I am having an out of body experience, one that has now been ongoing for over a month. I am hovering over myself, witnessing what I thought would be a miserable nightmare but is actually a magical dream state. I was fully prepared to walk softly and carry a big stick beforehand, but now I feel as if I should be buying boxes of lottery tickets and handing them out to homeless people.
I am witnessing myself undergoing chemotherapy treatments, with almost nary a side effect. I simply cannot believe my good fortune. I am one lucky little chemo ducky.
For anyone who knows me well, they are familiar with my philosophy of life that has guided me for decades. I am what I consider to be the world’s happiest little pessimist. Unlike the Pollyanna optimists who always anticipate hopeful, positive outcomes and then are devastated and ill-prepared when gloom and doom occur, I always anticipate gloom and doom, firmly readying myself for every possible negative fork in the road ahead. Then, when gloom and doom occur, I am Girl Scout ready, not missing a beat as I navigate through any given morass.
But, in the event that a favorable outcome arrives instead, I am euphorically happy. A turnabout that was unforeseen and therefore I can gloriously celebrate. It is a fool-proof strategy for me, a win-win for one who hates surprises in life. I am always auspiciously spared from being caught unprepared, and possibly giddy with joy.
As to why this latest turn of medical good fortune is mine, I absolutely have no idea. Is it due to a cancer diagnosis that was so mild that only a chemo top-off was indicated, cutting edge medical advancement, or the astrological alignment of the stars? Regardless, you won’t hear wisecracks coming from my peanut gallery. Just a collective sigh of relief, charmed pennies landing in a fountain, and sacrificial lambs being laid on the altar. Never in a million years did I see this coming.
In typical fashion, I had done my extensive chemo homework prior to my first treatment on December 15. I had talked to my friends who had already traversed the poisonous chemical Oregon Trail. I had read countless books and blogs about the experiences of others, some numbingly devastating ordeals. I googled everything, notably my own prescribed cocktail.
I bought a bunch of head coverings and had my head shaved prior to my first infusion. I stocked up on foods and regimens to address nausea, vomiting, and debilitating mouth sores. I was prepared to say goodbye to favorite foods, not wanting to have a negative association result from a metallic mouth taste which might ban them from my palate in the future.
But, shock and awe. This is your lucky day. Look what’s behind Door #3.
I have now experienced two chemo treatments in over a month and no deleterious side effects. Let me repeat that. No. Deleterious. Side. Effects.
To date, I have not lost a single hair. My shampoo and conditioner are back in action as my hair is growing in from my buzz cut.
I still use mascara for eyelashes that have not fallen out.
I have no nausea or vomiting.
I have no metallic taste in my mouth that affects how foods taste so I am eating regular favorites and can skip salmon, okra, lima beans and pancakes.
I have no mouth sores.
I have no pain.
I have no complaints.
So, one asks, what do I have? How do I know it’s not a placebo?
For a couple of days following an infusion treatment, I have three symptoms. I am less-energetic. There is some intestinal laxity. And I have a weird mouth feel. Period. Then they go away. Back to pre-chemo normal.
I am diligent about avoiding germs, infection and populated public spaces and will continue to do so until the end of February. It is a small price to pay to not alter the treatment schedule ahead.
And, because of my life philosophy, I am fully prepared that my sparkling good luck could change at any moment. But, given that I have already experienced 50% of my treatments, I am starting to uncharacteristically wobble towards the side that thinks there may be two more chemo happy dances in my future.
I still have radiation ahead, but I will be ready. In the meantime, I am celebrating a chemo out of body experience, and gratefully humbled by shock and awe.