Good Advice

We have all been given advice.  Some of it good and some of it a little more “with good intentions.”  There are really three major types of advice that is doled out.

  1. A-Company-Is-Avoiding-Being-Sued type of advice:
  • How about the advice to not use the hairdryer while in the shower? Oh I can’t count the number of times I’ve slept through the alarm and was in a rush to get ready.  Never, ever did I feel I could save myself some time by drying my hair in the shower!
  • “Please don’t eat laundry pods.” As obvious as this one seems, Tide put out a statement saying that it is a bad idea to eat Tide Pods and they are used for doing laundry and nothing else.  Wanna know what really concerns me about the laundry pod eating crowd, one day they will vote.
  • A sticker on a power tool, “Do not use while sleeping.” You know that some knucklehead tried running their chainsaw while asleep, cut their thumb off and then sued the maker of said chainsaw because they hadn’t been warned.  I can assure you that if The Hubs tries to fire up a chainsaw or any other power tool in his sleep; I will put a stop to it!  I mean, a girl has got to get her sleep and a running chainsaw really gets in the way of that.  Let’s not forget that an ER is a creepy place at 2AM.
  1. The-Practical-Everyday type of advice:
  • Look both ways before crossing the street. This is a lifesaving lesson we are taught at a very early age.  Your momma wanted to make sure you made it safely home from school so she gave you sound advice on how to cross the street.  Just because you are all grown up doesn’t mean you have to ignore this bit of advice!  You never know when a driverless car will come around the corner!  Be safe people!
  • Don’t feed the bears. Several years ago I attended a retreat in the mountains.  On the night we checked in someone from the camp made a big announcement about taking all food or food related items out of our vehicles.  Apparently a bear sniffed out a watermelon Jolly Rancher the day before and proceeded to tear a car apart to get to it.  I’m not sure what you are supposed to do if you are camping in a tent in the woods and all of your food is in a cooler in your car.  I’m not a camper, so I can’t help you with that one.  Just make sure you don’t leave any Jolly Ranchers in your cup holders!
  • Put on clean underwear in case you get in an accident. Why in the world did my mom always say that?  Did yours?  I’ve only been in a couple of accidents, but I am fairly certain the condition of my underwear never crossed my mind!
  1. Telling-You-From-the-Heart type of advice:
  • The Hubs reminds me not to overdo it. He also tells me that we will get me whatever I need.  I’m trying to determine if rose gold colored shoes qualify as a “need.”  What do you think?
  • When I started this journey, my dear friend Patty told me to find things that I enjoy doing. Plan things that I can look forward to.  For her, it is going to breakfast on Saturday mornings, flowers and movies.  She also does some type of word game that I still haven’t figured out.
  • Lisa gave breast cancer a smack down over seven years ago. She gave me permission to eat cereal all day and binge watch TV!

Over the past several weeks I have taken the “from the heart” advice and done some things that help me make it through the really bad days.  Who am I kidding?  I do some of them when I’m having a really good day!

Let’s start with flavored coffee.  I use to only buy flavored creamer because I thought flavored coffee was too expensive.  Now my cabinet is stocked with everything from coconut mocha to toasted graham crackers.  Oh yes, I am indulging in all of it!  On those days that I’m feeling extra sassy, I do the flavored coffee with the flavored creamer.  Confession; that is almost every single day!

Know what else I do?  Watch back to back episodes of The Pioneer Woman.  Or if I find a string of UFO investigation shows on, you can bet I’m fixated as long as my peepers will stay open.  If I can go from The Pioneer Woman to UFO investigations all in one day, now that is living!

We want to take a trip to celebrate the completion of this phase of chemo.  So I spend time looking at different vacation packages to a couple of destinations.  I don’t know if we will do a road trip, take a train someplace or fly to one of our favorite getaways.  Planning the trip is half of the fun for me.  Knowing that I get to escape with my husband makes me giddy!

Since eating out and having date night is long overdue, I find myself reading menus online!  Last night I spent an hour looking at menus for Mexican food restaurants I have not been to and planning what I am going to order.  No.  I’m not kidding.  I can’t wait to get back to Snooze or Chuy’s or any of the other places we really like.

