September was a hard month. It was the final month of my “consolidation chemo”… which, as I understand it, was a way to consolidate every possible negative side effect of my treatment and forcefully cram it up my ass for three straight weeks. My chemo took the shape of General Sherman as he scorched his way through my American South.
The total warfare tactic was designed as a final blow against my currently non-existent disease. South Cancerlina had surrendered months ago, but union doctors needed to burn it in order to make sure the war would not continue in the future.
The last couple of weeks of September left me almost entirely bedridden. Every symptom I had attacked me simultaneously and in a magnified manor: high fevers, nausea, constipation, diarrhea (yes, BOTH and no, I don’t understand the physics), severe bone pain, central nervous issues, headaches, gum deterioration, skin problems, delirium… it was by far the worst of my treatment.
Thankfully we knew that September would be a bad month and we made very few plans, though the minor plans we did make needed to be cancelled and poor Liana had to spend the majority of her free time making sure my body didn’t melt into a puddle of murdered cells.
We did, however, make one set of plans for the first week of October that neither of us wanted to cancel. It came down to the wire, as I was definitely in no shape to leave the house up until two days before we were supposed to leave, but thankfully I was able to get two fresh bags of red blood cells and that gave me the boost that I needed to keep our plans.
We decided to treat ourselves to a nice relaxing trip down to Aspen to do some leaf peeping/camping/luxury mountain town living. I know what you’re thinking, camping doesn’t sound like something somebody in my condition should be doing, especially in this unpredictable fall weather… but we weren’t just camping… we were GLAMPING in a badass VW Eurovan.
My friends started a company Rocky Mountain Campervans last year where they rent out VW Campervans, which are regular van sized vehicles that are decked out like small RVs. They are the most convenient, efficient, comfortable and awesome way to road trip/camp…especially in our awesome state. We parked our van, Cassidy, in a normal campground outside of Aspen. We had everything we needed to camp and none of the negatives that go along with it (like moisture, cold, dirt etc). The stove, refrigerator, tons of storage, furnace, sleeping room for 4 (five if you include a small labradoodle) made for the perfect little mobile weekend home in the woods for us to get away from the tortures of the previous month and to finally enjoy what our state has to offer after this summer’s neglect.
I won’t bore you with the details of the trip, but we obviously went and took “the picture” at “the picture” spot at Maroon Bells (the most photographed place in the country). It wasn’t as crowded as I expected, but it was about as diverse as Disneyworld…with as many selfie sticks.
After the 55 steps of “hiking” that my body could muster we drove our entire weekend house (told you these things are convenient) into town and had a fantastic dinner in Aspen.
We went all out after eating hot dogs and granola bars all weekend and splurged on some decadent new England style seafood (yeah in Aspen, shut up) and possibly my new favorite menu item of all time: Korean BBQ Duck Confit Wings….My favorite trash food: chicken wings combined with my favorite high end food: duck confit slathered with a spicy Korean BBQ sauce for good measure. It may have been the perfect dish. It stuck out like a sore thumb on the seafood menu, which Liana pointed out that it probably meant it was incredible. I want to eat it again forever. Oh and they used Oneida Silverware! Great job Grey Lady!!
We’re back home now, I’m feeling much better and have moved on to the “final” stage of treatment which is called “Maintenance.” This includes very infrequent infusions, a ton of chemo pills and a spinal tap every now and then for the next three months. I believe there are five of these three month sessions so my life will look like this for about a year or so, but it’s much more normal than it was over the last nine months. I will be returning to work at the end of the October, to mixed feelings.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention… My nurse didn’t want to jinx me, but yesterday I was told that I am the only person in the history of the Colorado Blood Cancer Institute that has been on my specific chemotherapy treatment schedule that didn’t need to be re-admitted into the hospital for inpatient services. Yes I had my bumps in the road, but I managed to stay out of cancer jail through them which is apparently unheard of. It was very nice to know that I truly did rock my treatment after all the bullshit that my body went through over the last nine months. I’m just really good at having cancer, I guess!