From the other side

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Higher calling, by Matthew G on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

To all the assembled saints of the Melanoma Program, and perhaps even to G-d genderself, ALL PRAISES.

Dinner was great last night – especially when at a certain point I finally stopped talking. The kids all got along (well, Young J was reading) and it was grand. The kids did take forever to get to bed, but that was my fault, for showing them the new clothes I’d bought them. Young J smiled at his new shirt in the mirror and said, “I’m gonna look good for picture day.” (Oh my sweetest love, a tween in the making!)

An email comes in from the counselor at school who works with my kids (for non-cancer reasons but boy, are we grateful for her a thousand fold now). She knows I like to hear what Young A is telling her about me. This time, it was: “much better since taking steroid medicine and Benadryl although it makes mom so sleepy.”

Last night before going to bed Young A came to my nightstand, which has become The Garden of Pills. He asked me to read him the names of each of my medicines. I think he wanted especially to know which one was the steroid, since it has been the source of my exhaustion. DEXAMETHASONE, YOUNG A IS COMING FOR YOU. I almost cried – his gesture was so sweet and caring. Learning to pronounce the names of my cures is important. Perhaps the thought is if he practices the names enough, he will cure me. But they are, too, funny words to say. Levatirecetam. Dabrafenib. Lorazepam. Pantoprazole. (That reminds me, I owe K some rap lyrics. This weekend I’ll write them, after lunch steroid when I am at my most “brilliant.”)

When I typed out the order of sleep maneuvers last night, I assumed those left awake in my household at the appointed hours would be rallying, making sure I was hitting my marks.

But, hello? Mom worked hard for hours to make a delicious dinner and she was out cold on the couch. J was watching baseball. I was jittery. I took the dabrafenib. Have gotten good at all three down the hatch in a gulp.

I had a good text chat with a college friend (hey B) and my steroid mania seemed to not be abating.

I laid out my cures on the bed. I decided to start with the melatonin, which was timed release and ohhh, I wanted to let it have time. Then the Benadryl of impossible packaging. Then the Lorazepam, which I gave the side eye for having failed me before. These drugs would work together, or they’d make me fall apart from another bad night. The only option was success.

I still hadn’t powered down my phone. I had to type just one more funny thing. As my head inclined slightly over the screen it VERY SUDDENLY WEIGHED 100 LBS. I realized I needed to finish up getting ready for bed before the truck hit.

I brushed teeth, said goodnight, climbed in bed. Lights out. I was giddy and alone, no J to gabble on steroidically to.

I started laughing. I had fits of laughter. Oh no, I said to my brain. Come on. I remembered my college roommate V and how she’d laugh in her sleep, which was cute/creepy.

And then I stopped remembering anything. At all. Curtains came down right on top of me.

At 5 I had to pee. And my canary, Young A, also did. My eyes and nose and everything were so dry and squinty. I just wanted to get back to bed.

And then I did. And slept another hour.

The title from Henri Michaux’s poem, “I am writing to you from a far off country” was in fact the very first coherent thought I had today. But I didn’t realize that it starts like this:

We have here, she said, only one sun in the month, and only for a little while. We rub our eyes days ahead, but to no purpose. Inexorable weather. The sun arrives only at its proper hour.
(Richard Ellman, trans)

Another gift from my brain to me, in recognition of finally finding the magic combination. Thanks for keeping it together up there for me, ol’ brain. We’ll get through this.

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