.m. night-lit bathroom, wondering if my digestive tract would ever work normally again. If I could ever eat food again with any measure of excitement.

After a brief respite from pain on Saturday (which made leave-taking from Mom much less difficult), yesterday things got serious again. Bad, roiling boiling angry belly. No rhyme or reason to why, no link to anything I ate or did not eat. Pure inflammatory response in all of its hellishness.

Last night I waited until I thought the storm was over, brushed my teeth gingerly (toothbrushing makes me nauseous these days) and got ready for a night of sleep. It was a night of pure torment. I thought of bringing my pillow into the bathroom. I washed my hands 800 times. Every time I dried my hands I tried to summon some courage to go back to bed. Would I have been better off sitting up? No place would do. The only place that would have suited me was far outside my body. But that would have posed logistical and existential difficulties.

By 5 a.m. I was resigned to a white night, but I still tried some Imodium, on the off chance it would help me. I think it afforded me about 30 minutes of sleep before the roiling began again. Any fluid that passed my lips was turning immediately, horribly, to more abdominal pain. So I stopped trying to rehydrate.

Once you make that decision, things go downhill pretty fast. Any pee that comes out looks like dark syrup. You can maybe get your medication out of the jar, but you’ll sit there with it in your palm for a good half hour because you can’t reach the three inches past it on the nightstand to get the water.

At the stroke of 9 a.m. I called in. They told me I had better come in for an IV. I started reading them the riot act regarding the fellows who answer calls so incompetently on the weekend. My voice was a thin, wailing reed.

A friend came to take the kids to school, and once they were safely out of the house, I lost it. A was ready to drive us to the cancer center, but I couldn’t think how to get dressed. J had to dress me and he put up with my steroid-crazed critiques of his style of putting socks on. Once I was dressed, I curled up in a ball on my bed and just wailed. I was reduced, finally, to my most basic state – like a wounded animal. A final touch (which proved unnecessary, thank God) was borrowing one of Abe’s pull-ups in case I had any accident on the car ride.

J wheeled my chair through the labyrinth of the 9th floor reception area and the girl at the desk also looked surprised to see me not ambulatory. I started to think perhaps there was something very wrong with me. A strong hazelnut coffee smell permeated the waiting area and I willed myself not to retch.

Even though I hadn’t seen Dr P in weeks – during more routine appointments you see her nursing staff – she was there today. “You got the bad poopies!” was her opening gambit. Not the funniest opener, but I was in no mood to laugh much, anyway. She said that they’d put a stop to it all with the IV today. That I’d walk out of there. That sounded promising.

Then… she said something else. About it being the end of the road for me with ipilimumab. And perhaps the start of a new drug, PD1. I’m wary, but she says diarrhea isn’t usually part of the package. A rash is. A rash sounds delightful to me right now.

But the thing that probably made me the happiest to hear, in passing, was, “and you didn’t have a lot of disease there to begin with, so…”

My progress toward feeling better was pretty rapid after hearing that.

Thoroughly disgusted

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I had a little glimpse yesterday of what feeling good felt like. It was enough of a glimpse to give me hope. Then I woke up today in as bad a situation as I have been over the past week, and it wasn’t a great day overall.

J has got to be burned out. He shuttled the kids across the city today, from a sleepover to lunch to clothes shopping to their respective playdates and back home for dinner (and then an extra outing to retrieve a forgotten fleece). Somewhere in there, he  made chili for dinner. It smells great. I don’t know how he managed to do all that. It certainly is more than I’ve ever endeavored to do in a day with the kids. I feel like I’m being unfair, pushing him to be Superman in direct contrast to my utter incapacity right now. He hasn’t complained. He won’t. But he should.

What I managed to do today was: eat half my breakfast, take my medication, pass out for a while, eat a little soup and lots of French bread (perhaps too much bread), pass out, watch “Roman Holiday” on my phone (that’s taken about two days), and work my part-time library job in the evening, which involves sitting by a laptop waiting for people to ask me questions. Except tonight there were very few questions, the ones that came in irritated me, and I had to interrupt my shift when I was seized by a brand new symptom, vomiting. I signed off a few minutes early.

I sent an email to my boss explaining my situation. I can’t be expected to work right now, even if the work is as minimal as that. The temptation to just close out a session without answering the question is just too great. The temptation to be mediocre and unhelpful is alien to me and yet that’s just what I was feeling like tonight. Very little empathy for people who cannot solve their own citation problems. Or find an eraser to use in the library (wish I were kidding on that one).

Speaking of mediocre and unhelpful, that has been my exact experience with the fellows I’ve spoken to on the phone over the weekend when I’ve had questions and my doctor and nurses aren’t available. Last weekend the guy simply wanted to know if I thought my eye pain was bad enough to have to go to the ER. That was all he was interested in.

The fellow I spoke to tonight was marginally better, but betrayed zero awareness of my treatment. I was asking if I needed to re-dose myself with my evening complement of steroids, because I’d vomited two hours after taking them. He said, “And you are vomiting… because of chemo?” NO, I AM NOT. I HAVEN’T VOMITED IN OVER A WEEK. IT’S IMMUNOTHERAPY. I AM NOT HAVING CHEMO. EVEN A FELLOW AT THE CANCER CENTER IS APPARENTLY UNABLE TO UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE.

Hello. This is why this blog is here.

My stomach, by the way, seems to have grown used to and now prefers being empty. How great is it if I’m somehow developing an eating disorder while going through this? What a bonus.