Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cycle 3, Day 9: Woe and Courage

I've been remiss in describing the first week + of this last treatment, so this is going to be a longish post.

Based on our experience with the first two rounds (Joe felt crappy but still worked and rode his bike), I think we mistakenly believed that we would skate through Chemo, trip lightly through this landscape of poison and side effects. To say we've had a rude awakening is understatement. The last 8 days have been very hard, 1 in particular was the hardest day we've lived through in our more than 20 years together. And throughout, we are cataloging Joe's symptoms, something which is challenging for us even in the best of times.

Way back when, I used to joke about keeping a calendar of Joe's ailments, what happened to him at work or on the bike. For a month or so in the late 90s, I actually did mark everything down and we'd laugh about it. Little did we know what good practice that would be for Right Now. Honestly, up til August of this year, there was already PLENTY to remember, mostly bike-related: crashing, getting doored or hit by cars, breaking helmets with the force of impact, hitting deer, breaking bones, scraping off knuckles, leaving behind large swaths of epidermis on roadways throughout Northern California. There is so much more, I'm sure, but I can't remember it all.

So I'm grateful that since Chemo #3 Joe has been keeping a daily record of how he's feeling. I share it here, his telegraphic Litany of Woe.

Day 1: 3rd Chemo, out at 1pm, got hiccups at 2pm (lasted, on and off, until 10pm), a bit sleepy, numb fingertips. 8pm: headache, weak, nausea.

Day 2: Woke at 1am, nauseous. Fingertips not as numb as yesterday. Still nauseous at 7am. Nauseous all day. Hiccups on and off. Constipated.

Day 3: Feeling foggy at 7am, right fingertips numb, a little nausea. Constipated.

Day 4: Only a few hours sleep, nausea, headache, numb fingertips. I don't think sleeping sitting up helps with the nausea. Numb lips. Constipated.

Day 5: Depressed. Numb lips and right fingertips. Constipated.

Day 6: Numb lips and fingertips. Back pain. Constipated.

Day 7: Same as Day 6, more back pain, slight cold. No longer constipated. [Thank you, Dieters Drink. Man, does that work!]

Day 8: All of the above, weakness, diarrhea, bad back pain.

Day 9: All of the above, constipation returns.

Looking back on all of it, the impact of the meds is clear: the Prednisone Days 2 - 6 gave us Depressed on Day 5, the Neulasta shot on Day 2 gave us the bone pain that started Day 6 and continues this morning. And while tracking it is deeply satisfying, we also know it won't necessarily help us with the next cycle. The effects of the chemo seem to change each time. We can't predict how it will feel, what will happen. Something new will probably come along to scare the crap out of us. This reminds me of so many other experiences, like being the parent of a new baby. Just when you think that you have it wired, that you *know* when the creature will sleep so you can wash your hair, the whole shebang changes up on you, and you get to start over from scratch.

That's where the courage comes in. Sure, we have woe a-plenty, but lots more courage, thank goodness, since courage is all that is required no matter what we face. Courage, it seems to me more and more these days, is the expression of a ferocious and abiding love. And that, my friends, we've got.

1 comment:

Jamsheed said...

Hi Joe,
I sure am sorry that you are going through a very rough patch. Courage in high doses is definitely what is needed to get through this period, along with family and friends.
Thinking of you.