This mandatory down time has provided an incredible opportunity for me to read, write, and reconnect with the creative side of me that I unintentionally set aside years ago.  All of it is in little blocks of time, but I enjoy it while I can.  Then I remember that The Hubs reminds me to not overdo it and I stop.  Like right now…

Once this treatment phase is over, I am pretty sure I will continue some of these things.  I am enjoying them too much to completely give them up!

My advice to you is when you are given some good advice, take it!

Thrive Through It!

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I’m So Tired

For several weeks I’ve been working on some posts, but I cannot seem to get them completed.  When I first started this journey, my goal was to post something at least once a week.  I’m finding that the more chemo cycles I go through, the less energy I have.  Doggonit, I’m tired.  I don’t mean to complain.  What I mean is to be is honest and tell it like it is.

I’m tired of very little quality time with The Hubs.  I cherish my time with him.  I miss not having the energy to go on a date or even to stay awake long enough to watch a hockey game with him.  I miss not being able to do every day chores, talking, or spending quiet time with him.  I’m tired of missing him.

I’m tired of my husband having to carry the load of the entire household.  He is so weighed down with his job, his dad, and then he has to come home and manage the house.  I need his help to keep the dishes caught up or fold some laundry.  Through it all, he never complains.  I miss being the helper my husband needs and deserves.

I’m tired of being achy all the time.  The constant feeling of having the flu is overwhelming some days.  It is a challenge to get comfortable.  I’m tired of sleeping on a heating pad to manage the pain in my back.  I’m tired of sitting on the side of the bed in tears because I’m at a loss on what to do.

I’m tired of not being able to think of a common word.  It is so embarrassing when I can’t come up with a word like “towel”.  The Hubs is so patient with me and tries to help me find the right word.  He loves me so.

I’m tired of feeling disconnected from friends and church.  Walking pneumonia took almost two weeks to get over.  That was two weeks of missing church.  I miss meeting friends for coffee or lunch.  I feel like I don’t know what is happening in anyone else’s life.  That feels selfish.

I’m tired of fatigue.  Good days are down to two or three a week.  One of those days is dedicated to the treatment chair.  On my good days I can be awake about six hours before my body calls it quits.  On my bad days, well, I only make it a couple hours before I have to shut down.

I’m tired of wearing beanies.  Sure, I have a lot of them.  Printed ones, solid ones, ones with sparkles.  You name it, I’ve got it.  They are a reminder that things are different for me right now.  I’m tired of not being able to do anything with my hair.  I would be excited for a ponytail.

I’m tired of not fitting in my clothes.  I continue to gain weight which leaves me few clothing options.  I guess it doesn’t matter because I’m at home most of the time.

I’m tired of my house not being “visitor ready” because I can’t keep up on the cleaning.  I know our friends and family do not judge.  They understand.  The floors need to be steam cleaned, the counters need to be wiped down, the dining room table is piled high, everything needs to be dusted, the vacuum needs to be run, and the bathrooms need a good scrubbing.  I feel lucky if there are clean dishes to eat off of.  And that is only because of my husband doing them.

I’m tired of feeling like I can’t catch my breath.  I never thought I would need to use an inhaler, but some days I do.  There are times that walking down the hallway or up the stairs makes me panic because I feel like I can’t get air in my lungs.

I’m tired of not being able to breathe.  The boogers and blood clots have created a traffic jam in my nasal passages.  It is no wonder I can’t get any air.  Yet when I try to blow my nose, the nose bleeds start.

I’m tired of nose bleeds.  Often they will start with no warning.  It doesn’t matter if I’m sitting at the table or if I try to blow my nose.  They are almost a daily thing.

I’m tired of people judging me on the rare occasions I use the handicap parking.  In those instances that I do need to use my parking plaque, I don’t need people giving me the once over.  They may not see any challenges.  Trust me; I wouldn’t use the space if I didn’t need to.

I’m tired of having energy to only make short trips to the grocery store once a week.  I want to get out of the house.  On my good days I can make it to the grocery store for about 15 minutes or so and that is about it.  I miss not going for a walk at the mall or around the neighborhood.  I miss not having the energy to be out and about.

I’m tired of dry skin.  The coconut oil is no longer cutting it.  My face feels so dry all the time.  I continue to look for a solution to give me a little relief.

I’m tired of breaking out every Thursday.  It is like clockwork.  About the time my skin clears up, the cycle starts all over.  It isn’t just my face.  My legs, arms and torso get hit as well.

