Can I just take a few minutes to tell you I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired?

My wife, Sheri, and I are approaching two years of dealing with cancer. Two years. Is that a long time? Don’t know. If you’re serving a lifetime jail sentence, I guess not. If you’re in an unhappy relationship and aren’t able, or worse, don’t have the courage, to get out of it, two years probably seems like a long time.

For the two of us, in this particular instance, two years has seemed like long enough. We have had enough highs and lows to fill eleventy-seven trips to Disney World.

Initially, everything was huge. I had cancer. I had multiple myeloma. I had chromosome deletion 17p. One thing after another bonking us on the head and in the heart. We did OK, though. Better than OK, I would say. We kept going, returning to the front of the line for the next trip, be it up or down. Even if it meant saying, “Excuse us. We were here first.” We got on the ride and went where we would.

In some ways, those were sort of the good old days. I know how ridiculous that sounds, but, I think, only because you aren’t me. I can hear Sheri in the kitchen now, making something healthy to eat, which in itself leaves me a bit torn. I know it will be delicious, as well as healthy, but I haven’t enjoyed food for months. That is one the downs we’ve dealt with.

Anyway, the good old days. The news was terrible and consistently so. Each punch left us reeling and clinging to each other like tag team wrestlers.

We were tough, though, we could take it. And we did.

But now, I feel sick and/or tired almost all the time. Anything big? Not really. Not like finding out about the cancer, for sure. But, rather, an omnipresent nausea. I feel like I could easily throw up (or should I say vomit? Is vomit classier?) at various times through each day. I have these waves of hot and cold flashes that leave me, as good girls would say in the antebellum South, “positively moist” and wanting to wave a fan to cool myself.

The stomach pains that began so long ago remain. Still unnamed, but still responsible for considerable pain and discomfort.

The ribs I hurt when I was attacked by bees almost two years ago still hurt. As do the ones I damaged falling on ice in the winter and on our lawn this summer.

As far as I can tell, the collarbone I broke just before my stem cell transplant still has not truly healed. There is a numbing, constant pain there that sometimes is replaced by a horrific jolt when I turn on my side just so, and it feels like the two parts have just missed joining together, causing a jagged bone-into-skin feeling.

Let’s see. What else? Well, there’s an emotional aspect to this roller coaster existence. Sometimes I feel good just because I stop feeling bad. Sometimes I just feel good. Other times I swoop down to a new low. And this affects Sheri, too. She can see all of this and is very sensitive to it. She does what she needs to do to take care of herself, but as I’ve said before, it isn’t easy watching someone you care about in pain, physical or mental.

Did I mention my bones hurt? All the time? They hurt to touch, and I really suffer anxiety around someone bumping into me or punching me — anywhere — in some sort of attaboy gesture bound to go horribly awry.

So, maybe you can see what I mean. I should be feeling better, except my doctors say I feel exactly as I must. They don’t really have a lot to say about any of these things, other than, “I’m sorry your ribs hurt. I’m sorry your bones hurt.”

But you know what? I think about my friend Cindy, who died from complications resulting from her stem cell transplant, and about Dolly, who succumbed to multiple myeloma after fighting it for five years, and understand how much they loved their families to keep going. I don’t think they struggled on so they could feel the way they felt for yet another day.

God bless them, and God bless all of you who have prayed for me, Sheri and my family. I can’t imagine how sick and tired I would feel without your efforts.

Jim Arnold is a former copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. To read more about his journey through cancer, visit his blog, findingthepony.blogspot.com.


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