When I met with my nurse on Tuesday, she said nausea is almost worse than pain. Both make you feel like "walking out of your body," as she put it. It seriously reduces my desire to live. I'm just being real here. It doesn't keep me from eating. In fact, eating helps. But it limits what I can eat. Sweets are out of the question. And I don't just mean candy and desserts. I mean any food that's sweet, except fruit.
I didn't realize how much of my diet was sweet until this started. Most breakfast items I like are sweet, including cereal. No such thing as savory cereal, hot or cold. Energy bars? Muffins? Sweet. That's why I eat a lot of eggs for breakfast these days. It's the one savory breakfast I'll eat.
Some wonderful friends threw a party for us last Saturday. But I was terribly nauseous the whole time. I covered it up as best I could, and had a great time anyway. But our hosts had ordered trays of cookies for the party, which I would normally have taken home. Not this time. I can't stand the thought of cookies, or any of the desserts I used to love. Even cookies have been taken from me. First coffee, then chocolate, now cookies.
I've also discovered that a savory food item increases my nausea; cheese. It's too rich. I love cheese, but I have to give it up. One more thing I love being taken away.
Speaking of things being taken away, I expect to lose my car soon. My license plates will expire, and we won't renew them. There's no point. It's hard to explain how troubling this is for me. I love my car. I've had my own vehicle since the 1980's. I make sure my car has a good stereo. That's very important for me. My wife couldn't care less about that in her car. So I can't lift more than twenty pounds, I can't go outside when it's slippery, and I'm about to lose the use of my car and have to drive my wife's car. It's emasculating.
But nausea and losing my car aren't the worst of what I'm dealing with now. The worst part is, I'm experiencing something I've never experienced in my life before. Boredom. As I keep crossing items off of my to-do list, I'm running out of things to do. I spend hours most days wondering what to do with myself. It's a new experience for me.
I've always had things to focus on; things that inspire me or motivate me. But I'm running out of those things now. In the 1980's, I had a boring job. I ran a printing press. Our boss would not allow us to have a radio. So what did I do to cure my boredom? I wrote an entire album in my head. My first album, Right Now. I had the lyrics, melodies, band arrangements, and song order in my head for over a year. I ran through the entire album, in order, in my head every day, several times a day. By the time I had my own recording setup, it was just a matter of recording it.
I've always had a very active thought life. I'm a thinker. Always have been. I've always had projects to work on, whether they be something I did on my own, or to make a living. I've always had a sense of direction and purpose. That only increased when I got cancer and saw God. Since then, I've been driven by a sense of purpose, whether it be writing this blog, or working with The Littleton Conservatory Of Rock, or my work with the band Wik. I had my book to finish, as much as I could. But these things are falling away, one by one.
I've finished my last show with the Conservatory. By the time they begin rehearsals for their summer show, it will be too late for me. My symptoms tell me that, and so does my heart. My book is up to date, and manuscripts are in the hands of proofreaders now. When I get them back, I'll have some work to do, but that won't last. My role with Wik is just as an adviser now. I love being with them, but it's only once a week, and I have no music to learn. I won't be onstage with them at their next gig on March 16th, and that's as it should be.
As for this blog, I can't write every day. I can only write when I have something to write about. Rule #1 of creative writing is have something to say. I can't just write to write. Some have suggested journaling for myself, but that doesn't appeal to me. I need an audience, even if it's just an audience of one, as with an email or text. I take great pleasure in writing beautiful emails to people, but I run out of those too. I'm a born performer. I can't do anything without an audience, including die.
The trouble is, over the course of my cancer journey, my tastes and desires have changed. TV shows and movies hold little interest for me. Same goes for the books I used to love to read. I've also lost interest in new music and social media. Now, I need to be inspired. Very little of current entertainment inspires me, even the stuff that's supposed to be inspiring, like the Olympics. I got bored with the Olympics after about three days. What inspires me is writing, working with my young musician friends, and being with my loved ones. There's just not enough of that go around now.
So I find myself bored a lot of the time. I don't know how to deal with it. It's new to me. Random pastimes don't interest me. Only things that inspire me can give me that sense of direction again. When those things are in short supply, I feel aimless and useless.
The combination of nausea and boredom is deadly. Boredom makes me feel like I have nothing to do, and nausea makes me not feel like doing anything. The inability to do the things I used to do makes me feel like I have less value. The act of crossing things off of my to-do list, while satisfying at the time, makes me look at the remaining list with despair. Only one or two items remaining on it. I feel like I've done my job, and my work is finished. Losing my car is just one more piece of my life falling away.
I'll be honest. The accumulation of all these things makes me wish this whole process would hurry up. I'm about finished with my work, and I've accomplished my purpose, as much as I can. I'm ready to be done.
Don't tell me to write more songs. I'm not inspired to do that, and I've sold or given away all of the musical equipment I need to do it. When my book is in its final form, except for what will be added as I pass from this life, I'll be limited to what I write in this blog about once a week. After Wik's show on March 16th and the Neal Morse concert here in Denver on March 17th, I don't expect to leave the house much. I am one new symptom away from being knocked flat on my back permanently.
You may be asking, what about God, Mark? Doesn't he inspire you? Yes, he does. But I guess my relationship with God is not what it should be either. As wonderful as it's been, it hasn't kept me from being bored or nauseous. Right now, it feels like God is making me wait. I tap my foot impatiently while he decides when it's the right time to call me home.
This post will not make anyone happy, including me. It's not very inspiring. But it's the truth, ugly though it may be. I'm not doing great these days. I feel aimless and useless, as though my life is crumbling in front of me. Nausea makes me feel like my body is failing. I had this idea that, once my work was finished, it would be a short walk to Glory for me. Instead, it's more like a waiting room. I'm holding number 487, and they just called 36. I'm ready for this wait to be over. I'm tired of feeling sick. I'm tired of waiting with nothing to do. I'm ready to move on.
I may feel directionless, but I do have a direction. I'm on my way home. But I'm starting to wish I was making better time. #waroncancer #bearingwitness