I wrote earlier about the dull background pain coming from my lower back as the Neulasta coaxes my bones into producing the white blood cells my body needs if it is to have a fighting chance of coming unscathed through this period of all out attack on its immune systems. Well I no longer have a dull background pain – it hurts!!
The problem really is a very simple one but, naturally, it’s not all simple. It’s easy to take pain killers such as Tylenol to dull the pain but I also keep running a temperature anywhere between 98.8 and 100.4 today, and, of course, if I take Tylenol that will reduce my temperature but not address the underlying infection. What is the underlying infection? I don’t know but I do have a sore throat again. We were undecided about a trip the ER tonight but are both so exhausted that a trip to the ER is the last thing I want to impose on us if we have any other alternative, so, I took a couple of Tylenol which have dulled the pain to somewhere around racking and I keep having sweats and feeling clammy. My hope was the Tylenol would bring everything under control but I don’t think it is doing and at the moment I can’t get sufficiently comfortable to sleep, so, here I am.
There’s a famous Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Han who has written many books full of good ideas. The first of his books which I read started with the words, “If you are a poet you will see the sun and the moon in this page”. He went on to develop an argument for the creation of a new verb “to inter-be”, but he also developed a chain of causation about the page in the book. Without the sun and moon the tree which was turned into paper could not have grown. Without the men who felled the tree it could not have been turned into paper, without the parents, grandparents and great, great grandparents etc those children would not have been born and the tree would not have been felled. Similarly for the workers in the paper mill, the type-setters, the delivery drivers, the shop-keeper and so on. A whole chain consisting of many thousands of people over an uncountable number of years just so that I could stand in Waterstones that day and read those words. Amazing isn’t it! Well today I had similar thoughts about cancer treatments. I expect to live because some bright researcher came up with a solution. I’m receiving more than one drug so there are four times that number who worked on the drugs. Then there are the people who did the research on which these researchers relied in developing the solution and so on back I don’t know how many years. Then there are the parents, grandparents, great, great grandparents and so on. The animals on which I imagine the drugs were tested without being consulted and their families stretching back into the dawning of time. Sadly, there will also be patients who volunteered for trials which weren’t successful I imagine. Throw into the mix all those people who trained these researchers and their predecessors. The people who helped to fund the research and their families shouldn’t be forgotten either. Suddenly I don’t just have to thank my doctor and my family for the their support. Instead I need to thank untold millions of people and animals going back to the dawn of time for the life I will lead post-cancer.
Thank you to all those unknown beings for giving me life.