For me, sex has never been just about the physical pleasure. It’s always been an emotional connection to the man I am with, in this case my amazing husband. For the last few months, our love making has been directed at expanding our family. Last weekend, when he first brought up making love I was honestly freaked out. First, it wasn’t about trying for a baby anymore (not that being with my husband was ever just about that.) Then, there was the soreness from the port-a-cath –how is it possible it is still so damn tender after a week?– and the occasional pain in my right upper quadrant. I wasn’t certain how physically prepared I would be for a coupling, even a gentle one.
Tonight, I decided I needed to fill the void that had been created since the downward spiral that had become our life since the first bad set of results. The problem became clear almost instantly: we were awkward. It was like our first time all over again, or as Sarah McLachlan might say we fumbled towards ecstasy. I couldn’t stop thinking about things: the port-a-cath, the cancer, the unknown looming beyond us. What if things didn’t work out for the best? How would things between us be physically with chemo and the injection? Would this be akin to our last time? I wish I had paid better attention to last time we were together; it was the last time we were both “healthy.”
The more I tried to shut off my head, the worse it seemed to become. I was so busy anticipating pain, that I couldn’t relax enough to enjoy being with my husband. There was definitely concern over his hitting the site of the port. (No, really I’m not overprotective of it at all.) I was also concerned that I would move wrong and bust open said site, or the one on my neck…or even just have the wonderful spasm of pain in my right side that happens periodically. I kept reminding myself to relax, to focus on Milo –who was of course focusing on me and seriously worried something was wrong—but I couldn’t.
Physically, things weren’t so different and eventually I talked myself down off the proverbial ledge. Emotionally, I was clearly a wreck. I had missed being with my husband in this way; the physical bond that we have is amazing and strengthens the emotional one. He was gentle and loving; the look in his eyes was so tender that I cried. With him, I felt so loved but I also felt so lost. I’m honestly scared that things between us are going to deteriorate as the treatments begin. It’s not going to be the same between us. The side effects of the drugs can put a damper on a regular life as it is: they sap energy, make people nauseous and in some cases make people lose hair. Not exactly the most attractive set of side effects.
I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it a lot: I want my life back. Cancer is messing with my health, but I can either let it completely victimize me or I can control the rest. The love Milo and I share is one that neither of us ever expected to find. Love making is possible with cancer: it takes a few different maneuvers, a little extra work and a lot more tenderness, but it is feasible. It’s more about relaxing and remembering that the man (or woman) you are with loves you and isn’t going to do anything to hurt you. Just be ready to cry, especially if you’re an emotional mess like I am. And unless you happen to be some kind of porn star, be prepared for a few fumbles along the way. You’ll laugh about them later, I’m sure.