Chapter 6 – Happy Valentine’s Day

Chapter 6 – Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14 

So, it’s been a rough week. Chemo was very hard this round.

But I must admit the result is I truly understand what Marcel Duchamp was all about.

Those Cubists really knew what this feels like. You sort of get taken apart and put back together but not really completely the same. Recognizable, but not.

I mean picture “Nude Descending a Staircase”

… only without the staircase

… and without the long legs

… and, okay, not the nude thing either

… but sort of like that.

Well, that is how this whole process is beginning to feel. You start out as a regular person and end up in tiny little pieces that no longer quite fit together when you take stock of your current situation.

You realize that only you are able to deal with what is on the inside. In fact, you are now held together mostly by the memory of normal. Acting normal helps, but it feels a bit off.

The world begins to see you go wonky and sympathizes. The reality is you are now a prism splitting and bending what was once familiar.

So, one needs to accept that the new you will be in some new form that will look good and be able to climb stairs and do normal stuff.

But while we are in the midst, it is like an adventure into Alice land, a la Duchamp.

I’m glad you are all on for the ride.


This was when the chemo really got down and dirty. Much of this period remains obscured by a pea-soup brain fog. Enshrouded in a miasma of chemical warfare, my old normal self became more and more disassociated from the newly contortionist chemo-me.

At all times, I felt as if my head was very delicately balanced on my neck, and any sudden moves would break the surface tension, allowing parts to leak out and go missing. The loss of control over my previously well-known body was distressing, and I spent a lot of energy checking in with myself, making sure that I was still in one piece. It was a bit like those police pat-downs that you see on TV where they check for concealed weapons. I found that I had to consciously take inventory of my brain to verify there were no missing parts. Overcoming the effects of the chemo to engage my brain was not unlike pulling free of quicksand. It really did suck up an amazing amount of energy, was a bit scary and a lot unpleasant!

A year into my recovery I am still not sure but what I left some vital bits and pieces behind, as evidenced by changed behaviors and interests. I find I no longer need to be doing something all the time … my hurry-up switch is not on all the time. Chill out. Where is the fire?

I have limited interest in reading novels … So, what?

I, the original puzzle solver and conundrum aficionado, now find crossword puzzles boring … Why bother?

I really find movies, old or new, boring … Who cares?

In fact, all of my old self entertainment vehicles are no longer road worthy.

All those endless hours spent relaxing, taking a break from work or the business of life … all of that behavior has evaporated.


Now I am more likely to sit and do nothing, to recharge my batteries as I let my mind wander. Or I play solitaire or read the paper or occupy myself with something that can be left at any time. None of these have an end to be reached, so I can abandon the entertainment at any moment. Whereas previously, I preferred to waste time by accomplishing something, I now prefer to do not much of anything.

It is as if I no longer have enough space to accommodate my old self because the new model is taking up more room.

One might say it is like the process of cleaning your closet and discarding those items that no longer fit.

Or perhaps it is just that the timeline of my life … my inner autobiography as it were … is missing the period when chemo blew my brain to smithereens. It is as if that three-month section has been ripped away and taped back together, but the edges don’t exactly line up. So, there is a little bit of alien life living in there … boo-scary.

I wonder who is living in there now. I am still becoming acquainted with my post-apocalyptic self. I am learning how my two lives have melded. I am discovering what is worth retrieving from my old, pre-chemo life, and what is best left behind, unlamented. And at the same time, I am discovering what is worth celebrating in the new chemically adulterated me. “Getting to know you” could be my theme song.

Click or tap here to continue reading

Click or tap here to leave a comment

Click or tap here to return to the Table of Contents for this book