It is Friday afternoon, and I am beat like a used drum. Just completed is the fourth week of the fall semester here at UPSem, and I'm feeling every day of it.
It's my own fault, of course. I chose not to drop a class despite undergoing chemo and radiation. On the other hand, the way things currently look, I should get through the semester before any surgery on that rectal cancer is actually done, so that's not a bad thing. But the schedule I'm keeping means that I've got to go in for my radiation treatments at 7:30 a.m. five days a week (I get Saturdays and Sundays off). I may not have mentioned this before, but the phrase "not a morning person" doesn't even come close to describing the depth of my aversion to early mornings. My utterance of nonsensical syllables such as "blah," "urgh," and "bleargh" has multiplied sevenfold this week.
I'm tired, but with rare exceptions I'm not hurting or uncomfortable. I did develop some back pain this week; I have no idea if it's related to radiation/chemo or not. It's sporadic and only when I bend or sit certain ways, not constant. Other discomforts or inconveniences, well...remember what type of cancer I have. I'll spare you the details. You're welcome.
I've actually just completed my second week of treatment, though this was the first week of early-morning appointments. The treatment itself is almost comically brief. From the time I get positioned on the table (after a comical kabuki of getting my shorts dropped while the poor attendant holds up a cloth to keep my privacy private) and get positioned to the time the last shot of rads or rems or whatever is pumped in from the direction of my right hip (following doses from behind, left hip, and front) lasts less than the duration of some of your more typical pop/rock songs played on your more typically generic radio stations, whatever is the preference of the technician working that day. Last Friday, "Freeze Frame" by J. Geils Band corresponded exactly to that sequence. Monday it was Prince's "Little Red Corvette." I remind you that I'm supposed to be keeping still on the table all this time; how am I supposed to not move to "Little Red Corvette," pray tell? The tunes in the middle of this week were rather anonymous to me, but today's corresponding song was the Eagles' "Take It to the Limit," which at least did not leave me trying to suppress an urge to dance, although it was all I could do to keep from belting out the chorus ("Put meeeeee on the highway... show meeee the sign ... and take IT! toooo the limit...one more...tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimmmmme!"), which probably wouldn't have been a good thing. After all, we only want that radiation to go where it's supposed to be going and not messing up other body parts because I was singing from way down low.
Once all this is over I'm out the door and headed for class. By lunchtime or a little after, I'm feeling the fatigue, but I'm still convinced this is as much from the early rising as it is from any radiation/chemo side effect. I'm really, REALLY not a morning person, I promise you.
This term's courses provoke four distinct and separate reactions. Intro to Pastoral Care provokes dread. The business of pastoral care terrifies me. I'm serious. It touches all the places where I fear to tread and know myself to be devoid of competence. Old Testament provokes a more typical academic type of dread. Teaching Ministry of the Church? Well, I get through it, with little high or low. Preaching & Worship is my joy-maker for this fall. I still sing in the seminary choir when time and treatment allows (which has been a real bliss-maker of late, with Faure's Cantique de Jean Racine this past week and Mendelssohn's "Verleih uns Frieden" upcoming), and work a little in the library resource center on campus.
Upcoming for a couple of weeks is another opportunity at participating in worship leadership at the church we attend here in Chesterfield County, much like this past summer. Two of the above classes will require some extra activities through the church as well, in visitation and teaching.
The short of all this is that I have a routine, except on a very few occasions when I don't. This is not normally blog-worthy, but all things considered having a routine right now is a wonderful thing. Not everyone in my condition is so fortunate, to have a routine at all or to have one that so closely conforms to what was supposed to be their "normal" routine. The next week promises to be absolutely harrowing, but thankfully not for health reasons--just a couple of exegeses (exegesii? exegesises?) and a chapel service to help lead, a book to review, and the usual translations and readings and reflections and so forth and so on. I will be overwhelmed, and when I remember what I could be overwhelmed by, I'll be happy.