June 13, 2012
I wise friend told me last month…”week at a time, and if you can’t do week at a time, do day at a time.” Such sage advice which has proven to be so true.
Patients can easily become overwhelmed with everything that is happening to your body. Trying to understand and manage symptoms, reactions, expectations and experiences while moving forward with as much of a normal of life as possible. But that does not always work. After chemo last Thursday, I was tired. I felt I was managing to ward off the nausea well enough and dealing with the fatigue that I expected. I had no other plans than relaxing until Monday morning, so that I could return to work. I was happy, I felt I survived Chemo One. I began to think, maybe I can do this.
It really was not an arrogant attitude, just optimistic and then my confidence is shaken. My determination faltered. I found myself once again on my knees, asking my Lord to teach me. Just as He taught me through the ER visit last month.
Monday was great, I worked all day and had great energy. It was actually my first day as a “big girl” again. My loving family actually allowed me to drive myself to work. They really are wonderfully supportive, but just want to help whenever they can. So…off to work I went. It was great to see so many people bustling around as if life is totally normal and nothing has been altered in my life. It was a great distraction for me to get my mind off that which never leaves the mind of a cancer patient…it’s inside me…is it growing…my life is forever different. I finished my day, drove my beautiful drive home along winding roads of forest preserves, went for a short walk, did my arm exercises and soaked in my tub until my fingers pruned. A day as close to normal as I can get…beautiful. Prayers of praises and rejoicing!
I was feeling so well that I had not taken any pain or nausea medicines all day. So up and out the door for work on Tuesday.
Tuesday started off well, visiting with co-workers and getting desk work done. But suddenly and out of nowhere came chills, sweats, light-headedness, and flip-flops throughout my stomach.
Where had these symptoms come from?
What did they mean?
Why am I so far from home when they are happening?
I was suddenly glad I gave my assistant all of Kevin’s contact numbers, because what I really wanted to do was curl up in a ball in the corner of my office until he came to take me home. Breathe Janet, Breathe. I felt as if I could not get any fresh air. It was a warm day, so opening the windows in my office was not going to help the problem. I knew I needed to cool my body down, so I went into my car and blew air conditioning on me full force for about twenty minutes.
What a wonderful feeling! I’m sure my husband would have gotta a huge laugh since I never want the A/C in the car blowing on me. The air usually bothers my contacts, of course it bothers my hair and I would be shivering. But not today, I found myself soaking the cold air to balance what my body was throwing at me. I struggled to work through meetings and desk work. Suddenly realizing much of what I was typing could be done remotely and my mind was running through all the ways this could end badly, I needed to leave.
As I drove home from work, I was so grateful for a dear friend who was sitting at Six Flags while her daughters were on rides. She talked to me all the way home, it was wonderful to catch up and I was even more grateful to have someone to help keep my focused.
Finally I was home and laying in bed completely spent. I could not muster up energy to eat, watch television, read or even talk at times. I read emails that went unanswered. They had to wait, because I had nothing joyful to say. Slipping into darkness could be very easy right now. I can understand how people with depression, loneliness an
d darkness can be consumed when there is no light, no energy and no support. I am so blessed to have the family and friends that embrace me. I discovered tears rolling down my face just by thoughts or images in my mind. I have never been a crier, I could not understand the emotions that I was experiencing.
Where were they coming from?
Why do I feel out of control?
Meditate, Calm, Relax, Breathe…
Even though I did not have the energy to respond, I opened the cards I got in the mail and read the emails and texts that were sent by friends and relatives. They did not know the day I was having, but they were thinking of me and reached out. Those friends and family will never understand how very deeply I felt each and every comment, affirmation and hope brought to me through their kindness. I felt completely and utterly lifted up in thoughts and prayers. The Lord truly knows what we need each moment and He provides it for us. I am just so blessed that He allows my eyes to be opened to see the light as it streams in from others.
So Tuesday and Wednesday were energy zapped days. I turned my bed into my desk and worked from my laptop and rested when my body said rest. After referring to breastcancer.org discussion boards and a wealth of emailing wisdom women surviving breast cancer I realized that my response was most likely an effect of coming off the steroids. I had forgotten that some of the nausea medicines you take for four days after chemo included steroids also. Some women do fine with the chemo meds and then react to the steroid drop. Maybe that explains it, maybe it doesn’t. I think I’m learning to expect the unexpected. Each chemo treatment may create a different reaction and each day will be a new experience.
So week one of chemo behind me, tomorrow is hair-free day. I’m learning to let the Lord take the wheel of my life, but with my hair I’m not waiting for cancer to take it off me, I’ll control what little I can. More to come on the hair-free day soon.
So Lord, You know me better than anyone. You know I’m not a huge adventurous person, I like to plan, I like order, I like to understand what I’m facing.
But I’m ready to be an adventurer, as long as I’m on the path with You, I am always protected.
Even tho I walk through the valley of darkness, I will fear no evil, for you are at my side. Psalm 23:4
Grace embraced through all the notes, texts, cards, emails and Facebook posts that sometimes only say ‘thinking of you’, but say exactly what I need to hear at that moment. To all those that take the time to reach out, you will never know the depth of my prayers of thanksgiving for you in my life.