I love the images fog invokes. It can be romantic, like the fog that lightly swirls around the Golden Gate Bridge. It can be mysterious, like the fog that descends upon the ocean. Fog is dangerous when you can’t see two feet in front of your headlights, like on the stretch of I-71 between Louisville and Carrollton. But my favorite kind is morning fog. The kind that envelopes my house like a blanket and lulls me into feeling that the world is my very own cocoon, with two noisy boys, but my own, nonetheless.
There is definitely a fog that surrounds chemo and it’s appropriately named “chemo fog.” It descends without warning and never at an appropriate time. As a writer, this is disconcerting. Often, while writing articles, I need to find a synonym to a word. Despite having a thesaurus at my disposal in Word, it helps to realize that you actually need one. It’s also helpful to know the meaning of the word. Or to be able to actually come up with a word in the first place. It happens in conversation all the time. A few weeks ago, John and I were on our way to chemotherapy. He said the roads were better than he thought and we might even be early. I told him not to . Then I went blank. Absolutely blank, just like a new painter’s canvas. And I stayed that way. The longer I stayed that way, the more frustrated I became. The more frustrated I became, the more the fog descended. Eventually, I let it go. Not surprisingly, about two in the afternoon, I yelled “jinx it!” After the obvious strange stare, I told my hubby that those were the words I couldn’t think of in the morning. He smiled and nodded. This was not his first encounter with my chemo fog, but for right now it’s the only one I can remember.
I realized earlier this week that I would LOVE to be stuck in an actual fog. In a way, I am. I can’t really travel anywhere. My big adventures this week were to get my taxes done (thanks for the refund Mom), driving Kyle to guitar (in which I stayed in the car after driving Braeden through Dunkin’ Donuts for a treat since he has a cold), and, my personal favorite, having labs drawn at Good Sam (you know what they say, a week without driving to Good Sam is like a day without sunshine). Next week looks even more exciting. I get to drop the boys off at co-op and make two trips to Good Sam: one to the oncologist and one for chemo. It just doesn’t get better than that!
Seriously, I would love to be stuck with my computer, my Bible and a fridge full of food for about a week in a cabin alone surrounded by fog. It would keep me from seeing what I’m missing. Being stuck inside while everyone else is playing outside stinks. Missing co-op every week stinks. Having to keep my kids home because Mom can’t leave the house stinks. Now, if my house was actually clean it might be better, but I’m too tired to clean most of the time. Well, too tired to do a decent job at it. My house has a perpetual cyclone (actually two) that doesn’t understand what “pick up your toys” means (yes, cyclones play with toys). If I was in a cabin, it would be clean. No cyclones, no mess. And I would probably get one that had housekeeping service a couple of times during my stay. With my luck, housekeeping wouldn’t be able to find the cabin because of the fog. But that’s okay, I wouldn’t need to be pleasant. I could live blissfully in my fog.
That’s what I really want – to be alone. Alone with my thoughts and to work out my feelings. I have found that I really have a lot to work through and I don’t have a great deal of time to actually do it. Being with people is exhausting. I am also trying to figure out exactly how I am going to incorporate dietary and lifestyle changes that will need to be made within the next several weeks. The thing I reflect most on is the one that will no doubt make the least amount of sense to anyone who hasn’t experienced cancer. What am I going to do when treatment is over and I go into maintenance mode?
My life has been dictated to me since August 22nd, the day my tumor was found. I have been scanned, operated on, infused, stuck, probed, medicated and a whole host of other things that politeness prevents me from mentioning here. Doctors and nurses have told me where to go, what to eat, how to dress, when to sleep and kept me medicated throughout the whole thing. It’s actually like being enveloped by a fog of medicine. Eventually, like fog, this too will dissipate and my life will be mine again – or so I hear. And when I can decide what I will or won’t do, what I will eat or not eat, and toss the support hose and blood thinner shots, it will be a shock. I know my life will never be totally mine again. The Beast will always be there lurking in the background and I will have a few days each year dictated by my oncologist for scans, labs and check-ups, but for the most part, it will, once again, be my life.
Now once you’ve been limited, having freedom can be intoxicating. For me it’s just scary. I will scrutinize every move I make because the Beast lives in the fog. You see the fog, but not what lies beyond. While the fog will lift, I cannot afford to be complacent and let the Beast take control physically or mentally. While the chemo may eradicate the cancer, my emotional and mental wellbeing is forever altered. Every doctor’s appointment will have me on pins and needles wondering if the Beast has returned. And if it doesn’t return physically, it will have invaded my psyche and I will have to work to push it back into the fog so it’s not a constant figure in my life.
So while the fog envelopes me now, I need to realize it won’t be around forever. The sun will eventually return and burn it off. And while it’s gone, I need to embrace the warmth and allow the fear and doubt to disappear with it.