I’m tired of dirty hair.  Yes, I’m thankful that I have hair.  Washing it only twice a week (hence all of the beanies) is enough to drive me crazy.  I feel dirty and gross when I can’t wash my hair as often as I would like.

I’m tired of sleepless nights.  Even on the nights I take something to help me sleep, I struggle to get good rest.  Last night I was up at least five times.  Each time The Hubs was right there with me trying to help me get back to sleep.

I’m tired of taking so many pills.  My bathroom vanity looks more like a pharmacy than a vanity.  Doesn’t matter that all of those pill bottles are in a pretty little basket.

All of this is short-term.  It will come to pass and I’ll be stronger for it.  But today, I’m so tired of not being me.

 

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Side Effects Super Villains

Oh, the Side Effects started innocently enough.  Almost sweet and kind.  Within a few days of the initial round of chemo, the hair on my arms became soft like a little baby chick.  By the end of the first week, part of an eyebrow slid right off my face.  Next, a few eyelashes that decided they weren’t up for the challenge of sticking around dropped off my team.

You will be back; Ms. Rite Brow.  But don’t think for a second you are irreplaceable, because you are.  With a stroke of a pencil, it is like you never left.  I draw you right back in and go about my day.  Let me assure you, Miss Ing Lashes, some strategically placed eyeliner makes it appear as if you are right where you belong.

Little did I know that while these mild Side Effects were pulling me in, their more nefarious cohorts, the leaders really, were lurking under the surface ready to attack at the first sign of weakness.  These first Side Effects weren’t the Super Villains; they were the all too deceptive Side Kicks!  I foolishly got too comfortable and too close with the Side Effect Side Kicks.

Dastardly Steroids!  I shake my fist at you!

You said you were here to back me up.  “Help curb nausea caused by chemo,” you said.  “Reduce allergic reactions and help the chemo destroy troublemaker cells.”

Back me up, you did!  Only not in the way I had hoped.  When you said, “I’ll back you up,” I heard, “I will have your back.”  Big difference and a misunderstanding that I have since learned from.  Move along, Känste Pashen!  There is no room for you here!

You have hijacked my sleep over and over again.  I tried going it alone.  Waiting until I was completely exhausted like a toddler before putting my head on the pillow.  I was blissfully unaware that two hours into a sleep cycle, Dr. Insomnia would cause my eyes to spring wide open like window blinds from the ‘70’s.  Trying every remedy I could think of only kept my sleep a distant dream.  After six or eight hours of agonizing sleeplessness, my body would finally crash for a couple of restful hours.  I no longer try reading for hours, standing on my head or counting sheep.  You, Dr. Insomnia, have been a little trickier to master, but I have.

I. Cannot. Stop. Eating.  Why am I eating like a teenage boy?  Of course.  It is YOU; isn’t it?  Just another one of the tricks in your bag, Dastardly Steroids.  No sooner have a finished a meal than my body is telling me it needs more food.  Unlike a teenage boy who burns off those extra calories by merely breathing, I am not.  I’m clinging onto every single calorie that passes my lips.  Let’s just say that I have gotten “tight” with my elastic waist band pants.  Literally.  I sigh as I watch the number on the scale creep up and up each week.  The bloating along with of the weight gain makes me feel like a massive beach ball.  For now, I do what I can to control Faux Hunger knowing that this is all temporary.  Soon, I will slough off the unwanted pounds that have been weighing me down.

If you were to ask me what is my preferred “cocktail”, without hesitation I would tell you Dr. Pepper over crushed ice in a Styrofoam cup.  Yet, the “cocktail” I have each week is even more personalized than that.  Yes, Personal Chemo Cocktail, I have a need for you in my life right now.  Your mix comes with a cost.

Dermatologic Disorders Duo, better known as Acknie and Xerosis, you two were slow to come to the party.  It has been said that being late is fashionable.  It isn’t fashionable.  It’s rude.

Acknie, you waltzed right in and made yourself at home.  Face, neck, chest, back, even the inside of my ears was not immune to your selfish behavior.  The look you left me with closely resembled chicken pox.  The zit you placed in the middle of my forehead?  You know the one.  Clamoring for the spotlight like an attention starved reality persona.  A little something called concealer puts you in your rightful place, the background.  No eyes focused on you, my dear.

