Today was my first day with radiation and chemotherapy. Half an hour after breakfast I took the three pills of pure poison and began consciously checking how I was feeling until I forgot. Then, a few hours later, I left with my dad on a taxi to get the radiation. It turned out simple as they had told me. They had said, you won’t feel a thing the first day, and it was true. In the afternoon I went to the supermarket to buy sandals, baking soda, a scale and supplies to take care of my chemoed body and my nutrition. I ate enthusiastically today. It’s just the first day, but a good start and I am wishing the whole treatment could be like today!
After weeks waiting for those idiots approving medical procedures in MetLife, they have finally decided the paperwork is complete and good, and I have the ok to start chemotherapy and radiation for whatever cells dared to remain in my body after my colon was removed in July. I feel somewhat relieved that everything is ready, and I also feel nervous about what I am going to live over the next six months. I feel good. If I were in bad shape, medical stuff can take place without a lot of complaints, but I feel ok now. I try to see it as an investment in my future. Radiation will burn and cook my ass for a month, and the chemicals will be killing cells for half a year.
I say, radiation + strong toxic chemicals will make a superhero out of me. Watch for justice being made and a better world over the next few weeks. Villains will be beaten, punished and jailed. Be it common crooks or your nasty politicians. Families will have a break. Streets will be safe for the common citizen. We will all live in peace and happiness.
Said that, my secret plans are to keep learning to write programs, make a few cool machines like a simple robot arm, play my harmonica, keep working from home, keep reading, keep eating (man, I need to gain weight!!), keep jogging and prepare to go back to my house.
I also plan to keep being the biggest smile in the oncology unit.
Today it’s been two weeks. My dad and I finished our night meal (a lot of countries have their main dishes around five PM, but here, the main dish is around 2 or 3 PM, and we take a light meal around 8 or 9 PM) and spent a while talking. It’s always good, sometimes if I am in a nasty mood it isn’t, but it’s usually very good. We understand each other well and laugh at our own nonsense and discuss the things that really matter and complain about the ridiculous things that are wrong in this country and this world. Today we were talking about the Scottish and the Catalan and how in our country poor people stand no chance and in other countries poor people can live a reasonable life, and the new fence we are building… So it got late enough and I went as always to wash the dishes. I didn’t look forward to it because his wife, and let’s mention here that I am living with them during my recovery and treatments, she had left a bunch of dishes and a pan! Wow! Doing dishes isn’t my favorite hobby, but pans… I have been hoping for disposable ones for half my life! So I got to it. My dad said that sometimes it’s more work but we can’t just wash our own dishes. He was right. I was washing. It wasn’t so much. I was thinking, two weeks ago, that Thursday night, I went to wash the dishes. As I began I felt a little pain in my belly. It grew as I worked and I finished in a big hurry, resting my elbows in the sink at times. I said good night and left quickly to my room! Today I was doing fine. I took my time. I washed the sink carefully. I thought this was a ton better than two weeks ago and I felt grateful for feeling good while doing that small amount of work.
Two weeks ago I rushed to my room thinking it was going to be a bad night and I’d be ok in the morning. Beginning August 22nd I had been getting pains in my stomach. On August 25th my loving girlfriend earned her master’s degree and had her lab colleagues in our house. My house, because we don’t live together yet, unfortunately, but we will. I drove her and one of her sisters to their house, and got the pains on the way. Driving back I stopped for medicine, almost puked and went to my house to sleep the night.
