Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

9 Sunday Bloody Sunday

with 3 comments

This is number 9 in a series. If you want to start at the beginning, scroll down to number 1.

It is Sunday, and because it is Sunday, I am giving myself a stab at writing thus blog.

When I first started looking into the realities of what I was about to go through, I was told over and over again that virtually all the pain and sickness patients experience with cancer are not the result of the cancer itself, but of the treatments for it.

So far, I can attest to this. I get up in the morning (usually around 6 these days), feel more or less fine, drink a lot of tea, get a bunch done, then stop at around 8:30 to take my meds.

Half an hour later, I’m a mess, shaky and distracted.

So anything I need to get done has to get done early. Sometimes even reading is impossible later in the day.

What’s worse, starting tomorrow I go on a new and stronger medication, so 5hings may very well be about to GET worse.  I have no idea what this is going to mean on any practical level.

I have friends who say that if they were ever diagnosed with cancer, they would just let it go. They’d rather have a shorter time feeling relatively well and living a normal life than a longer time feeling sick and unable to do the things they love to do.

All of these people are, like me, “senior citizens.” None of them seems to have children like mine, who would stage apocalyptic fits at the very suggestion.

Have staged apocalyptic fits at the very suggestion. Don’t ask.

At any rate, it’s Sunday, and I’m worried about tomorrow, so I am having an absolutely complete day of rest.

Not only am I forgoing any real work, but I’m listening to my absolutely favorite Bach CD (Harmonia Mundi Bach Harpsichord Concertos from the Academy of Ancient Music with Richard Egarr on the harpsichord), which contains my favorite Bach piece (Concerto in D Minor, BMV 1052)—

But I am working my way through a venti caramel Frappuccino from the local Starbucks, which required my making a kid take a long and arduous journey to bring it to me.

If they complain about that sort of thing, I just reference childbirth.

Anyway, I’ve been doing all that, and reading Khalnani’s The Idea of India, and wondering why I am the way I am.

Because in spite of everything that’s going on, I don’t seem to have lost any of the interests I’ve always had, and I don’t seem to have lost any of my intensity about them, either.

There is the Bach, of course, and reading both heavy and light, but also things like double standards and freedom of speech and conscience, and a dozen or more other commitments that haven’t lost their grip on me by a millimeter.

I know we all live in a delusion: that life is forever and we will never die. We have to do that, because if we lived every minute of every day in full realization that we are inevitably going to die, we’d never get anything done.

But I would think that, having arrived at this situation, I would have started to let go of my conviction that taking a stand on these things, and fighting for them, is absolutely, desperately essential.

And I haven’t. Not even a little bit. Not yet.

I am still so driven by these things, I have several times managed to force myself past the shakes and dizziness and nausea that are the side effects of my medication to engage in FB debates about those issues.

I don’t know what that means.

But it’s Sunday, and I’m thinking about it.


Written by janeh

June 10th, 2018 at 11:46 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses to '9 Sunday Bloody Sunday'

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  1. When my mom was first diagnosed, she also said she didn’t want treatment. But she had been drinking heavily for a long time, I think she knew she was ill long before that. She certainly knew she was going blind from macular degeneration, and was depressed and alone. She was also very very sick at the time of her diagnosis.

    Our bringing her from Florida to California, and getting her back to relative health changed her outlook. In her last 24 months, she engaged in more personal growth than she’d experienced for decades. She made new friends, and a warm, loving space for herself and for us. She spent some time with a therapist, to help with her coping. She stopped drinking. As long as we could, we took her places to fill her mind with new sights and new experiences. We had holidays together. My sister and I forged new relationships with her. My husband became her closest friend, a true son. We would have had none of that if she’d rushed to death and not fought back.

    Knowing for sure your time is short clarifies your priorities wonderfully. Your passions become more passionate. And you’ll no longer tolerate the tiny life-suckers that just annoy previously. You want to spend your time with people you wouldn’t mind dying with or for. And none of it with people who annoy, inconvenience or impede you.

    Approaching death doesn’t change you. It intensifies you. It distills the essential you. Be proud of your essence.


    10 Jun 18 at 12:45 pm

  2. I think it comes down to living until you die. A friend of mine got a terminal diagnosis some years ago – she was what seemed to me then and still does seem appallingly young, in her thirties, a fair bit younger than I was. When she got the news, the staff urged her to use a wheelchair – she had been having pretty severe back pain, which was why the doctors finally got around to ordering the needed tests – she said “I’m not dead yet” and refused. She had good times and bad times and eventually, as we all knew would happen, the treatments stopped working, so she stopped getting them, and she died. But for a lot of that time, she could live the ways she wanted. Nothing dramatic; she lived at home with her family, participating more or less in daily life as her health permitted – but she wasn’t dead yet, so she kept on with her life, knowing, more acutely than I did at the time, that death was coming. Which sounds odd – we all know we’re going to die. But not all of us seem to realize that we will live until that point.

    My mother’s death was very different. There was no clear diagnosis – I think her body basically just wore out. My relationship with her had been very difficult over the years, and I don’t know that it was completely healed because I was overseeing her care for the last few years of her life. I’m glad I did – it enabled me to deal with our relationship while she was still around. I hope she felt the same way.


    10 Jun 18 at 2:55 pm

  3. We all of us know we will die. None of us know when. Once, the “treatment” for diabetes amounted to death by slow starvation. But it was slow, and some people survived that way until insulin therapy was invented. For that and other reasons, there are people walking around today who have long outlived the doctor who gave them the bad news.

    To think the time you have left is probably short would be a bad reason not to go on living, and for you, living means taking part in certain debates. Don’t stop.


    15 Jun 18 at 11:44 am

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