My skin might look like a dry lake bed right now.  Dry.  Cracked.  Flakey.  To be honest, it sorta feels like a dry lake bed.  Did you notice my new “Be Still Psalm 46:10” stainless steel water bottle?  I keep it filled and with me all the time.  Lots of water as well as changes in my skin care are helping me thrive through the reaction my skin is having.  Xerosis, you will be gone in due time….

One of the most conniving of the Super Villains is Fatigue.  There is a false sense of having high energy in the reserves and without notice, the bottom falls out.  Lack of energy causing me to collapse right in the produce aisle doesn’t make me wave the white flag.  Just the opposite.  I reclaim my stolen energy with cat naps and even nippy naps (they are shorter than cat naps, ya know!).

Ahh you poor Side Effects Super Villains and Side Effect Side Kicks, here is what you didn’t count on.  Me.  I’m an overcomer (John 16:33).  You see, I’m not in this battle alone.  I never have been.  Not only do I have an amazing husband, a fantastic family, incredible friends and a care team that can’t be matched, I belong to The One that won the victory for me.  That gives me the upper hand.  You have become predictable.  That along with my Super Hero Power Team makes you defeatable.

Thrive Through It.

fearless-sign-e1519268170594.jpeg

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Eyebrows are Sisters, not Twins

Look Good Feel Better_2Mondays are good days.  I know!  I know!  For many people, Mondays are the worst way to start a week!  There have been many a Monday I have felt the same way.  With treatment being on Tuesday, by the time I get back around to Monday I’ve got pretty decent energy making Mondays good days.

Wouldn’t you know it?  The American Cancer Society® Look Good Feel Better® workshop was held on a MONDAY!  The timing was perfect.  Having good energy to do something fun is always a treat.  On top of that, the workshop was a cornucopia of blessings.

Are you familiar with the tradition that some families have of getting new pajamas on Christmas Eve?  Everyone knows they are getting pajamas, well the seven and under crowd may not have it figured out, but otherwise everyone knows they are about to open “The Pajama Present.”  Perfectly wrapped boxes containing the perfect new pair of Christmas Eve pajamas for every member of the family.

As each woman walked into the conference room, we were given a beautiful orchid colored makeup bag.  It had the same feeling as the Christmas Eve jammies present!  The anticipation of looking to see what was inside was almost too much to bear!

If little makeup fairy creatures were real, I would have been certain they were hiding inside my bag!  The moment arrived to snip off the security tag and have a look inside.  As I pulled the zipper back, shimmers, sparkles, beautiful diffused light poured out of the opening.  For a moment I thought I heard laughter and tiny giggles coming from deep inside my bag.

Luxury brands like Estée Lauder™ and IT COSMETICS™ generously donated most of the items in my bag.  It was a lavish blessing to receive luxury items I would have never purchased for myself.  Other brands including Dial®, MARY KAY®, Clarins, Olay®, Neutrogena®, Revlon®, Banana Boat® and Dior rounded out my over the top bag of goodies.

Each bag was jam packed with makeup items.  Although there were the same types of items in each bag, the individual items varied from bag to bag.  Everyone received a face wash and moisturizer, foundation, eyebrow pencil, mascara, eyeshadow, blush, makeup brushes and lip color.

Some bags contained extra treats like nail polish.  I found body lotion and sunscreen tucked away in the bottom of my bag.  Looking at the different products we each had was half the fun.  We “oohed” and “aahed” over it all!  Each bag just “happened” to have the perfect makeup items for the different women.

A makeup artist that has also been trained and certified through American Cancer Society volunteered her time to walk us through makeup application as well as some tips and tricks.  Ashleigh helped each of us in creating a perfect eyebrow.  She would do one for us and then we would try our hand at doing the other.  As some of us were struggling to make the perfect matching brow, Ashleigh said, “Eyebrows are sisters, not twins.”  AHHH!  So that is the trick to making them look natural!

Ashleigh encouraged us to give the products a try even if we didn’t think they were the right color for us or that we would like it.  Boy, am I glad I listened to her advice!  Mary Kay provided a beautiful lipstick that I normally would have passed over thinking it wasn’t a good color for me.  Everyone that knows me will tell you that I’m a lip gal.  I have more lip colors and products than I should admit.  Any time I am in a makeup store or pass lip displays, I’m drawn to them.  Ladies!  I’m here to tell you that when I put on that lipstick, I became a new woman!  Well, in the lipstick arena anyway.  It was that good! Red/Rouge 022850 is now my power lipstick!

