This is what my knitting looks like these days:
Knit 4, yarn over 1, knit two together, knit 23, Yarn Over 1, Knit 8 . . . oh wait
knit SEVEN! Okay, unknit 1. Now continue . . . knit 7, yarn over, slip slip knit, knit 8 . . .
Oh shit. I’m knitting the wrong row it should be row 11 not 13! Dammit! (Proceeds to individually unknit the entire row of 131 stitches.)
Start over: knit 4, yarn over 1, knit two together, knit 17, slip slip knit,knit 16, slip slip knit, knot 13, yarn over, slip slip knit, knit 11, slip slip knit, yarn over, knit 1, yarn over,knit two together. . . Balls! I’m knitting row 13 and then my eyes slipped and went to row 11 again! Holy crap! (Proceeds to individually unknit the entire row of 11. ) Okay I’ll start from this place on row 14. No, is this right? No I don’t think this is right. Count again. Fuck it, let me unknit the entire row of 131 stitches.
Knit 4, yarn over 1, knit two together, knit 17 . . . eventually finishes row 13. Oh for fuck’s sake! I knitted the second half of the design before the first. Unknit the fucking row AGAIN!
This is what knitting, my chosen craft of meditation, has become of late. One cluster fuck row after another. If I had actually knitted each row correctly from the start, I’d have finished this lovely baby blanket already. But I am determined to soldier on. I feel as if the little tag I attach to the blanket should read “Made for you, with love, Scorchy and Methadone 5 mg.,t.i.d.” Let me start from the beginning.
Oxycodone wasn’t cutting it. I’d take a pill and and look at the clock in anticipation of the next dose: “TWO HOURS? I CAN’T WAIT THAT LONG!” But I did and the same tired scene would play itself out again and again. I visited my pain doc and asked for something long acting. We talked about the pain, which I described as burning and constant. He threw out some names, but said one alternative was the best choice, but it did have somewhat of a stigma attached to it: methadone. For me, it would be the perfect long-acting opiate for my kind of pain. If I felt as if I was in a fog and sleeping all day, I could bring the dose down to twice a day. My pharmacy didn’t carry it, so I proceeded to walk down Broadway and one visit after another until I found someone who carried it. Each visit played out like this:
Looks at me cautiously.
Pharmacy: “We don’t carry this. We can order it, but it will take 7 to 10 days.”
Me: “Okay, thank you. I will try elsewhere.”
Pharmacy: Hands back ‘script and looks at me like they’re memorizing me for the ensuing query by the police.
Me: “I’m in pain. I don’t do drugs for recreation.”
It’s nice when professional pharmacists judge you with a valid prescription. Defeated–and sore from my seven block excursion–I called the doc. He was able to locate a specialty pharmacy for me very close to my home and only a few hours later my experience with methadone began.
First there’s the inability to do anything more intellectually challenging than petting the cat. I didn’t realize this, of course, until I tried to actually do something. I gleefully took on a job to manage a large non-profit project. I wanted so much to do this as it was a perfect match for my professional skills and I could help out this organization. Much to my horror and surprise, I couldn’t do it. It turns out that every time I would face this keyboard I wrote about twenty words, stopped and allowed my head to droop. I wrote the perfect mission statement. The statement was loved and approved by all, until the dragon set it on fire and told me that it needs more work. “Now look here,” I said, finger slowly moving up and down, clearly pointing at something in the air.
Okay, that was a bit startling. I don’t recall ever waking up with a foot in reality and a foot in dream sleep. Nothing to fear. Just The Little Methadone Dinner Theater. Some hot tea and a small breakfast jar me into reality. I try to do some simple housekeeping, read some, and poke people on Facebook. But I’m too tired to write or do anything that involves detail and conversation. Hell, this blog post is killing me.
But the one thing I do not have in excruciating abundance is pain. It is now uncommon for me to reach for Oxycodone for breakthrough pain. But it is not the same as not having any pain at all. I mean, dreaming is really intense–to the point that I wake up reaching for invisible toast and orange juice. I am easily overwhelmed by intellectual pursuits–and I also include simple tasks such as paying bills, answering emails, and the like. I need help to full out forms and writing is a challenge. When I am hit with everything at once I get anxious and upset. Another little side effect from taking opiates is a spontaneous twitch: hands, fingers, legs, arms, toes, shoulders. Dayum.
And people take this shit to get high? Fugheddaboudit, you crazed morons!
After many months of waiting, I begin radiation to L4 on Monday, July 29. After ten treatments, it is expected that the tumor will be killed and the pain eliminated. The site will have to be monitored for some time for fracture or collapse. But right now it’s nice to see something actually happening. I look forward to going back to work by Labor Day.
You know, it is impossible to wrap your head around metastatic breast cancer. I told someone today that instead you deal with small sections of it at a time. And that’s what it all boils down to: small sections of time. It’s impossible to deal with all of it. It’s like opening Pandora’s box–seeing all of that crazy shit at one time will drive you mad. It wasn’t until this very moment that I looked to my side and realized that this treatment isn’t the end. It’s just one step to whenever I decide that there have been enough steps. That’s some scary shit. Terrifying.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m happier than a pig in shit about tomorrow! I can’t wait. Hell, I grew up and spent most of my life in New Jersey so I know something about Super Fund sites and glowing in the dark. I can take it. And with good fortune at my back, I will be back at work by Labor Day. And laboring for some years to come.
Secure your tin hats, people. I’m going in.