I'm finally feeling somewhat normal after the first week. Nurse Nicole said to pay attention to the first 3 weeks after the first treatment. The way I feel on each day tends to be a pattern that will keep up over the following 3-week sets. If this is correct, then on the day of chemo, I'll be tired. The day after won't be so bad, other than all the digestive issues. (Seriously ALL of them. Every digestive problem that has ever afflicted humankind happens in one day and continues to last at least another 7 days, possibly more but I don't know yet because it's only been 7 days.) By mid day 3, I was exhausted. Days 4 and 5 were the worst. A few weird things popped up. You want to hear about them? Really? Okay, but if you change your mind, skip the next paragraph. And just so we're clear, I am not complaining- just reporting the news in a totally unbiased fashion.
Aside from dealing with every digestive issue known to man, my face has completely broken out like a 13 year old. To any clear-skinned 13-year-olds I may have just offended, I apologize, but THIS girl as a teenager had skin that belonged in the "before" half of a Clearasil commercial, and it now looks like that again. Also, 13-year-old me hates you and is extremely jealous of your beautiful, smooth face. Moving on. My skin is very dry, and my lips are cracking at the corners. (Yes, Mom, I'm hydrating. Yes, Mom, I have lip balm.) My throat is sore and the inside of my mouth is so swollen, it feels like it doesn't fit inside my mouth anymore, if that makes any sense. My gums are sore, so it hurts to brush my teeth. Eating is kind of an ordeal, especially since I can only open my mouth this wide () <-- turn your head sideways- due to the cracks. An angry itchy rash has descended upon my armpits (you ASKED), and I'm so tired that my legs need a rest after walking up 2 flights of stairs. This last one bugs me the most. I never really exercised regularly, but overall my life is pretty active. I walk miles all over the city. We have frequent dance breaks at work, and do things like this. It's hard for me to sit still. I used to run up the 4 flights of stairs at the back of the Lex and 59th stop every morning on the way to work. I would race the people walking up the escalator next to the stairs. They didn't know I was racing them, so I couldn't celebrate at the top as much as I would have liked to, but secretly winning was still a good way to start the day. (And some of them must have known they'd just gotten beat. "Who is that girl? How is she so fast?") But this new every-move-feels-like-overexertion feeling is a drag. What else? My nose seems to be filled with blood. Not a bloody nose, just blood in my nose constantly. Also, there's some unidentifiable random shooting pains or cramps that seem to jump around like a moving target. It's a headache, no a migraine, no a chest pain, no something is stabbing me below the ribs, oh my gosh I'm going into labor, no my kidneys are falling out, oh it's just a sore neck, no I'm fine. Totally fine. Oh and still the burning skin thing. It's SO weird. It's like none of these things is exactly debilitating. They're all more like annoyances, but all together they're making it a fairly uncomfortable day. Nothing unbearable, but those things added to the fact that I can't brush my teeth, mouthwash stings like a mofo, and the whole underarm thing is keeping me from wearing deodorant make me an absolute joy to be around. Obviously, I'm totally kidding. I look gorgeous. I smell divine, and my soon-to-be-husband is thrilled to sleep next to me.
So that's where I am. I went to work yesterday, but woke up today feeling pretty shitty, so I worked from home. I had a moment this morning where I tried to pep talk myself into going. I almost rallied. Then, during meditation, I remembered that now is not the time to rally. Now is the time to listen to my body and when it asks for rest, give it to it. This is a new idea for me. I spent years pushing myself to physical and emotional limits. I used to work 60 hour weeks. I never called out sick. I was the jerk who brought my germs to work so I wouldn't fall behind on projects. I'd party all night and roll in the next morning vomiting or possibly still drunk. I was a huge fan of the boot 'n rally. (For those of you who are new to the game, or waaaay past the game, "boot 'n rally" is when after a long day or night or both of drinking, you vomit- either on purpose or by accident- and then take advantage of the new real estate available in your stomach by drinking more. Rinse. Repeat.) I ate either ridiculously clean or had corn chips and ice cream* for dinner. I was, and often still am, an "all or nothing" type of person. I think it's a common alcoholic trait. I can doing nothing in moderation. Go big or go home. Work hard. Play hard. You know the deal. I demanded a lot of my body and gave it very little in return. When I first got sober, before I had any guidance or system in place, I couldn't understand why I didn't feel better immediately or magically lose 40lbs overnight. I expected years of abuse to be undone in 2 months of dry time. I remember writing an angry/sad/desperate letter to my body, profusely apologizing for what I'd done to it, begging for peace, and promising good behavior from then on out. It's been a long, slow process undoing the damage, breaking bad habits, creating healthy patterns, and I never fully got there. It was pointed out to me that I don't make changes unless there's a gun pointed to my head. Migraines forced me to eat better, and to take sleep more seriously. A solid bottom brought me to my knees, and it got me sober. So I guess cancer's holding the next bullet with my name on it. I'm sure it's got more to teach me, but so far I think I'm getting the need to be kind to my body and to listen. It feels like maybe all the times I figuratively and literally told myself to "suck it up and deal with it" have finally caught up to me.
In wedding news, we have settled on a menu. Yayayayayayayay! Marylyn, the caterer, will send out one more email with everything finalized and the contract attached. Assuming that's all good, the next step is the tasting. AND Denis sent a link with some pictures from last weekend. He said he'll have the rest in about 4 weeks. I love them. I can't say enough how happy I am that we did this. I need to give a shout out to my little sister who is an actual model. The morning of the photo shoot, she texted me a bunch of pro tips- what to bring, how to stand, what to expect. Having information makes me feel armed which makes me feel safe which makes me feel comfortable. Soooo yeah. Abby's awesome.
A new friend I haven't met yet told me it's important to keep a sense of humor and to find a bright side wherever I can. We were introduced via Facebook because she spent the last year going through breast cancer treatment and a mutual friend correctly thought we'd have a lot to talk about. We've emailed, texted, and spoken, but have not actually met. She's been a friend, an inspiration, a wealth of knowledge, and a huge support. I love her already. In keeping with her suggestions, I've come up with a list of pros. Here is the first of many: No one is going to expect a Christmas present from me this year. Even if they do (if you're reading this, seriously don't), they can't get mad when they don't get one...you know...because of the cancer. :D
My body is telling me it's bedtime, so I'm signing off. But first I want to say very quickly that I REALLY appreciate the messages and emails I've been getting. I've been tired the last few days so I haven't had the chance to answer yet, but I promise I'm reading/hearing them and I love them and I love you for sending them.
Gooooood night! 💕
*For the grammar nerds out there: I left the oxford comma out on purpose. Yeah. Think about that.