Sunday, April 24, 2016

Holy Fatigue, Batman!

I came to a rather startling conclusion in this, my third week of treatment for breast cancer. You might want to sit down for this one because it certainly took me by complete surprise.

Chemo is NOT fun.

I realize this may sound like an obvious assumption, but look at it from my perspective. A busy mom of three. Always running here or there. Laundry, groceries, karate tournaments, choir concerts, violin recitals. Kids who always expect to eat. Three times a day, even! A few weeks laying on the couch watching Netflix did not sound like an altogether unpleasant notion.

I am here to say right now that I was completely wrong. Stupidly wrong.

This week, I've managed to control the nausea that plagued me during the last chemo cycle much better. I am not a person who likes to take pills. Perhaps because I come from a long and distinguished genetic line of addictive personalities, I am kind of weird about taking pills...drinking too much...gambling...I am weird about all life's exciting vices. BUT, I learned this week that if one DOES take the "as needed for nausea" pills as needed for nausea, they actually work. By taking the as needed pills preemptively, I've managed to really control the nausea this time around. Weird how medicine works, huh?

So with the nausea under control, this week should have been a breeze. But it wasn't. I was hit this week by that ugly fatigue that everyone talks about with chemo.

Let me tell you, this fatigue is like nothing I've ever felt in my life. It's like some sort of weird half-life that you sink into and cannot seem to climb your way out of. It's like a fog that envelops you. You know that life is going on around you, but you are too tired to care. Too tired to take notice, even.

When I was in college, I got really drunk one night on fuzzy navels in my friend's dorm room. It was probably the most I had ever drank in my life (previously or since) and I ended up spending most of the night paying homage to the porcelain gods in the girls' dorm restroom. That same night, I wore a sweatshirt that said DUCKHEAD in large letters across the chest (stylish in the early 90s, believe it or not), and spent the entire night repeating over and over, "It's a D! It's a D!" To this day, my college friends refer to me as Duck. And to this day, I cannot eat or drink anything peach-flavored or scented. Ruanita just went to the grocery yesterday and bought peach-scented face wipes. I may be ill. But that doesn't really matter to this story. The point is that, after being carried to my room by a couple of athletes I had never met and to this day cannot name, I slept until late afternoon the next day in a sort of alcohol-induced, chemically-dehydrated stupor that is the only thing I can think of in my lifetime that comes even close to the chemo fatigue.

It is all-encompassing. The simple act of rolling over in bed is exhausting. And I had no interest whatsoever this week in watching Netflix. Keeping up with the story line of any television show was too taxing to even attempt. Most of the week was spent laying on the couch with my face buried in the cushions and my back to the television (and the world). I could hear what was going on around me, but I couldn't seem to stop myself from drifting in and out of sleep. I was totally checked out.

I did try to get out on Friday. I was hungry (maybe the first sign of digging out of the stupor?), so Ruanita suggested we go to a local burger place near our house and have lunch. I donned my trusty cap and wrapped up in a sweatshirt to head to lunch. Walking in, I was acutely aware that I was not nearly as spritely as Queen Elizabeth, who had celebrated her 90th birthday the day before. I had to ask Ruanita to carry my purse because it was soooooo heavy. I heaved myself into a booth and thought, right then and there, that I would surely pass out from the sheer exhaustive will it took to walk in. Picking my legs up to walk took concerted effort. I had to physically fight the urge to climb up onto the table and lay down. Queen Elizabeth would have been absolutely mortified.

I did manage to order a meal. I took one bite of my burger and immediately gagged on it. I didn't attempt a second bite and it became Ruanita's 2nd lunch later in the day. I managed to choke down a few Jo-Jo potatoes (my personal favorite), so I felt accomplished in that regard. We cut lunch a bit short, and afterwards, I took a completely unconscious 2-hour nap on the couch. I do not think it could quite be called a successful outing. Probably too much, too soon.

Today, I am finally feeling a tiny bit of my normal energy seeping back in. I'm still tired, but today's the first day I've successfully been able to string together a coherent sentence for this blog, so I'll take it. I used to complain about having no energy, but I am so freaking excited to get back even a fraction of my previous sedentary-sit-on-your-ass-lazy-fat-girl energy. I would pay large sums of money for Queen Elizabeth's 90-year-old intensity at this point.

I never believed that the fatigue could quite reach the level of how I had read it described.

I am a firm believer now.


Madge Woods said...

Glad you are feeling better. Sleep is a good thing. It got you through this week on chemo. You didn't throw up!!!! The pills probably helped you sleep instead.

Madge Woods said...

Unknown said...

Can't stop laughing at the thought of Ruanita holding a purse! Even if it isn't hers!

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