Every morning I take 10 different types of pills and 2 injectables. I line them up by size and shape, the smaller ones in pairs, and then begin to work my way down the line. Pop some pills, wash it down with water, repeat. When I get to the bigger ones, I sometimes allow myself to get distracted by my computer or phone or anything, as they sometimes make me gag and I need a minute to let the others rest first. But finally, down they go too. Then I slip down my waistband far enough to reveal the right side of my stomach, and find 2 spaces among the polka-dotted bruises to inject my insulin.

It’s a system I’ve grown used to over the past 6 months. In fact, my entire day is filled with systems and compartments. My purse, once so tiny it barely fit my keys and phone, is now a hobo bag of considerable heft that is filled with a half dozen zippered pouches. One pouch for my insulin needles, another for the injection pens and pill organizer. My glucometer, to test my blood sugar so I know how much insulin to take throughout the day. A pouch with my USB cord and plug to charge my phone, another with a battery back-up if no plugs are available. A big one filled with various things I might need if stuck somewhere, like an ER room overnight, with deodorant and breath mints, hair ties and fans, etc. A separate pouch for pain and nausea meds to take as needed.

Systems, routines, pouches, compartments. When I get home at night there’s “my spot,” a place on our couch already equipped with a pillow, my quilt, a glass of water, the various remotes, a rotating tray table, and a nightstand filled with more trays and systems to accommodate my night pills, my jewelry, extra pills and a biohazard disposal, napkins and scissors and pens and tissues. Things I might need within easy reach to avoid getting up when my body hurts too much to move.

I’m thankful I have these things. I’m even more thankful for a husband and mom and friends and medical professionals who help me navigate this health journey I’m on.

What I’m not thankful for is the burping. Lately, I’ve been having these awful sulphur burps. This very unladylike belches that erupt without warning and leave an ungodly taste and smell of rotten eggs in my mouth. They are not attractive. They are not welcome. And quite frankly, they are another side effect that I could seriously do without.

Tomorrow, we go back to Duke to discuss my upcoming surgery. My official diagnosis is low grade papillary urothelial carcinomas. They were found throughout my left kidney and ureter and so the doctor wants to remove both. This is important, and this is scary. We have a lot of questions and things to discuss. I’d be a lot more scared about what is happening if I had time to think about it.

But instead, I’m just burping. Hmmm. Maybe I am thankful for them after all.