This workshop (nor my new favorite power lipstick) would have not been possible without the generous donations from many companies.  These weren’t sample sizes or even deluxe samples sizes.  Nope!  Each item was a generous full size product!  Now we have all new makeup to take us through this journey and beyond.  Thank you to all the companies that make donations.

Special note of thanks to IT Cosmetics for their program of donating a Brow Power™ Brown Pencil and a Love Beauty Fully™ Brush to Look Good Feel Better for each one purchased.  That alone has made me an IT Girl.  If you are in the market for a new brow pencil or brushes, I encourage you to check out IT Cosmetics.  The brow pencil is phenomenal!

To the entire cast of behind the scenes volunteers and the makeup class trainers, thank you for giving of your precious time.  It is a blessing to have someone that doesn’t know you personally to care about you in a very tangible way.

If you or someone you know would like more information on the workshops, please contact American Cancer Society by calling  1-800-395-LOOK (5665) or visiting the Look Good Feel Better website:  http://lookgoodfeelbetter.org/.

Next time you are in the grocery store or mall and spot someone rockin’ a purple beanie wearing a fierce red lipstick, it might be me.

Thrive Through It!

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Ice Cream Headache without the Ice Cream!

Disclaimer:  Oh hey.  Yeah.  I’m not a medical professional or anything.  I’m not being compensated nor am I suggesting this is the right option for you.  I’m just a girl trying to keep her hair during chemo and I want to share what I know and my experience.  There are other companies that provide the same type of therapy in different delivery systems.  I can only speak to my experience with Paxman. (paxmanscalpcooling.com)     

Have you heard about the treatment option for some patients that stops CIA?  I’m talking about Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia, not the Central Intelligence Agency…

During my initial visit with Dr. Lori, she mentioned this treatment possibility.  The Hubs and I were intrigued, but had other things to focus on first.  If there was a way for me to be in control of something during treatment, I wanted to check it out.  Dr. Lori said that she recommends it to most of her patients.  We had to investigate further.

For more than 20 years the Paxman scalp cooling therapy has made a change in expected hair loss for chemo patients.  It has been widely used outside of the United States with incredible results.  Multiple clinical trials with thousands of patients show astonishing results with patients keeping a lot of their hair!  Paxman received FDA approval for the US in 2017 thus paving the way for easier access for those of us here.

So how does this thing work?  Again, I’m not a doctor or a medical professional, but what I do know is that chemo attacks rapidly dividing cells.  Hair just happens to be the second fastest dividing cell and that is why many of the chemo drugs cause hair loss.  The Paxman cold cap (aptly named, by the way) decreases the temperature on the scalp which reduces the blood flow to the hair follicles in turn preventing hair loss!  WHAT!?

In my opinion, one of the most challenging things for women when faced with chemo is the high possibility of hair loss.  I’ve seen it impact one of my closest girlfriends. Let’s be honest, it is gut wrenching.  “Get a wig!”  “Wear some cute scarfs and hats!”  All well-meaning sentiments, for sure.  At the same time, I can’t deny noticing the effect of hair loss on total strangers.

You know what I’m talking about, right?  The silent stigma that comes with CIA.  Listen, I’m guilty of not knowing how to interact with someone that I suspect is receiving chemo treatments.  Do you look at them sympathetically?  Give a sad smile and nod?  Or avoid eye contact together?  Pretend not to notice?  Isn’t it odd how having hair or not having hair changes how we think we should or should not interact with someone?  Am I overthinking all of this?

For me, I want to be in public and not have anyone that doesn’t know me suspect I’m in the middle of a health battle.  Not that I’m ashamed of what I’m going through.  Is it vanity that makes me want to keep my hair?  Maybe, but I don’t think so.  Studies repeatedly show the negative emotional impact chemo induced hair loss has on all patients, not just women.  I just want something to be as normal as possible.  I don’t want to wait for years for my hair to grow back out.  I don’t want to catch a glimpse of my baldness in a mirror or window reflection.  I don’t want to look at pictures years down the road and be reminded.  I want to go about my day and not have people wonder how they should interact with me right now.  Is it OK if I want to avoid the silent stigma?  Why does it feel like a privilege or luxury to want to keep my hair and my dignity?

