I am already so tired of doctor’s appointments and blood draws and everything else, and I haven’t even started the hard part yet. The hard part, for those of you wondering, will begin on February 16th. That is the date of my first of six chemotherapy appointments. I’ll be effectively useless for about five days following that first treatment. At least, I think that’s about the time frame I’ll be working with.
The first time I went through chemo, the initial treatment hit me hardest. It took me from healthy to not healthy in a day and it took awhile to reach a new equilibrium. I don’t remember the subsequent treatments being so bad. I’m pretty sure I’d be on my feet a day or two after a treatment. My memory isn’t great, though. It’s been eight years, after all. And chemo has a way of muddying up your brain, adding a nearly opaque layer to some memories.
People have been asking me what it will be like. When I reach back and dig around to try to find memories, I catch hold of a few things. My legs aching as though I had been standing all day, even when I was lying down. The way my scalp felt when my hair fell out. It isn’t painless. It feels like when you wear your hair is a bit dirty and tied up in a ponytail all day, after you let it down. Girls, you know this feeling. But it isn’t just one spot, it’s your entire head. More dimly, I remember feeling weak. This is a more tenuous memory, maybe because the sensation was new. I couldn’t compare it to letting down a ponytail or standing on concrete floors. I have a feeling it will be one of the hardest things to get used to again.
I also remember not being able to articulate myself well. I just lost words. They would be there, stuck on the tip of my tongue. I still have problems with this, especially when I’m tired, though it generally isn’t noticeable to anyone but myself these days and isn’t as extreme as it once was. Still, I’m worried about this side effect the most. When I lose my words, I lose myself. This may not be the worst thing, some people might even consider it a blessing. Being tongue-tied might smooth out some rough edges a little. I had lunch with my friend, Ken, the other day and he asked me if I’ve found myself just blurting out whatever is on my mind, damn the consequences. I had to answer truthfully that, yes, I have been doing just that. I lack the patience to censor myself. All my energy goes into keeping it together. So I can be rather blunt, and it isn’t always received with warmth. So if I have difficulty finding the words to give shape to my thoughts, I might be more pleasant to be around. Boon or blessing, only time will tell.
Other chemo stuff: it’s an all-day affair, starting at 9:30 in the morning and wrapping up sometime between 3:30 and 5:30. If I am lucky, I’ll get a bed. If I am unlucky, I’ll get a recliner. I might sleep through most of it. I’m going to try to read (I’ve been doing well with my one book a week for 2011 goal, and I suspect reading might help me with the brain melt) and I’ll probably bring my laptop to watch crappy T.V. shows once my noble attempts to spend my days reading crumble into all the dust from which they were formed. (Note to everyone reading this blog – please suggest television series for me to watch and young adult fiction for me to read. I’ve already finished the Hunger Games trilogy, so not that.) I shouldn’t have problems with nausea (the drugs are pretty good), but I’ll likely have problems with some foods. Like eggs. I cursed eggs the last time I did this. They were the evilest food imaginable. This time, I’m not even giving them a chance. I’m cutting eggs out at least a week before this all starts. So if you wanna have an egg-based brunch with me, better do it soon.