Another Friday, another cycle of chemo. As last time, the steroids kept me feeling almost normal for the remainder of Friday and most of Saturday. Knowing that the steroids wear off within a day, I used the energy to cook an early dinner on Saturday…so early my grandmother would have classified it as ‘supper.’ Sure enough, the energy began slipping away after I’d eaten the last bite of spaghetti, and it was to bed with me for the next 3 days. Besides the exhaustion, the last treatment brought an itchy, scary looking rash to my entire scalp on Sunday morning. I was so wiped out, I half-heartedly daubed it with antiseptics and took it back to bed. The pillow didn’t complain.
The 5 days right after chemo seem to be the worst, and the exhaustion and other side effects seem to worsen each cycle. I suppose I should embrace this utter tiredness, which hopefully signals the chemo is killing off cancer cells. We’ll know how well it all worked after my PET scan on June 10. Still, it seems odd to be drifting through the gray afternoons with the bedroom shades down. This time I wasn’t able to sleep solidly, kept awake by worrying about work deadlines. I simply felt too tired to sleep. I finished 3 books during my convalescence, none of them were about cancer. When I slept, I had strange, stressful dreams. The last was about vacationing on a (non-existent) Caribbean island with terrible food service and obnoxious fellow resort guests. As pretty as the dream place was, I felt trapped among the monotonous conversations and bad dining. I awoke sweating and with arms aching from clutching my pillow all night.
I returned to work today and had to stop and sit down during the block long trek between the parking garage and my office. I felt about 95 years old. I really don’t think I’ve ever felt this weak. As feminine as helplessness and frailty are still viewed by some, it’s just not working for me. It’s very hard to accept in myself, even if it’s temporary and for a very good cause. I identify strongly with words like, “robust” and “gusto” and “alive.” I’ve felt none of those things the past 5 days.
This is just the dry-mouthed, itchy-scalped, too-spent-for-polite-conversation chemo talking, of course. If this cycle’s side effects mirror the last, my joie de vivre should return the end of the 6th day, which will be tomorrow. Joan and I will be traveling to Utah to open our vacation home for the summer. We’ll overnight at Joan’s sister’s in Mesquite, Nevada. We’ll know I’m back in business if my lust for video poker returns; Deuces Wild is this gal’s game. Tonight, the thought of gambling, engaging in romantic endeavors, or devouring a (good) meal evokes a, “Meh…” in my nebbishy little post-chemo soul. By tomorrow night, the nebbish may have gotten so tired of being tired…he’s gone back to sleep until I need him again. Let’s hope I never do.