Sunday, June 04, 2006

All in my head

Devil: This time around has sucked. Sucked. It's Sunday and I still feel "not right"--yesterday was so bad that I could barely move off the couch and couldn't take my daily walk. There's some nausea (for which, stupidly, I forgot to take any pills until Noah reminded me at night of that possibility--and the pill helped). There's major fatigue--on my Friday walk, I felt exhausted about 2 minutes before I got back home, and just never bounced back from that. The Neulasta causes bone aches, and sitting on the couch--about all I can do--leads to aches and discomfort. Overall, it's just very not right.

Angel: But really, it's still not as bad as one might expect. I'm not throwing up. I'm not literally unable to get out of bed. As bad as I ever feel, I keep thinking I'm just overblowing it (I've always been a wimp about even the most minor illness). It's probably a whole lot worse for other people.

Devil: It's boring, frustrating, even depressing to have to sit around and not be able to do anything. Noah tries to cheer me up, encourage me to get out and do things...I pushed myself hard to walk two days, but then just couldn't do it. I don't want to talk, so there's not much he can do for me. My eyes hurt, so reading is tough and even TV gets difficult. It's hard to find a sitting position that keeps my stomach calm. I want to think, to write, to work, to read, to move, to be active--to do anything.

Angel: Once Noah realized that I couldn't go out for diversion, he really stepped up to bring diversion to me. He's made lots of little trips to the store, has played Battleship with me (no eye strain, no energy needed), tells me stories when I want them and is quiet when I want that.

Devil: Just thinking of chemo now makes me feel physically ill. If I picture the IV, or the day hospital, or any aspect of it (including writing this), my stomach lurches and I feel horrible. It's starting to make the thought of going become dreadful--literally. This is a more difficult challenge to my self-discipline than I've maybe ever faced. It's not that the experience itself is so bad, but the thought of it is becoming terrible. It really is so much in my head.

Angel: The chemo is giving me a 23% better chance (in absolute terms) of avoiding any recurrence of the cancer for 10 years. If it's working, it's killing off any dangerous little cells that are still left. If I can focus on my breathing, I can keep from plunging into the darker thoughts of chemo, and keep those ill feelings at bay.

Devil: At the start of chemo, I felt great. Perfectly healthy. The tumor had been removed, my mobility was pretty much back, and I felt really normal. Now I feel like a Sick Person. I'm sedentary and limited and yucky-feeling, and (since I haven't really announced this yet) I have basically no hair. I have days of feeling better and almost normal, but even on my best days now I get more tired, sleep a lot more, feel I can do less. Before starting chemo, I read a piece by a woman just finishing hers, and she said she gazed in the mirror with an old picture in her hand--herself with hair, smiling and healthy--and wondered who she was. That seemed so remote--even in my darkest days, I thought, I'll remember who I am. But who I am today is such a shell.

Angel: And yet I do remember this always: I am not really sick. I'm being given drugs that make me feel lousy, but these are just drug side effects. And the drugs are prophylactic: they are not treating a current illness (the tumor is gone!) but are the sacrifice I am making for four months in hopes that I have years and years and years in which I don't have to worry about this anymore. If someone could tell me for sure, in three years you would be dealing with a recurrence, but if you choose to go through this now, it won't happen--then absolutely, I would choose this. And I have chosen this, even without the certain forecast. It is really hard. But I chose it for a reason. So I'll stick with it, and I'll make it through.


Heidi and Sarah Face The Day said...

I'm so sorry this sucks so much for you. Hang in there.
So did you sink Noah's battleship or did he sink yours? Can I play that game with you this summer? I love that game! Take care and I hope the better days come fast.

Anonymous said...

There is no extra credit for being nice in this battle. Fight with whatever attitude you want. It can be done lying down, with your eyes closed, with a mean and ugly word, with anger and tears, with sorrow and grieving, with whatever you need to do to keep fighting. Let yourself be angry, afraid, withdrawn, hostile, impolite,and self absorbed and when a little window of light appears, let yourself feel its warmth knowing that you are winning. You have everything you need to fight this battle within you. I and many other people are holding your hand. We will not let you fight alone and we will not be turned away by the tools you choose to use to cope.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading about a woman undergoing chemo who felt like crap and tried to turn it around by visually imaging the chemo destroying any lingering cancer cells in her body. The healthy cells were hurting too but they were bonding with her and the rest of her body to get through this, to wage an all out attack against the cancer cells. Fight however you need to -- but it is a fight for your ability to return to that vibrant and healthy young woman who most definitely is *not* lost -- she is laying low, conserving her energy, taking the moments as they come because slowly and gradually the strength will return. We are all out here sending you good energy. We cheer for you every day. We won't let you slip away.