chemo is worse

I now have 12 sessions of chemo behind me and last Friday had my second surgery.  And now, I can honestly say that chemo is worse than recovering from surgery.  Obviously, it’s not a competition I ever wanted to know the answer to, but I would have never guessed this to be the case so I find it interesting. Chemo isn’t painful. Surgery is. Yet there is something about pain that is very tangible. You either feel pain or you don’t. There are different levels of pain that a sentient being can tolerate.  Apparently, I have a high tolerance  – not what I would have guessed based on the whining I did as a child. But the doctors who saw how obstructed I was going into the hospital in July were astounded I could handle the pressure.  (And I actually went kayaking the Sunday prior to that emergency surgery).  Pain can be treated with massage, movement, and drugs. Rather than pain, chemo causes the body , mind and soul to be uncomfortable. It’s a whole inside/out sort of experience.  I had a near-constant feeling of grossness while on chemo. This “medicine” would hopefully kill the cancer yet it was odd how solidly it felt like it was also destroying so much else in its wake. My mouth was coated in a white slime so nothing I ate or drank tasted like anything.  Water was gross. Chocolate was even gross! Chemo made my brain turn to mush. Now, to be fair, oxycodon, a drug which helps with the  surgery pain also slows the mind and causes drowsiness, but chemo squishes the mind into a dizzy daze. And because part of the chemo drugs are steroids, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t read or even watch movies too well. I would just stare out the window waiting for the daze to fade. Surgery recovery, albeit slow, will end and I am feeling a little more whole everyday. Chemo, even though the 12 sessions are over and almost all the side effects are gone (I still have neuropathy in my fingers and feet) lingers in the body for an unknown length. The oncologist says 2 months. The fertility doctor says 18-24 months.  I should be recovered from surgery in 4-weeks. And I’ll know, because I won’t feel pain or be fragile. I’ll be able to move and exercise and process food normally.

Surgery recovery is certainly no walk in the park. But I’m incredibly thankful I don’t need chemo anymore….

my body is not a machine. it is a web of intricate parts woven together with cells and tissue and soul and fire. pulling, prodding, greasing, winding and working my body will just as much wear it down as it will make it strong, but strength does not equal vibrancy. strength does not equal wellness. strength does not equal stamina. strength does not fuel the fire of my soul to burn brightly with a base of coals and a beautiful, deep yellow-colored airy dance. and so i re-learn that the lesson of patience is a lesson on humility. a lesson in humility is a lesson in resilience. resilience is a lesson on nourishment. nourishment is a lesson on what is simple and whole.
and what is whole is me.
within this body that has been poked and manipulated and stapled and stitched for another time – I reside. within this body I will radiate once again.

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4 thoughts on “chemo is worse

  1. As always I like reading your posts…..I feel your writing inside my heart…thank you again for sharing your journey with me. You are doing what may have seemed impossible in the beginning but you did it. You take care and know there are us out there being your cheerleader.

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  2. Dear Elizabeth, I feel an immense sense of awe reading your latest entry about completing chemo and surgery. I remember when you designed the blog and decided to record Your impressions of fighting cancer and how it changed your world. The honesty and clarity of your writing has helped me better understand what you’ve gone through and reveals a talent that has emerged from the depths of your heart. May you get stronger by the day and return to the life you love and continue to grow with the knowledge you have come through this brutal passage stronger and wiser. You have taught us all a mighty lesson.
    Love you.
    Mom

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  3. Dear Elizabeth: It was heartwarming to read your post, as it signifies that you are healing in both body & soul, we couldn’t be happier for you & your family. Know that our prayers & thoughts will be with you during this time of healing, and with Spring just around the corner a new beginning. Take care,

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