Chemo Dread

It is Monday, the day before my chemo is to start and I am dreading it. While I am lucky that I bounce back after chemo and have 10 good days with some nasty side effects, as I go through more and more chemo I have come to dread those three awful days and one bad day that comes with chemo. I am on the chemo from Tuesday to Thursday morning. Friday is a recovery day, and although by that day I can leave the house and do things, I still feel pretty bad, and definitely have to nap a lot of the afternoon. My chemo days have never been as bad as the first two chemos, where I had nonstop, awful nausea along with the other bad side effects, but they are not totally predictable. My third and fourth chemo treatments were bad, but much better than the first two. I was able to eat the white bland food that I can stomach during chemo, and keep the nausea at bay with alternative remedies. Then came the fifth chemo. I woke up on the second day nauseated, and got sick. I spent two days only able to drink Ensure. Food was not an option. It was a surprise after the two before. The other side effects are also a bit unpredictable. On some chemo weeks, the sensitivity to cold ends after four to five days. On others it lasts into my non-chemo week. I do not know what will happen until it happens.

Because my treatments are every other week, the non-chemo weeks fly by. By the time I get to the latter part of my non-chemo week, I am feeling almost normal, am doing my entire yoga practice, eating well, and have a lot of energy. As I get to the weekend before chemo, I realize this is going to end shortly and I will be very sick for three days and not so good on day four. Plus, for a few days after that I am still tired, have to take naps, and sometimes get break-through nausea. By the Sunday before chemo, my family can tell I am starting to stress about the coming days. I am a bit more irritable. Last night I was up three times in the middle of the night, and had to read a bit each time to fall asleep. Today, I did my usual – going to the store to make sure I had all of the supplies I need for chemo week. That means white, bland food, drinks I can stomach (which seems to change each chemo), bad magazines that can put me to sleep, and filling any prescriptions that are getting low. Now I am set. Tonight I will likely fall asleep but be up in the middle of the night reading.

Deb called this morning saying she could hear some stress in my voice yesterday. I told her that is what happens the Sunday before chemo. I know I have one more good day and then it begins again. While Alan reminded me that the last chemo was not as bad as the one before, there is no guarantee this one will not be worse. I know I should live in the moment and not worry about this next week. I do that well most of the days. It is just the two days before chemo that the coming week stresses me. I would not be human if I did not dread the sickness, or the fact that for three days I am literally a lump on my couch in my library, barely able to do anything but keep myself fairly stable. That does not mean I do not enjoy the days before chemo. Today I worked, then met Alan for lunch and Judy for tea before going to the store for the white, bland food I needed to have on hand. Yesterday, I went to yoga and to the art fair in Birmingham with my husband. I made dinner for my family. I enjoyed the days. When I am alone and in the middle of the night, however, I think about the coming days. Chemo is hard. Chemo is not fun. Chemo is poison. But chemo is working, and for that I am grateful. I will live with the dread that comes close to the treatment, because the end result is what I want. Chemo will not defeat my spirit.

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