Weds. July 24, 2013
Chemo wk 2 of 16. Day 9 of 14 day cycle
It’s Day 9 of my first chemo cycle, which will happen every other Tuesday for 16 weeks. For the past three days I’ve felt alive and awake again. Prior to that I can best describe my experience as living in a fog.
I awake each day and think, “It’s a new day. I want to ride my bicycle, I want to create something beautiful.” I then walk to the sink, wash my face and begin to feel the dizziness and nausea that accompanies me now. I remind myself that “I am not sick,” but am allowing my body to be poisoned by chemotherapy and many drugs to hold the side effects at bay and that is reason I feel the way I do. I am not sick AND the means to the end of being a healthy person, chemotherapy, is making me feel sick right now. And it will pass and I will be better again. I think all of these positive things then sometimes just throw a middle finger up in the air and want to barf.
Chemo is not the party everyone talks about. I must have received the wrong invitation! The cocktails are not nearly as tasty as they should be. The hot doctors are mostly female and, although cute, not my thing. Yes, the chemo chairs are comfy and they have little movie devices to pass the time while your IV slowly floods your body with first anti-nausea, then steroids, then poison then an additional bag of poison as a bonus round. They start the party off with smiles and reassurance, but then access the little port, which was surgically placed in your chest and was about to heal nicely, with a sticky needle to feed you the concoction. You are official ‘hooked in.’ I expect to be beamed up at some point during the process. I’m looking forward to meeting Scotty.
My mother came to town for the first week, last week. Thank heavens. I certainly would have either starved to death or fallen down my staircase without her saying, “Get away from those stairs” every time I went down the hallway. She really did make life much easier. Even my cat was happier to have someone around 24/7 for a few days. My birth mother ran errands and did a great job helping and not hovering. None of us know what we are supposed to do or what our place is right now. My maternal birth grandmother once said, when I asked what they were feeling when I was placed for adoption, “We were just stumbling around trying to hold one another up.” I think that’s how we all felt last week as well. What’s needed? What’s too much? What’s not enough? I have no clue, and we are just all figuring it out together. Whatever anyone does or doesn’t do right now is perfect. There is no right way to be with this. Just be with it if you can and maybe we’ll find a pattern or rhythm. It has been important to laugh and to not talk about cancer all the time. To ask myself repeatedly, “Is this important right now? Does it add beauty or joy?” If it’s not one of those 3 things I let it go. There are other days for the rest when my energy is so limited. A sudden shift of priorities is good for me, and I appreciate the opportunity to practice. I truly appreciate all the funny Facebook messages you sent and the posting of red lipstick photos which made me laugh and kept me going last week! That same grandma, the one I met when I reunited with my biological maternal family at age 18, was a feisty redhead until she passed away at age 98 just two years ago, used to say, “Put your lipstick on. You’ll feel better.” I have adopted that as my motto, adding “red lipstick” as I wondered if after losing my hair, and temporarily my breasts, if red lipstick will actually make me feel better or even beautiful. I’m trying to get my head around that possibility.