In a cancer survivor narrative like mine, this state I’m in is dead air time. It’s like an inadvertent interruption in a broadcast during which there’s no sound. I’m not in a medical crisis, but not quite finished with aggressive treatment either. There’s nothing much I haven’t already said that illuminates my situation. What’s mostly inside my head right now is the background buzz of a brain set on pause.
I have a single infusion of ipi to go. I know pretty much what to expect from its systemic effects on my body. The worst of them is itchy skin, which makes me a little crazy. It can be scratched, however, and at least momentarily relieved. Then there’s my nearly bald head, just recently relieved of its thatch of hair. It leaves our home feeling 10 degrees cooler than it really is. I wear a beanie sometimes just to warm myself up.
What’s most disturbing to me is my loss of appetite, not just for food but for life itself. Never have I felt the need like I do at present to just crawl inside myself and hang out a “Do not disturb” sign. My dry mouth makes all food unpalatable. It’s a hard phenomenon to describe, as you’d think some kind of favorite food would prevail. It doesn’t—I’ve tried them all. No matter what’s on the plate in front of me, I eat two bites and put down the fork.
If not for Ensure, I’d probably be in the hospital with a feeding tube up my nose.
I’m told that my appetite will likely return as the effects of whole-brain radiation gradually subside. I’m hoping some of my initiative will with it. My eagerness for a return to an enhanced quality of life cannot be stated strongly enough. This whole exercise has been about knocking down, if not out, the melanoma that lives within me. The price for this opportunity is what I’m now paying.