Nikhil Joshi, M.D.
Doctor, Author, Leader
Nikhil Joshi is a young physician, writer, and speaker. He is passionate about furthering his ability to touch the lives of people positively.

The Flavor of Indifference

The Flavor of Indifference

I guess a lot has happened and I should start at the recent beginning.

It’s Thursday night and I’m freshly out of a chemo hole. This will be day 2 out of the hole. It’s funny, we routinely count days in my house now, we count the days till chemo, the days till I’m functional again, and then the days till chemo. Counting and when possible living. It’s a fucking shitty cycle but you already knew that.

But tonight there’s a special treat. I’m going to see one of my favorite bands. Hey Rosetta is playing their annual Christmas show- and I try to never miss it when they’re in town. This time I let things slip- I think I was getting chemo the day the tickets were sold, and they were sold out. F and I were supposed to go together. We kinda had this thing, maybe a year after we had broken up where we saw each other at a Hey Rosetta concert at MUN’s campus bar. I was with another girlfriend at the time, and F. well she was with her friends and saw me and was just so pissed off. Of course if you ask her it’s because we didn’t speak for that year (or the next two) and I was being an asshole. Surprise surprise. I’ll maintain that she almost started an altercation which would have probably worked out fine for her if I reflect accurately. Anyways I wanted the tickets for us, probably to magically fix our past which is at the very least colourful, but they were sold out.

And that’s when it happened. Like the waitress at La Fresca in Halifax, I just had this really fucking genuine moment where my friend P., who actually plays drums in the band got me these tickets. The thing was- I didn’t have to ask him. I have a rule that I never ask P. for things, and that I always pay for whatever when we go out. The second rule started when we were young. P., A. and I were three young hoodlums, and for some reason I felt like P was the younger brother of the group, and in Indian custom, should be treated as such. Now P has always tried to pay, and sometimes he’d be ridiculously creative, there was a time when we were 18 and him and A. would leave money in my shoes after we finished a night of debauchery. I remember those days fondly now, we were young, stupid and just had so much fun. And if I’m being totally honest- P definitely does better than me, but has been gracious enough to let me keep my stubborn ways when we go out. The first rule started when the band became big- you don’t want to be the asshole friend that’s always bugging your other friend for shit. I always assumed P had people up his ass all the time who wanted to take advantage of his kind nature (why did I so easily assume people were shitty?) and celebrity status. And no, this CBC thing and blog thing are not the same thing. He’s a genuine rockstar, I’m a cancer celebrity. Who the fuck wants to be a cancer celebrity? That’s like being a reality TV show star- no one cares who the fuck you are as soon as the season is over. Do you remember who was on the bachelor two seasons ago? Or Flavor of Love? Actually scratch that last part- Flava Flava is my boy and those two seasons of Flavor of Love were the greatest TV I ever watched. I mean sure I felt guilty, but seriously, there was an episode dedicated to finding out who pooped on the staircase. If you don’t find that comical than we’re just different people.

Anyways you get the jist- P. gets me tickets, I’m touched, F. can’t make it, so I bring along J. J. is a close friend, who loves the music as much as I do, and after spending a summer together in Nepal we realized that we’re very alike. While our other two companions, Smithwicks and the French man, were off getting Giardia and shitting on the side of a mountain wondering if they were going to die of dehydration we were eating Kobe beef steaks and drinking scotch. Man there is something about Kobe beef, it feels like the animals have a really good life before they become delicious food. That’s probably what the key to deliciousness is in beef- happiness before the slaughter.

So we’re at the concert, and yeah I probably shouldn’t be there because people have colds and I could get sick, and I have the sniffles and blah blah fucking blah. I obviously went to the concert because my soul has been turned into fucking stuffing from round after round of chemo. I’m already pissed off because my friend V. is sick, and rather than being able to see him because I’m fragile cancer me I can’t do that. I can’t even show up for my friends because of this fucking disease, and I can’t be a fucking doctor right now. My mood is ill, and then HR comes on and I would begin to settle, but while they’re in the middle of one of their new songs, I spy these vapid fucking people on the floor. The girl is insisting her boyfriend take pictures of them and all her friends. Then the people down the row from me keep talking during the song. Suddenly I’m a fucking maniac. I look at Miss Instagram and Mr. Two beers makes me talk too fucking much, and I think “if only I could take your lives and give it to one of my friends who is gone. If only I could take your life and time and give it to a person who actually matters”

