I am midway through cycle 5 – this cycle could easily be titled Keith dissolution. I notice myself disappearing at times- hours and days blend together in a strange array of vaguely interrelated activities. I keep hearing this term and discussion around ‘the new normal’ in the news. I’m trying to be careful not to make this state my ‘new normal’, but at times it feels like it may be. Now, three months into chemotherapy it feels like I am getting used to it and the people in my life are getting used to it. I’ve been poor at communicating, at staying connected, and I am noticing a desire to put all of my energies into a sort of self-preservation mode. I feel closed, disconnected, less open than I did in the early phases of my healing. This morning as I glanced in the mirror I realized I have been avoiding looking at myself or taking photographs (despite all the feedback about how well I rock a bald head). Yet again, this points to the intimate body-mind connection. This is no surprise at this point in my treatment. Many, in similar situations suffer from pretty severe depression as a combination of the physical and life changes along with the side effects of the various drugs. I do notice occasional depressive thoughts, however, I would consider my lower moments more like numbness or disconnection than depression.
I should share that I am writing this at my nadir point, where I am at my lowest blood counts, energy levels, and therefore mood. Only ONE more of these cycles, thank God. Checking my HRV app over the past months I see that it is exactly this Saturday, eight days after chemo where my vitals and energy begin to turn around. An interesting observation is that over the last couple of cycles I’ve also noticed a strong uptick in my sexual impulses and thoughts around this day. I find this a remarkable aspect of biology – despite being nearly dead physically, as soon as the energy shifts towards more strength, the ability, and impulse to procreate, along with the hormones and thoughts, follows. During my chemotherapy I have been observing a strict sexual continence, a topic I notice is sorely missing in discussions around healing and health, and men’s sexual health in general. This concept I will unpack post-chemo when I look back and share and analyze the different factors and choices I made to support myself during this period.
Allie has remained with me in these weeks, despite the difficulties of trying to share a space with a man going through significant physical, emotional, and mental swings daily. I am incredibly grateful for her willingness to sacrifice her health and sleep at times to support me. She has postponed her other plans stayed longer than we had anticipated as it was too difficult for either of my parents to travel here with the pandemic still rolling. I’m very grateful for her friendship and presence!
For now, I look ahead to (hopefully) a better week and soon the conclusion of my chemotherapy. My last treatment will run June 1-6 and the sixth, and final cycle will conclude on June 21. At one level, it feels like forever since I began, at another level time has passed quickly. I am beginning to plan and prepare for the shift from conventional to holistic treatment. The alternative and holistic care center I was visiting has begun a gradual reopening, allowing me to receive acupuncture again. I’m in the process of scheduling appointments with an integrative oncologist, kinesiologist, nutritionist, massage therapist, etc. The healing will continue in one fashion or another well beyond June.