Where to begin??? I had my last chemotherapy infusion on Aug 22nd. I thought to myself that’s it! It is over, now to recuperate….I was wrong. The next day, I lost my right big toenail to infection and separation from the chemotherapy (Taxol). My husband was in England with his sister visiting a friend, so I was alone with my 5 year old daughter through the best of times and the worst of times… That toenail was just the nail in the coffin. It was the twist of the knife…the salt in the wound. It was the culmination of every little thing I had lost or been through since the start of chemotherapy and it was epic even though seemingly so insignificant. I grieved, legitimately for 2 days before I could get my shit together. Small jokes by friends and family were unbearable, where normally I would join in.
And the anger at my husband, who had chosen to go on vacation during my last week of chemotherapy was intense…I am still battling it. My guy friends tell me to give him a break, he probably needed a vacation and my female friends just reinforce how much I dislike him right now. So, then there is a hurricane Harvey and we have to hunker down, possibly evacuate, all without the husband. A good friend stays with us to make it easier because I am exhausted from the chemo and that doesn’t disappear overnight, and I am an emotional wreck which is slowly improving. And we are ok, but I see the news and feel an impossible weight when I think of how insignificant my toenail is compared to everything I am seeing and yet I can’t let it go…because it’s happening to me and I am all alone with a 5 year old for the first time and I should be celebrating this milestone but I’m not. Instead, I am limping along, taking my daughter to her first day of kindergarten without her dad and going to the podiatrist who says the chemo is keeping my toe from healing and prescribes me a burn cream to help the healing and pain. And my toe is just a physically apparent sign of the festering going on in my soul where something is dying or getting so twisted I don’t know how I will ever un-knot it.
I am reminded of a childhood rhyme…this little piggy went to the market…only this little piggy lost a nail and it is hilarious and tragic all at the same time, and I just wish I had someone who understood in my corner. There is a woman on my cancer forum whose breast surgery is postponed due to Harvey flooding at MD Anderson and who has to go back on chemotherapy to wait for restoration and rescheduling. I cry every time I think of her because chemo is so terrible and robs you of your self image and belief and I can’t imagine being one month out and told you have to restart this bullshit again. And yet…I perseverate on my toe. And not just because it hursts and wakes me up when the blanket touches it at night…but because it is my mini-me, a bald, defenseless sick little thing which is slowly healing despite the insults chemo is throwing at it…and no one cares about it but me. No one could care less that I don’t have a toenail…but I do. I care so much. Why can’t I just not care so much about everything? It would be such an easier life. This little piggy went to market…This little piggy went home…this little piggy ate roast beef…this little piggy had none…and this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home…where he sat and cried alone.