Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Chemo Week in Review

It's been an uneventful week around here - much like every other chemo week I've had to date. I had hoped this one would be different. I tried to force it to be different, which was a horrible, miserable failure. Apparently, try as I might, I can't will away the effects of chemo. 

Here's a brief glance at my week in review:

Monday - My sister took me to chemo. We had a good time, if a good time can be had at chemo. I came home that night feeling pretty good. Peed on myself three times between 6pm and 8pm.

Tuesday - I waited around all day for the nausea and fatigue to hit. It's not a terribly pleasant feeling waiting to get sick. Being that tuned in to your body can be curse. Every yawn, every stomach gurgle, every twitch had to mean something. The chemo effects came a day early last time, so I was expecting the same. So I waited and listened to by body. Peed in my pants two more times (urinary tract irritation is a very real side effect of AC chemo - or I have an especially namby-pamby, pantywaist of a bladder). Nothing else happened, so the day of waiting was wasted.

Wednesday - The chemo hit me full force on Wednesday. Slept most of the day. Got in a small tiff with Ruanita about bills. We were actually on the same page, but not communicating effectively. There's something innately stressful about receiving bills in the mail that total over $1000 a pop - even if you can pay them. Stopped peeing on myself - once again gained full control of my rogue bladder. Silver lining! Went upstairs to lay down for a bit at 6:30pm. Did not wake up until almost 8:30 the next morning.

Thursday - Woke up and traveled the lengthy distance from the bed to the couch. Sophie was home sick from school, so we laid around and watched Harry Potter movies most of the day. I learned that a good friend of mine who fought breast cancer and won in 2013 (actually, I've never met her because she lives in TX, but she is a fellow [former] writer for The Next Family and someone who has supported me and gave me great advice since my diagnosis) received a new diagnosis of stage 4 breast cancer this week after a routine follow-up. She received the exact same treatment I am currently undergoing in 2013, but the cancer she beat to a bloody pulp has managed to come back. Now it is in her throat. She had her thyroid removed in 2014 and there was an old calcified nodule at the time that was cancerous, but tiny. No further treatment needed. Now it is back. And it's not thyroid cancer. It's metastasized breast cancer. Needless to say, this threw me for a bit of a loop. She won. She's a survivor. No one should have to do this twice! Ever! Cancer is bullshit. Went to bed at 8pm feeling defeated.

Friday - Slept 12 hours and woke determined to feel better, dammit, whether I actually felt better or not. Convinced Ruanita to take me out to lunch. Spent the entire lunch with Ruanita asking me over and over, "Are you okay? Are you alright?" Honestly, I was not, and she knew it. My insides were quivering, but I choked down my lunch nonetheless. Goddammit, chemo was not going to deprive me of a good lunch! Despite my bravado and determination, venturing out was too much, too soon. I think I thoroughly pissed Ruanita off with my desire to push through and speed up the normal process of coming out of the chemo fog. Of course, it didn't work. Spent the remainder of the day on the couch, in and out of consciousness.

Saturday - Woke up to sunshine and high 70s, a gorgeous day just ripe for spending the day exploring the Cities. Planned to go to the park with the kids for our annual neighborhood festival, but it didn't work out. Still lightheaded and exhausted when I tried to get up off the couch, I so wanted to feel better - to feel normal again. I knew in my head that I don't normally start feeling like myself until Monday or Tuesday of the following week after chemo, but I wanted this time to be different. Perhaps because it was the last one - or perhaps because of my friend's recurrence. Whatever the reason, I wanted nothing more than to feel like me. To feel like the me that existed before this whole cancer mess. To be normal again. But it doesn't work that way. Have I mentioned that cancer is bullshit?

Sunday - Ruanita is at work today. I am sitting upright typing this, but the couch is calling my name. There is still a lingering weight in the pit of my stomach. Not nausea, but not exactly normal either. I am still tired and my limbs still feel heavy. There is a fogginess in my brain - a lightheadedness I do not enjoy. I know that it will get better every day from here on out, but I want to go to the park. I want to walk around the lake. It's another beautiful day in the neighborhood and I want to be a part of it. I think that's the worst part about chemo - at least for me. It separates you so completely from the rest of the world. The world goes on while you cling to the couch. While you cleave to delicious consciousness with both fists, everyone goes about their normal activities. There are end of the year field trips, orchestra concerts, trips to the park, dinners out, concerts, parties. Shit, even running out for a cup of coffee seems like an enviable luxury! All the things that make life worth living happen while you lay on the couch. It's really not fair. Cancer is bullshit.

Anyway, that is my week in review. Sorry if I sound rather morose. I don't mean to be a complete and total downer. Ruanita is amazing. The kids are doing really well, considering. I am surrounded by super supportive people who are making this so much easier than it could have been. I feel like I should be celebrating the fact that I am finished with AC chemo - that my treatment is moving forward - but I need to feel like myself again before I can fully celebrate anything. I'm still committed to seeing the silver linings, but they seem to be fainter when I am in the midst of it all.

Tomorrow will be a better day. The day after that, I will feel even more like myself. I just have to get through one day at a time and I will be me again one day soon.

Until then, I will try to keep my morose ass off the internet.


Anonymous said...

No amount too small as medical bills mount.

Anonymous said...

Love you Shannon. Breathe and soon it will be a better week.

Kelly Goree said...

what Madge said. Thinking of you...xo

Tanya Dodd-Hise said...

Yep. Cancer is some motherfucking bullshit. And I'm not sorry for saying it, and if it offends someone then they can kiss both of our asses. It completely takes our lives and flips them upside down like someone flips a table! I know every feeling you're having...I remember. And when you do venture out, it feels like everyone else should be stopping with you - but they don't. Life is going on as usual for everyone else, and unless they've done it, then they don't get it. I couldn't even go out for coffee because couldn't stomach my beloved Starbucks (or even home brewed) the entire time and about six months after! Now THAT was some bullshit! Hang in there, sister. We got this. It sucks balls, but we now have a bigger bond than just fellow writers. Here's to a better week for you ☕️

Anonymous said...

You are my hero Shannon. You have a gift that will get you through this miserable crap. Your wit and ability to connect with others on a very intimate level will bring you the strength you need to kill this bitch cancer. Connie Studer

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