It's an odd thing, looking out on what will probably be my last year. On television news shows yesterday, reporters were asking people about their resolutions, their hopes and dreams, their expectations for 2011. If I'd been one of those men on the street (though I wasn't feeling well enough to be on the street), my answer wouldn't have been what the TV crews were expecting.
"Hmm," I'd have said. "I have terminal cancer. So my hopes are that my wife and kids get through this year okay, because I'll likely be dead by the end of it."
Chances are indeed very strong that I won't be alive to write a new year's post in January 2012. The cancer's moving too fast for that. And the past few days, I've really been feeling it, physically. Through our Christmas events, a family holiday in Victoria, and especially yesterday, New Year's Eve, I felt crappy, weak, gassy, in pain.
Now, everyone feels ill from time to time. My wife and daughters were sick too, with my 12-year-old, Marina, even getting a throat infection while we were on Vancouver Island. But what's different when I feel ill is that I always have to wonder: will I get better?
Today I am feeling a lot better, so far, and I hope it persists. I slept in late (a good sign, meaning I didn't wake up early needing morphine), took the dog out in the yard, had some coffee, and now here I am feeling energized to write something, which certainly wasn't true yesterday. Today's plans include taking down the Christmas tree and setting up the massive electric slot-car racetrack my wife bought me, which has been half-assembled for a week.
Eventually, though, I'll get sick and feel bad, and it won't improve—not enough. Part of my mind is always watching out for it. The cough that doesn't subside. The aches that my current medication won't address. I've never been prone to clinical depression, but I also have to keep an eye out for that, because it runs in my family and could generate fatigue and hopelessness too—but it could be treated if I get it.
I'm already considerably weaker than I was for our trip to Disneyland in July, or my jaunt to Gnomedex in August. I've lost a lot of weight, which I'm finding hard to regain, and I find the prospect of driving myself down Interstate 5 for a few hours nearly impossible to imagine.
But, compared to yesterday, when I couldn't see myself going to the grocery store, or walking the dog around the block, or hauling the Christmas decorations downstairs—well, compared to that, I'm much improved. There are little tipping points everywhere, and my family and I never know when I've crossed them permanently. Not yet, anyway.