Then I realize I’m basically a fucking monster who just spent three to five honest seconds wondering if there is a magical life machine I could invent that would steal some peoples’ time and give it to others who aren’t shitty. I feel revulsion with myself. “Jesus Christ dude” I say to myself “have you always been this dark or is this all cancer talking?” Truthfully, I don’t know, 50/50. There’s this quote from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran “Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you.” Basically Gibran reminds me that I don’t know these people and maybe they’re good or you know help puppies or something like that. Either way there’s no reason to be an asshole. Of course Khalil Gibran died at 48, largely unappreciated for his genius. So maybe if we could talk about the whole thing now, he’d have a different opinion. Maybe he’d also find people who can only pay to see art but lack the common fucking courtesy and sense to enjoy that art repulsive.

The show is amazing, but there is just a little hitch. Tim, the lead vocals for the group apologizes for some technical difficulties. “Technical difficulties” I think to myself “Yeah, cancer has been like having technical difficulties. Shit just went bad. But if you give me a bit of time and patience I’ll totally fix my shit up.” I like the group even more after the hiccup. Maybe because I can relate more now.

J and I are on our way home, we spot a cab but I don’t like the look of the guy inside, his dull eyes and bored countenance makes me think he probably doesn’t matter either, and so I take the next cab, and what do you know, this guy is totally fucking awesome. Turns out I know his wife from working at the hospital, and he’s spent years working as an LPN in mental health . We have the grandest chat as J is dropped home, and I just fucking enjoy this man’s company so much. I enjoy that he obviously loves his children as he tells me about them passionately. I get so much comfort in knowing that this guy’s got two great kids and he’s working two jobs for them but doesn’t regard that as a burden- he sees his life as joy. He asks me how things are going and I’m straight up with him that I’ve got cancer and it’s fucking shitty, and he’s just so fucking great about the whole thing. And that’s why I can’t shake this notion inside of me, that certain people matter and certain people don’t. Because certain people just care and are tremendously authentic about their humanity. And I’m so thankful of these people who try to matter everyday to a stranger, a friend, their kids, to the world. Because their constant struggle and passion to find meaning makes me want to live, makes me want to get my next chemo, and allows me to dream of the day when all of this is over. I just hope I have the opportunity to give to the world as it has given so freely and beautifully to me.

Peace
-N.

P.S. I like you and you matter. Now go have a great day and smile. Also the Dr. C. show will be continuing every Monday but this blog is going on hiatus till the New Year. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. And to anyone who is having a rough time through the holidays for whatever reason- that’s fine. Sometimes they fucking suck. I’m thinking about you too.

11 Responses to “The Flavor of Indifference”

  1. Joseph Kearsey

    This blog and the posting on CBC today are wonderful, thank you. The blog was the smack to the right side of the face I needed to day and the P.S. let me have the the tears to clear some of the joyous/misery of this season, I will be fine. The “I’m OK” lines in the CBC post are very good. Keep safe!

    Peace

    P.S. I am posting (edited) your P.S. from the blog on my office door.

    Reply
  2. Angela Baker

    Thanks for posting. I’m a nurse. I’ve gone through Chemo with my cousin who had testicular cancer. I love that you are telling your story as a cancer patient. It gives me insight into what cancer patients go through. Enjoy your Christmas

    Reply
  3. Sarah

    Your writing is very touching. I’m sorry that you have to go through this. If we didn’t live so far apart, I’d offer you germ-free hugs every day (and one for your mom, too). Thanks for helping me understand what my mom’s going through. We’ve never met, but you matter to me – even the little “fucking monster” inside (we all have one, but it takes balls to admit it). Best wishes to you and your loved ones.

    Reply
  4. Love this blog even more than the CBC blog

    Well that made me smile. And cry just a little. And laugh. Awesome post, thank you. I admire your honesty and truly laughed out loud at your PS. I don’t have cancer but I have had a particularly shitty year, I believe sometimes it happens like that and I know that next year, I will have a whole new understanding of ..well..stuff. I also know that you are an awesome Dr. and I will be thinking of you and the other patients coping with cancer. Miserable fucking disease.

