Month: December 2016
18. Down but not out
Right, so this week the little monster has been fighting me on both levels – physical and mental.
On Sunday I was feeling weak (mentally). The little things were getting to me and I was letting them. I didn’t feel like I’d recovered enough to run or train, and it felt like I was going into the last round on half a tank, without my usual energy and fight. Not a good start to the week.
But there was no way I was giving up – like I said in an earlier post, I don’t need a knockout punch, I just need to go the distance. So however lousy I was feeling, I just needed to keep going and get through the last week.
Well today is Saturday, typically my worst day, and this morning I cried for the first time. Why? Because my bed fell apart. Yes really! It wasn’t anything major, just a screw that needed tightening to keep the headboard in place. But it wasn’t really that; it was the fact that I couldn’t fix it myself. I felt useless. I didn’t even have the energy to lift a small piece of wood back into place. It’s not even heavy. It’s just a two-man job (to wiggle it into place) and typically I’d have figured out a way to do that on my own, because that’s what I do. I’d have wedged one side against the wall or something. But I just didn’t have the mental strength to figure out a way how, and didn’t have the physical strength to lift the piece of wood off the floor. So instead I just picked up a pillow and cried into it.
Aaaaaaand then it all came out. I’m sick of having no energy. I want to exercise because that gives me my buzz, and my strength. But I haven’t the energy to exercise. So I’m sitting here feeling sorry for myself. Which is sapping my positivity. I’m sick of feeling full of cold. If I blow my nose one more time I’ll scream. I’m tired of clock-watching – to see if I can have my next dose of paracetamol to kick this faffing headache, to see if it’s time to eat again, to see if it’s time to go back to bed yet, because I can’t do much else… Grrrrrr!
After a few minutes, I had a text from a friend asking “How are you doing today?” to which I replied “Shit. Angry. Fighting [monster emoji]”. Obviously I hit send, obviously I wished I hadn’t, obviously I felt guilty straight away! But sometimes sense escapes us and emotion takes over, right?
But sometimes it needs to, just to release the frustration and, after an apologetic phone call to said friend, I felt much better!
I texted Lance to see if he could come to the rescue and help me fix my bed (he’s now on his way) and went back into productivity mode… windows open, music on, housework done, and I reminded myself that I’m not utterly useless! I do still have energy to do things, just not all the things I’d like to do right now. And it’s Saturday, this is always my worst day, right? So tomorrow will be better. And after that, the AC chemo will be OUT OF MY SYSTEM! Based on the last week or so, I might need a few extra days to recover, but I’ll have gone the distance. It might take me longer to get up from the last punch, but it’s not a knockout.
I’ve booked in to train on Wednesday – no idea if I’ll have the energy to do anything, but even if all I do is get my kit on and do an hour’s stretching, it’ll give me a buzz and take me into Christmas with the mental strength I need, to remind myself that I beat it in round one, and give me the focus I need to recharge, reset and get ready for the second phase of chemo in January.
So come on Boxy, you’ve got this. Cycle four is shit, it tougher, you’ve got the chemo and a cold to fight off, but your body is holding strong (even if your bed’s not!) Just another day or two and you’ll be into recovery.
Start strong, finish stronger. Almost there…!
17. ”Twas the night before chemo…
Having had a great couple of days with friends in London and Oxford, it’s back to reality tomorrow, as we go into chemo 4.
As author and editor, it’d be easy for me to pick and choose when I record videos and publish updates, to always present a positive picture, perhaps even an unbalanced one. But tonight I’ve decided to share the reality of me NOT always bring Little Miss Positive!
I’m human, and despite the general sense of being super strong and fighting this hard, the individually slight side effects, when added together, do get to me sometimes. And despite having done it three times already and walked out of hospital feeling fine, I do feel anxious about what I’m about to do, as you never really know how your body’s going react, being that bit weaker each time.
So tonight’s video isn’t a ‘woop woop nearly there!’ or a ‘let’s do this’ rally cry. Instead, it’s a moan from a slightly anxious chemo patient, who is sure she’ll feel much better this time next week!
16. Ding ding! Round 4…
I’m super excited (and slightly exhausted at the thought) that on Monday, I’ll be having the fourth (and last) of my AC chemo sessions!
This morning, Monique (my nurse) gave the green light to go ahead, based on the assumption that my bloods come back ok. I had my blood test just before I saw her, and by the time I got to her office, some of the results were already back. The most important one is my immune system, which apparently needs to be a minimum reading of 1.0 to go ahead, and mine is currently 2.4 so we’re good on that one! The other results (white cell count, red cells, platelets etc) are still to come back, but based on how I appeared this morning, she’s hopeful these will also be fine.
(UPDATE: stats now in, see below!)
This stuff really interests me; partly because I just like numbers, but also because it’s a metric – an actual number or scale which I can use to measure how well I am. It’s hard to compare one day or week or cycle to the next, because there are so many variables in the mix… how much water I’ve drunk, how much sleep I’ve had, how much exercise I’ve done, what food I’ve eaten, how often I’ve been to work etc. So having a number will let me track my progress.
Monique also checked the lump again this morning, and again found it hard to determine the edges. This is no change from last time, but she did think it felt softer, which is apparently a good thing! We also now have a date for my next MRI (Jan 4th) so at that point we’ll get a real sense of what impact the first round of chemo has had.
I also got more info on the second round of chemo that kicks off on Jan 2nd. There are different side effects with this one, generally less impactful (certainly in terms of sickness) but there’s one main difference, which is that the new drugs will damage my nerve endings. This means it’s likely I’ll loose feeling in my toes and fingertips. We won’t know to what extent this will affect me until we get into it, but the feeling can come back in time, so I’m hopeful it’s just another speed bump, and not something which will stay long term.
Finally (and for me, a biggie!) I asked about surgery. This is likely to come 4-6 weeks after the second round of chemo finishes. So assuming we have no holdups, this will be towards the end of April. You know what’s coming…! Given how good I felt after my US trip, and how it helped me kick off my treatment as strong as possible… (insert further justification here if required!) …I asked if I’m able to go away on holiday between chemo and surgery. Apparently this is something a lot of patients do, for the exact reasons I gave. So yes, that bikini will be coming out again before surgery! Yes, I may squeeze in an F1 race early in the season! And yes, I am VERY happy about all of the above!
So bring on chemo 4 on Monday, and throw at me whatever you have left – you can wipe me out for a day or keep me in bed all week, I don’t care! This is your last hit, and I am still standing! So do your worst, because I WILL beat you again, and will bounce back to enjoy Christmas and start planning my next trip!