Sunday, August 20, 2017

Chemistry Sets, Side Effects, and Curiosity

When I was in elementary school, one of my favorite toys was my Gilbert Chemistry Set. I don’t remember much about it other than that it was housed in a nifty blue steel case, and there were test tubes and who knows what chemicals. My scientific experiments usually took place on our garage floor as my friends and I followed the directions for exploding stuff and for making secret potions. 

Holy cow!

As I look back, I am more than slightly horrified; however, when I was growing up, there were no such things as seat belts or safety helmets or other things which we have come to consider to be essential to keeping kids safe.  One of the most important badges of honor in grade school was to be the first kid each spring to come to school in a cast because of crashing a bike on one of the dangerous park paths. While I am sure that my parents must have been worried sick over some of my feats of derring-do, they never projected their fears on me. In fact, I cannot remember being afraid of much of anything.

I am very aware of the possible consequences as I travel through my cancer schmantzer odyssey, and most of the time I am neither fearful nor am I courageous. Much like my scientific experiments, I would consider myself curious, trying to figure out how to deal with what may lie ahead. After my first two chemo treatments, I had some short term neuropathy, which caused my fingers to tingle and which made me sensitive to cold. Much to my chagrin, the sensitivity to cold has now increased, so if I want to take anything out of the refrigerator, I either have to wear gloves or have someone to get it for me. This also means no cold drinks or cold foods unless I want to experience shortness of breath and choking.

In addition to all of the above, I have discovered that since my surgery in May, I have become semi-lactose intolerant. At first, I was dismissive of the lactose intolerance because I could eat cheese and other milk based products, but I am learning which lactose-containing foods might be bothersome. Sadly, the double whammy of cold and lactose has made having my occasional visit to Zesto (for ice cream) an impossibility.  This could be a good reason to create a 10th Circle of Hell.

When friends ask how I feel, I liken my experience to the As Seen on TV ads for the Clapper. 

Clap on! The week after my treatment,  I feel pretty doggoned good.
Clap off! During my chemo week, I am learning how to manage the nausea and fatigue.  

Obviously, cancer schmantzer would not have been my first choice for my life options; however, it is the hand that I have been dealt. 

As a certifiable control freak, I have come to the startling realization that much of what happens is not in my control.   

I can choose how I will respond, and I choose to be curious and unafraid.


  1. Phyllis, I too had a chem set. I like your state of curiosity... neither fearful or courageous. What may happen in the next emerging moment... that we're all sharing here on this planet? And this statement I love, 'As a certifiable control freak, I have come to the startling realization that much of what happens is not in my control.'... getting to the truth of it. Blessings to you! -Sky

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  3. I remember that my brother had a Gilbert Chemistry Set. Says something about gender and gifts, no? I liked it as much as he did, just as I loved his erector set. Let's not even think about that. I aimed to make the ferris wheel or carousel. Then again, I liked my dolls too. Our parents generally ignored our play. So we too experimented with no supervision. Stay in the light as you journey to recovery from Cancer Schmantzer.