Monday, November 27, 2006

Round 2 Done and the Fog is Lifting

So, I now compare chemo to childbirth. There is definitely a reason that it is in 3 week cycles. There must be a hormone that gets infused in your body to have you completely forget how bad the last round was. Then, as soon as you’re back in it again – it all comes back to you!

This time things were a bit better in that they were better able to control the vomiting – but, by doing that they had me on as many medications as often as I could be. So, I was literally taking a combination of 5 different anti-nausea drugs. It seemed like every hour it was time to take something else and it left me in a really medicated state. I also learned my lesson from last time that I should be calling in once I start having problems – which I did. However, basically they said that I was taking as much as they could give me, so to just try my best to keep fluids down or else I might be hospitalized. Luckily – that didn’t happen.

My good friend Tricia called yesterday afternoon to see how I was doing and as soon as I answered the phone she said “I can tell by your voice that the fog is starting to lift” and I knew exactly what she meant. I have the wonderful luxury and ironic sadness of having a friend like Tricia who has been through the same protocol for chemo as I’m doing – so she knows exactly how I feel. This time it took 5 days until I started to feel a bit like myself again and even today, it’s turning around even more. And it’s funny how already I am starting to forget how bad last week got J.

The other big thing that has changed since the last time I emailed you all is that my hair fell out. So, a bit over a week ago Ryan and our friend Nathan had the pleasure of shaving my head to ¼ of an inch long. That really helped with the longer strands that were getting all over our house. But, by Monday, the stubble was really hurting because it was still falling out so quickly. So, Ryan got out his razor and finished the job.

Although I knew this was going to happen, I was really dreading it. Not from an aesthetic point of view (they are going to cut off my breasts in 6 months, so I have my head around the fact that aesthetics don’t mean much these days J). But, I knew that once my hair fell out, I would have a constant reminder every time I looked in the mirror or went out that I was sick. Until now, it was just something that doctors talked about and I had to deal with for the first week of chemo, but otherwise life was fairly normal.

It was truly amazing how everyday people changed once I had no hair. At first, I thought I must have something on my face because people would stare at me, but then I slowly realized that this is how things will be now. Every time I go out the door, I have a physical sign that I have cancer and the stares from strangers is another thing that I have to deal with and will eventually get used to.

So, another round is done. It definitely had its lows, but now I am really looking forward to the highs. My company Christmas party is coming up in less than 2 weeks and I will be able to go. Christmas is a great time to remind us how lucky we are to have such great friends and family and that is what this weekend does for me.

A friend from work sent me an email about a guy who traveled around the US giving out Free Hugs to anyone that wanted them. I found it truly inspirational and grounding for me to remember what life is all about. If I haven’t already sent it to you, take the 2 minutes to look at it and see what problems he runs into as he tries to make the world a better place by offering some support to anyone who needs it. I say that we can all use a little extra support from those we care about now and then, so thanks to you all for giving me that!

Monday, November 6, 2006

Chemotherapy is definitely not for wusses!

So last you heard from me, it was Tuesday night and I was flying high – literally and probably about 20 minutes after I sent that email, the world all changed. It was shocking how quickly everything changed. I always thought I was pretty tough – but this was definitely my hardest test so far to see how tough I am. It’s hard to explain what happened, but my body started rejecting what had been put into it and I couldn’t keep anything down for 36 hours. I felt as if my body was filled with toxins and I ached from the inside out. The 3 anti-nausea medications that I was required to take also weren’t near enough, so I slept in my bathroom for about 20 minutes at a time L.

After the nausea started to subside on Thursday night, then the feelings of aching started to take over and again, my whole body felt as if it was bathed in toxins. The next two days I spent lying in bed – unable to sleep, but the thought of rolling over and getting a drink of water was overwhelming with the amount of energy I had. Finally, by Saturday night, I started to feel more and more like me again – thank goodness.

Yesterday, I spent the day feeling pretty good, except now I am overwhelmed by this weird fatigue. My counts have started to drop and that can affect people differently. It can hit your White Blood Cells – which are important in fighting infection and germs, your Red Blood Cells – which give us energy, your Platelets – which help clot blood and stop bleeding or all 3 of them. So far, I definitely notice that I am tired much easier and spend most of my day sitting down and taking much bigger breaths in to help me breathe. These little things we all take for granted every day are now something I am very mindful of.

Today starts my Day 7, which means the next week I am supposed to do what I can to avoid infection or germs of any kind because if my white cells do drop, I won’t have much to fight anything I get with and it can get from bad to worse very quickly. So, that means that my mom literally has me held captive in my house, while we wait and see what this week holds.

Thanks for all of your great emails and support – it’s important to keep laughing throughout all of this and that is what you have each helped me do! If you can do one thing to help me today, it’s to cherish those around you and tell them that you love them. We can get so caught up in day to day life, that we take the greatest things in our lives for granted.

Thanks for being so important to me and love to you all as well!