What Doesn’t Kill You…

Makes you stronger. If this were true, I’d be lifting 25-pound barbells rather than squeezing a ball to build strength in my hands after cancer treatments.

Throughout my life and especially as I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a variety of phobias about the medical institution. The way they come at a person with their needles, stethoscopes and bad breath is enough to make you turn against them.

I think it’s true that entering the realm of medicine as a cancer patient was likely one of the worst decisions the universe made on my behalf. It is a portal to enter the closest opening to the gates of hell.

I wish I’d prepared better for my brush with white coats and bad hair days, or, in my case, no hair days, thanks to chemo. Proof that my initial foray into this world was rife with immediate misery.

How does one transition from being a healthy body with strong bones and teeth to an identity that says I’m an oncology patient? They tell me I’m still healthy, just have this small issue that I’m dealing with now. Really? Then why is there a long list of maladies, euphemistically coded as “medical history” to fill out with each medical form? The word cancer is lit up in neon lights, beautiful shades of orange and blue that would be delightful during fourth of July fireworks, but comparable to shit brown as I peruse the list, my head in my hands, like a toddler sitting on the john trying to figure out why his mother left him there.

So many chemicals were infused into my veins that my bones no longer know their purpose. And, just ask Oprah, having purpose is the core of a meaningful life. My bones have created their own reality, and the rest of me is left in the dark without a flashlight. Once osteoporosis was the only blemish my bones bared, whipped into submission with jogging and medication administered through horse sized needles. Now my bones have progressed into the realm of osteoarthritis and no amount of flagellation, pharmaceuticals or faking impedes a slow march to immobility.

It’s killing me but I don’t feel any stronger.

The motto “dance like no one is watching” is relevant because, should I dare my feet and legs to line dance to Cupid Shuffle, I’d end up on the ground, or on the couch, and I’d poke out the eyes of anyone who watched. Cupid would put me out of my misery with his bow and arrow, and I’d be as grateful as a boa constrictor who happens upon a giraffe.

Is this the beginning of my life as a senior citizen or is it the beginning of the end? Perhaps my bones in pursuit of another career opportunities will summon an answer. Til then, I am trying to get stronger and feel like I’m getting killed in the process.

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