There are many thoughts and opinions on those last two paragraphs that might require a separate post.  For today, I want to share my experience with Paxman.  Cool?  (See what I did there?)

In the beginning, the prep and process can seem daunting.  I was so blessed to have a Paxman training specialist on site to help me.  (Thank you Rebecca!)  Trust me; it made a world of difference in my confidence in using the thing.  It is important to get the process right or it is for naught.

Being cold is high on my list of least favorite things.  First I thoroughly wet my hair down in order for the cap to make good contact with my scalp.  Then I use a wide tooth comb (like the gigantic ones we used to shove in our back pockets back in the day) to slick my hair back. Next I don on a futuristic silicone swim cap and then top it off with a cosmonaut looking space cap.  Stylish, it isn’t.  Once the cosmonaut neoprene cap is on, it gets synched down tight.  Like really tight.  My face gets squished down until I closely resemble a deranged Hobbit.  No offense to Hobbits, especially the deranged ones!

The cap is then connected to a machine that keeps the temperature of my scalp at a consistent -3000F (slight exaggeration) or some such thing.  Once turned on, it is like an ice cream headache without the the fun of eating ice cream!  So now I have a wet head, this crazy machine is cranking really cold fluid through the silicone cap.  This is not what I consider “fun”.

This is the time to get all wrapped up, Buttercup!  A friend blessed me with a beautiful softy blanket that I wrap up in.  Along with that is what The Hubs calls my Outlaw Josey Wales wrap.  After the first 20 minutes or so and a dose of Tylenol, things get much more comfortable or maybe tolerable is the right word.   Perhaps my brain is so frozen it doesn’t really realize what is going on!

The cap remains in place before, during and for a period of time after infusion.  Once my hair defrosts enough to remove the caps without breaking off my hair, I ever so carefully take them off and continue on my merry way.  It is quite the experience.

There are other factors like how to care for your hair that play a role in the success of this therapy.  Special shampoo, no styling tools, no braiding, pulling back in a bun or ponytail and limiting the washing frequency are all key parts in the overall picture.  I sleep in a cap to keep me from tugging on my hair during the night.  So far I’ve had very little hair loss.  In all honesty, I believe it isn’t any more than I would be losing without being on chemo.  I’m taking pictures weekly so I’ll update the post with them.  Who doesn’t like a little show and tell?

Even though I had people tell me I should just get a wig instead of taking on the expense of a new treatment option, just getting a wig wasn’t the right option for me.  Again, I know the comments were from a place of love and good intentions.  In the end, all of it is temporary.

Thrive Through It!

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Week One Done, Hun!

Do you remember Sir Mix-A-Lot?  “Baby Got Back” was the song in the early 90’s.  Over the years I’ve heard several variations of the original lyrics.  Before my chemo start date I changed the lyrics and was rappin’ (I use that term very very loosely) “I don’t want chemo and I cannot lie!”  Today my lyrics have changed to “Week one done, hun!”  My apologies to Mr. Mix-A-Lot …

CHEMO START DAY:  Although I took the recommended prescription to help me sleep last night, I just didn’t.  When I wasn’t praying, I was tossing and turning.  This morning I could actually feel my heart racing as I brushed my teeth.  The source of my anxiety isn’t because of chemo; it is the not knowing what the day will be like.

It didn’t take long to get checked in and get the process started of a blood draw, seeing a nurse and meeting staff in the treatment center.  Before I knew it, I was getting help getting my Paxman cold cap in place.  (More on that in another post.)

The Hubs and I had the opportunity to meet some really neat people.  A patient named “Janice” had just completed her last dose.  We celebrated her crossing the finish line.  One lady did a work-out video during her infusion.  That is dedication I don’t have right now!

Seven hours later, we are done!  I’m exhausted from the high anxiety level of today.

DAY ONE:  WOW!  I slept like a rock!  My energy level is totally off the charts.  (Patty said this might happen!)  I’m contemplating training for a marathon again or building a tree house in the backyard.  Honestly, I feel like I can knock both of those things out today.

