I suppose that it's inevitable that there are going to be tough days while on the path that I'm on right now. I do my best to hide them. I am trying hard to be a good employee, to train hard through everything, to keep myself in good shape, to take care of things at home, etc. And sometimes, it all becomes too much.
Yesterday was that day. Well, one of them.
I don't even know how to describe the day. First of all, let's start with how I deal with this stuff mentally on a regular basis.
I have medication for pain. I have medication for anxiety. I have medication to help with fear and anger related to this stuff (not an anti-depressant; I don't like the side effects of SSRI/SNRI meds). I have a medication to help me sleep. I have medication to help me concentrate at work. And, I have medical marijuana as well. If I chose to do so, I could live in some sort of altered state all the time right now. That's not my goal, and I try to use the meds judiciously, to get through each day and my responsibilities, as well as I can.
At the end of the day, I will admit that I often take pain medication and medical MJ as I leave the gym. The combo of those medicines gets rid of the pain from my surgeries and scar tissue, it relaxes me, it helps me with my non-existent appetite, and it simply lets me forget about some of the worst of this for a while.
I can't say that I'm proud to be relying on crutches like this. Yet, at the same time, the realities are so overwhelming at times that I can't imagine having no medication at all.
I also see a therapist every other week, a wonderfully compassionate woman who only works with cancer patients. We talk about anything and everything, but mostly about how I want to interact with other people as I walk this path. While I would never call myself a Buddhist, there is a lot of Buddhist thought in how I approach all of this, and the therapist and I have some good common ground there.
One of the most interesting things to me in all of this is how infrequently I end up in tears. It feels like I want to cry all the time, but my body seems to be allergic or something. Perhaps one of the meds is responsible. Perhaps it's just some societal "tough guy" thing, where I subconsciously feel I'll look weak if I cry. I don't know, but I do intend to ask a doctor who I'm seeing next week. There are honestly times that I think I'd feel better if some more tears were spilled.
So, what happened yesterday? My legs were sore. I had bailed on our workout the night before because I was tired. So, I took some pain medication early in the day. A small dose that rarely phases me mentally. Then, I took some medication to help with my concentration and some to help with anxiety. This is how I tend to work during the day.
I was working on something really, really complex. And, somewhere, I screwed up and overwrote some code. I had multiple methods to recover the lost code, but losing it was kind of dumb. At least I have backup procedures in place.
I finally got my code restored, but realized that I'd spent half a day correcting an error, rather than moving forward. My stomach was in knots all day long - too much anxiety from making a mistake that I should never have made.
We went to the gym. It was a hard workout and I'm really, really struggling in the gym right now. We started with 400 meter runs, and I had to do 200 meter jogs instead. I just felt like I had nothing and I hated every damned second of the workout. Everyone at our gym is great about what's going on and very supportive. Yet, I almost always feel as if they are looking at me as "cancer man", wondering how long I can keep up with this charade.
By the time the workout was over, I'd crossed some sort of line. I had decided that I didn't want any more treatments. No more training. No more surgery. No more chemo. No more work. I was talking about just quitting my job and applying for SSDI, which would financially devastate my family. I'm just tired of this and I want it to be over. Completely over, and I said that out loud, something I rarely do. I'm sure I was a bundle of joy to be around for a while.
And then, I took some pain medicine. I took some medical MJ. I caught up on e-mail with friends while my wife drove home. And, I calmed down slowly.
Don't get me wrong. I am tired of crappy workouts that don't seem to be helping much. I'm tired of being tired all the time. I'm tired of doctors. I've had enough. But, at the same time, I'm not quite done yet.
I'm not a Catholic, but this feels like my understanding of Purgatory. I'm not in heaven. I'm not in hell, although it feels that way at times. I'm stuck. I have responsibilities. A job. Co-workers who depend on me to be functional. A family that needs me to bring home a paycheck. A company that might fail if I had to take a leave of absence.
If I'm completely honest, I would go on SSDI if I could afford it. This is all simply too hard at the moment. But, I can't afford it. It's the path my life has taken and I have to navigate it.
I don't have to like it. I am allowed to scream "NO" at the loudest volume I have. I'm allowed to be pissed off, scared, in pain, distressed, etc. I'm not special or unique here. People get fatal diseases all the time. Life itself is a fatal disease. I had just hoped for a more traditional trajectory in my life, one that involved seeing my kids graduate from college, get married, have children, etc. Growing old with my wife. Having that part of my life most likely stolen from me hurts the most. It hurts for me and I hurt for my wife as well.
Yet, every time I try to think of an alternative ending, I know the odds are very slim for that to happen. So, I muddle through, I do my best, and sometimes, a day just goes to shit.
Today, I'm working from home and I got to sleep in. Tonight, I'll take my dog for a walk. He's an oblivious lunk, unaware of any of what's going on around him. He loves me unconditionally, something that I think I need to learn how to do myself.