Here I am a cesspool for cisplatin and irinotecan and other two-fisted anti-cancer agents, none of which has ever laid a glove on me. But I take some over-the-counter nose-clearing stuff and I stumble around as if slap-happy, am sleepy, am foggy-brained, am listless and lustless.
What a piece of work is a man, huh, that can stand being hit by a train but is knocked flat by an errant moth.
We are too bizarre in the delicacy of our balance, our equipoise. Life is a slack-rope walk and the wind changes direction all the time. Some of us are kilt dead if a peanut passes our lips — a peanut! — or grow great as party balloons if in the same room with a king prawn. It is a wonder we are not always out of whack, twenty-four seven, three-sixty-five.
Here is the culprit in the palm of my hand: Round, bubble-gum pink, smaller by far than the smallest of our coins; you’d need maybe five or six of these things to cover a dime. This little spot’s got nothing in it that good old Uncle Sam wants to protect anyone from; is available off the shelf in any drugstore, in colorful boxes, under many snappy names. It’s a desnotter, is all, a drier-up of the sinus cavities, something to turn the post-nasal tap off.
But two of these, taken first thing, are enough to slow the regular blinking of my eyes to nodding-off speed, enough to make me look a block ahead and think, Lord, ain’t gonna make it. Whereas, as I’ve just said, I can be on the receiving end of a sac of cisplatin — nemesis to cancer, hair, gum and other fast-growing cells — and chirp out of my chair after five hours with a spring in my step.
Benadryl, however, leaves me stupified, slow-witted, heavy-headed and despairing.
It is an awful thing to know for a fact that you haven’t the energy to swat a fly, should one come to rest on the bridge of your nose, or the will to get out of the way of an oncoming bus. But that’s how it is with me now. I dare not jaywalk because, should some hot rod appear out of nowhere, I know absolutely that I could not put on any extra speed at all, but would stand in the middle of the street, blinking at my fate like a turtle in the passing lane.
And what must people think (if anything at all) to see me from a little distance. Tsk, tsk, blotto so early in the day. Or, if not blotto, why does he go forward on the flat as if falling downhill, seeming to lag behind his own center of gravity by several steps, which eludes him just a little way ahead. A zombie, perhaps?
I have found myself a park bench in the sun here in Cancerland and am perched on it like a pelican drying its feathers, my head cocked as if listening to a distant parade and my arms stretched out along the back of the bench.
Look at me: ass-kicked by Benadryl, who stands and stares down the Big Guns.
And this much I know for certain: If I close my eyes now, it will be dark when I open them again, and there may be acorns in my lap, left by a squirrel, my sneakers may be dog-pissed, and I will sure as shit be without my watch.
Ah, well. I suppose if it is true that ruination can come from any direction (and that is true) then it must also be the case that the opposite also come can from any direction.