I suppose I should be grateful that it took four sessions for chemo’s full-force to hit.
All those pointless positivity cards would tell me to look on the bright side, that at least I made it through halfway relatively unscathed.
But it is hard to find any gratitude when you’re in so much pain.
For the first three chemo cycles I was on FEC and I dealt with it better than I could have hoped. The steroids and copious amounts of ginger tea, did I mention I don’t like ginger?, kept nausea to a minimum, regular cat naps meant I could stay awake most of the day and I knew that I had to crawl to a snail’s pace when walking up hills if I stood any chance of making it to the top.
So far, so bearable.
Before starting chemo I had a few people tell me it wouldn’t be as bad as I was expecting it to be. Of course, they had to be lying. A little white lie to allay some of the terror of what was ahead.
But then waddayaknow, it turns out it was bearable. Not pleasant, but bearable. There was no throwing up in a bucket, collapsing at the supermarket or weeping mouth ulcers. I would cross my fingers when someone asked me how I was doing and reply, “surprisingly ok.” Just in case I ran out of luck.
I felt guilty, like I had cheated chemo. If all these side effects hit others so hard, then how did I escape them?
Then on Friday I switched to Docetaxel and my luck ran out.
I knew about the potential bone and joint pain, but the side effect I was most scared of was losing my nails. Right now though, I would gladly give up all my nailbeds to get my body back.
I feel like an old woman.
On Monday I could barely make it from the bed to the couch, on Tuesday I physically couldn’t get out of bed.
It felt as if my limbs were leaden and I was attempting to drag them through thick, gloopy honey. I knew what I had to do to make them move, but going through with it was just too hard. The trek from the couch to the bed was so arduous I slept for an hour to get over it.
My biggest achievement yesterday was summoning the strength to shower at 3pm. Even then, I had to sit down halfway through.
I was so sore, so heavy that I was genuinely surprised to look down and see that my skin was still smooth and white. I expected to discover big, blotchy bruises all over. How could my insides be screaming at me while my outsides were just fine?
Today I’ve managed to stand in the shower and I’ve even left the house, my legs wobbling down the stairs as if this was a new activity they were doing it for the first time.
And I have The Boy to thank for that. My painkillers weren’t touching the sides, so he suggested I call the chemo nurse, who faxed a prescription for Endone to my pharmacist.
Genius. If only I had thought about that yesterday. Guess I can add chemo brain to my new list of side effects.