Thursday, December 17, 2009

Round 10

Today is the second day of round 10 of my chemotherapy. I'm proud to have made it this far, into double digits, and I'm hoping that the rush of accomplishment will carry me through the impending nausea and sickness. My doctor anticipated that at the end of the last round, when my hemoglobin had fallen to 9.5, that I would need a blood transfusion prior to this round to ensure that my body was fully ready. Usually, they like to administer transfusions when my hemoglobin falls to about 8 so that I'm not too tired. As it turned out, however, my hemoglobin actually rose to over 10. She also advised that I receive Neupogen shots until Sunday, knowing that I was planning to come in and have blood taken on Monday for a Tuesday admission (the way I always do, coming in a day in advance in order to minimize the headache of admission day). Unfortunately, I got a call back on Monday telling me that my white blood cell count was actually too high for chemo the next day, and that I had to wait another day at home before coming in to begin.

An extra day of staying home at the best end of the cycle, feeling good. That's great, isn't it? Well, either that or I am the only crazy moron in the world who gets inexplicably impatient when I'm given an extra good day to postpone impending misery. But I could have told those people advising us that I didn't need to take Neupogen all the way through the weekend, that I was strong after maybe seven or eight shots and that any more would be unnecessary. Regardless, we followed their lead and after eleven consecutive days of shots, my white blood cells were spiked like the punch at a junior high school dance, and there was nothing I could do but drink it.

I guess it just bothers me when other people dictate the details of my plan to me. They are they experts, after all, but I feel as if they didn't talk to each other, let alone to me, about the best way of going about this last cycle. It was my first cycle with my new doctor, and I don't want to go running around saying that I miss the old doctor, because I'm confident that this will turn out fine. I guess we just need to maintain better communication to reach the best results. She did, however, admit to me that my case has deviated so far from the "textbook" case due to my quick response times and constantly replenished strength, that it's difficult for her to predict my needs. And that was a humbling thing to hear from such a renowned doctor.

I realize that what I'm asking for is much easier said than done. A lot of times, we struggle with communication with those about whom we truly care and play a very significant role in our lives, so it might be a little unrealistic to demand optimal communication among staff at a hospital. It's in the best interest of the patients, but it's impossible for any one of them to have all of the answers. I've learned, now, that I need to be a part of these discussions because I am, in fact, at this point the one who knows most about my treatment and my reactions to the treatment, and, in effect, about what I need.

But communication is always at the very least a two-way street, yet the lack thereof seems to be the weakness in so many of our cherished relationships. I've noticed how hard it is to talk about things that cannot be changed; things that happened in the past, and no matter how much the culprit of those actions wishes to be able to take them back, it takes the biggest toll on that person's partner. A lot of times, that partner is unable to express adequately the reason or extent of their hurt, and without that communication there is little to be done. Unfortunately, it becomes a vicious cycle of hurt, sadness, and the inability to make things better, no matter how ready and willing one person might be to say the right thing and make it all go away.

I think this happens most often in regards to things that happened in the past. I've learned, however, that we can't change the past, and that to judge someone for the things they used to do, especially if they have become a stronger, more mature person now, is just utterly pointless. I'm not saying that thinking about the past is never going to hurt, but it really shouldn't effect the things two people can share moving forward. It's just not fair to either person.

Now, if these things exist not only in the past, and continue to live on in some capacity for one of the parties involved, then that's an entirely different story. It's hard to force someone out of our minds and lives entirely, for good, and it's not always something we can consciously decide, though we can prioritize and keep certain people at a distance for our own best interest and the best interests of those whom we care about most.

I still advocate communication above all costs. People are different, and what one person might consider a big deal might not be that serious to someone else. But in order to build the strongest relationships possible, we need to exhibit honesty and trust, because hiding things will only make them a bigger obstacle to cross when they eventually do come to the surface.

I feel like what I'm saying is almost second nature at this point, it's been said so many times before. But failed or stunted communication still plays a large role in my life. My doctor and I have agreed to talk more often about the phases through which I'm going, along with the following steps that make the most sense for the both of us. And good communication will continue to play a vital role in all of my relationships, big or small. Communication is so closely related to honesty and trust, which are two of the things on which I pride my relationships. If not for trust, anyway, do we really have anything at all?

In two weeks, I'll have to make the decision whether or not to squeeze in another two-day chemo immediately before New Years' Eve. I'll either have to trust that my body will feel well enough to enjoy the holiday, or I'll have to postpone the chemo until a few days later; and I hate postponing chemo. This time, my doctor and I will talk about the best option for me and my treatment, and hopefully come to a conclusion with which I am happy.

For now, though, I'm focused on defeating number 10, and in four more days returning back home, overwhelmed with that familiar sense of accomplishment. And I'll remind myself that in my relationships, communication will always be vital. There will always be things that I or someone else can't change, but I can always be open and honest about the way I am and the way I'm feeling.

I've learned to try not to judge someone for the things that may have happened before they ever knew me. Nobody can change those things, and worrying about them is about as useless as asking those unanswerable questions we all love to ask, though the answers are expectedly unsatisfactory. We can take things one day at a time, and trust that the things people say to us now, and that they will still say tomorrow, are enough to make us happy. Nobody is perfect, not on their own, but I sort of believe that what two people can share might be perfect, if not the closest thing to it that we're ever going to find.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. You continue to blow me away Jonathan. Moving on is one of the things we can do to lighten up and create positive forward movement in our lives. And, I agree, communication is often a necessary component of letting go of past hurts. Clearly you know both your own body and your own mind better than anyone else, and your new doctor is learning who you are with each day and each new experience. And I imagine she will soon learn to trust your input, and I trust that you will speak up loudly for your own wishes and intuitions.