The Absurd Epistolary Adventures of the Astonishing FartMan chronicles the amusing escapades
of the lovable, stinky, and obnoxious Cape & Tights Super Hero, and his maudlin Alter Ego, W____,
as they learn to cope with Stage IV colon cancer, each other, and their annoying fellow human beings.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Nth Metaphorical Red Hot Poker

From: W____
Sent: Saturday, September 25, 2010 2:49 PM
To: R_______
Cc: Family; Friends
Subject: Chemo Round 1

Hey D_____,

Made it through the first cycle of chemo.

Now that it's over, I guess it wasn't all that bad--compared to some other, more primitive, forms of torture.

Monday thru Wednesday, when I was actually getting "infused," was easy.

But then Thursday, after crashing off the dexamethasone, I spent the whole day on the sofa impersonating a softly moaning, smelly, steaming pile of moist and lukewarm dogturd. No intense pain, just totally fatigued, bone sore, headachy, with wave after wave of nausea, with every stimulus unpleasant: sound, light, smell, touch, heat, cold, everything--everything unpleasant. And because every stimulus is unpleasant, there's no good way to distract oneself from the soreness and the nausea. Boooorriiiing!

Nausea combined with complete boredom made Thursday seem interminable.
Hypothesis 1: If the patient stays sick long enough, sooner or later boredom--both for the patient and for all else involved--becomes one of the essential elements of serious illness.
Friday was better, and today I hardly feel any effects of the devil juice.

The bad thing now is knowing that I have to repeat this process every two weeks for several months. And they say my chemo regimen is one of the easy ones! Heaven help those who have to go through worse.

Speaking of the contemplation of worse suffering, I'm definitely learning a few important life lessons, such as:

Lesson 1: When someone is in the middle of suffering badly, it does not necessarily make him feel better to tell him how much worse off he could be.
Okay, I confess that Lesson 1 is something that I myself needed to learn, since I have had the habit of telling people to count their blessings, to quit whining, and always to thank their lucky stars.

But now I've learned, through recent firsthand personal experience, that when I have, metaphorically speaking, a red hot poker stuck in one eye, I would appreciate it please if no one would tell me how extra-ordinarily, fan-tastically, glo-riously fortunate I am not to have a red hot poker stuck in my my other eye.

That reminder, even if true, does not make me feel better.

The thought of a second red hot poker does not make the first poker stop hurting. Instead, the contemplation of the possibility of additional red hot pokers scares the bat crap out of me, tends to dissolve my spirits, and makes me seem to feel physically worse.

So please do not ask me to be thankful about the absence of the second, third, fourth, and nth red hot pokers.

Eventually, I will probably come around to being properly grateful for the absence of all those additional metaphorical red hot pokers some people like to keep telling me about. Indeed, given the fact that things probably will get worse for me before too long, I am thankful that things aren't already worse. I do know "things could always be worse." But please, do you have to remind me!?!?

Whiz. Moan. Whine.
Whiz. Moan. Whine.
Whiz. Moan. Whine.
There! I got that out of my system, and boy do I feel better!

So, folks might fairly wonder, what words help and encourage? Words like: "I'm here for you." "Hang on, we're pulling for you." Or simply, "I'm sorry you are suffering." That helps!

It is also encouraging to be reminded, not of the lurking hypothetical evils one has thus far managed to avoid, but of the real positively good things for which one is truly fortunate: "You are lucky to have such good friends." "You are blessed to have such a good wife." That helps!

Forgive me for being such an unsportsmanlike crybaby about all this. You, D____, are one of the blessed ones who naturally always says the right thing! And, contrary to the impression all my whining might have created, I am deeply grateful that so many people are worrying about me and praying for me. So I mention the above partly to have the human relief of pouring unthinking tears onto a welcoming shoulder and partly to offer from firsthand experience a piece of possibly useful information that you can pass on to those you know who might be in the position of wanting to give moral support to someone going through a rough time.


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