Treatment: Crisis

With a couple of days remaining in both my radiation and chemotherapy regimens, you’d have thought I’d be riding an emotional and psychological high late Thursday night.

I wasn’t.

In fact, there was big trouble at Chez Big Mike.

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The old line has it that the last hour of the workday is the longest. The same, I suppose, can go for any ordeal. My current crucible fits the adage to a T.

The truth is I was higher a week ago than I was last night. Optimism reigned Friday, the 11th. Hah, I thought, this is nuffin’. A week to go? Lemme just snap my fingers and it’ll all go by like that.

It didn’t.

Time was slowing down. Patience was wearing thin. The pain in my throat seemed to be increasing geometrically. My dreams of food were becoming burdensome. I was becoming physically and psychologically weaker by the tick of the clock. I’d become such a rag doll that this week I at last acceded to the wheel chair. Yep. I let them mobilize me at the radiation and infusion centers. My pride be damned. I could hardly raise my arm to wave hi.

By Thursday, midnight, rather than watching the hours and days slip by, I was frozen in the minutes and the seconds. Plus, I couldn’t clear my throat no matter what I tried. I was gagging and horking pretty much continuously.

Some alarming thoughts entered my coconut. I couldn’t ignore them. I called The Loved One over and told her I needed to talk. Which, in the current situation, means I needed to write her notes. I may as well simply reproduce them here:

I don’t want to be alone.

I’m scared.

For a brief moment, I wanted to get a sharp knife and cut myself.

I wanted to kill myself to put a stop to this pain and shit.

At this point, The Loved One shoved a handful of more paper toward me and said, “Write down every single thing you feel.” So I did. I wrote:

That’s a good idea.

I have a safety net here with you and Joey (my brother, down from Chicago to help out.)

This is very scary.

I have a feeling these feelings are not at all unusual.

Will I ever eat again?

Will I never stop spitting?

Will this powerful, horrible taste go away?

I miss mixing with people.

I miss talking.

I miss fresh air.

I miss moving.

Don’t take this personally but you — and everybody else — smell foul to me.

That’s why I sometimes push you away.

(This came as a great relief to TLO as she’d been puzzled by my distance of late.)

Don’t go.

Merely putting these things on paper seemed to lift them off my shoulders. At this point, my mind turned to some tomorrows.

I want to go to Cutright and Paynetown with Steve (the Dog.)

I want to get coffee at Hopscotch.

I want to talk to Pat, David, Susan, Robbie, Steve L., John S., Hondo & Les, Tyler & Dave, Ashley, Lauren, Steve (Hopscotch’s roaster), Jeff, Jane.

I want to go to a Wager-Miller party.

I want to go to an Alex Straiker party.

I want to go to Science Cafe.

I want to go back to work at the bookstore.

I want to finish the Charlotte Zietlow book.

I want to start up Big Talk again (my WFHB interview show.)

I want to write my first story for Limestone Post.

I want to blog about local politics again.

Next, I simply listed things I wanted to eat again:

Sbarro’s baked ziti

Borzinni’s grandma’s crust pizza

Borzinni’s meatball and mozzarella breadsticks

Cozy Table’s skillet breakfast

Esan Thai’s pad thai

Ramen noodles in a mild broth

Scrambled eggs with melted cheddar on a bagel

Peanut butter on rye toast

Banana cake

Prune juice

My spaghetti & meatballs

Tombstone sausage pizza

Various Chinese noodle dishes

An eggroll

The Loved One’s homemade pierogis

The Loved One’s fresh Polish sausage with fiery horseradish

Smoked Polish sausage

A corned beef sandwich

Stouffer’s spinach souffle

Sweet peas

My homemade meatloaf

My roasted chicken with potatoes


Salmon cakes

Tuna salad

Hearth-baked bread & butter

Honey Nut Cheerios

Exhausting for the moment my food fixation, I dreamed of other things:

I want to see your flowers in the front garden.

I want to vacuum.

I want to get a thorough inside & outside wash of my car.

I want to play the guitar again.

I want to build Lego buildings.

I want to rewrite Black Comedy.

God in fucking heaven I need to say — and remember — these things!

I want to go on a road trip with you.

I want to hike while holding hands.

I want to scratch your feet.

Boy I needed this!

I’d forgotten all that stuff!

This shit ain’t easy for anyone involved.

There is absolutely no way to prepare anyone for it.

Just calling it hell seems a joke.

I thought hell meant it would only hurt bad.

I had no idea my mind, my emotions, my spirit, would be so damaged.

I was spent.

The Loved One, pulled the papers close to her and wrote the coda:

Thanks you for getting all of this out. I’m here anytime you need that. OK? Share — the good, the bad, and the ugly. I love you.

I am lucky.

8 thoughts on “Treatment: Crisis

  1. dave ferg says:

    Missing our talks, Big Mike. Looking forward to seeing you soon. Dave F.

  2. Jane Behnken says:

    We are waiting for you, Mike. You are the connective tissue. xoxo

  3. Hondo says:

    Hang in there big daddy. “You’re Good Enough, You’re Smart enough, and Doggone It, People Like You.” 😉

    I am looking forward to your Big Talk on WFHB!

  4. Susan Jones says:

    Wow! This is the storm before the calm. Soon, very soon, there will be more calm than storm. Hang in there! We love you both.

  5. Jim says:

    You can do this, big guy! You will have a choice spot right by the fire at the next party, guaranteed!

  6. Jim says:

    Hang in there, big guy. There will be at choice spot reserved just for you at the next party, guaranteed! Love you both!

  7. Catharine Rademacher says:

    Beautifully written–by both of you.

  8. Leona Roszkowski says:

    Hope everything goes well today and that you ring the bell for both and get on with getting better!!

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