I feel like I have the world’s worst hangover. Two days after treatment I felt like the first day of Influenza A (which I had 4 years ago, still a fresh nightmare), but otherwise it feels like varying degrees of hangover. Now, I know hangovers. That sounds like a brag, but you know what I mean. I am well-versed in paying the piper for a good time. This, my friends, isn’t a good time. It’s laying in bed, getting so dizzy that you have to close your eyes and shut out the world. It’s noise becoming so loud that you can’t listen, that you can’t talk without feeling sick. It is low grade fevers that thankfully don’t crack the limit where you have to be taken to the emergency room but send wave after wave of heat through your body nonetheless. It’s chills. It is seeing more hair fall out of your head, tickling your chest and shoulders while you vacillate between irritation and sadness and not giving one single care that it hasn’t been washed in two days. It is constant queasiness. And, yes, there is anti-nausea medicine, but the side effects are just as bad, so why bother? It’s sleeping for hours during the quiet of the day, being so grateful to have started treatment after the kids are in school. It is being terrified of drinking coffee, because it’s too harsh for your stomach, and suffering caffeine withdrawls in the middle of all of this.
There really isn’t much pleasant to say about that. I keep tasting the medicine that goes into my port, even though it never touches my tongue, and it makes me gag. I didn’t expect that. The coffee situation, that makes more sense, and it’s a good thing that I love hot tea as much as coffee and have several varieties on hand: Chamomile Mint, Lemon Ginger, things that soothe the stomach, that help me to increase fluid intake. How else am I to reasonably drink the minimum of 3 quarts of water I’m supposed to keep down? That’s so much water! Yes, I’m always in the bathroom. My water bill is going to skyrocket, I think. And most food sounds atrocious, except blue cheese salads, pita slathered in hummus, and fried rice. I can’t even explain it. I just want it, and since it’s all relatively nutritious I’m rolling with the cravings. It’s kind of like being pregnant in that way.
Not that there aren’t funny moments, sweet moments, bits of tenderness. There are plenty of those. My pee turned pink for a day and a half, and if you think that isn’t something that will throw you off, you have problems. My kids have gotten into a routine where they get themselves up, because I can’t climb the stairs or yell. Mostly yell. I think they’re thrilled to death about that. One of my sons had a birthday and I couldn’t bake the cake he asked for, and it broke my heart a bit. He also made the Safety Patrol at his school. I adore him. My oldest daughter and I sang a song in perfect harmony. Little moments,true, but momentous.
I touched on some of the side effects of the anti-nausea meds, and for me, the dizziness and stomach issues are worse than nausea. It’s not fun to talk about (or go through), but think about it. We all make these cost-benefit choices every day, and some are really big, some very little. For me, the cost of not feeling queasy and sick is too much. I’d rather have too much come up one way than not be able to have anything come out the other. Plus I don’t like being dizzy, it makes me nauseated, so it sort of negates the whole point. And my ovaries are officially turned off. Those atomic, beautiful little things that changed the course of my life so many times, they are victims of this now. Perhaps I shouldn’t have cursed them so very often. I’m overwhelmed by it, honestly. That may change since I have 15 more rounds to get through. Man. 15 more rounds of this bullshit. It is literally impossible for me to truly grasp that reality.
I’ve been thinking about that so much lately: the cost of being well and what that really means. The idea of completely destroying myself only to be built back up in the hopes of maintaining life is a complete anathema to me. How is this insanity possible? What monster decided that this nuclear approach was the best way to make a human being healthy? This is the kind of thing that I’ve always rebelled against. You know, the majority of the cancer was cut from me, the rest resides in my spine, inaccessible. My dad told me to not let the doctors kill me with their cure, and it seems that is excellent advice. But reality is not so easy, is it?
How do people go through this for so long? Over and over? It is impossible to fathom. 19 more weeks. Less than half a pregnancy. I’ve done 10 of these, then. Often filled with pain, sickness, and fear. Maybe that is the way to break this up, then. I’ll try to see this is the necessary journey to a new life. Not a life outside of myself, but rather the person that I am to become at the end of this. Like a new child, I wonder who she will be.