Saturday, July 20, 2013

The View From Here

Samson and Delilah may have been onto something with their connect the dots on removal of hair and its relationship to loss of strength.  There may, indeed, be a direct connection.

Clearly, I speak from experience.  The photo below the fold is what chemo looks like at our house.
These days, I wake up early despite desperately needing more sleep.  My hair is a tiny layer of fuzz at this point, and still falling out...everywhere, and I do mean everywhere (sorry for that mental image)...that any is even left at this stage of the treatments.  My latest war has been with stomach acid and an intermittent pleural infusion pain in my chest -- but those are manageable side effects compared to the ones that are closer to when I get my infusions.

My last chemo is scheduled for next Wednesday, the 24th of July.

Or, as I think of it anyway, my impending day of freedom.  Boo yah.

Emotionally, this is all beginning to wear holes in my armor.  It is a slog -- don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise to minimize your exposure or worry.   The good news is that I have been able to cook and drive and keep up with doing things with The Peanut most days, even when I'm kind of feeling rotten and have to push myself.  There have been very few "crawl into bed and not even be able to deal with the rest of the world through the haze" days, and I am immensely grateful for that for my family's sake as well as my own.  But those days have happened, complete with wracking sobs and personal pity parties alone in our bedroom that I'm not particularly proud of after the fact.  It is harder and harder to turn that off once it starts, which makes me afraid to let it out these days.

This slog is wearing on me at the moment.

There is no break from hot flashes or constant digestive tract issues of one sort or another or whatever else gets thrown into the mix at odd, inconvenient times...things that morph just as I start to get a handle on them into something altogether different and impossible.  This is definitely a marathon and not a sprint -- radiation is up next and then several years of tamoxifen and heaven knows what else after that, with tests and checks and endless appointments in their wake.

But it is definitely better than the alternative, right?  It absolutely is.

However, that doesn't mean that the cracks don't begin to show even when you are fighting forward despite whatever gets thrown in your path.  That's where I am at the moment, stumbling forward and stretching toward the finish line while feeling like I am dragging a big weight attached to my legs and weighing me down.

Somewhere along the way, laughter started getting more difficult.

Sure, we can giggle about the fact that one of my eyes still has most of its eyelashes while the other is nearly bare and makes me look like I am permanently winking.  (That really is a little funny every time I look in the mirror.)   But it is a fewer and further between laughter thing at our house.  There is too much absurdity and oddness about all of this, and I'm having trouble finding any of it funny any longer.  It is a reach.

We have worked so hard to keep the positive in the forefront, for The Peanut's sake if nothing else.  But today, this morning as I sit here trying to taste my coffee and watching the birdies enjoy their replenished seed supply in the feeder outside our sun room windows, "positive attitude" seems like a phrase in a foreign language that I may have been able to speak at one point but don't quite recognize any longer.

It may just be waking up to another gray day.  Or, at least, back and forth gray, since the sun has peeked out a little here and there from the cloud cover.  Way too much rain and dimness outside lately.  It has been the summer of the deluge where I am.  (At least our roses are loving it.  That's something, right?)

Time to shake this off.

For my family's sake, if not my own:  they have trudged through this with me every step of the way, but having to watch from the sidelines while my body fights this toxic sludge that is meant to kill my cancer.  It has been a slog for all of us, but I wonder if the emotional toll hasn't been harder on my family than it has been on me -- it is rough not being able to actually do anything but watch someone else struggle with side effects that you can't make better, treatments that you can't take for them, exhaustion that you can't know what I mean?

All this to say that I will kick this, I will keep fighting to kick cancer to the curb.  But today?  I would give a lot to just feel like my normal self and not have to worry about any of this.  "Normal" is what I miss the most.  My fear is that I may no longer even know what "normal" is.

It is what it is, right?  We keep pushing forward, and try to find whatever silver lining the weeping clouds may have, despite whatever may be clouding our vision in the moment.  I find myself singing Florence + The Machine's "Shake It Out" a lot more lately.  Guess I am trying to shake off whatever demons seem to be clinging to try to find some level of comfort in the less clouded aftermath.

Would that it were that easy.

Cancer sucks.  But at least I have a tiny glimpse of a finish line in my sights and a wee break in between the next round of slogging.  I am grateful for it.  Well and truly grateful.

(Yes, that is Roxie in the background.  Isn't she adorable?  She had just finished barking at an evil squirrel on the bird feeder when I snapped this picture.  A dog can't be too vigilant...)


robin andrea said...

I am so glad that the countdown to the last chemo treatment has begun. That day will come on Wednesday, and Thursday will dawn like the gift of freedom. I hope the sun is shining, birds are singing, and you're laughing with the joy of it all.

Thank you for posting the photo. It is good to see your still very beautiful face.

Christy Hardin Smith said...

Thanks, Robin -- we got out yesterday a little bit and I'm feeling a little more relaxed about all of this. We found a new tea shop near our house, so we took The Peanut for some afternoon tea -- was really fun and we all clearly needed a little break from everything because we were all three a lot more relaxed by the time we got home. Really it was just enjoying each others company in a different setting, but just the little change in our routine made a difference, as did trying something new together -- and honestly just getting me out of the house a little bit worked wonders. It's a nice reminder that there are so many good things along the way that I can enjoy with the people I love, and that I really ought to savor things more, even the mundane everyday things, you know?