Round 3 - the Precipice

I finished Round 3 of my in-patient chemo on August 11th.  The administration of the chemo was uneventful and my days in the hospital were filled with the most kind caregivers, family and a few friends.  This round has many different drugs and for me, is the more difficult round regarding receiving the drugs.  By the fourth day I am ready to "tap out."  I can't eat, hardly drink, can barely talk and simply focus to maintain.  The feeling of all these drugs in my body is extremely difficult to articulate, it is like lead in my veins, heavy, pressing me down, full.  

Recovery this time has been difficult.  I stayed healthy from an infection standpoint, but I didn't bounce back like I had previously.  I remained with the feeling of heaviness, my body feeling full and unnatural. I was not able to do much more than recline on the couch for nearly a week, standing and walking were nearly impossible.  Not because I was nauseous but because I simply could not do it. I was weak and tired.

I was sick enough that at one point, planted on the couch looking out the window, I hit a very real point where for a brief moment I felt like I was on a precipice of either getting through this recovery round or not.  I had a sense that if I chose to give in at that moment there was a chance I may not make it to the next.  I wondered after that if others have sensed this when they have become so ill.

The turning point of my recovery came nearly one week after discharge when I was finally able to sit up without feeling terrible.  However, when I would stand or walk, I was breathless and sometimes needed assistance. 

I saw my oncologist a couple days ago and of course I am neutropenic (no immune system) but it was also noted that my heart rate is considerably higher than it should be. My heart rate is now tachycardic.   My EKG thereafter was noted as being, "beautiful."  I am hoping that this fast heart rate may be a combination of my drugs, some of which I will stop in the next few days.  I am sure more cardiology follow up is to come.  I refuse to let my mind wander to the place of heart issues or damage from chemo.

It appears that the chemo has also had an adverse effect on my ovaries and they are currently no longer working.  Not that I am ungrateful for some of those obvious side effects of non-working ovaries, but the intense hot flashes and sweats that have occurred continually throughout the day and night are miserable.  I cannot sleep longer than about 10-20 minutes at a time without waking to a hot flash. This was a known risk of the chemotherapy but it's frustrating that it happened. I am now taking another drug which is actually for neuropathy, which fortunately I do not have but whose off-label benefit is that it helps with hot flashes.  Just one more pill...

There was one common hope that was a bright light for me during this past recovery, that tomorrow will come and it will be better.  It did and each tomorrow was better.

There is so much clarity that occurs for me when I am not well and through this round I learned that I wasn't afraid of standing on the precipice. I was only there for an instant but the thoughts that fleeted through my mind were not of sickness or pain or even people. They were of my Dad who passed away not long ago.  I have no idea the correlation but when I stood back from that moment, I felt peace and stillness.  I wonder if this is what is meant by, "Be Still."  Stop focusing on the noise of your own worry and Be Still, listen to the voice of the Lord. 

I love you, thank you for walking the journey with me.

Lynda Wolters