Well, this chemo round was a little different than previous rounds. On Friday night, after my infusion, I awoke, at around 1.30 am to find that my slow infusion had become disconnected from my port. All manner of drama then ensued, with changing of the sheets, stoping the infusion, showering, and properly disconnecting it. Basically, chemo is pretty noxious stuff, and if any of it spills, it gets treated not to dissimilarly as a chemical spill gets treated. Once all of that was sorted, my port then required a heparin lock to stop it from clotting up. I figured this could wait until sometime in the morning after going back to sleep, but Hannah, being diligent checked in with the oncology ward who insisted that at 2 am in the morning, I needed to come into the hospital and get my port heparin locked. Being a good semi-compliant patient, that is what we did.
So what all of this meant is that I had only about a quarter of the slow 46hr infusion of 5-fu. The net result was a slightly (but not as much as I might have thought) improved recovery time from chemo. It still had all the usual features of nausea, diarrhoea, and fatigue, but just a little quicker to resolve.
The next round is in 3 weeks time, 1 week longer than my usual fortnightly cycle, and then after that its back to my fortnightly routine.
Only 2 to go till 30… and I’m starting to get sick of it. Till next time….
Traveling between Hanmer Springs and Dunedin last week saw us taking a lunch stop at riverstone kitchen just north of Oamaru. Riverstone kitchen won cuisine magazine’s best restaurant of the year award last year. It was the second time we had dinned there since that award.
They are literally located in the middle of nowhere, and on a heap of land where they grow all their food. We had a wonder around at the back to discover their vege patch, and their ridiculously large pumpkins. They were HUGE.
Shutter 1/200; f/4, ISO 100, 23mm.
We live in a life full of reductionism. It shapes our world view, it shapes our faith, and it shapes our technology. It is a way of analytical thinking that helps us to break down the sum of a product into it’s individual parts. It enables us to understand, and to create. It is in large part responsible for the world we live in today. The dictionary defines it as:
“the practice of analyzing and describing a complex phenomenon, esp. a mental, social, or biological phenomenon, in terms of phenomena that are held to represent a simpler or more fundamental level, esp. when this is said to provide a sufficient explanation.”
What I have discovered through medicine and through life though, is that reductionism is the seductive temptress of poor analysis. We as humans instinctively take a reductionist approach to most things in our lives, and the result can in many ways be helpful, but in a lot of ways is also really destructive in how we think about and approach issues that arise in our lives. Reductionism leads us to and ‘either/or’ approach. We like to reduce issues to dichotomous subsets, rather than place them on a spectrum.
Life is complex. Issues are often a multi-factorial interaction of contributing factors. Very rarely are we able to actually successfully and accurately reduce and idea to an either/or scenario. Take my diagnosis for example. It is instinctive to look for a black and white answer why I have cancer. Drinking too much V, bad genetics, exposure to something somewhere unknown; all explanations that get thrown around that try to explain the end result.. cancer. The reality is though, that the likely answer lies in an interaction of all of those explanations, plus some more that we don’t know about. In medicine in general, very rarely are we able to pinpoint a single gene, or single event, that leads to any particular disease. The more we learn and research, the more we realize that most diseases are complex interactions of a number of factors, both genetic and environmental, both avoidable and spontaneous. Furthermore, human body function is increasingly being understood as a very complex interaction of systems rather than simplistic break downs of single factor action and reaction explanations.
The point of this being that reductionism creeps into many aspects of life, forcing us to take simplistic views on complex ideas. The result is a very black and white view on aspects of life that are actually made up of various shades of grey.
To suggest that there is single magic bullet for cancer is far too simplistic for what is actually a diverse and complex variety of disease, often each unique to the individual that carries it.
Politics, sociology, medicine, and theology all fall victim to the oversimplification of ideas. When a relationship breaks down, be it friendship or marriage. It is unlikely that any single factor is responsible for it, rather a number of factors all interacting and contributing to the final result. When a left leaning, or right leaning government is elected, why does either side have to be right or wrong. I personally believe there are aspects of both views of politics that are salient, and I can’t see why they have to be mutually exclusive viewpoints. When bad things happen to a good person, why do we try to reduce it to a single behaviour or reason, rather than look at the bigger picture and take into account all the confounding factors.
What I often find on this cancer journey, is that people respond both to me, and to situations in their life with this reductionistic mindset. The oversimplification of problems, be they relationship breakdowns, mental health struggles, struggles with addiction, or struggles with health, ends up destroying their ability to be able to rationally address what confronts them. Again this goes back to asking the wrong question, which I have previously discussed. Asking the wrong question inevitably leads us to the wrong answers. Over simplification of our day to day life leads us to over simplified solutions that rarely address what they were meant to solve.
This post is a little different from my previous posts, but I hope it gives some insight into how I approach the situation I find myself in. This way of thinking has allowed me to see the bigger picture of my reality with respect to both physical and spiritual worlds that I live in. Cancer is a multifactorial disease, and as such, deserves a multifactorial approach.
Life is a multifactorial journey, and it too deserves more attention than the oversimplification reductionism offers. Let us be open to the possibilities around us rather than beyond the box we like to place things in. Let us open our mind and heart to the infinite possibilities and strength that God can offer us. Let us take life on in it’s fullest, regardless of our circumstance and stop letting our mindset limit us to mediocrity.
Let us be the Humans that God designed us to be.
Well, that round of chemotherapy was one of the roughest yet. Dry retching over a toilet bowel, awake for only a few hours each day, and unable to eat for 36 hours. I didn’t quite vomit, but for the first time ever, I really wanted to… I just couldn’t make it happen.
It probably didn’t help that I went into the round with 50 hours of work clocked up on the mon-thurs prior to friday’s dose of toxins. I have long since decided there is no rhyme or reason to chemotherapy and it’s side effects. Each round is as unique as a fingerprint, yet follows the same theme of progressive worsening.
I’m pretty exhausted. Not just in a physical sense, I can sleep to regain that, but in an emotional I-have-just-had-27-rounds-of-chemotherapy sense. I need a break to let my body recover, and I wish cancer would respond to less brutal treatment regimens.
I get the small break, but not the change in treatment. My next chemo is 3 weeks away instead of the standard 2. I have just over a weeks leave, and have shunted the next round of chemo to accommodate it. it’s a nice temporarily relief.
’till next round.
This watch was given to me on my 30th birthday as a combination birthday/qualification present. All my watches previously have lasted for about 8 years each as I tend to go for quality and longevity. However, that tends to come at a price. Choosing a watch that you know will last you for potentially 10 years is hard work, it is such a personal item and knowing that you will look at it everyday for the next ten years means you have to be really sure it is the one.
Given my life expectancy however, this could all be a moot point.
Shutter 1/40, f/4, ISO 200, 55mm.