Thursday, August 03, 2006

After the Fact

It has now been ten days since I stopped applying Efudex to my face twice a day. A regimen I followed for 45 days straight. Much of it, as in the full extent of my treatment, decidedly against what my Doctor originally had in mind. Actually, in complete contradiction to what he instructed me to do.

Despite the fact that I was no longer using the Efudex, the pain did not immediately diminish. I am not sure whether this was fact or fiction or my pyschological interpretation of the events. My evidence is only anecdotal. Healing started almost immediately - my skin that is, the epidermal layer. Itching, of a nearly intolerable nature, took the place of the original pain of the treatment. But my skin made huge improvements in its appearance within a week, if not days. By the end of the week I was also able to start shaving parts of my face again.

I once again have a moustache and goatee, but mostly to hide the last of the scabs. I do not think there will be any scarring to speak of. I suspect that I still have a few deep lesions I will have to treat in the future. But my next examinination is not until October. I have huge patches of missing hair on my face. I also lost the outer layer of my eye-brows.

I have completely stopped using pain-killers and lessening the amount of alcohol I am consuming. I am clearly suffering mild depression, okay, maybe not so mild, and having been through this before with pain-killers (back surgery and broken bones), recognize the symptoms of withdrawal.

The Efudex full-face treatment was so hard for me to do, so difficult to keep focused on, that I now suspect that I am also suffering a little post-traumatic stress syndrome. In layman's terms, a let down. Like the post-partum depression that you get when you finish a big project. What next?, a part of you keeps asking? What next indeed.

My liver took a beating from the Efudex, pain-killers and alcohol. It is swollen and tender and aches. My lymph nodes also bore the brunt of my treatment. I ate like a pig during the past two months as I was most concerned about eating a healthy diet to aide in my recovery and I took a ton of supplements to go with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. And yet at times, I had to force myself to eat because I wasn't hungry...

Net result?

I have gained nearly twenty pounds, although when I tell people that, they find it hard to believe. During the treatment, I scaled back my hard, fast work-outs, but continued with my long runs. I finished two Marathons, in Smithers and Skidegate, and did three 30K long runs during my treatment phase.

After weeks, actually months, of not sleeping more than two hours at a stretch, I now sleep eight to ten hours a night. Unheard of for me. I usually get by on six or seven. Plus, I nap in the afternoon. On Sunday, after 27K, it was for five hours!

After being buoyant and positive for so long, I now seem to be suffering from long periods of ennui.

Part of this may be the fact that I am about to turn 46 on August 8th. I have never been much for birthdays for some reason. I always seem to tally up the year and think of all the things I didn't get done, rather than the things I actually accomplished.

Also, I think I am reaching the place where I am accepting the fact that I am probably never going to start a family - in the sense of meeting someone, settling down, buying a house with the white picket fence and having children (Christ, you'd think I was a good Catholic girl!). You always think you will, pf course. Settle down, that is. It is, after all, expected of most of us. But for some, it never quite works out that way. I'm a hard man to put up with just for starters - always willing to bet the farm on a wild adventure - and always wondering what's over the horizon anyways. So, I was undoubtedly playing a fool's game all along. Still, it is hard to accept.

Yesterday Panhandle Slim came into my office with his leash in his mouth. He had jumped up and dragged it out of its usual place. Quite an athletic feat actually. Cactus Jack was right behind him. It was like they had cooked up the scheme together. Let's get the old man to take us for a walk! Slim and Cactus strolled into my office and I had to laugh. So out we went.

I met an old man on his bicycle, in his eighties I am sure, that we - me and the boys that is - often meet along our dog-walks. He has silver hair and bright blue eyes that actually twinkle when he smiles, which he does often, and we almost always nod to each other as we pass each in our travels. Usually 'Hello' or 'Good Day' or 'Nice Weather', not much more than that. But pleasant, and neighbourly.

But yesterday, in a slight Scottish brogue.

"It takes a great man to walk a small dog."

Afterwards, it was the best I have felt in two months.


Blogger Anthony Epp said...

Vince, you are a great man... And don't give up on any of your dreams. It's probably not that the girls can't put up with you, but more the other way around... You know what you are looking for, and you're not going to put up with anything less. And that isn't a bad way to be.

Nobody can be Vince the way you can, and that's why we all love ya (although don't look to me to help you start a family)...

6:08:00 PM  
Anonymous dogfish dave said...

Hey Vince, Sorry to hear you feeling a bit down. You have had a lot to deal with recently, and maybe you are also still having a bit of post-Boston blues? It was such a focus for you, for such a long time, that maybe you need to set yourself some new targets. I know you are keen to maybe "go ultra" and get involved with the triathlon, but I don' t see the same all-consuming passion as you had pre-Boston. Why not try a good-for-age target for London or something (3.15, by the way). Just a thought.

Whatever, just know that there are lots of us out here in webland who really enjoy reading your blog and care about you.


2:54:00 AM  
Anonymous K said...

You never know where you will find a person to have the "white picket fence" may be in the most unexpected places :)

1:40:00 PM  

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