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Insomnia and Bag Balm

Posted by on June 5, 2010 in IL-2, Immunotherapies (IL-2, IL-15, PD-1s, etc.), My Health Updates - No comments

insomniaI think that Dena’s blog posts covered the real time play-by-play from that last round. I’m not sure I can add much, as I have a bit of a hard time remembering it. Dena has informed me of entire conversations we evidently had during this time – conversations of which I have no memory. (For example, I am told that we discussed in-depth the hiring of a nanny for the summer who, to my surprise, starts in about two weeks.) She describes my end of the conversations as a kind of manic speaking in tongues, nonsensical riffs unfolding from the mysterious recesses of my sweaty brain. The only clear episode I remember was imagining that she had broken out in an unnerving rash, and I was adamant that this required her own hospitalization.

As I have previously noted, however, each recovery period brings its own side effects. I suppose one should admire the IL-2′s diversity and creativity. This time, it is insomnia. Not the kind where you lay in bed trying to sleep, tossing and turning for a couple of hours before drifting off. This kind comes with entire nights lost to bad movies from the 1980s (which, in the 1980s seemed so much better). One- and two-day stints with literally no sleep; other nights consistenly failing to drift off until 4 a.m. I have always been an insomniac. However, I have never undergone a continuous period of three weeks and counting with so little sleep.

For those who’ve never had insomnia, there is a certain suppressed envy — man, I wish I could stay awake all night long. I could get some work done. Except it doesn’t work that way. Your eyes are tired. Your brain is tired. Your body is tired and twitchy. It is difficult to do something that requires much focus, like reading. Or working. I watch infomercials at three in the morning. I have developed an affinity for Ginzu knives and multi-DVD sets on how to get rich easy from selling unusable real estate. I have a Snuggie. I envy the sophisticated teeth whitening systems used by the stars. ProActive, I’m sure, could wash my skin to an airbrushed glow. At four, I wander about the house in the dark, pausing near windows, staring out, wondering if light is coming any time soon.

Speaking of unusual products. Another one you may never have heard of — aside from Unseen Cleavage Control Clips and Doggie Life Jacket Preservers — is an ointment called Bag Balm. I did not discover Bag Balm on late-night television. It was recommended by multiple other renal cancer patients who had undergone IL-2 and had experienced the discomfort of frayed skin on the heels of the feet and palms of the hands. It also arrived unannounced one day at my home, compliments of my brother-in-law. You should know that my brother-in-law has a small farm, with animals like sheep. Real sheep. That bleat. The kinds of things I’ve only experienced at petting zoos with my daughters. You should know this because it will explain something: Bag Balm is an ointment invented for the purpose of applying to cow udders. It heals the chapping and chafed skin of milking cows.

Let me be clear: I have never milked my feet. Still, this stuff works with an astonishing effectiveness. It’s not pleasant. It’s a yellowy green goo. If there were a distinctive smell to yellow green goo, this would be it.

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