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.