Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chemo is No Joke

It feels like I'm underwater. Every motion, most every thought, takes a little more effort to complete.

At the grocery store today, I walked into the men's room by mistake. I stared at a urinal for several seconds, perplexed, before realizing my error. Luckily, there were no witnesses.

My scalp is achy and tingling. Though there are no physical manifestations yet, I can already feel my hair letting go. My stomach, my throat, my entire digestive tract feels wrong.

When I sit down on the couch, the idea of getting up again seems like a stretch. All this, after just one dose!

But there is a flip-side. For instance, at four this morning, I found myself lying awake, eyes wide, longing to play my guitar. I have not picked up the guitar in months, but this morning in the dark, though my body was heavy with fatigue, I was anxious to get to it.

I didn't. Not today anyway.

Instead I did this:

I joined J~ in his early morning-yoga routine. It's been a very long time; my guitar is less dusty than my early-morning yoga practice. Though my body still felt weighted, I was surprised to find reliable strength in my limbs.

After Jim left for work, I did a little work at the computer and ate a strategically orchestrated breakfast, exactly what my body seemed to be asking for, and exactly what my mind believed would turn my chemo-rusted digestive gears: cabbage, lettuce, avocado, broad beans, spicy kimchee, fresh-squeezed lemon, cracked pepper, and olive oil. (It tasted good, but it didn't work.)


At the pool soon after, I discovered that the aforementioned "reliable strength in my limbs" had vanished. I was leaden, but at least I was staying afloat.

After a shower and a change of clothes (I've been wearing the same outfit since I got home from chemo), it was time to drive brother D~ to the airport. We met another brother, A~, for lunch along the way.

D~'s Thanksgiving visit turned into an extended distance-working/cancer-helping stay. His presence was a pleasure. He will be missed.

California, keep him safe.

With a blizzard on the way tonight, I ran some essential errands and headed home, where I taught my stepson how to build a fire in the wood stove, paid some bills, kissed my husband, ate some dinner, talked on the phone, and updated the blog.

I'll admit it, dinner was hard. I wanted to sink into the couch and never get up. But my stomach felt like an acid black hole and I was afraid I wouldn't feel good for long if I didn't do something about it.

Luckily, Millie got her walks today from friends and neighbors, and J~ got a nap before heading off to the gym himself. If all goes according to hopes, there will be a snow-day for all of us tomorrow, and he will be around and energized so I can rest.

In the meantime, I will go once again to bed and hope tomorrow feels just a little bit less chemo-icky.

Good night all!


Kelly said...

In spite of everything, I admire you for listening to your body. Reading your post showed how you did just that through every aspect of your day. Hoping that listening to your body and continuing to give it what it needs helps you as you endure treatments.

You're in my thoughts. I hope tomorrow is better.

dervla said...

your journey is inspiring to so many, i hope today you are feeling more like yourself.

Anonymous said...

Brother D is adorable. How nice of him to come across the country to be there for you! And man, you are freakin' limber. Yay you! My joints are soldered together even w/yoga. My yoga teacher from a long time ago said it doesn't matter how limber you are, work with what you've got. She agreed I'll never be able to do the ankles behind the ears, but any yoga practice is healthy.

Anonymous said...

Dear Amy,
Great to see you with J in early morning yoga! Keep pushing. It will help you breathe, think, help your body feel stretched and relaxed. Maybe some head stands or hand stands to strengthen your heart and leave more O2 to your brain. I wish I could think of something to help icky-chemo stomach. I love, love you and so proud of you.
-Mary H

Melisa said...

Dear Amy,

Just found your blog; I begin chemo on 1/21 for my Stage IIB breast cancer.
Thank you for your courage and honesty--I am dreading the start of the ACT regimen, but just seeing that you can do it, as so many other beautiful women have, gives me strength.
Thank you.
Melisa, NC