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Appreciate the simple things...

Episodee XLI - Life is, in fact, a battle.

Taxotere #8

I woke myself up super early and prepared myself for treatment. I took a quick shower (especially fast considering I still have almost no hair) and put numbing cream all over my port area with tired eyes. Then I ate a small bowl of bland cereal to help prevent major nausea from chemo. Afterwards it was still early enough for me to start my "normal" routine, meaning get the kids up and ready for school.

Going into treatment has only gotten more difficult. I am dealing with last week's side effects. I am still dealing with a cold. As each treatment builds, I never seem to fully recovered from chemotherapy, but here I go again.

Attempting to keep my humor before treatment.

I have to admit, the nurses are outstanding in the chemo treatment area. Anyone who has had any medical care knows how horrible or wonderful it can be based on the care you get. A good nurse was like the extra bonus on treatment day. I wanted to make sure they knew how much I appreciated their care...

So, I had gotten some flowers for the nurses in the back - the nurse's who handle all the medication in the treatment area. I have found that their good humor and good care were often under-appreciated by us patients. I see patient after patient living in such difficulty that they were probably unaware of the simple kindnesses of our nurses. Often we can be so wrapped up in our own pain and I want to make sure they know that I was thinking of them too.

Flowers for my chemo nurses!

Even though I was not scheduled for to see anyone, it seemed my constant state of illness warranted a nurse practitioner visit. So, I made my way through blood work and waited for my surprise visit. Of course I was not expecting to see anyone in the front, so I had not brought anything for the wonderful staff. I was planning to do that in a few weeks. However, I love the fact that they had no issue letting me know what they liked... lemon-filled doughnuts & popcorn! I know what to get for them now!!!

As for me, I got a quick check and a quick talk. My lymph node was still swollen. It would probably remain that way for a while. That once I caught a cold, I was probably going to hold on to it longer due to the chemo and affects of chemo. As always - my blood work was great! Even though I have been fighting colds and feeling rough, my blood work seemed to always hang in there. I have tough blood!!!

Mid-chemo treatment!

I went through my normal treatment... me, a comfy chair, warm blankets, great chemo-buddy conversation, and drugs. Not necessarily in that order!!

The side effects from treatment have continually changed. They have been not recently been multiplying, but intensifying. I should not say that as I am now bound to get something new!!

The throat/mouth sores love to pop up while I am still in the treatment chair. Soon after treatment, at lunch, was when most of the other symptoms amplify. The gut wrenching nausea usually starts nudging when I am eating lunch right after treatment. The back breaking pains jumps in to make sure I know it exists. I am very diligent to take a pain pill right after treatment to try and prevent some of the issues, but even on medication I get bombarded. I also carry my Phenergan, Hydromorphone, and Tylenol in my purse. Now a necessity, as I never know when I am going to need them. I need them more and more often now...

Hours after...   
Many hours/days later...

I spent the rest of the day feeling horrible... something that was not a surprise!

Of course it would not be my house if something did not go crazy. My daughter had gotten a high fever the night before treatment, the day of treatment, and was required to be at home on the day after. Oh yeah - I am probably going to catch that too!!! Even though I was exhausted, sick, and wanting to be selfish, I spent my time tending to her as well. At least I had some extra food from my chemo lunch to microwave!

The week after treatment I get up, get the kids ready, and drive them to school. The major goal of those trips was to not vomit on myself. Something I have been successful at so far. Usually there was a point at one stop light where it always seems to be a questionable. Sometimes I add not to urinate or have diarrhea as additional tests of my strength. It was like I was trying to avoid the idea of the messiest trifecta ever!

I spent the week dealing with colds, fevers, homework, make-up work, book fair, tests, and general insanity that comes from having kids. My poor husband was thrown into more of the mix and was juggling his own work and responsibilities. Of course that did not include dealing with all the crazy symptoms and issues regarding my own health... I have to deal with those daily. I was frustrated that I was so exhausted and sick that most of the week was either me in bed, dealing with kid craziness, and me back in bed. I think I was able to physically stand up and make one meal the whole week. I was unable to do anything other than function. I was definitely on survival mode... just get through the week... 

In my head...

I was in an appreciation mood. After treatment, I had to tell my friend how much she has meant to me during my treatments. I wanted her to know how wonderful it was that she was there for me and how much it truly means. When you go through something so personal with someone there's a special bond created. We spent hours every week sharing our lives with each other. I have not done something like that with a friend in ages, especially since I have had children. I felt fortunate to hear about her life. I felt fortunate to share my life with her. I felt fortunate to see the care and worry in her eyes while I am going through treatment. I knew that she was there because she did not want me to be alone. I knew she chose to be there for me. I knew I was lucky to have her as a friend!

I feel so lucky to be blessed and surrounded by wonderful friends and family. Since I usually feel bad and do not express it, I often feel I am not saying thank you enough. Plus, there are too many to even write about. From regular mail and gifts from family living away, to family traveling in during rough weeks, to meals cooked with love, to love and thoughts of encouragement - I am so fortunate. Even though I have not expressed it enough or to everyone, thank you!!! 

Next week is my "bad" week. The past two have been pretty rough, so I have no idea what I am really in for. The accumulation of chemotherapy has created a whirlwind of physical issues. Those physical pains can really affect the emotion well-being. I spend a lot of my time trying to manage the physical pains and convince myself that it could be so much worse. And it could! No doubt, it is not easy. I am tired. I am sick of being sick. I am ready to feel good. However, I still know it could be so much worse. I am fighting to get better. And I will laugh at this (well, some of it)!!!

"Life is pain, highness. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something." 
- The Princess Bride by William Goldman (movie clip)

Episode Reference: from Henry James's Theory of Fiction: Henry James

"Life is, in fact, a battle.
Evil is insolent and strong; 
beauty enchanting, but rare; 
goodness very apt to be weak; 
folly very apt to be defiant; 
wickedness to carry the day; 
imbeciles to be in great places, 
people of sense in small, 
and mankind generally unhappy. 
But the world as it stands is no narrow illusion, 
no phantasm, no evil dream of the night; 
we wake up to it, forever and ever; 
and we can neither forget it nor deny it nor dispense with it.” 


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