Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stayRobert Frost, “Nothing Gold Can Stay”
My twelve-year-old loves a soft, golden, yellow. The lemon-yellow of sunrise and daffodils of spring. She loves the crisp newness of it all. She is not alone. When yellow is brought to mind, most people think of these kinds of shades. Bright golden yellows to lift us up from the darkness of sleep. The energy of reaching midday. Of the apex of youth, and sand and beach balls, and of bright yellow umbrellas. We don’t usually think about the darker, or the dull shades of yellows. Just like death itself, we aren’t keen to think about those colors because they hint at what comes next.
We don’t want to see the part where matires first golden, green leaf, inevitably subsides to dried, crumbling, yellow leaf. We don’t want to think about what happens next. When dawn becomes decay and beach blankets become old sweaters to snuggle in with the cooler weather. These things must inevitably happen, Frost warns us. Nothing gold can stay, but the yellows, they still remain, adopting sallower tones. Teeth turn yellow. From coffee or cigarettes, or merely from a life spent eating and drinking all of delicious things that the world had to offer us. Corners turn yellow with debris and drains left to themselves. Old papers also yellow, and they accumulate the smell of dust. Papers, now lost in binders and at the bottoms of file cabinets in disarray. Papers that were probably once deemed inescapably important. Were they really? The shade of yellow that comes with sickness also seems to come with a smell. I bet you can smell it now, if you tried. The kind that lingers in the homes and hospitals that harbor it.
Me? I’ve seen the yellows of spring and summer. I’ve seen the dissipating off-yellow hue on each of the children that I brought into the world as well. My last child was born 10 years ago. At which time I jumped into the deep end at the pool woth a full time job, a nursing baby and three kids 5 and younger. But then about two years ago with my diagnosis, someone began infiltrating my spaces with an awful mustard shade of yellow, and no matter how hard I tried to push it back.
One morning, I woke up to find out that I had turned yellow. “Well, I guess that I didn’t see that coming.” Maybe, I should have, since just a couple of days ago, my bilirubin numbers had just jumped, quietly, from way out of nowhere, and the nurse went to check out the whites of my eyes. At that point, I guess that I looked good enough because we proceeded with chemo and then I got sent home like nothing happened. I guess it’s funny what another crazy toxic jolt of chemotherapy and a couple of more days will do.
Another week for a physical exam, more blood work, an X-Ray and a CT and I have a diagnosis of a blockage in the common bile duct of my liver, and an outpatient surgery scheduled to install another stent. I also got no new good news regarding cancer burden. Slight tumor growth in the areas we knew about. A couple more suspicious and and new spots in other areas. 4 tiny xx mm size lung nodules. That “calcified metastatic deposit” on my abdominal wall to the right of my stomach. I can feel this as a lump on the outside of my body, by the way. I am tempted to play with it, but I do not.
Another week after that, and a bit of good news. The stent is actually working (huzzah!) and has as at least drained enough so that my bilirubin count went from 15.7 to 6.6 in 6 days. My skin is definitely still yellow, but more of a paler yellow as opposed to the green-tinted overnight soaked in yellow highlighter that it was before.
So, where to go from here? My oncologist thinks that if my bilirubin keeps dropping like it has, that I should be able to restart chemo treatment as soon as early next week. Third line chemo. The kind that is designed to SLOW growth; not to stop chemo. And which for a good share of patients, doean’t even work at all. But just this week, another possibility popped up. One that I would love to jump on and take a chance with.
But… I still, as of today have the high bilirubin count,. and I am afraid that they are going to reject me outright for. Even though it might be completely gone in four days!!! That’s silly, you might say.. why would they not just wait to see if things line up? Because there are a lot of people who are dying of colon cancer, and so many slots eager for the opportunity. A few days might indeed make the difference between being accepted and being shut out 😥😥😥
Literally begging for the chance for additional life is something that I will never, ever get used to. So let’s hope that this is something that I am building up in my head unnecessarily.
It’s been a tough couple of days, where I accidentally ended up without my extended release pain meds, and OH MY did I notice the difference. Everywhere in my body. But this afternoon, I feel once again more in balance. I am sitting on the front patio watching everyone out on their afternoon walks (something that I would not have been able to do because of pain and lethargy even as recently as this morning). I may not be golden, but that sun is still golden; it mellows a bit and makes a friendly companion to the breeze rolling through. And I have two tiny yellow pills to keep me afloat of the pain and nauseau wanting to sneak their way in tonight. I realize that Eden has not yet sunk to grief in Frost’s world or in mine. I am still alive, and able to enjoy these simple luxuries that other people take for granted.
I know that nothing gold can stay, but the yellows remain. This post diagnosis life is not very much like the bodyneglecting, overworked, and endlessly seeking last one, where my fire was burning hot. Fear, sadness, love, cherishing, and finding peace have all faded it’s bright glory. But a tuscan mellow yellow still hangs in that sky, ready for one winter storm to come along at any moment to knock it down and lets the eternal moonlight take its place.