    Reply
  5. Lisa

    Nikhil,

    Perhaps I should address you as “Dr. Joshi”, however I feel that with having read your blog and your intimate thoughts and feelings, you wouldn’t mind me addressing you on a first-name basis, even though you & I are strangers. You are a beautiful soul. I believe you have a lot of life left to live. Your odyssey is I feel meant to deepen your soul’s understanding and provide even more meaning to your journey through this life and the good works that lie ahead for you to do. You are obviously extremely intelligent and very gifted and blessed. Perhaps because of this, you have been given a heavier burden in this life. But it is obvious that you are strong, more than strong enough to come through your difficult path and you will emerge a more highly-evolved soul and a stronger individual for the experiences you are going through right now. I will continue to follow your blog. I wish you courage and strength, I pray for you, I care about you, and I thank you for sharing your story. ((( hugs ))) It is obvious you are an exceptional human being. Keep your courage, keep looking towards your future. You are going to reach it.

    Reply
  6. Pavi Toor

    Informative and insightful articles Dr. Joshi. What’s your e-mail address?

    Reply
  7. Wayne Timbury

    Hey Dr Joshi. I enjoy the blog, I had a brief stint with RCC this year and I have an incisional hernia from it that I have been waiting to get fixed, whenever I get down about that I read this and it makes me realize I am one lucky fella to have had a non-chemo, non radiation brush with the beast. Its gone but the growling burbling bulge on my side reminds me every day that things could be much worse. Your words inspire more than you know, I think.
    I remember my first thought after the emergency doc in St Clare’s said “I am so sorry but you have a 7 cm tumor on your left kidney”, was “holy crap can I still do my job….”. My entire focus for the next few days was to make my wife and daughter feel relatively at ease with things and determine with Transport Canada how losing a kidney would affect my Air Transport Licence. Looking back now over the 12 months since this happened, I can’t believe I am still flying, still healthy (albeit with a conjoined twin of a hernia on my side), and very happy. Stick with the Chemo, keep the course and steer straight and before you know it you will be looking back feeling blessed. I know the sharing of this like you have helps, it helped me as well. Take care Doc and have as good a holiday as you can.

    Reply
  8. Joseph Kearsey

    I found this today and you came to mind, enjoy;

    May you go forth under the strength of heaven, under the light of sun, under the radiance of moon;
    May you go forth with the splendor of fire, with the speed of lightning, with the swiftness of wind;
    May you go forth supported by the depth of sea, by the stability of earth, by the firmness of rock;
    May you be surrounded and encircled, with the protection of the nine elements.

    Reply
  9. ED M

    Thank you for writing this blog. Helps me understqand what my father went through. BTW, what ever happened to the “Vision in Blue”?

    Chin up,

    Reply
  10. Taylor

    I’m going through a lot right now too and your writing is identical to my thought process. It’s so nice to see someone so optimistic about such a hard time and accepting of it. I know you have your hard days and some are better than that. You sound like you’re doing as best as you can and you are right in your previous post, life isn’t fair and we truly show what we are made of when we are put in these unfair situations. I believe we are because we can handle them, and we are in charge of using these traumatic events to help others and make a change. Something big, because people will listen.
    I know it’s hard with guilt you feel for the people going through your journey with you (like your father) but if they had the choice, they wouldn’t want to be anywhere but with you. When we are sick, we often come to terms, although it’s painful, with the possible outcomes and struggles. However, our healthy family have a hard time doing so.

    Needless to say, your blog is touching and I’m so happy I stumbled upon it. I will be reading all throughout your journey and just know that you aren’t alone.

    Reply
  11. Jess

    I have been reading your column on CBC since the beginning, but it’s your most recent article that made me want to comment. I was diagnosed with hodgkin’s just over a month ago. I’m 26. The time period between my initial appointment and my CT, which happened today, has been insanely long. It’s given me more than enough time to think about the diagnosis and everything that comes with it. I can completely relate to your latest column. I have always been a big sweat-er of the small stuff, but I can honestly say that this past month has changed that, and I haven’t even done the puke-my-guts out thing yet. I want to live a meaningful life too, very desperately actually, yet being armed with this knowledge hasn’t done too much because I’m still sitting here watching gossip girl on netflix. If you figure out the why, what or how, please share. Good luck with the search for meaning. xoxo gossip girl

    Reply

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