March 11th, 2010
I have been hiding under a rock since my final chemo two weeks ago. My hardship comes from the realization that chemo #6 was a faux finish line.
On the one hand, I feel incredibly relieved to have completed the first event in what one friend called the Triathlon from Hell. (The other two events, of course, are surgery and radiation.) On the other hand, the effects of chemo are cumulative, so the side effects of this last treatment have been pretty harsh. I even got a new side effect: mouth ulcers. That left me with only one side effect gone unchecked on my oncologist’s potential side effect list. My fingernails never fell off. For this, I am grateful that there is no Chemo #7.
Psychologically, I feel like I am done with chemo. Chemo, however, is clearly not done with me. In moments where I start to feel good, I become elated and eager to return to my normal activities. I take a burst of energy and a lack of nausea as a signal that I have returned to normal. I delve into all the things I have put on hold, push myself into activities I have missed doing. Then I pay the price by getting sicker or more tired or both.
Last Sunday was such a beautiful day. The weather was beautiful so I went out with my daughters to a nearby school to run together. The sunshine, my girls, blue skies: it was glorious. Aware of my tendency to overdo things, I only ran for about twenty minutes, chatting and joking with the kids, coaching them on their form. When we got home, I was craving a coconut lentil curry I am fond of, so I went out, got the ingredients and cooked dinner. It was delicious, and so completely satisfying to once again make and eat my own food.
I know that doesn’t sound like a big day, but it was obviously way too big for me –– especially since I was trying to wean myself off of all of the anti-nausea drugs I have been on for so long. On Monday, I was nauseous and overtired and horribly out of it. I had to get all of the meds back into my system but nothing was working. It was one of the worst days I have had the entire four months of treatment. Obviously my body was telling me to slow down.
It’s frustrating. There are so many things I want to do. I am not temperamentally suited to the number of hours I have to log in my bed nor the fogginess of medication.
At the same time, I am having to come to terms with the realities of my upcoming surgery and radiation. I am actually not up to laying out the gory details of these at the moment, but suffice it to say, there are details of the long term side effects and permanent scars that I am having to adjust to. I am having to face that my ideas about returning to my “normal” self are a little false. Accepting that I will not really ever return to my old self is very painful right now.
Reticence, if you haven’t noticed, is not my usual modus operandi. It’s weird for me to feel that way, but I have, as I said in the beginning, I am dealing with all of this by hiding under a rock. I realize my version of quiet is probably somebody else’s version of loud. I have moments where I am my usual chatty and happy self, but their timing and duration are hard to predict. They go as suddenly as they come on.
This entry was posted on Thursday, March 11th, 2010 at 2:53 am and is filed under Treatment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.