And right on time, the energy drop. This round of chemo is hitting me hard – I’m so tired and nauseous. I’ve been able to mostly sleep my way through it and am hopeful it will wear off in a day or two.
I was talking to someone this week about how dizzying it is to oscillate between treatment and off weeks, especially as a person who craves routine. It occurred to me that maybe I can have more than one routine, for the multiple states I can find myself in. Stretches and a walk on days that’s feasible, and napping and crosswords on days I feel rotten.
Latetly I have been very thankful for the kittens we adopted this past summer. They are sweet snugglers and it’s so nice to be able to pet a soft, warm friend when you need a distraction. I wish they were less interested in my knitting, but mostly I win that battle.
Back to mitigating side effects for me!
This week has been a surprisingly energetic one. It’s the kind of energy that I had forgotten what it is like to have! I can focus on a task for several hours at once, I can run a morning of errands and still have energy to play with my kid after school, I can walk 2 whole miles and it’s just a part of my day, not the whole thing. I have really been enjoying it and taking advantage of feeling productive. I don’t feel less when I cannot achieve things, but I do feel great when I can.
I am not sure where all this energy has come from. I got less chemo than normal this past cycle – one of my cats disconnected my chemo pump for me early, and when I went into the office the next day they decided it wasn’t that much I was missing and to just skip it. I’ve been exercising more this past week, and it feels so good to move my body again. I am itching to up my activity beyond walking, but unfortunately during my terrible cough I injured one of my abdominal muscles and it is still healing.
What I am proudest of during this energy boost is that I don’t feel sad to know that this is temporary. I am grateful for it, and am enjoying experiencing it. And it feels really okay that it will ebb and I’ll find ways to enjoy that experience.
I have felt grumpy this whole week. I think a lot of it is willpower depletion and frustration around the need to resist the urges my body is sending.
This chemo comes with a combo of numb tongue and loss of taste, as well as nausea if I drink too much at a time. The combination means that my usual favorite drink of water is highly unpalatable. When I drink I feel the absence of part of my tongue and it is disconcerting. My brain wants me to drink a giant fountain Sprite, it is sure that this will be so hydrating and refreshing. And while there are certainly worse things, I should really be drinking that much water, not soda.
My body is filled with other cravings right now, too. Not for the kind of food that will fuel my body and help me feel better, but for the fat and sugar and salt that will cut through my numb tongue and let me taste something. And I have these cravings every other week and I am so tired of trying to resist them and make good choices.
The pain that I am luckily mostly free of these days is the type that says “Stop stop stop if you keep going you will seriously injure yourself”, but that signal is a lie. It gets better with use. It goes away if I keep at it. But it’s so hard to keep going when your body is signaling so clearly that what you’re doing is bad for you.
And frankly, just showing up for chemo is taking willpower these days. I’m so tired of the up and down. It’s disorienting and dizzying. I feel always just off, unable to find my footing. I guess this is my work these days, to figure out how to be in this ever changing space and be okay with it.
After having the worst chemo of my life at the beginning of December I worked hard to prepare for the remaining doses I needed – I spoke with my doctor about reducing my dose and reached out to my local community for support and made sure we had the foods and medicines on hand that were most helpful. I was due for my next dose on New Year’s Eve, so I set the expectation for myself that the first six weeks of 2019 would be a black hole. This is the week where the worst side effects were due to hit, and as each day I remain unscathed my view for the immediate future gets brighter, I feel a little less sucked in to chaos.
One of the positive parts of the rough past month has been how aglow I feel in love from my community. A story I believed about myself for a very long time was that I was too much, and I needed to tamp myself down to be liked. I thought I was weird and that people were doing me a favor by being nice enough to be my friend. Social relationships did not come naturally to me as a child, and I didn’t understand how to get the closeness I saw among my peers. As an adult I put a lot of work into learning how to be a good friend. It has been incredibly powerful, as I have been sick, to look at the evidence of how loved I am and break down these old narratives.
So, today I just feel thankful. For feeling better than I feared. For the support of my village. Sometimes I feel like people look at my life and feel so glad it isn’t theirs, but I feel incredibly lucky for so much of it.
I made it to chemo this week! I’ve had a terrible cough so I had to get a chest x-ray first to rule out pneumonia, but my lungs were clear enough to go for it. The cough has gotten much better since, so I’m wondering if some of the meds they give me to make chemo more bearable are helping clear up my lungs, too.
Y’all, I don’t laud my husband enough. Finding him was the luckiest thing to happen to me, and I am so grateful to spend my life with him. He makes me laugh everyday, he is a true partner, he is such a loving dad, and he is a generous person. Earlier this week I was in tremendous pain at bedtime and miserable because I wanted to sleep but couldn’t put any pressure on my torso. He sat with me and we read mini-mysteries for 90 minutes until all the meds kicked in and I could rest. I love him so much and wish I could give him more.
It’s a new year. I used to like to make productivity-type goals: knit X things, workout Y amount – but those aren’t appealing in my current state. I’m nearly out of room on my shelves of unread books, so I’d like to get through some of those. And I want to learn more about and start a meditation practice. Seeing them typed up they seem like sneaky productive goals in disguise. Cancer has changed me in many ways, but at my core I still am the same Christina.