Where have I been? Where am I now? Who am I? These are all valid questions, and the most frequent answer to all of them is, "sleeping".
Camping Memorial Day weekend was wonderful. We camped two nights, and I didn't want to leave. It rained on us a couple of times, but we could retreat to my dad's camper if the tent got too wet. The temperature remained cool, the wind remained calm, and the sun came out just enough to dry us off but not roast us. It would have been great to stay there all summer, shirking chemotherapeutic responsibilities.
I had an impossibly short week between camping and chemotherapy. At work I had to revise and resubmit a manuscript whose deadline was May 10th, and at home I had to spend quality time with my daughters. I had spent many extra days being sick the last chemo cycle, between the harshness of the new drugs (FEC: 5-fluorouracil, epirubicin, and cyclophosphamide) and the 4-night hospitalization, and so I missed doing ordinary things with the girls. In two days I flipped the manuscript, proofed another one, took the girls shopping for sandals, played with them at a favorite park, and baked them from-scratch blueberry muffins. Needless to say I gave myself a fever on Thursday of that week and slept until chemotherapy on Friday.
Chemotherapy on Friday. I am so tired of chemotherapy Fridays. On the plus side, my friend S joined me and we had a lovely time. We pre-partied with chocolate croissants on the patio before heading to the chemo game. Also on the plus side, I received a reduced dose of the F in FEC. This is because I reported on the status of my guts--tenuous at best, and not a situation that I would call "recovered". Dr. Substitute Oncologist (Dr. Oncologist was away at a conference) said that this was likely caused by the F, and that reducing the dose could relieve the bodily toxicity without decreasing its cancer-fighting ability. I said, huzzah and thank you, Dr. Substitute Oncologist!
Then I realized one of the many reasons that I love Dr. Oncologist. Dr. Substitute Oncologist was about to send me to the waiting room, to wait to be called back to an infusion room. Dr. O's nurse intercepted me and took me back herself. If Dr. O had been there, she would have walked me to an infusion room herself, saying, "Now I'm going to put you to work." I used to think that was cute or endearing, but now I understand that her statement has more depth than that. I work harder for her than I've ever worked for anyone my entire life. I sit in that chair and take her drugs, then I go home and drink when I don't want to drink, eat when I don't want to drink, and sleep when I'd like to be doing anything at all. I shower when I don't have the strength to stand. I walk so that my body doesn't forget that I need it. Dr. O, thank you for recognizing the work that your patients do. We in turn appreciate the work you do that makes our survival possible.
On the down side of last Friday's chemotherapy session, I had another allergic reaction to...something. Halfway through the last bag of drugs (it was the C, cyclophosphamide) I started to feel a peppery sensation in my nose. Then my lungs started to feel tight and I started coughing. Just like with the carboplatin reaction, the nurse stopped the dose and gave me a nebulizer treatment to open up my lungs. A different Dr. Substitute Oncologist checked me out and declared I'd be okay for the rest of the treatment, but he slowed down the drip. He also said that they usually don't see reactions to this drug, so perhaps I was having a delayed reaction to the F or the E? Who knows. What I do know is that my lungs tightened up several times throughout the weekend before calming down on Sunday, so it was certainly a reaction to chemotherapy. Hopefully Dr. Oncologist can figure it out before my next dose.
With this last treatment, I am over the halfway point (again...and again) of my chemotherapy regimen! Huzzah! Okay, truth be told, that "huzzah" was completely forced, because I don't feel very "huzzah" about it. I still have so many hard ones in front of me! I just have to keep my head down and barrel through them. Through them, or perhaps over them? I am struggling with the best preposition for what I have to do. I feel like I sometimes squeeze my eyes shut and hold my breath until it's over, but I also feel that sometimes I float near the surface and take regular sips of air as the current takes me where it's going. Over, through, whatever--it needs to be over, and I need to be through it. I am so sick of being sick.
Good thing there's a party next weekend to distract me. Hopefully I'll see you there. I'll be conveying my love and gratitude with eye hugs. Dozens and dozens of eye hugs.