And having said that….the effects of chemo are not just cumulative…they’re a bit exponential. Of course, the doctors try to tell you this without really stressing it too much (otherwise, it would scare the bejeesus out of you). I don’t think I got back ‘up’ after Round 5. I was still tired and draggy going into the last round. I remember being very resigned. They had a little graduation ceremony for me where they hand you a certificate and throw confetti all over you, but I’m pretty blurry about that as I was doped up on narcotics for the nausea. On the day after the treatment (Wednesday), I drank over a gallon of liquids (I’m not kidding) and I don’t think my body held onto any of it. There comes a point where your digestive tract is so brutalized that it just won’t do any work. So when I went in on Thursday to get fluids, I looked dessicated. The skin had shrunk between the finger bones in my hands. I was ashen and my skin looked flaky. And I felt like an invalid. I absolutely hate that. Fluids on Thursday and Friday was a good idea, but I think Saturday and Sunday would have been a good idea as well. Unfortunately, they don’t do that at my oncologist (probably not anywhere). I think they should really. If you’re going to be in the business of pouring toxins into people you ought to be ready to care for them on the weekends as well. I don’t mean offer regular office hours or doctors visits, but fluids and emergency care…that seems a given. Not so.
Then there were the other things that didn’t show up until the last round. I got rings on my fingernails finally. Kindof like the rings on a tree. One for each round. Much to my dismay, my eyebrows and eyelashes fell out. After holding out all that time, I thought for sure I was going to keep them. And then, a week after, I woke up to black mold on my tongue. I panicked (Sam knows that particular tone to my voice, but not from great experience). I thought I had the plague. I had thrush..badly. I’ve now been on diflucan for almost a month trying to get rid of it (and drinking loads of yogurt, etc). Blech. Apparently, this is very common as well. Yipppee for me.
The Nurse Practitioner at my oncologist calls all of this ‘toxic saturation’. One of the practitioners at my family doctor’s office told me, “The come as close as they can to killing you, in order to kill the cancer.” Charming. I’m still thinking this is very middle ages…bleeding people to pull the bad out of them.
Now the real fun begins. After Surgery, more Surgery, Chemo, Recover, Chemo, Recover, Chemo, Recover, Chemo, Recover, Chemo, Recover, Chemo….we do….not much. I’m going to be on Tamoxifen for 2 1/2 years, and I’m supposed to see my doctor every 3 months, but other than that, nothing. No tests…no, well nothing. This is very disconcerting. For the past 6 months I’ve been doing, doing, doing. And although everything I’ve been doing has been horrifying and difficult, I’ve at least felt like I was actively fighting something. Now, I’m supposed to sit and wait. I feel like I did when I was 6 years old and I was supposed to be going to sleep, while the monster in my closet was waiting for exactly that.
There are other topics that should be here….Premature Menopause, Post Treatment Anger, Return to Life, Genetic Testing, Move Through Cancer….I’ll work through those soon. Watch this space….I’ll be sitting here…waiting.