The New Normal

Before cancer, I was someone who took no medications, rarely took vitamins, and felt good about that.  I remember sitting at dinner with my family and Alan’s dad when Alan asked how many medications per day everyone took.  His dad won the contest with 14 pills per day. My parents were not far behind. I could not have imagined being in that position. In fact, every time I have been to the doctor since my diagnosis when they asked for my list of medications and I said none, they seemed surprised.

Now I have joined the ranks of the heavily medicated.  My new normal is giving myself anti-clotting injections twice a day, which I still dread each time. My new normal is getting multiple anti-nausea and chemo drugs infused in me every three weeks, and then taking anti-nausea pills and a chemo pill for two weeks.  My new normal is to take steroids before and after chemo.  My new normal is to be knocked flat on my back by the chemo, so nauseated that it was akin to the stomach flu times ten and made me miserable all night.  I then spent the next two days, for over four hours each day, at the clinic being hydrated and infused with more anti-nausea medication.  I laugh when I think I had planned to go to yoga the day after chemo and meet a friend for lunch.  So much for better laid plans.

My new normal is to go with the flow, enjoy when I am feeling a bit better, like today, when I actually have the energy to blog.  Eating has been tough, but I have been doing it. Its amazing how much does NOT appeal to me.  So my new normal is to eat small amounts, of whatever appeals to me.  Weirdly, applesauce has been appealing, something I rarely eat and reminds me of childhood.  Judy brought a pot of chicken rice soup on Tuesday that I ate for three meals n a row and then decided no, I don’t want it for dinner again.   Deb sat with me in the clinic as I was being brought back to life from the wrenching nausea.

My new normal is to nap if I am tired, or feeling crummy enough that a nap will hopefully get me past it.  My new normal is to be taken care of – something I resisted in the past but not now. I have no choice and am grateful for the love and support. My new normal is to be grateful that I feel well enough to write this blog today.  It was simply impossible to do in the last three days. My new normal is to go with the flow, enjoy the times I am feeling okay, know that I will likely not feel 100% as long as I am on chemo, and accept that. That is the hardest part for me. I am used to willing myself into health, and used t feeling strong and absolutely good most days. When I do get sick, I am used to getting over it quickly. I am not used to being totally knocked flat, feeling helpless to stop it, and needing a lot of help. Alan has been my nursemaid, cook and true partner. When he left to do yoga yesterday night, I felt a little pang, and then thought, I am fine now, I can now be alone again, because I am feeling much better.  And I was. But what a strange feeling to worry about him leaving. So not me.

This will not defeat me.  It is, as my doctor said, “a bump in the road” and now he knows how I reacted, my cocktail of drugs will be adjusted, and I will now have a new normal with which to compare the next experience.  The new normal is okay, is doable and will lead me to health.

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