Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Chemo yesterday was hard. I started feeling nauseous before they even accessed my port. I could smell the medicines and anticipates and my brain got ahead of my body and started early. Some of the first drugs they give me though are anti-nausea, so that helped a bit. But having chemo so early in the morning, I wasn't able to eat a big meal. Too early for me to do more than nibble. So the Benedryl got me terribly high and I couldn't even move my head to see how much was left in the bag for fear of the room spinning and either throwing up or passing out. My Mom was great though, when I mumbled and slurred "How much is in the bag", she knew what I meant and could tell me that it was done.

About half hour later that began to ease, but my legs got restless and jerky. So I lay back in the recliner and Mom rubbed them for a while. That helped a lot. I just tried to relax and chill but it seemed like this round took forever. I was anxious for it to be done. 7 bags of medicine and 2 of saline takes a long time to infuse. The last bag went in too quickly and I felt weired sinus pain and pressure and a headache like brain freeze. I told the nurse and she said that is normal and that she did infuse it faster than normal. Next time we will slow it down. She gave an extra bag of saline to counteract the headache and after a few minutes it stopped and we could go home.

The nausea began pretty soon after we got home and continued mostly unrelieved the whole evening. Elaine came over to sit with us and keep us company. She is wonderful. Just hung out and let me gripe and moan and watched TV. At about8:30, when I'd had just about enough of the nausea and jerky legs and was just weepy and ready to be done, Mom gathered all the medicines I needed to take before bedtime. Which included my birth control pill. She brought out the little blue plastic box. If you an not familiar with oral contraceptive packaging, you open the box, fined the pill marked with the day of the week and push that pill through the foil back. Mom and Elaine passed the thing back and forth and looked and fiddled with it and couldn't figure it out. For a brief moment we all looked at each other and started howling. I just had to say it. "Geez, you lesbians are worthless when it comes to birth control." and we all had a good laugh and it felt great.

There was some spirited talk in the cancer center yesterday. I had a youngish women (40's)sitting next to me and an elderly (80's) lady sitting across from me and my Mom and the nurse, Laurie sitting by me hand pushing some meds. And the talk came to religion. I am not sure how or why it did. But we got into some not-overly heated discussion of the separation of church and state and what that should mean. I actually can't remember everybody's points as I was being poisoned at the time and didn't say much. But after it calmed down the nurse asked me quietly what I believe. So I was honest. I told her I am agnostic. I am not ready to say that there is no god and I am not ready to say that there is. And if there is, then who has it right? Cause I see a whole whole lot of religions that say they have it right and everyone else is wrong. And that belief leads to a whole lot of death, destruction, war in the worst cases and political maneuvering and subjugation and forcing of wills by laws in the least case. She asked why not Christianity, so I had to tell her my breaking point with church.

I told her about Nui, my junior year of high school she was a foreign exchange student from Thailand. A really great girl full of love for life and adventure and as nice as can be. We became friends. I was searching at the time for what I really felt about religion and Nui and I spoke of Buddhism, which was her religion and Christianity that I had been somewhat raised in. It seemed to me that the basic tenets of how to live a good life were the same. Be good to each other, don't step on those below you, help others, etc. We didn't ever get too far into it, neither of us was theologically educated enough for an indepth comparison, but it was enough for me to understand that we aren't all that different.

The very next time I attended church, a man I had known for years as a nice, charismatic friend of the family, was the guest pastor that day. And he gave a wildly enthusiastic performance in which he spoke forcefully that the only way into heaven is through Jesus Christ. That in no uncertain terms, if you do not take Jesus Christ as your personal savior you are going to hell. He said these words, each one punctuated by a forceful fist to the palm. I was shocked. This is the closest I had ever seen to fire and brimstone preaching and I knew this man as a gently family man. When asked about those who had no access to christian churches out in the world, his answer was that it is our job to go and tell them this fact. And at 15 years old, I knew, knew, without a doubt in my heart that my friend Nui was not going to hell for belonging to a religion that teaches to lead a good life and do as much good with it that you can. I simply lost any hope of ever being a part of an organized religious group again.

I am not saying I don't believe in Jesus. I am sure he was a great and wonderful man who taught a lot about how to live a good life. That is as far as I can go. As far as virgin birth and death and Ascension, I simply have not got the requisite faith. I need proof and that need rules out a life in organized religion. And I just do not believe that anyone has the right to go into someone else's land or home and tell them that they are wrong. Not Thailand, not Iraq and not America - understand me Osama? You don't have the right to blow up our buildings and make war because we are not a Muslim county. What I say applies to you to.

Ok, now I am beat. Shouldn't be thinking so much day after chemo. My pulse rate was really high this morning, 146 at one point and I am not obeying my mom and lying son the couch. Instead I am inciting theological debate on my blog. I should stop now.