I did some housework in record time.  Just as I was starting another chore (before going to Home Depot to pick up supplies for said tree house), The Hubs put the kibosh on any more strenuous activity.  In his wisdom, he reminded me that I needed to pace myself and rest even if I didn’t feel that I needed to.

DAY TWO:    Started out the day feeling pretty good.  I got good rest last night.  No issues with acid reflux or nausea.  Went to P/T and was surprised how winded I got after a few minutes.

My day is declining fast.  My back is achy like I’ve got the flu.  My stomach hurts because I haven’t been able to go “big” in days.  I feel like I can’t take anything else in until a whole lot comes out.  OOPS!  That may have been TMI.  Just being transparent here!

I am reconsidering my lofty goals of training for a marathon and building a tree house.

DAY THREE:  Oh my-lanta.  I didn’t sleep last night.  The Hubs suggested I take the prescription for anxiety so I could get to sleep.  I told him that I didn’t think I was anxious, I just couldn’t settle myself down.  He burst out laughing and reminded me that was what anxiety is!  Even after his gentle prodding, I was sure I could get myself to sleep.  I was wrong.  So, so wrong.

Like a toddler that finally surrenders to exhaustion, I drifted off to sleep around 10 this morning for a couple of hours.  Today was definitely not a good day.  Matter of fact, it was quite crummy and I cannot lie!

Scrapping the idea of building a tree house in the backyard.  I’m not sure I have the energy to look at a picture of a tree house!  My marathon isn’t going to be running 26.2 miles or even driving 26.2 miles.  Nope.  It is going to be getting through the day!

After much struggle, finally had some “movement” in the right direction.  It isn’t over, by any means.  But I am feeling some much needed relief.

DAY FOUR:  Looks like I’ve traded constipation for a ferocious nosebleed.

Even with starting my day out with a nosebleed, I’m feeling better today.  Then again, it wouldn’t take much to improve on the way things were yesterday.  Easing into the day with a cup of toasted graham coffee and some overnight oatmeal.  Yes, I’m living on the edge!

Running a couple little errands just drained the energy out of me.  Can’t believe how darn dry my mouth is!

DAY FIVE:  Nosebleed round two…

Yes!  On the upswing!  Had good energy to go to church and visit with many of my friends.  The Hubs had to escort me out of the building because I wanted to keep chatting with people.  He knew I needed to eat and then rest.  Of course he was right.

For the rest of the day, I felt a lot like my pre-chemo self.

When it comes to going through something like chemo, it is impossible to know how your body will react.  Sure, you can learn about all of the side effects and how to deal with them.  Every well-meaning person in your life can suggest ways to cheer yourself up, but until it is your body going through it, you don’t know.

Even being past the first week, I still don’t know what to expect next week or the week after that.  Granted, I have a better idea of what I will feel like and how to manage nasty side effects.  In the end, I am not in control.  Allowing myself to feel my emotions and my body twinges is how I can feel some relief from all of this.

This is the path that God has me on right now.  I trust Him.  He has plans to give me hope and a future.  (Jeremiah 29:11)

Thrive Through It!

 

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The Journey No One Wants To Take

Mailman Chuck dropped off a letter in October from the imaging center saying I needed to come back in for additional testing.  I’ve been called back before, but there was something about the tone of this letter that made me queasy.   The Hubs was sure it was nothing more than a cyst.

As the technician started getting me in position for the most uncomfortable five minutes of my day, I made some corny joke followed by nervous laughter.  Once I was contorted into the optimal position, I was told, “Don’t move.”  I was fairly certain there is no way I could move!  After a few more awkward positions and weak attempts at jokes, I was ushered into a side room to wait.

Reading a very old copy of  Good Housekeeping left in the waiting area didn’t help pass the time or ease my mind.  The technician returned to say that I needed to have an ultrasound done and asked if I could wait about 30 minutes.  One ultrasound led to a second ultrasound that led to the statement that I needed to have a biopsy.  At that moment, I was afraid.

For several days we waited on pins and needles, the biopsy results did not return in my favor.  Stunned.  I was simply stunned at what Dr. Ann was telling me.  The Hubs immediately pulled me closer while he continued the conversation with Dr. Ann and I sobbed.

In a nutshell, that is how this journey started.  We don’t know why God placed this path before us, but we trust his plan.  I’m no longer afraid, but some days I am overwhelmed.

Thriving Through It…

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