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(Don Henley reference)

Steroid daze and steroid knights …

For cancer survivors, the cancer is always with us, I think, even with those of us who can somehow pull off the magic act and seem to make it disappear. For those blessed souls, all it takes is bad news from a family member, friend, neighbor, or coworker, maybe even merely the announcement on the nightly news that someone of repute has contracted the disease or passed away as a result of it, and the memories come flooding back in, or at least the gnawing little devils on the edge of our consciousness that eat slowly without our awareness reminding us that they are there, still there, after all.

The rest of us, we deal with it in the best ways we can. Yes, we get a cough or an ache or a scratch, and we wonder if it is cancer. Yes, some of us are fatally attracted to our doctors and do not want them to leave our lives, out of an odd fear that in their doing so, despite their reports that all is well, we will somehow now be unprotected from the disease. Yes, some of us insist now on tests that we really do not need at the moment. Yes, we fear our visits to those self-same doctors we cannot live without, we fear the results of those self-same tests we demand, afraid of the results even when we know they will be fine.


But we deal with it. Most of us.

And we live our lives and have some spectacular days, some fantastic nights. And we are glad we are alive.

Little processes like chemotherapy and radiation can throw a wrench into that, of course. Radiation burns us, fatigues us. Chemotherapy poisons us, fatigues us, sickens us.

Still, there is the steroid. 🙂

I have come to refer to the night following chemotherapy as Decadron Night. Some of my friends, especially in the CSN community, know pretty much when it is decadron night for your loyal scribe.:) As do the members of my family who live with me, of course. My wife has even resigned herself, finally, to the fact that I will be up all night on this particular post-chemo night, and that the best she can do is to greet me happily in the morning to ask how it went.

I assume she is asking if I got thrown out of any web sites or p*ssed off the President or something of that nature. How CAN it go?

As this night has become morning (it is now 3:17AM on Friday), I am fairly confident that the decadron has kicked in, and that we are in high gear, breaking the speed limit, listening to trucker songs, monitoring the radar detector, got our ears on, and are headed for home, which is a thousand miles away right now.

But the pedal is to the metal, and we will make it.

Some people say the steroids make them fat. Most of them, to be honest, are women, at least within my small circle of friends who have cancer, and that is perhaps because women are more observant about such things.

A man doesn’t know he is fat until he can’t tie his shoes without risking a heart attack or a hernia. A woman is fat when the pumps she bought three years ago don’t fit so comfortably around her feet as they did before she wore them out in public and got caught in a rain storm that probably shrunk the shoes rather than expanding her feet. There is a difference.

The man, of course, will figure out a way to slip into his shoes without worrying about a thing. The woman will refuse to buy new pumps and will instead invest in either a costly diet program that will fail or an exorbitant gymnasium that she will only go to for a month, after which she will ask her husband or significant other to tie her shoes for her if he loves her.

Not quite like that :). The woman will perhaps prevail. The man will not try :).

And if he does, by God, she will be most angry with his success and how easy it was for him to achieve it, while she sweats and toils everyday and sees no improvement. This is life as we know it.

And women say the steroids fatten them, give them an appetite, and make them large. Almost all of them, the ones I talk to. There is ONE lady who agrees with me, and actually enjoys the steroids, but she is a rare and delightful exception. Most women hate the steroids for reasons described above.

Me, I love my steroid. It destroys, completely decimates, my concept of day and night. I am lost. (By the way, I once worked with a physicist who had a theory about menstrual cycles and the moon, and he truly experimented on his wife by, unknown to her, turning the lights off in the bedroom earlier each night, to simulate the changes in the moon from full to none, just to see if it DID affect her cycle. He told me about this, rather casually, over hotdogs, at an Air Force picnic. I consider that unethical, of course, and moved away from him as politely as I could following another dog and a beer that he was kind enough to fetch for us, but also rather creative, and I only bring it up because I was talking about day and night and I am, after all, on a decadron buzz here, so cut me some slack.)

(And there is this: I would NEVER mess with my wife’s menstruation cycle. If I promised somewhere above that I would not pick on her again, well, she is used to me breaking vows (NOT THAT VOW!) and you should get used to it, too. Because here I go: I would NEVER mess with my wife’s menstruation cycle, because what if I was wrong and it lasted even LONGER??? NO WAY! Have I not suffered enough? Okay, I’m done. Almost done: those were great hot dogs! And the beer was cold! And you really have to have some respect for a guy who takes his science that seriously, do you not? I’m done.)

OncoMan cut my dosage the last time I was in the ChemoDrome, cut it in half, after I told him about my penchant for doing the dose and staying up until the next afternoon as a subsequent experience. He cut my benadryl too, to relieve the happy feet, and you may know that.

The happy feet are gone. They sit there, perhaps nervously pacing with nowhere to pace, but they are no longer happy, which makes me happy. They still tap, they still try to cross (I am working on that), they still lean out and they still point in. They still stretch, they still try to cross toes, they still try to play a piano if there is one nearby. But they are no longer happy.

For awhile there, I felt like Steve Martin, except that I am not funny and my hair is not white and I don’t make millions of dollars. No, but we both have experienced happy feet. Apparently, we are both over happy feet, which is sort of sad in a way, but I won’t get into that. This is not a Steve Martin retrospective, after all, at least not yet: the decadron may decide otherwise before the night is through.

I do, however, appear to retain the decadron buzz. And I get lost. Last week, for example, I really was up until after 1PM the next day. I bothered everybody I know with emails, harassed innocent poets, solved the world’s problems, including global worming and global warming (but have since forgotten how I did either, which has clearly led to the proliferation of worms in our dirt, sorry, folks, I may need to dig deeper on that one), and wrote strident editorials to my local newspaper which might explain why they say I cancelled my subscription :).

On top of that, I watered my plants, did all of the laundry, watched at LEAST half a dozen Law and Orders during the wee hours of the morning, including at least one I had not seen before (okay, only one, and I just had not seen the beginning of that one), and, of course, was obnoxious to my friends in CSN with my attempts at brilliant humor.

I love my steroid.

And when OncoMan, upon learning of this today, from my own big bragging mouth, took a gander at my dosage, which he had already cut in half, I remind you, I shouted, before he could suggest anything else, that I was FINE with the current dosage and that my wife actually enjoyed having ALL of the laundry in the house done when she woke up, and that my plants were actually living as a result of this, and please, please, don’t take my steroids away, I beg you, I beg you, sir, leave me with this small shred of energy and happiness, oh please sir, don’t take my steroids away, and yes, I will quit grabbing your leg and sliding behind you on these tiled floors, but please, don’t take my steroid away!.

Oh, sorry. I was reliving a moment. My bad.

So I said, um, Oncoman, I am good with this dosage, I’m doing fine. And he said, oh yeah, we’ve already cut it in half. That’s as low as we can go. And I have loved him ever since. And that was earlier today.

I don’t know how I will feel about him later in the week :).

But I have my steroid.

It is not so great for a great many people, I know. But, geez, it is like back in college and downing the no-doz for me, cramming for tests and writing essays for money, except without the nausea from the no-doz and walking over to the cafeteria for scrambled eggs that came out of a box, right before a French class at 8AM where you were not allowed to speak English. Did that suck or what?

Yeah, much better than that! Definitely much better than that. If you discount the reason for the steroid.