It’s been a week since I had my second round of chemotherapy and I still don’t feel good. I am scared. I don’t know if my body is going to cope with this for six months. I feel weak and sick, feeling a slight tremor in my hands, unnoticeable to others.
Based on my first cycle, I formed the idea in my head that I would have about four bad days after chemo and then my body would more or less return to normal. But this time it’s been a week and I don’t feel normal at all. Quite the opposite. This morning I have the same feeling as those times when you dream in your sleep and you are aware within the dream itself that you are dreaming. Only now it’s the opposite, I’m awake and I feel like I’m inside a dream.
Little things dishearten me. Blue spots are appearing at the roots of my fingernails. They are poisoning me. Not only the cancer, but also me. Almost all the time I am conscious of my jaw and my mouth. It’s not so much pain but it is a sensitivity that is constantly with me. I feel my gums and teeth, especially the ones that are further to the back. I don’t know if I’m explaining myself well, it’s a strange sensation. I think under normal circumstances we are not that aware of our mouth unless we have a cavity or a tooth that is bothering us. Random pains appear in my body, a spot in one arm, my bellybutton. My neck and back also seem to have taken an invisible beating. My stomach is in a constant state of discomfort. God, I am afraid I won’t be able to take this!
Maybe I’m focusing too much on details, on little things. I don’t feel excessive pain that I can’t tolerate, it’s just this weakness and the feeling that I can’t trust this body where everything is alien to me. I can’t explain myself better, I feel it. I feel like I’m inside a body that is not mine, because it doesn’t feel familiar. I have a suspicion that at any moment it is going to fail me.
I have been working this morning as best I can. It’s 2pm, I head to the kitchen while in this state of mind. Samirah is on the phone with her sister. A rush of anger hits me. It’s lunchtime and there’s no food, what the fuck, what the fuck is Samirah doing! I start cooking. Pasta. My wife comes in, apologizes for being on the phone with her sister, I don’t say anything back, but my face says it all.
She tries to make me talk, but I can’t, I don’t want to. I don’t know what to say.
– If you go on like this, I don’t know if I’ll be able to last six months either. – She lets go of me.
– And what do you want? Do you want to leave me? – I look at her pleadingly.
– But talk to me, tell me what’s happening to you. Help me understand. She breaks down and starts to cry.
– Don’t make me talk, I can’t talk. I don’t want to talk.
And suddenly I can’t stop crying. I try to explain to her as I cry that I’m scared, that I feel like I am a stranger in my own body, which I don’t trust one bit. She comforts me by telling me that it’s not as bad as it could be. I am not constantly vomiting and the nausea is bearable. I have to trust the doctors, who know what they are doing, one of many arguments aimed at boosting my morale.
Samirah also reminds me that the mind is fundamental in this war we are fighting. That I have to have a positive attitude to get through this. Everyone says so. And then I end up seeing that I don’t trust my mind either, nor my emotional strength. Maybe I’m not as strong as everyone thinks I am. Neither my body nor my mind is up to this battle.
My wife comforts me by telling me that neither she nor anyone else can know what I am going through. She tells me that she thinks I am resisting the fact that I am sick and being sick means not feeling well. She thinks I have unrealistic expectations about the treatment and tells me I have to accept this thing that I’m going through. Okay, fine, how do you do that? I have no idea. What do I do to accept, what does it mean in practical terms to accept, what action do I take to accept? For the first time during these months, I feel like I don’t know how to go on. That I need help.
After lunch, when I feel a bit calmer, I sign up for a group activity at the Spanish Association Against Cancer. Maybe they can help me.