I miss the dreams. That’s more than I thought I would.
I finished my last round of chemo a few weeks ago. I’m still in the “sit around twiddling your thumbs while we make sure everything worked” stage. It’s fantastic. Wait. I think I misspelled that. It’s fucking frustrating.
To be honest, I spent most of last month focusing on little battles that I didn’t realize I cared about. Being forced to eat with plastic utensils wasn’t a burden until I found that metal spoons didn’t ruin my cereal anymore. Suddenly the extra 15 seconds I saved in not rooting for a plastic spoon was precious.
One of the more recent battles I think I’ve won is with my hair. Not on my head – that I couldn’t care less about. With my family, it’s a given that I’ll be bald in a decade. No, what suddenly had me worried over the past few weeks was whether or not my facial hair would come back in full strength. I don’t have a lot of skills. I excel at making puns. I’m kind of flexible due to my gangliness. And I can grow a badass beard. I haven’t had one in a few years, but knowing that it was an option every morning was something that I didn’t realize I’d ever miss.
Yet here I was, as recently as last week, waking up every morning with peach fuzz that any 12 year old could beat. My state of excessive body hair could fill a post of its own. And, geez, the places where I lost hair vs. retained it … I still don’t get it. There are long strips down my leg where it’s hair, no hair, hair, no hair. I look like I tried shaving racing stripes onto my body.
But guess what. I woke up on Thursday with black, glorious stubble under my nose. That’s the spot that held out the longest when I was losing it and I love the idea of it leading the charge back. In a world where its only claim to fame is the Hitler mustache, it’s nice to see it get a little love.
Obviously most of these have been things I’ve missed from “before.” In the grand scheme of things, they weren’t important. But I never thought I’d miss something from during the chemo. They finally vanished a few weeks ago. I knew it was going to happen, I’d figured out where they were coming from and could see them fading away like they do every morning. I’m just happy I was at least able to experience them for two months.
Because I’m such a nerd, I have a dream journal from 2004. I dream fairly regularly and remember a fair bit, but for the most part they’re uneventful nothing dreams. As such, I only take the time to write down in vivid detail those dreams that knock you on your ass. The ones that make you wish more than anything that you were back in them and, if you’re not careful, threaten to send you into a tailspin of nostalgia for something that never existed and depression for what does.
July and August of this year almost doubled the total number of entries in my journal.
They were fucking phenomenal. Each and every one of them. Even the nightmares! I’d wake up, often in a sheen of sweat from the terror or adrenaline, and know that if I could just will myself back to sleep, I’d probably fall back into some equally crazy scenario. I was exhausted for much of my treatment. I know a lot of it came from the physical aspect of the drugs, but another factor was that I couldn’t stay asleep most nights. I’d wake up feeling as if I hadn’t slept a wink and it wasn’t until two weeks into the treatment that I realized I was waking up so frequently because of all the dreaming. Suddenly, I didn’t care about the exhaustion.
Because I’m such a super nerd, I began meticulously tracking my days. Did the dreams coincide with my treatment? Sudden change in diet? Flower-scented aroma candles I’d boug…had given to me? It didn’t take long to pinpoint the culprit (or hero, in my eyes): my anti-nausea medication. Just to be certain it wasn’t somehow the nausea itself, I even went five days without taking any meds and powered through the discomfort. It was the longest stretch where I didn’t dream during the entire two months.
All of the prescriptions are refillable through November. Any medical professionals or parents might want to turn away now, and kids, don’t abuse drugs. But I’m sorry. Those dreams were something magical.
Fuck it, I’m not sorry. I’ve earned them. Here’s to some crazy dreams tonight.