September 1, 2009

"Rather than rejoicing in a loving wife, a daughter not yet 2, a job I enjoyed — in being, simply, 41..."

"... I created felonies out of matters not worth a summons. Traffic jams. Work conflicts. No Vienna Fingers in the cupboard. Felonies all. Cancer, as is often said, tends to focus the mind.... Sickened by the mere smell of food, I suddenly saw the wonder in the most common foods: an egg, a hard-boiled egg. Imprisoned and essentially chained to an IV pole, I would stare out my hospital room window at the people below, and feel a rush of the purest envy for their routine pursuits. Imagining the summer night air blowing cool through sweat-dampened shirts, I’d think how good a $3 ice cream would taste right about now, or a $5 beer, and how nice it would be to watch a baseball game of no consequence."

13 comments:

Largo said...

I can understand being pissed off at the loss of what once was natural and easy.

I can also understand greed.

But I don't understand envy. I really don't.

wv: culani
obAnagram: ------

Alas, I had to cheat with an online solver for this one.

Hint: typographers would know this.

Joan said...

Perhaps the most important thing I do as a cancer survivors' support group facilitator is remind people that they won't always be obsessed with cancer, and by extension, death, and thus, life. Barry's experience is very common: during active treatment -- however long it takes, and for thyroid cancer patients, it can take a year or two to get the medications adjusted properly -- not a day goes by that you don't think about the cancer and what it has done to your life. Your life is not your own, it belongs to the cancer.

It's only when you come out the other side and recovery begins that you can re-assume your "normal" life, which includes things like railing at traffic jams and wondering who ate the last Vienna Finger.

"Chemo brain" is akin to what thyroid cancer survivors call "hypo brain", and is a different thing entirely from what Barry writes about here. He has muddied the waters. Active treatment can sharpen your appreciation of what you have, but chemo or hypo brain is not a mood or a philosophical epiphany. It is a physical condition with many symptoms similar to clinical depression, and it's good that doctors are starting to pay more attention to alleviating it.

Bissage said...

(1) “I slept and dreamt that life was beauty; I woke and found that life was duty.”

-- George Gordon Byron

(2) “God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.”

-- Voltaire

(3) “No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time at the office.”

-- Some guy who knew Senator Paul Tsongas, maybe.

wv = redidoch. What I said just before my most recent prostate exam.

traditionalguy said...

I notice that his daughter came into his life at age 39, and he could have had kids 15-20 years earlier. That shows another reason to start a family in the early 20s. His courage is admirable indeed.

former law student said...

The older I get, the less patience I have for griping.

Oligonicella said...

My brother exhibited such grace and calm as he dealt with his cancer that I am still in awe of him five years later.

EDH said...

Can't say I'd cope any better, and pray I never learn the truth.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

former law student said...
The older I get, the less patience I have for griping.


Me too.

EDH said...
Can't say I'd cope any better, and pray I never learn the truth.


Me too.

k*thy said...

Perspective, indeed.

Greg Marquez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ralph L said...

Anyone who can get upset over no Vienna Fingers is so highly stressed, early cancer is almost inevitable.

Life in the Fifties said...

Ralph L - you have no idea......

Dan Barry has handled his life just right.

bagoh20 said...

So incredibly true. When hospitalized, all I wanted in the whole world was to sit on my patio and feel the breeze. I would think about it for hours on end. The good news is if you survive, you hardly ever think about the sheer drudgery of fighting cancer. You have too much better to do, which is virtually everything else. It really can be a gift.