Joyce Minor

I thought it was over, but...

It had to happen. It was inevitable. Now that I have finished my course of chemotherapy, and the peripheral effects are beginning to subside, I thought I could venture out into the land of the living occasionally, if I was careful to avoid contaminants. So we went out to eat to celebrate my birthday. It was heavenly. We sat in a corner booth, as far from other people as possible. I used hand sanitizer before and after the meal. When I used the ladies room I scrubbed my hands with soap and used the paper towel to open the exit door. I did everything possible to avoid germs, sure I would get home without any unwanted "guests" on my body. Wrong.
Somehow, somewhere I picked up a cold or a virus (which one doesn't really matter). It is the most tenacious infection I've ever had, probably because my immune system is practically non-existent. It all started on Monday, when I realized my legs ached miserably. Nothing I did eased the pain and weakness. On Tuesday, I could barely walk across the room without stopping to rest. Something was obviously wrong, but what? By Wednesday, I was running a fever, and yesterday the stuffed up head and constant wracking cough set in. Last night was one of the most miserable I've ever spent. Even post-surgery nights were not this bad, because then I had strong pain pills I could take to help me cope. Not so now. Nothing I take seems to make much difference - decongestants, cough syrup, pain relievers, all are useless. This bug just laughs at them. I, on the other hand, don't find it one bit funny. Consequently, I am back in isolation, not so much to avoid contamination as to make sure I don't share this invisible beastie with others. Will this never-ending nightmare ever be over? When will I be able to resume normal, everyday activities? It has been more than seven months since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I have lost almost all my hair and gained 15 pounds. Will my family and friends even recognize me when all this finally ends? I don't know how long it will take to shake this latest malady, obviously, longer than the usual cold, since my immune system has literally gone into hiding. However, I am determined to be completely rid of this bug by mid-September. That is when my middle daughter will bring my first grandson into the world. And I am going to be there in Alabama to hold her hand and welcome this long-awaited little one. Yes, I have been through a lot, but the worst is behind me now. It has to be. I no longer have cancer. I am officially a survivor. Sometimes I have to just say that over and over to make sure I believe it. I do not have cancer. I do not have cancer. I have one more small surgery coming up in October, which will complete my reconstruction, but I'm not going to think about that now. I'm going to concentrate on shaking this bug, regaining some immunity, and finishing the baby blanket I'm crocheting for my grandson. How many years are ahead for me? I don't know, and I don't want to know. I just want to take one day at a time thoroughly enjoying each one. And I'm going to, just as soon as I figure out a way to stop coughing, and sneezing, and aching, and losing sleep, and ... whining about it.