May Days – The Privilege of Overdoing It

“How’s your energy level?”

“OK” I say, “I think I overdid it last week and I paid the price for it this weekend.”

“When is your next chemo again?” I answer “two weeks from yesterday”.

The next question kind of depends on how much you like hearing about the details. One is “…what are your counts?” but more generally people ask…”what are your doctor’s saying?”

“Creatinine is coming down, white count’s low but coming back and red count’s low but to be expected. The Dr. says I am doing fine…” I report. It feels almost rote to say these things, I say them so often.

I don’t mind people asking at all, they’re trying to get a sense of how I am doing and how it’s going. And I am grateful when the conversation moves on to other topics. It’s uncomfortable getting so much attention and being the focus. I am also endlessly grateful for the friends I have and how they show up for me. Thank you.

The truth is, the grind of the treatment is starting to show more. One of my step kids, making a dark joke that we all laughed at during one of my low points, said “you are looking pretty cancerous today, Jimmy”, and I do sometimes.

I walked a hill with a friend earlier this week and noticed I was really working. That same friend, Jim Cogswell, lent me his cycle cross bike so I can bike around town during my treatment. Bend is sort of situated on the side of a gradual hill, and we sort of live near the top of that hill, so whenever I come home, I have to suck it up a to get there. If I’m not well hydrated when I have to expend a lot of energy, I can feel my energy almost literally decrease with each exhale.

Canyon TrailI know what it feels like to be treated with chemo and NOT be able to overdo it. I feel privileged to be able to get out and overdo it, even when I don’t use good judgment.

People warn me not to overdo, but I do.I think this is pretty normal, or at least that’s my story. I’d rather find out where the limit is than to be too passive or conservative. Thanks anyway. Moe just rolls her eyes. She almost always sees what is happening before I do, and we end up in a married couple banter that probably says as much about our male/female dynamic as it is about our marriage.

“Do you think you overdid it today Jim? “ she says. I go straight for the innocent ignorance strategy, “…no, not really, what do you mean?”

“You just seem pretty low energy now, and your cough seems to be worse” she says.

I pivot to the its just a flesh wound strategy “Nahh, I’ll be fine, I just need to eat something and get more water on board.” Then the eye roll. Why she stays with me is a mystery.

It’s another beautiful day today. Thank you world, thank you body, thank you.



2 thoughts on “May Days – The Privilege of Overdoing It

  1. I, too, thank you and thank your body, that you are willing and able to share your life with those of us who are far away and wish we had x-ray vision and a gypsy ball. You write so that I can envision Mo’s eyes rolling and you puffing up the hill on the bike and your step-kid’s black comment…kids are right on if the adults can stand it!!
    I like hearing all the details and it’s ok if you don’t share them every time…though I would be wondering and asking those questions silently. And hearing the details enables me to connect them with how my sister Annie is doing…now in her 10th day after her first chemo (ovarian cancer) here in Boulder. She’s not tired yet, but she’s not riding bikes either! I just want to shout,
    A love filled hug to you my friend,


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