Sunday, October 26, 2014
Nights are hard.
Ohhhh you guys.
Whenever I realize that chemo is coming up, I feel such a heaviness... I try to push it out of my brain, but it's hard. It starts when I go, "Oh, crap. Chemo is in a week." As each day brings me closer to Chemo Day, I get more emotional. I briefly (I try not to, but it will sneak into my brain) picture the drive up to the doctor's office, the visit with the doctor, and walking into that room.
When I think of walking into that room, the taste of mango popsicles fills my mouth. And I get physically nauseated. (During my first two chemos, I sucked on mango popsicles during the administration of The Red Dragon - I have to keep my mouth cold to prevent mouth sores, which I end up getting about a week later anyways... Last time, I just couldn't suck on one. I asked for ice chunks to suck on instead.) I don't think I can ever have anything with a mango "taste" ever again, except for real live, fresh, wonderful mangos.
I realize that, the more chemos I receive, the longer it's taking me to recover from them. I'm getting more tired. My symptoms are lasting longer. I don't have the strength I did at first. And that frustrates me.
I hate having to walk into a room, knowing that poison will be invading my body in that room. That I'm voluntarily letting something into my body that is destroying not only any cancer particles, but also the healthy, vibrant parts of me.
It's like voluntarily walking into a room that you know will give you a violent flu bug. Who wants the violent flu? Every particle of you would want to run from that room as fast as your legs could carry you. Yet you have to walk in there and let the flu in.
I guess chemotherapy is taking its toll on me. Physically and mentally. I try so hard to stay chipper. I try to stay really busy. I try to focus on the positive. But at night, I cry a lot. I talk to Heavenly Father a lot. I tell Him how much I hate being away from my kids and husband. I tell Him how much I hate being bald. I tell Him how sore I am, how exhausted I am, how frustrated I am. I tell Him that it really sucks that I got this.
I'm mourning the life I used to have.
I'm trying to be brave, and I'm trying to stay strong. Cancer really is a fight. And though my physical symptoms are extremely frustrating, I think the hardest part is the mental part. I try to stay positive, and there are so many things to be positive about - I'm not going to die! I'm not terminal! All of this is temporary! But it would be disingenuous of me to pretend that I don't feel sad sometimes. Especially the week before chemo.
Sometimes I'm so overwhelmed with how much I lost, and in such a flash. My body is permanently disfigured. My arm will never feel the same, or be able to have the range of motion it once did. Sometimes I feel like a freak. Like Frankenstein Barbie. :) We lost the house we always dreamed of having. We lost our dog (seriously, I miss her so much). We have been separated for a really, really long time. Maybe it's going by in a flash for everyone else, but for me, time has crawled almost to a stop. It's hard.
I think even the week after chemo is less emotional than the week before. Once it's done, it's done, and I can cope with the effects and take solace in the fact that I have three weeks before subjecting myself to this again.
I guess my purpose in this post is, like the purpose of all of my posts, to be transparent. I don't want anyone to think that I don't struggle like everyone else does. I really hate blogs whose authors pretend that life is so perfect and that they have no hardships. I think denying life's struggles does a disservice to others. Because then the people who read these blogs, or Facebook posts, or whatever, think, "Wow, my life is so sucky compared to theirs. Why do I get all the trials when they don't?" The reality is, everyone has trials. All the time. There is no break. I can't think of any time in my life that I didn't have something going on that wasn't hard. Or the readers might think, "Why can't I be plucky like them? Why can't I be positive like them?"
Here's the thing. When I was diagnosed, I decided to be as positive as I could be. And mainly, it works. I really believe in the power of positive thinking. I believe in positive energy. I believe that forcing myself to focus on my blessings and on looking forward to the future will ensure my complete recovery from this beast.
I just want you to know that yes, I struggle, just like everyone else. But I also want you to see me trying my dangedest to see the beauty through the ashes. I want you to see me fighting hard to get through this. I want you to see me becoming a better person because of this. Because that's what trials are for. I'm going to emerge from this stronger. More empathetic. More patient. More grateful.
