I just took a nap for almost three hours. One minute, I was at the grocery store having a discussion about when mangoes are ripe and enthusiastically lobbying for the purchase of a baby watermelon, and the next minute, I was bone tired.

I knew this would happen sometimes. I napped yesterday as well. Chemo makes you tired. Mostly, I’m tired of having cancer.

I try to stay upbeat, but every now and then, I slip headlong into self-pity and a litany of complaints. I’m tired of looking for jobs. I’m tired of hustling for freelance work. My big toenails looks like this and feel like they’re about to fall off. Random stuff hurts. I can’t stay in the sun for very long before getting burnt, even with sunscreen. My fingers are numb.

I miss eating the random samples at the grocery store that everyone may or may not have sneezed upon. One of the worst parts about my compromised immune system is curbing my desire to eat food of questionable origins. And food that falls on the floor is no longer viable.

I used to invoke the five-second rule a lot. In fact, years ago, I found myself explaining the five-second rule to a member of the maintenance crew at the building where I used to work. He had witnessed me drop a French fry on the floor, then pick it up and put it in my mouth. As I rose from picking up my fallen fry, my eyes met the horrified gaze of the maintenance man. The fact that it was not even my fry, but that of an editor who I didn’t think would miss one, probably added to his confusion.

When I finished chewing (I have some manners), I explained, “Five-second rule.” I was met with a blank stare. He had never heard of it, so I had to explain how, if you eat something within five seconds of it falling on the floor, it doesn’t count. The flawed logic is that germs don’t have time to climb aboard whatever you’ve dropped. Mostly, however, the small time frame usually ensures that someone hasn’t seen you commit this questionable social behavior, so it’s like it never happened.

A few months later, when I found an article clipped from the newspaper about the 5-second rule atop my work inbox, I knew immediately who it was from and smiled. It stayed up on my cubicle bulletin board for a long time.

So you can imagine how it pains me to look at fallen comestibles, and have to throw them away.

The exception was last night, when I reached for my phone and heard something fall off my nightstand. I heard many tiny things rolling around. This was after yesterday’s nap, so I was a little groggy. I looked over the edge of the bed to see my Docusate “dolls” rolling around my (thankfully clean) bedroom floor.

The alarming part was that the cat was not only batting around the laxative/stool softeners, she was trying to eat them. And was soon joined by the other cat.

Docusate pills smell kind of like feet and fish. The cats pounced upon them like they were treats I’d neglected to share with them, impersonating Hungry Hungry Hippos.

Thankfully, the pills were too mobile and too big for the cats to easily eat, despite their best efforts. One cat just sat on them like he was going to hatch them later, hiding them under his ample belly.

I can laugh about this now, because no laxatives were ingested by the cats after all.  So there it is. A bright side. There always is, even on bad days, when I am sleepily snatching laxatives from the maws of cats. Even when it’s not a full victory, and I wonder: Would I rather lose my nails than my hair?

So chemo wiped me out this weekend. I still managed to write and apply for some jobs. I had brunch with some friends today and saw some art before slipping into afternoon exhaustion. A friend unexpectedly came into town for a bit. My cats aren’t pooping uncontrollably. Things are still good, even when I’m too tired to see clearly.


  1. Maureen says:

    I’m giggling by myself like an idiot. Good thing those cats didn’t eat the laxatives – would not be fun cleaning that up.

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