what is there to say

I haven’t posted in a while. I think about things all day, but they aren’t always translatable to words. Maybe it’s “chemo brain” – I notice when I type, I spell more words wrong than I used to or forget a word hear or there in a sentence.  I’m told chemo brain is temporary.  I was always forgetful, now it’s more so. Maybe it’s just fatigue – I don’t sleep that well.  How can I sleep with so many thoughts running through my head and so little positions my body finds comfort in while laying bed? Maybe it’s just the way it is – cancer is a huge distraction to everyday things.

Today is the last day of treatment 8. I feel nauseous for the 3rd day in a row and my mouth tastes like chalk. After thrashing in bed from 10pm – 1:30am, I succumb to taking ambien. I sleep until 10:30am.  Steve is away, the dogs don’t mind the sleep in, but I missed the yoga class I wanted to go to. And my light headedness keeps me from being able to go to the farm to check on the sheep and pick up some packages from the mail. I feel defeated.

chemo pump when empty, waiting to be "de-accessed"
chemo pump when empty, waiting to be “de-accessed”

At treatment 8 they warn me that the Oxalyplatin drug, the one that causes neuropathy and lameness, also can cause an allergic reaction at about the 8th treatment. So I wait, for 6 hours in the chemo chair, wondering if the tickle on my fingers in an allergic reaction or just a tickle. ‘Luckily’, I was fine. They can keep giving me the drug. I feel an odd sense of relief.

They test my blood before every chemo treatment. My tests say I’m strong and “doing well”. My white blood cells, hemoglobin, hematocrit, and neutrophiles are all in the normal range. This means my body is handling pints of toxic poison that is killing any cancer cells. I wonder what else these toxins are doing to the healthy parts of my body… to the REST of my being, that doesn’t have cancer. I feel confused.

Steve left town yesterday and before he left he did all the laundry, made the bed with clean sheets, did the dishes and made sure I had somebody to keep me company and bring me dinner Thursday night. I feel so loved and grateful for all he is.

Once the pump is removed today, I have 4 treatments left.    Four.   Yep – four is less than five.  Five felt like a lot.  But 4 is more than 3 and 3 feels like it’s actually getting close to 0.  5>4>3>0. But 0 does not equal ‘done’.

The mind is a funny thing. These numbers are so close to each other but subconsciously, each one has a very different effect on my psyche. None of these are numbers I want or find solace in. Zero means no more chemo, but it’s still 1 month before I have another surgery. It’s 6 weeks before I can consider laying on my stomach like a normal human. It’s 2 months before I can swim. It’s 24 months before we can consider having children.  I feel unsatisfied and impatient.

I long to have days when I can write about the new house we are building, or show you pictures of a new baby.  Counting days till the end of chemo isn’t sexy, fun, celebratory or anything of the like.

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4 thoughts on “what is there to say

  1. Elizabeth— you are such a strong determined young woman— I applaud you for your honesty and spirit — there is no easy but I think it is wonderful that you can verbalize your feelings, your fears and your longings. I am thinking of you with warm wishes and prayers for your complete recovery❤️🎈😘😃—-Hugs, Ellie

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  2. Elizabeth, You have such a graceful way of expressing these intimate challenging times. You are setting such a strong & fierce example for all of us to follow. I understand you feeling defeated like you say, and I also see how overcoming or even harnessing these (very difficult!) feelings could be the building blocks and your tools in growing into the strongest version of Elizabeth there ever was. Wishing you (& Steve!) more joy and patience in each day. ❤

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  3. Thank you for your raw honesty and for sharing your journey (and great poetry). I think of you often and I know the road feels long. You are an inspiring teacher and admire your willingness to stay present through all of this.

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