It’s been an excruciatingly long, hard week. On the same day that I finished up a column about how doctors considered my being alive a miracle, I had an appointment with my oncologist where one of the only things I remember him saying is “what we’re doing isn’t working anymore.”
That means that Keytruda, the near-miracle drug for so many people with my cancer, upon which I’d placed quite a bit of hope, isn’t helping me.
I took this as bad news, although Jamie did a yeoman’s job of turning it into a positive by explaining that just because one medicine didn’t work, it doesn’t mean others wouldn’t either. It’s all about eliminating the ones that don’t work and kind of drilling down to what eventually will. I guess there’s some truth to that, but I know there’ll come a time where there won’t be any more medicines to try.
As I swooned for a couple of days from my perceived bad news, I got new, more immediate bad news: on Friday morning my dog Lech Walesa’s heart began to fail and he panted frantically to get oxygen. I drove him to a vet where they said it was heart failure and that if they could stabilize him he might be able to go home, but they didn’t give much hope for that.
Then a few hours later they called and said he’d improved a little and we could take him home to be seen again on Monday. That was my tough boy, my dog I’d gotten as a rescue when he was the runt from the leftovers of a set of puppies that no one wanted to buy.
I had just pulled through a miraculous situation and he was going to follow Daddy’s footsteps and we’d both be miracles.
But then Sunday morning Jamie woke me to say that sometime overnight Lech Walesa had succumbed to the heart failure. He wasn’t a miracle after all.
It’s easy to be optimistic when things go well. It’s a whole other story when life seems to pile on. I fully believe that God doesn’t just allow bad things for fun and that he’s leading me through all of this, but I’m scared sometimes.
Just two days after I was released from my miraculous recovery, I had to return to the emergency room after I was spitting up blood. I told Jamie on the drive there that was scared on this trip because I had almost not returned from my previous one.
And now I see symptoms that used to not really worry me but now they worry me because they’re in line with all the stuff that almost killed me the other day. I had been experiencing burning when I peed, which turned out to be a sign of dehydration, which caused my kidneys to fail. Just yesterday it burned again but now it’s not so innocuous or easy to ignore.
This week I worked on getting my will started but I’m already feeling like I started too late and like I need to hurry and get it signed while there’s still time.
It feels like there’s not much time left. Maybe I’m wrong on that. Maybe I’m just in a low spot and I need to look up and see the good still in front of me.
I understand that this has been a pretty depressing, somewhat scary column. I could clean it up and focus on a lot of the positives that are still easy to find, or I could say that I’ve been pushing through the obstacles in front of me and that there’s nothing that’s going to get me down.
But that’s not real life, or at least not my life right now. I’m working on staying positive, but sometimes I just miss my dog and worry my body is going to shut down again.
By Dave Taylor