It is 4:42 a.m, and I have been wide awake for almost an hour. This is just another way in which my body has betrayed me...it is very confused about our sleeping schedule.
I am nearly to the end of Week 2 of my new Life o' Chemotherapy. Friends are sending me Facebook messages and kind e-mails wondering how things are going. I was trying to think of a good analogy for this and here's what I came up with: I feel like one of the poor little lizards that Little Middle loves to catch and keep as his "pets" in the summer months. Chemo has made me feel stuffed in a jar, with just enough holes cut in the top to get some air. Week 1 had me flat on the bottom of the jar--no stirring, just surviving. Week 2 has allowed me to move around a little bit. Every day I feel a little bit stronger and more "normal," although it does feel like someone keeps picking up my jar and shaking it to get a good look at what I might do next. Hopefully Week 3 will be even better and I can climb the rest of the way to the top, towards freedom.
When we went to "chemo school" a few weeks ago, the nurse ran down an endless list of possible side effects. I was listening, but still holding out hope that most of those wouldn't apply to me. I'm not the typical interperitoneal chemotherapy patient, you know. I'm young, and other than the cancer that invades my body, I'm healthy. That's kind of a joke, ha ha. So now I know that the drugs are more powerful than the mind games I was playing. Nausea is at the top of the list! From the second day forward, I felt sick. Never actually throwing up is a big mark on the positive side, but the icky feeling...ugh. The good news is that I have 5 different medications that treat the nausea symptoms. I try not to think about what I would have felt like without those meds.
Another big obstacle has been food. I have never had an issue with food--EVER--and all of a sudden, I can't eat. I don't even want to be close to food! Chemo changes the senses of taste and smell. I'm still navigating these waters to find out what works for me and what doesn't. The biggest disappointment has been my lack of taste for all things sweet. My family has enjoyed some of my favorite desserts while I hide in my room to avoid them. Sigh.
You also hear about chemo patients feeling fatigued. I have discovered that there is a big difference between "tired" and "fatigued." Tasks that should be fairly simple--like drying my hair or sorting laundry--can easily become overwhelming. I am learning how to lower my expectations for myself and break my days up into sections, so that I can try to accomplish smaller things and still get the rest that I need.
Of course, the last major thing I was concerned with was the possibility of hair loss. I was given this disheartening statistic at chemo school: 100% of Taxol patients lose their hair. 100%. The odds are stacked against me. Preparations have been made and many tears have been shed. The waiting is hard. Nonetheless, Hubby and I pray every day that God would single me out to be the first person in the history of oncology to keep their hair while undergoing treatment. It could happen.
All of this sounds kind of pitiful. I hate to be a downer, so here are a few things that have happened this week that I have the sense to be thankful for:
1. After 8 days of being in the house, I drove myself and the boys to Bahama Bucks where we enjoyed the first shaved ice of the season. Baby chose Blue Bubblegum flavor, and his lips (and cheeks, and nose, and shirt...) were stained blue for two days.
2. I am in awe of the bluebonnets that have sprung up and the green, green grass and trees. His Creation is beautiful.
3. My family enjoyed dinner together, with all 5 of us sitting at the table.
4. I went to the park with my dad, my kids, and Abby dog. I watched my daddy organize all the neighborhood kids into a great game of soccer, and loved seeing my boys run and play in the sunshine.
5. I received the gift of a coffee table book filled with pictures from a family photo shoot we did before I started chemo. The book is beautiful, as are the hearts and the talent of the two friends who blessed me beyond words with it.
He is still good.
I said to the Lord, "You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing." Psalm 16:2