Tuesday 6 November 2012

I Spoke Too Soon

Uh-oh!  I spoke too soon about having minor side-effects of Round 16 of chemo.  Nausea just started.  I'm feeling pretty terrible, walking around with my shoulders slumped -- like my dramatic neice who is turning three.  I'm dragging myself to cook supper, only because my Sweetheart has come down with a bug.  I don't really want him infecting my food.  I can't risk catching his cold.  Plus he's exhausted.  He hadn't yet fallen asleep last night when the earthquake hit at 4am.  Mercifully, I was sound asleep.

So for my nausea, I have taken a dose of my Stematil tablets.  I can feel that it's starting to work; I only feel crappy, not lousy.  Or is it the other way around?

Oh, and I have a sore toe.  I forgot to ask the nurse for the iced booties during the Taxol infusion.  Darn.  That's going to make it more difficult to find new shoes for the wedding.  I hope I don't have to wear my granny shoes.

Enough typing.  Supper is in the oven.  I have 15 minutes to lay down before I have to check on it and turn on the potatoes.  TTFN!

Power Outages, Post-script

When I posted my "Power Outages, Cancer-Style" blog on Facebook, my friend Pearl brought the Spoon Theory to my attention.

If you have ever struggled to explain or understand the limits of living with a chronic illness, like cancer, colitis, endometriosis or fibromyalgia, you need to read this post about the Spoon Theory.  The Coles Notes version is that when you live with a chronic illness, your daily energy is limited, like a handful of spoons.  Each activity you undertake is broken down into a number of strenuous tasks that cost you spoons.  Getting to work in the morning isn't one step, it's at least five.  By the end of they day, you don't have any energy (spoons) left.  And if you do too much, as I sometimes do, you use up tomorrow's spoons.  It is a terrific analogy.

Oh, how I can relate!  I remember last fall the time that braiding Lena's hair took so much out of me that I had to sit down and throw up.  All last winter, after taking a shower, I would have to lay down for twenty minutes.  Recently, my pain nurse advised me to take my pain medication before trying to cook supper, to get ahead of the pain.  I have to think about whether I can handle the Gentle Yoga class.  I enjoyed it yesterday, but laying down on the mat was even tougher than getting up off it.  I didn't expect that.

The point I really want to make is that living with a chronic illness is different from being healthy in ways that I'm still coming to understand.  Whether you are struggling to understand someone with a chronic illness, or you are the one:  be patient.  It takes some time to get the hang of it.

Power Outages, Cancer-Style

Yesterday, I heard cancer fatigue described as a "power outage."  The term hit me. That is exactly how it feels.  The fatigue hits out of the blue.  You can be quite active, and have plans to do more, when all of a sudden you just NEED to lay down, and then you're out of commission for a few hours.

I had a power outage last week, before chemo. I had had lunch with a good friend and picked up groceries on the way home.  Then I puttered for a bit.  Just when I was about to lay down for a rest, my Sweetheart asked if I could make supper early, so he and the Bean could carve the rest of the jack-o-lanterns. Uh, sure, I said. Big mistake. By the time supper was ready (and all I had to do was reheat a couple of things), I was drooping at my plate. I laid down on the couch as soon as I finished eating. I tried to read some blogs on the laptop, but my eyes kept closing. Next thing I knew, I had slept for two hours! That is a cancer power outage.

Last round, I had a mental power outage. It was the day after chemo and I had to pick the Bean up after school to take her to an appointment. I screwed things up from start to finish. I went over to a neighbour's and got into my mind that I just needed to pick Lena up at the bus stop. Sweetie called me in time to make it to the school as planned. We were to pick up a vegetable for supper on our way home. Well, we poked around the mall longer than we should have, got caught in traffic and ended up at a different grocery store than where I aimed to go. In short, we came home with a vegetable after Sweetie had finished making... and started eating supper. Neither of us was happy with the way things turned out. Bad night.

Power outages like this, mental and physical, make me worry about my ability to work in the future.  The Bean pointed out that the power outages come out of the blue, making it difficult to stick to a work schedule.  What will the future hold?

Round 16

Amazing.  On Friday, I had my 16th round of chemo.  Again, I had a dose of Taxol, with Herceptin and Pamidronate (for my bones).

I haven't posted much about my chemo in a while for two reasons.  One is that, for a number of reasons (not readily apparent to me), I wasn't scheduled for chemo at the end of September.  Then my next chemo was delayed to a Monday due to a mixup about when we returned from Disney.  I had just more than a five week gap between treatments.  The up-side of it was that I'm on a new three-week schedule that doesn't have me getting chemo the day before my nephew's wedding in Calgary.  I am very glad that I can go with my family to the wedding.  In addition to a family reunion on my husband's side, it will also turn into a high school reunion with the same BFFs who came to visit me last November for my birthday. 

The other reason I haven't blogged for a while about my chemo is that it's going quite well.  Knock wood.  This round, I had very little in the way of side effects.  There was no nausea.  I had less fatigue than usual.  The only real problem is that Taxol can give you diarrhea, while the stomach medicine Zofran can cause constipation (as can my pain medication).  This round, I was able to experience both. 

Also, sometime in the last couple of weeks, my swelling went down.  I could wear my wedding rings for the first time in nearly a year!  My watch is now spinning around my wrist in a very annoying fashion.

So the chemo itself isn't hitting me too hard, but I realize that what has depleted my batteries is the fact that I've been on chemo for a year and had cancer for a year.  I am coming to realize that I'll ever be the same. 

More on this, in my next installment, "Power Outages, Chemo-Style."