Friday, September 13, 2013
Going over to the dark side 1
It seems an eternity ago since I used to run daily, as dawn was breaking, through the early-morning countryside ten kilometres out of town. The bitumen strip of road was not used very much.
After rain one morning, I noticed a small weed – a sort of yellow daisy, which had somehow managed to germinate in a tiny crack in the bitumen road itself.
In the days that followed, I watched it grow, and marvelled at its endurance. It would have been a hard life for it, because the day temperatures generated by the black tar surrounding it would have been fierce. It put in a valiant effort, and finally the scrawny little thing produced a commendable flower which ultimately, I guess, produced seeds. The plant collapsed from sheer exhaustion soon after that, and died.
It had performed its life's task and returned to the soil. Another generation of the little wild daisy would carry the gene.
It seems almost indecent that I should feel so strongly the procreation urge as I near the crisis which will precede my death, but I do. It must be the primal desire inspired by the genes that makes me feel so sexually alive. It's not something I can help. It's the genes making a final, pointless declaration.
My daughters will have to close their eyes at this revelation. I suspect they cling to the notion that they were conceived immaculately.
Although I realise this is dangerous territory, it may be different for men from women. Women's reproductive life has a reasonably clear ending at some point, but not so with males, and my theory is that it's the stark prospect of death that drives it. Blame nature, not me. It's not simply sex for its own joyful sake, but something here which has deeper well-springs.
It's a theory. Some might have cruder explanations. How on earth did I get on to that subject?
It's that I see the time for the ending looming so quickly now. While others make plans for next week or next month or next year, or their retirement in twenty, I've lost all sense of scheming for the future, in all but one sense. It's only a week until the next proteinuria test that will decide whether or not I get another dose of Avastin.
It's going to be unlikely. I know, I've said that before, and each time, dodged the bullet. Last time, we did the near-impossible, and reversed the trend of recent months. It is very unlikely that we can keep doing that, given that we were so near the limit last time and the break has been the normal three weeks this time and not six.
In spite of living in this perpetual state of insecurity, or because of it, we make the most of each day as far as that's possible, but as you see, we look ahead in terms not of weeks, but days. At least, I do.
Not that this is something at the forefront of my mind all the time, because that would be a tremendous and pointless burden to carry – but it's always there, sneaking around in the background. Life intrudes upon its existence.
When someone comes to visit, I'm usually sitting quite serenely in my chair and there's no way anyone could know, if they didn't have the details, of the utter train wreck physically that's going on at an exponential rate. They might get a clue if they saw me struggle to stand to get inside the frame in order to move from one room to another, and then to see me sit down somewhere else as carefully as I can.
It's not usually a graceful landing at the other end. I can manoeuvre into position, but the last part of it is a rather unceremonious flop on to the chair at the other end.
I really didn't expect that the purely physical problems resulting from the location of the tumour would be my downfall – sometimes literally. At first, the seizures were most obvious in the right arm, and eventually made it practically useless. It took quite a few seizures over a long period of time – years, in fact – for the right leg to become so problematic that it badly affected my walking, and ultimately stopped me walking unaided.
On the rare occasions I go out, it has to start with the wheelchair. From the wheelchair, a rather precipitous entry into the car, and a reversal of the process at the other end.
The problem is that the muscles all over the body, which even the most indolent or sedentary people use in their daily life, are no longer in action in mine to anywhere near the same extent. My body gradually becomes distorted in various ways as important muscles atrophy. Balance is one of the first things to go.
Internal organs then start to suffer. In my case it's clear that the kidneys are failing to deal with protein in the way they should, and this will result in kidney failure if some more serious problem doesn't pre-empt it. The need to take pills of various kinds to control seizures results in problems for the intestinal tract, and those in turn are treated with medication to control or keep normal bodily functions operational.
With the best of intentions and effort, I find that lack of normal exercise means that the heart is constantly put under pressure. Without blood pressure tablets, a heart attack would almost certainly be the result, sooner rather than later. Immobility means that clots are likely to form anywhere in the body, especially the legs.
When clots are detected, such as the ones at various times in both of my legs, they are treated with injections of Clexane or something similar. If untreated, one of them could easily find its way into the heart or brain, and that could be disastrous. Think heart attack or stroke.
Isn't this fun? Except that it's not some unknown person we're talking about. It is I, and you might be surprised at what a helluva difference that makes to me.
[continue to final part]