I guess I just want everyone to let everyone else live and worship or not worship as they see fit. Wish we could do that. I do not mean to set off a firestorm of comments from my many friend who do belong to churches. I respect your belief. Sometimes I envy it. It must be so comforting to believe. I was born a cynic and sometimes I regret that. Not always, but sometimes.

And I do want to say that while I have been sick, I have received countless number of friends and family graciously praying for me. And I am accepting of any and all good wishes in what ever form they mean the most to you and I would not belittle these gestures for the life of me. Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts.

I think in the future, when people ask me about my religion, I will simply tell them I worship at the theatre. My fellowship is there, we do good by making others happy, we teach young people to reach for their potential and we bring happiness to many. That is enough for me.


Jooley Ann said...

I completely understand where you're coming from! Even though I'm an active, faithful Christian, I have many of the same issues with religion. It's so frustrating, and it makes me sad.

I attend a very liberal church where everyone is welcome and the focus stays on "Be good to each other, don't step on those below you, help others, etc." Sermons such as the one you experienced don't happen there. For me, that works. I am certain that for others it is "bad" Christianity. Oh well -- that's their problem!

Religion is such a personal choice, and I can't fathom judging the way someone else believes. For goodness sake, we all have our own problems we should be sorting out, rather than looking around for someone else to pick on.

Incidentally, I practiced Buddhism at one point, and the particular group I hung out with were very scornful towards Christians. So, sadly, it really does seem that this problem can cut all ways.

I'm very sorry to hear that this round of chemo went so badly. I can't even imagine how weary you must be of all of this. John & I continue to think of you -- even my mom asks about you all the time. :) I hope the effects if this round start to ease up very soon.


Julie said...

I also totally respect differing opinions on religion and have a really tough time "evangelizing" others like our church tells us to do. If I am asked about my church I am not secretive, I am honest about it and say it's a great church, but I don't start pestering people to come.

And I'm really glad that you said that you were okay with people praying for you. I've felt weird about that since I started, since I know you have, with good reason, some serious problems with Christianity, but it's the only way I know to send you healing thoughts. I hope all the good energy we're all sending you (rather through thoughts, prayers, meditation or whatever), is reaching you!

yer mama said...

Our religious views are remarkably similar! But my childhood friend attended a very fundamentalist church where they preached that Catholics are bad and going to hell. I was at her church on one of the many sundays when they said that and was totally baffled how anyone who believed in jesus christ could believe that anyone at all was going to hell. My family is catholic and I know they aren't going to hell. That's when I decided organized religion was not going to work for me. I used to swear up and down that I was atheist. I have decided in the past few years that I am really agnostic.

I hope you feel better soon!

Kara said...

I think it is good for you to continue to debate such topics. It is part of who you are. I could never imagine you - Marsha - without thinking of how you seem to make such good observations about things and can debate on pretty much any controversial subject. Your insights on religion are the same as my own and I appreciate hearing your story. It is nice to remember those days. I remember Nui. :)

Love you!


Renee said...

I was glad to read this. We've talked religion before and I knew you were agnostic and I didn't know how you felt about me telling you that me and my mom were praying for you. I don't care much for the fundamentalists myself! Was raised in it but there doesn't seem to be room for everyone! I always see Christ's ministry as a Ministry of Love. That's what I try to live. Sometimes I fall short (don't get me started on our lying warmongering president!). Sorry this round of chemo was harder than the others. Mom and I will continue to keep you in our prayers. I send you love because you're a lovely person. Hugs, Stage Mama

Fire Berry said...

Fantastic post!

Thanks Marsha... we had a speaker at church just two weeks ago that addressed just your conversation -- and he even suggested we question our own beliefs of our own liberal "UN"organized religion and metaphysical approach.

He noted, as many of us agree these days, that organized religion was born to control the masses. Each religion has a list of things that they say you must do to ascend (in one way or another.) Without the list, there would be no organized religion.

He pointed out in his strong perception and in no uncertain terms, that Jesus didn't come to save or condemn. When backed into a corner Jesus said he had come to provide us two things: Joy, and abundant life. That's alright with me.

There's a core value where I worship: There is no *one* way to God. That's why the CHRISTian community calls us a cult. :-/ (Again, a way to separate people from their own power is to claim "your" way is the only way.)And even the way I've chosen, is not the right way. It's the way that works best for me. As for me, if my God doesn't love me and everybody else for being just exactly who they are, then I'd fire that God and get a new one.

And oh yeah...first churches were theatres, and visa versa... I love that.

Finally, this prayer thing... as a prayer chaplain, we train extensively not in how to pray, but in what we call "holding a spiritual space." Prayer, to me anyway, is simply thinking the highest and best thoughts for others and verbalizing them if needed, at times when others can't or need the extra positive uplifting energy. These sorts of thoughts have an energy that emits a frequency, I understand, and they're helpful in promoting healing.

It's the 21st century, the mind and the omnipotent and science are bound to meet somewhere, soon.

Here's a cool site I recently perused: "Does The Universe Have A Purpose."

You might enjoy it.