Blog posts have been few and far between as my chemo is progressing. I’ve started half a dozen but just can’t get around to finishing them.
Having finished my 3 rounds of EC chemotherapy I was due to start 3 rounds of docetaxol. I’d heard mixed things about docetaxol.
It makes you less sick.
It makes you more tired.
It’s more painful.
I’ve learnt not to rely on other people’s experiences as everyone reacts so differently to chemo. So while it’s great that your neighbours sisters aunt had no side effects, that doesn’t mean it applies to everyone. Just like Jeff’s mother in law having every side effect doesn’t mean doom for everyone.
So I adopted the wait and see approach
My children were going on holiday with their Dad and Grandparents for the week so I had a peaceful recovery to look forward to. I wouldn’t need to put on a brave face for them, I wouldn’t need to look after anyone, I could just focus on recovery and with a little optimism I hoped to have a few days at the end to enjoy the solitude with a night out or trip to the shops! What a knob.
The first few days were harder than with the EC. I usually had a small window before the side effects hit but this time there was no hanging around! It was bed from day 1. I had very limited use of my legs but could get from the bed to sofa once a day and back again at night. Unfortunately I couldn’t hold my head up so needed to stay horizontal at all times.
It was also very different to the feeling after EC, I didn’t have the brain fog I had with that. My brain still seemed to be functioning. Which was strange as my brain wanted to do things but my body wouldn’t let it. It was amazingly frustrating. I didn’t realise how beneficial it was having a non working brain while recovering from Chemo! As it was my brain was working overtime, worrying about things, thinking about things, getting in a right state about all thats gone on and all thats to come.
All things considered to this point, overall it wasn’t better or worse than the previous rounds. Just different.
Then day 3 happened. The pains started.
A pain I couldn’t really describe, it kind of felt like thousands of elves hammering at my bones. It would run all down my back and through my legs. I tried to take pain killers but my throat was killing. After having to take around 20 tablets a day, the inside of my throat felt bruised, trying to get anything else down there was like trying to ram a cherry down a straw. I tried topical creams, hot water bottles, heat pads, massage belts, nothing worked.
For several days I laid in bed in pain, too tired to move and too tired to speak. My sister came to visit and we just sat side by side watching modern family, I couldn’t really speak but it was nice to have her there!
Because my brain was working it really craved food. I would see adverts on tv and my brain would crave them! But my stomach felt like it was overflowing with water and nothing else would fit in, I wasn’t hungry, and when I did manage to eat it tasted like I was sucking on a rusty nail. I’d heard all about the Chemo bloat and how people put on weight but thats definitely not the case here. The weight is dropping off rapidly. While this would usually be very welcome, now it just makes me look and feel more weak and frail. I promise myself that when I can use my body again I will be joining classes and getting my body strong and fit. No ditching glorious food for a skinny waif look and no boring workouts just to drop a few pounds, I want to actually be fit and strong.
I knew with EC that by day 7 I was back to normal (or as close as could be expected) so hoped this would be the same. But as the next few days progressed I made no improvement. I still couldn’t lift my head. The pain was unbearable.
I would lie in bed feeling so miserable. I hadn’t been able to move properly for nearly a week. I had been lying in bed or on the sofa, usually in the dark as I couldn’t open the curtains, contemplating life, feeling very sorry for myself, reminiscing about 6 months ago before any of this started. I couldn’t for one second imagine doing this again, let alone twice more. Everyone around me is so excited I’m half way through chemo whereas I can’t believe I’m ONLY half way through. Feeling like this once was like a hell I couldn’t describe. Anyone that says I “only” have 2 more clearly is not listening to me.
While the kids aren’t here in person, I try and keep reminding myself why I’m doing this. I want to stop Chemo. We are doing it so the cancer doesn’t return, but it might not return anyway. This is an insurance policy. But I know I just can’t take the gamble. I would never forgive myself if it returned and I hadn’t done everything I could have to prevent it. I couldn’t face explaining to the kids I’m sick again . So while I have always said since they were born I would give my life for them, actually trying to stay alive for them is much, much harder. I can’t emphasise enough how much I want to give up. I want to feel normal. I want my life back. But while crying in a dark room, Cheryl came on at just the right moment and pointed out “quittings out of the question, when it gets tough gotta fight some more!”
So there in the room I promise Cheryl I will go back for round 5
As I approach day 7 there’s no sign of anything improving. I’m miserable, I’m exhausted, I’m depressed, I’m in pain.
This must be Rock bottom. It can’t get worse.
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