Monday, June 20, 2016

Another Little-Known Side Effect

I discovered another little-known side effect of chemotherapy this evening. A side effect no one warned me about. Not a single person alerted me to this particular issue - a dereliction of duty I may just have to discuss with my oncologist. This evening, I ran full force into an issue that may even be worse than the nausea and fatigue that I went into chemo fully expecting, simply because it was so very unexpected. Tonight, I realized that chemotherapy makes me completely and totally unable to parent.


I have lost all ability to effectively parent my children. Today was a day that I would have considered typical prior to being diagnosed with cancer. I woke at 6:15 this morning and worked a full 8-hour day. Ruanita left for work at around 11:00am. I made lunch for four people on my lunch break and washed up the dishes between conference calls. After work, I decided to recline on the couch for one hour while waiting to take my daughter to karate. My joints have been achy the last couple of days, so laying on the couch sounded like a good idea at the time. Unfortunately, I misjudged the wisdom of laying down. It only managed to make me instantly and irrevocably sleepy. At 4:30pm, I jumped up, startled, and scrambled to get myself dressed (yes, I worked in my pajamas all day today - don't judge me) and make my daughter get dressed for karate.

As we quickly prepared for karate, my daughter reminded me that it was picture night at soccer tonight. Karate was from 5:00-6:00, and she then had to be dressed and ready for soccer pictures at 6:30, followed by a soccer game from 7:00-8:00. And I needed to write a check. And fill out a picture form. And where were her cleats? And what were the boys going to do during all of these activities? And I had to feed them dinner at some point. I am lawfully required to feed them, right?

I went into full-blown panic mode. I have no idea know why. Work followed by karate followed by soccer was no big deal, really. Maneuvering three kids to make it to two different activities in two different places all alone with no time to spare is the kind of thing parents deal with every single day. I have three kids. I am a pro at this whole parenting gig.

Or at least I used to be.

Prior to being diagnosed with cancer, I could have easily stayed up all night with a sleepless kid, worked a full day, and managed a karate/picture day/soccer game night while simultaneously putting a home-cooked meal on the table with one hand and catching puke with the other. You know, typical mom stuff.

But tonight, it was like I was a first-time mom. Flustered and discombobulated and practically unhinged. Like I had never changed a diaper in my life. Like I had never sat through hours upon hours of recitals and sporting events and choir concerts and music programs and science fairs. Like I had no freaking idea what I was doing. And no faith that I could get it done. My anxiety level was through the roof, which is completely unlike me on a normal day. I just couldn't seem to get my shit in gear.

I fussed at the kids (kind of loudly, to my dismay) to hurry up. Get moving. Grab the gear. I was exhausted and out of breath before we even got out the door. I left the boys at home for karate, but threatened them with a fate worse than death if they were not dressed and ready to go (with shoes on!) when I swung by to pick them up between karate and their sister's soccer game. I managed to make it home after karate with exactly 5 minutes for Sophie to change her clothes before we were out the door again. In that 5 minutes, I managed to pee my pants (of course). Yes, I am still doing that almost daily. (Damn you chemo and your bladder irritating prowess!) My oldest son had to run upstairs and grab me a clean pair of underwear - much to his outrage because, apparently, touching your mom's underpants as a teenage boy is tantamount to grabbing a downed power line with your bare hands. I am relieved to report that he survived the whole ordeal. Just barely.

After Sophie and I had both changed our clothes, we arrived at the soccer field just in time to stand around waiting for 30 minutes for her teammates to arrive so we could take team pictures. Then we cheered for Sophie as her team squeaked out a tie. Dinner didn't happen until 8:30 and it was far from home-cooked. It was a Little Caesar's pizza and crazy bread sort of night. Nutritious (not really) and delicious (umm...not so much)!

Now I am sitting here writing this blog. Sleepy. Achy. Defeated. I still need to wash dinner dishes, take all of my nighttime meds, and get these people (and myself!) to bed at a decent hour so we can do it all over again tomorrow. I am pretty sure I was not the worst mom in the world tonight - I did feed them something somewhat akin to food, after all - but it feels like I was probably solidly ranked within the top twenty. Definitely several levels below my previous parenting aptitude. I am going to blame the chemo for today's anxiety-ridden inadequacy.

Hopefully - for my sake and the sake of my poor, wretched children - this unfortunate side effect is ultimately reversible.

Fingers crossed.


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