So, in that vein, let's focus on the positives:
Like I said before, I'm not terminal! I'm not going to die!
I only have to do six of these treatments, total. I've heard of some people having to do 12 or 16. I've heard that a lot of people, after the ninth treatment, say, "That's it. I'm done. I'd rather die." I won't ever have to get to that point.
I'm halfway done with chemo.
Having only Micah here is allowing me to spend really great, quality, one-on-one time with him. He needed this. He needed some focus just on him. Especially with his problems in reading. I have the luxury of going the extra mile with him. I make extra flash cards for sight words. We spend extra time having him practice writing his numbers facing the right way. We read longer than required. We fix assignments he didn't understand.
Gage has bloomed under my sister's careful care in Chicago. He's speaking so well. He's learning to ask for what he needs instead of physically acting out or screaming. He'll go to Oregon with a beautiful assessment and IEP in place so that he can get the help he truly needs.
Sadie and Dylan have really learned to step up to the plate. They're doing their homework without anyone having to remind them. They're doing their chores without complaint. I'm amazed.
My skin looks freakin' awesome. If any of you has acne, dude, all you have to do is undergo chemo. Some nights, I don't even wash my face. Because chemo also makes you not give a rat's about anything. Six months ago, I would never, ever have gone to bed without washing my face. Now? Well, let's just say that I don't wash it every single night. And guess what? My skin is as clear as can be. Not a blemish. Not a blackhead.
Guess who is starting to feel some hair re-growth? Me, that's 'oo. Spots that were as bare as a cue ball are starting to get a little bit of stubble. I heard this might happen - that hair growth might even begin before the final chemo. I do have to shave my head one more time - my friend Megs is going to take pretty bald pictures of me this week, and I don't want a five o'clock shadow. But after that? Let it grow, let it growwwww....
I might, might, might be able to get surgery on my foot before the end of the year. I've reached my maximum out-of-pocket, so it will be free. Because of how expensive it is to have cancer, I might be able to fix something that has been plaguing me for a year and a half!!! Can you imagine me walking without a limp? I can't.
It really is so luxurious only having one child to care for. I have more time to rest (which I need a lot of). I don't have to worry about feeding everyone or cleaning everything. I just have to worry about one kid, and when I feel too crappy, I can rest easy, knowing that my mom is taking care of him. I truly think this was a good decision, to go about my therapy in this way.
I'm so glad I have cancer in this day and age, rather than 20 years ago or 40 years ago. That I'm able to get implants to replace my breasts means so much to me. I'm so grateful that chemo treatments aren't as horrible as they used to be - that they're more individualized and more advanced. I'm grateful that cancer isn't necessarily always a death sentence like it used to be in times past.
I really love not having to wear a bra. I love not having to worry if it's cold outside and I don't have a jacket on to cover up. You girls know what I'm talking about. And you perverted boys also know what I'm talking about. I love being perky. I love that I'm a C now instead of a B. Seriously so much fun. I'm walking around going, "So this is what it's like to have more substantial boobs!"
It really is fun not having to do my hair. I miss having it, but I don't miss having to style it every day. I need to realize how great it is not having to deal with that. Though I will be grateful to get it back.
I don't have to shave my legs or my armpits. Awesooooome!
My eyelashes haven't disappeared! And I still have some of my eyebrows! I'm so grateful. Stay with me, eyelashes. Stay with me.
Heavenly Father has sent so many angels to me, in the form of friends, family, and even acquaintances, who have lifted and carried me through this ordeal. I'll never forget the love and care that you have all exhibited toward me. There are so many horrors in the world, but people like you guys make me realize that there is good in the world. That there is hope. That there is happiness.
So see? There are silver linings everywhere I look. I'm allowed to be sad and mad. But Heavenly Father is making my burdens lighter, and I will emerge from this a better Kar. Kar 2.0. :)