Round Two began this week. Going back to chemo after having last week off was super-hard. I had a week of driving the little cowboys to and fro about the town. I did a lot of cooking for my little family. I played with my boys, ran errands, and even did my own grocery shopping! "Normal" has never felt so nice.
But, as it always does, Tuesday came around again. First up was a visit with Bruce himself, the almighty Dr. F. My mom thinks that Dr. F greatly resembles Stephen Colbert, even to the point that she wonders what my oncologist is doing on television some nights. Anyway...my time with Dr. F can be summarized with a quick game of "I Said, He Said." Here it goes:
I said.......... He said
Sugar Land.....Thai food
Round One of Topotecan has come and gone, leaving plenty of misery in its wake. The nausea and sickness factor can best be described as similar to morning sickness during pregnancy. While I'm not throwing up, the feeling of being ill never quite lifts. I feel hungry, but no food looks or sounds good. I need to be drinking gallons of water to prevent dehydration, but small sips throughout the day seem to be all that I can muster. Do you know how much energy it takes to reach over and pick up a cup of water?!? More than I can spare. Energy is a premium resource these days. It must be preserved at all costs because it is in such short supply.
My head aches. I have noticed that headaches have become more frequent and more severe in the last several weeks. Most mornings I wake up with one, and I have been taking alarming amounts of pain killers to stave them off. Mentioning it to Dr. F seemed like the right thing to do, but it earned me a same-day appointment at the imaging center across the street for a MRI.
Unbelievably, I have never had an MRI before. I would remember wearing a hockey mask in a coffin while a jackhammer is pounding in my ears. I am seriously questioning which is worse: the MRI or my known nemesis, the CT scan?
The MRI results were fine. There is no cancer growing in my brain (thank God!). There is, however, a malformation that the test detected that is known as a chiari one. Basically, it means that my skull did not grow big enough to accommodate my brain. Pressure build-up occurs, which can be the cause of the headaches I am experiencing. As a precaution, I will be seeing a neurologist soon to discuss treatment. Until then, I am reveling in the I-told-you-so rights this news earned me. I've spent years telling my brother how smart I am!
About my hair...I knew going in to this treatment that hair loss was a possibility. Unlike the Taxol regimen I did a couple of years ago, hair loss with Topotecan is not 100%. Most materials refer to the hair loss as "thinning", with a few unlucky patients going completely bald. Honestly, I wasn't too worried about it...until I started noticing that my hair was everywhere. Over the last two weeks, I have plucked zillions of hairs out of my sweaters and off of my shoulders. I have swept them off the floor, brushed them off of my pillowcase, and rescued massive amounts from going down the drain in the shower. Morning styling results in a mini-shower of hair raining down around me. I had to do something.
In discussing this predicament with my mother, I mentioned that I probably ought to make a trip to the hairdresser, because "I think that if I get my hair cut, it won't be so long." Yep. That's a gem.
So that's what I did. My hair, which has not been touched by professional hands since my re-diagnosis last summer, has now been chopped off and coaxed to look like that of a healthy person. Only I know that it is in such a fragile state, that if you look at it wrong, it might wilt right off of my head. Dr. F kindly suggested that I pull out my old Taxol-era wigs, so I can be ready just in case. The pretend hair is on stand-by.
If I think about it for any length of time, I am stunned--absolutely STUNNED--that this is my life. This sick-looking, hair-thinning, sleep-round-the-clock girl is ME. The face staring back at me in the mirror loves her children more than life itself. She wants to eat Blue Bell for breakfast, read a book on a park bench, and travel 'round the world, but she's not doing any of it. Because she has cancer. Most days, I take it in stride because, well, I have to. But some days, like today, when I cut my hair because it's falling out, all I can feel is dismay. And fear. And I wonder what ever happened to the old Allyson...and will she ever be back?