As a person living with a terminal diagnosis of cancer, I often lose my balance when something goes wrong in my body. Because maybe it is the cancer making itself known in new and unexpected ways, and how do I know? That question comes up over and over again. Before cancer, it didn’t occur to me that I might be in real trouble.
Today in my Zen Buddhist Sangha here at Rose Villa, we talked about not knowing, having an open mind, beginner’s mind. It helps us to stay soft and receptive. But I have to say, I do not like to not know what is going on now in my body. I do not like it one bit. I have an active aversion to this. I want to know. Once I know, I’m good with it.
A few days ago, I found myself covered in a very itchy rash, mostly on my arms and legs, but also around my neck and back. My skin is tight and swollen and the rash reminds me of when I was a little kid and got poison ivy to the point of going to the hospital. It’s not that bad, actually, but holds that memory for me. I’m up at 3 AM writing this, because the itching is driving me crazy.
I called an advice nurse last night who was fantastic, really listened to me, and then told me, among other things, that when someone’s kidney function goes haywire, people can get a rash all over their bodies before death occurs, and that can happen quickly. Terrific. Back to the edge. I didn’t know this rash piece, and now I do. Previews of coming attractions. Is this it, my time is up?
Today I got a blood test and just read the lab report online that indicates that my kidney function is doing fine, so the rash is about something else. Yippee! I shall see a dermatologist shortly, to see what might be causing this, and what might treat it. I was only teetering on this particular edge for about two days. A memorable two days, looking into the abyss.
We learned some more about my blessed kidneys, and other forms of suffering yet to come. Another scare released. Seems to me that I get to die in slow motion, which is both pretty darn wonderful, a great teaching, and not exactly fun.
Meanwhile, a report from the strategic wisdom front: I have put together the beginning of a draft of my obituary, with Holly’s immense help. We are planning to print out my blog and make little booklets for people who might like to have a copy. I don’t seem to be having a temper tantrum for now, always a good sign.
Over all, I am doing well, just itching, but not dying anytime soon. Whew!