Midlife necessities

Midlife necessities
Midlife necessities

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Early Morning Thoughts from a Chemo Insomniac

Yesterday was Chemo #7, and if I've slept an hour I'd be surprised.

The Tuesday after Chemo #5 (November 25), the first Taxol treatment, I had enough energy for seven people. I didn't sleep much that Monday night so thought I'd be exhausted on Tuesday and take a nap. Nope. I had so many projects going, and stuff to do to get ready for my trip. Thanksgiving was fantastic! Being with my entire family is the joy of my life, and it was everything I had hoped it would be! I was still fighting the allergies, and even took cold meds for my symptoms. I rested more than I wanted, but I needed to. I wore my mask once, and drank "fine" (fake wine, and there's no point, it doesn't taste anything like wine unlike non-alcoholic beer, which tastes pretty good and closer to the real thing) with Thanksgiving dinner. Anyway, the long detour to Phoenix and the mega traffic back through Palm Springs was entirely worth the wonderful time I had with all my loves.

Chemo #6 went well on December 1, again with me taking myself to my blood draw and dressing change, and Sandy dropping me off at chemo and Mary bringing me a Miguel's burrito before taking me home. The Benedryl nearly put me out, and I thought maybe it was because I hadn't eaten, so I won't make that mistake again. First time I've ever eaten an entire bean, cheese and shredded beef burrito in one sitting! Came home and took a long nap, then couldn't sleep much that night.

Mary took the picture and wouldn't get in it.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we had rain in Southern California for the first time in forever. People here get crazy when it rains, the excitement is all over facebook haha. I turned my fireplace on, lit my pumpkin candle and fixed hot mochas (and later grilled cheese and tomato soup!) for my friend Estelle and I. She brought me homemade quiche, apple pie, and a beautiful hand-knitted hat and gloves made with soft yarn she bought in Europe.

I was very tired all week and didn't do a whole lot. On Thursday, Holly sent her housecleaner over to clean my house! Oh my, Maricela was a gem! My kitchen, bathrooms (including tubs/showers), and floors were spotless. She cleaned my blinds, changed my bed, and did my laundry. The house became dust-free and dog-hair free; even if just for a little while it looked and felt fantastic! I am so incredibly blessed by the generosity of the people God has placed in my life. Thank you so much Holly!

Friday I had both dogs groomed so they wouldn't stink up the nice, clean house. I normally bathe Kianne myself but haven't been up to it lately, she's big! I was blessed again when my parents came over, did my grocery shopping and we got my Christmas decorations down from the garage. We had Chinese take-out for dinner, and I remembered that I'm not supposed to have soy sauce (no soy of any kind) which changes everything about Chinese food! Saturday I decorated, and we had a lovely outing for really good mediterranean food and a trip to a couple of stores, thinking (correctly) that the late evening would be less crowded and I wouldn't need to wear a mask. Sunday I had a major allergy attack, and basically spent the day sneezing and blowing my nose, and yelling at the Chargers for letting the Patriots win.

And now the sun is coming up on a quiet Tuesday morning.

Yesterday, Chemo #7, I went to Kaiser for my usual pre-work, and then got the McDonald's double cheeseburger I'd been craving. I never eat McD's, but at least their cheeseburgers come without lettuce or tomato so I didn't feel like I was missing out. My friend and neighbor Debra took me to chemo and it was just like our coffee dates at Starbucks, except without the coffee and hipster tunes. I just love sharing the chemo experience with my friends and family! Again, I learned something new. When my nurse, Rowena, asked me how I felt the last two times after my new chemo, I told her about all my energy on the first Tuesday. She said it's the steroid in my infusion (dexamethasone) that causes it, as well as insomnia, for the first couple of days after treatment. Ah, I remember someone writing in a recent blog post about how important it is to understand one's disease and TREATMENT. During yesterday's chemo, the Benedryl got to me again, and while I was talking nonstop, I slurred my words in between yawns. Good thing I had a ride home!

Debra was impressed by the nurses who all seem to like their jobs!

I could have easily fallen asleep on the couch as soon as I walked in the door but I kept myself awake in the mistaken belief that maybe not taking a nap would help me to sleep through the night. HA! I couldn't go to sleep, maybe I took a cat nap, and turned my light on at 12:45 am so I could read. At 2:00 I finally just got up. I made some hot mocha, washed dishes, cleaned out some drawers and cupboards downstairs, shredded some stuff upstairs, and went up and down the stairs taking different things to different rooms to put away. The dogs followed me around the house for awhile, confused, and finally gave up and went back to bed where they currently remain. 

Along with the double edged sword of energy and insomnia, I've got more bald spots but still have some nubs on my head. The main spot of dark-haired nubs on the back of my head has started hurting, maybe that means they are going to fall out soon? My fingernail beds are grossly discolored and definitely need to be covered with nail polish. The tips of my fingers are dry and peeling a bit. Sometimes I have no appetite, neither feeling hungry nor full, or I have a metal taste when eating, or maybe I don't really taste the food at all. I've started lifting three pound hand weights and am being careful as I feel a slight "pull" in my left arm that must be from the surgery. If I don't have an abundance of energy, I'm fatigued. But you know what? I'm taking advantage of my feel good time to get stuff done around the house that was left for me to do! I am enjoying my decorations and getting into the holiday spirit! I am spending time with family and good friends! I am focusing on my health and healing! So in the words of Solomon, "When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other." (Ecclesiastes 7:14) Plus, I know that since this is only temporary, "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning of it, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit." (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

You know what else? I can choose to be happy while I am patient! Life is good!

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