My illness is repetitive. Or more accurately, my treatment is repetitive. And dull. This is the part of the movie where they show the scene once, and then we watch the pages of a wall calendar flip and fly away, or watch a time-lapse segment of seasons changing, or a montage of small moments, until we come back to the same scene but with a significant and meaningful change.

But there’s none of that. Not yet at least, and I don’t know, maybe not ever. And even the change I’m supposedly hoping for (and sometimes I am hoping for)—for this illness to go from terminal to chronic—is not the kind that play well in movies. “Yay! It’s now chronic, instead of terminal”. Chronic illness is probably repetitive and dull too.

It’s not just the days that are repetitive. I often think the same things over and over again: how tired I am, how tired I am of being tired, and of course, “didn’t I think all this last week?” and “the week before that too?”

I want to acknowledge though that I am getting better. My tumours have shrunk substantially, and so I guess my illness is on its way from being terminal to being chronic. But what do we call this distance, this space, between the two?1

Maybe there is no space between these two places at all. Maybe terminal and chronic are two neighbouring countries with a only width-less border between them. (And to complete the metaphor: full recovery is across an ocean, and it’s decades before we have the technology and know-how to get there.)

I guess I’m getting closer to the other country without yet having left this one.

  1. There seems to be no word for it, and so it’s hard to feel grateful for something I cannot even name. Plus, even though I am getting better, I don’t feel better. It’s the chemotherapy, not the cancer, that exhausts me. But I am lucky. Not everyone gets to be here and move in the direction of better. 

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