So finally, two weeks ago I prepared for a bad night to wake up feeling well in the morning, but that didn’t happen. Around five I realized I hadn’t slept much, I had thrown up and felt bad. I emailed a clumsy message to my managers at work saying I wouldn’t help that day. I emailed a clumsy message to my surgeon, my gastroengineerologist and my oncologist saying I was doing bad. The oncologist was the first to answer and said I should go to the hospital. I took a long shower and we all went there. Every bump on the road hurt. I knew the way and knew when to lift my butt to save me! It was a quick ride to the emergency ramp. As we pulled over, a guy was already rushing outside with a wheelchair asking if I was the patient. I said I was, sat there, and was wheeled in. I had a knot… Not a knot! I had a watermelon in my throat! My intestines had halted to a complete stop. They were swollen and nothing was moving. I knew they would put the ng tube in me. It wasn’t later than noon that they told me and brought the infamous hose. They started to push it in my right nostril. As the body made a curve downward it felt scratchingly painful while turning, and reaching the throat they said to swallow when I felt it. I did my best. I felt it bent somewhere inside my chest or lower chest. It was so bad! My dad held my hand while they processed me. I held him hard. He is a great hero of mine! They brought an X-ray machine painted to resemble a giraffe. They said the tip was in the proper spot. My left arm had an IV and my dad filled all the papers that had to be filled. I spent Friday in pain and late that day my girlfriend arrived. She said she’d stay with me. She is awesome! She is another great hero of mine! I had three or four tomographies, last one was Saturday during the night. Lots of throwing up. The contrast was a disaster in me. My belly hurt horribly. Friday night a colorectal surgeon from this hospital came to say that if this didn’t improve he’d have to open me up and fix the sewage piping. My girlfriend and I didn’t like it the least little bit. She is awesome, I’m not sure I said it, and she called my surgeon, the man that removed my colon without leaving any track at all. He is yet another hero of mine. I have several. He was furious! He said to go to his hospital immediately.
I called him after we discussed the idea and we agreed to go Saturday morning. Eventually, around five in the morning, the local surgeon said I was improving and I would not need any surgery.
I was certainly improving. I woke up wet on my right side. My ileostomy bag had gotten so full that it burst and some of the stuff spilled. I took a shower and a nurse changed my bag and barrier, the stuff that makes a cyborg out of this awesome guy I am. That Saturday I began eating. Just liquid. It felt great. Sunday morning I was given an omelette made of egg whites, a boiled apple and tea, and I was released after processing that food safely.
I learned a painful lesson. I don’t know exactly why this happened to me or how to avoid it, but these past two weeks I have been eating carefully. I also eat a lot, because if I was already skinnier than the skinny I’ve always been, now this made it worse. So my ileostomy patient diet is now two eggs sunny side up with two slices of bacon for breakfast. Chicken breast for lunch and one scrambled egg with ham at night, and I eat cookies and (hey, I learned this word in Colombia!) pound cake, because it was just my dad’s birthday. I also drink yoghurts and eat whatever seems reasonable. I have stopped eating chocolate and craisins and nuts and tortillas and tortilla chips and a few other things.
I sometimes become scared. I don’t know if I have cancer, if I don’t have it, if I have a lot of it or a little bit. I don’t know what will be of me. If in five years I write about how I celebrated my 42nd birthday I will be cleared of the main problem. If I never write about it… Hopefully I will have given up writing!
Meanwhile I spend my days working in my room, fixing computers remotely in all the American continent, and when my shift ends I open iTunes U to take a programming class. I am learning to code in Python. I am also devising to build a small robot arm that should be a cool project. Writing the code that transforms Cartesian coordinates into the angles of the links of the arm will be fun. I am also rereading king solomon’s mines and I am playing my harmonica. I don’t have time to do it all every day, but I do as much as I can. Saturdays I go out with my loving girlfriend. We eat out and spend time in my house. Sundays I go running and I spend time in my house. The time should come for me to be able to care for myself again and live in my house. That girlfriend of mine will have to move in with me, and I will be happy to marry her. I have been trying very hard to seduce her: I have cooked her many meals! I always tell her I am trying to convince her and laughs saying that she’s already convinced.
Today I am happy. It’s been two weeks without the slightest pain or discomfort. Only my own demons, my fears, have played hard on me once or twice. It’s ridiculous but sometimes not knowing how my health will behave makes me go crazy. Rainy days make it worse. Cold days too. Today it was sunny and hot, and I feel happy.