Day 38: the shed

It started this weekend, maybe Saturday or Sunday.

BC7D8E9C-DB16-4E36-B01B-E9A8286A5E3AI run my hand ever so gently over my hair and wisps just float off my head and fall to the ground.  I can’t do messy buns anymore, let alone pony tails.  Showers have become slightly traumatic at the sight of seaweed-like strands coating the bathtub floor, tangling around my toes.

PB took me to see Crazy Rich Asians last night.  I loved it on so many levels, and it was a welcomed opportunity to laugh and forget reality for a few hours.  I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t just a flick filled with silly and sappy…there were some pretty thought-provoking dialogues in there as well.

There was a line in it that referenced how people who lose card games lose not because they don’t think they can win but because they’re too preoccupied with their fear of losing.  Something along those lines. I’ve been chewing on that thought and trying it on for size.  Is my fear of losing so great that it is eclipsing my abilities?

Must ponder this a bit more to flesh it out.

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Day 37: not again

This morning, I geared up for round 2 of chemo.

    • did my nails last night: confetti mix of pinks, blues and silver
    • packed my chemo bag, which included my beautiful new quilt handmade by my dear friend
    • prepped my chemo mouthwash mix of salt and baking soda
    • showered
    • put on my next-in-line chemo shirt

Ready!

We really didn’t anticipate chemo not happening today, in light of last week’s stellar neutrophil count. But, alas.

ANC: .6

No chemo.

The team is baffled. The normal behavior of WBCs for a chemo patient is for it to dip down after chemo, then start to come back up. Mine behave more like a rollercoaster: up and down, up and down, without apparent reason.

Why?

It’s hard not to let fear grip me when these strange mysteries happen within my body that the professionals cannot understand. I choose to cling to the one who does understand. I choose to find joy in these trials, knowing that they’re helping me grow in faith and steadfastness as a sinner saved by grace.

A shift in every story

I feel like writing something to express the purpose of this blog.  I keep battling between wanting to be hidden and anonymous, and wanting to be seen and heard and not alone.  Honestly, what have I got to hide?

Memorializing things in print is a scary thing.  Words have so much power.  I have—I always have had—this immense fear of saying the wrong thing; saying too much; saying honest things that are dark and ugly.  These are all the kinds of things I long to dump into this space.

But I have hope for my story and the words that will build it.  Right now, there is a lot of ugly in my mind and my world.  I’m not proud of my attitude and the many weak moments of faith that have inundated this season of my life.  But my story is not finished, and I’m so hopeful.

My story is evolving.  

I look forward to witnessing how God shifts my story towards more faith, grace and joy—regardless of which direction my circumstances turn.

Day 21: hair

This morning, I woke up, went to the bathroom, and blew my nose.  It’s become a daily morning ritual since Day 1 post-chemo.

I looked into the tissue, and, lo and behold, mingled in my clear, water-like snot: nose hairs. Five, to be specific.

The hair loss has begun, much ahead of schedule.

Day 20: no escape

I don’t really swear. But I can think of a handful of 4- or 5-letter words to describe how I feel about chemotherapy.

The past five days were pretty miserable. My biggest challenge, and inspiration for all the 4- and 5-letter descriptors, was nausea. 24/7. I couldn’t even handle my own saliva, or breathe plain ol’ air–every single thing that I tasted or smelled was absolutely foul, which made staying hydrated a big challenge. (I can’t understand how water can taste so bad? Like, old fish stewing in swamp water with melted Barbie parts. Not kidding.)

So I laid in bed or curled up in my recliner and either slept or zoned out with TV.

The difference between being sick from chemo and sick from something like the flu or common cold is, sure, you can turn on Netflix, find a cute cheery chick flick and bundle yourself up in bed with fluffy pillows and blankets, but as you lay there, you and your mind remain prisoners of circumstance. As the images flicker and sounds float numbly before you, no matter how hard you try, there is no escape from the reality and the blaring reminder that

you

have

cancer.

Day 15: chemo

So, last week was a blur. Originally scheduled to start chemo a week ago but my neutrophils continued to rebel. We re-tested at the end of the week and they still weren’t ready to play nice.

Lots of praying, rest, eating the right foods, and an acupuncture appointment later, here we are, at Day 15.

I woke up at 4 this morning, the dark sky outside my window, acid churning in my stomach and my mind wide awake. I had an idea of how today would turn out: neutrophils inching just over the bare minimum requirement to qualify me for chemo; me, in a quandary: do I do it?, or wait to get some testing done to figure out what’s going on with my blood?

And of course, that is exactly how the day panned out.

Cancer and its treatment never offer any clear-cut answers or guarantees. There are so many risks, and these risks are constantly weighed against the potential benefit. Add in other pre-existing conditions to the mix, and everything just becomes one ginormous slop-fest.

After an intense back-and-forth with my oncologist, we decided to push forward with the plan. One chemo cocktail, coming right up!

The actual infusion was uneventful. The nurses swaddled in three heated blankets and J turned the TV on for me to Friends. I had no adverse reactions to any of the drugs and ended up falling asleep in my recliner for the last half hour. We drove to Costco afterwards to pick up some supplies and my prescriptions (anti-nausea meds and I will become best friends soon), then headed home.

I’m now in bed, and I feel it.

The alternating cramping/jittering in my stomach. The tingly, burning sensation on my tongue and the roof of my mouth. The headache slowly wrapping its claws around my head. The nausea is already creeping in. And I’m so, so tired.

—–

[I fell asleep at this point, and am back online (or, from the dead) on Day 20]