I think I finally have some new stuff to say.
Chemo was, well, just getting old and boring. I mean, how many people really want to know all of the ways a body can recoil at poison?
I have a colleague at work who talks, well, as much and as fast as I do. I respect her and the work she does immensely. But sometimes, well, you know. Sometimes one just gets over-verbalized.
It’s amazing how quickly you can cut a conversation short when you start explaining exactly how the gag reflex works after chemo…
Plus, I’d found a ‘new normal’ as one of my cancer-family friends puts it. I was busy being social. God I’ve been happy.
OK — Quick Medical Update:
Chemo 4, just before Christmas, went pretty well. Just the usual unpleasant body-wants-to-gag feeling for about a week. I can smell the chemo in my body and I keep coughing up globs of chemo smelling goobers. (Hey, I didn’t promise you any protection from TMI!!) It kept me mellow on our 14 hour snow drive to Eugene (That trip usually takes 4 1/2 hours). Because Francois worked out with me almost every day, I built my strength back much more quickly and ended the cycle very physically strong.
Chemo 5, on January 8th, knocked me on my butt. My body is clearly getting worn down by this process. It was like getting hit by a truck of fatigue. My eyelashes and eyebrows finally gave up and are bailing fast. I’ve got a newt-like look going on. I swell up easily and can gain 5-10 lbs overnight. It doesn’t help that I’m moody now and prone to binging (chocolate, salty chips, ice cream). I’m gaining weight, overall, and that’s not a good thing. Plus, I’m having a hard time refinding my stamina. I’m making 1600 meters in the pool each day by just staying there until I’m done, not by getting any real endurance going.
Lymphedema — I’ve been officially diagnosed with lymphedema. I need to do exercises and physical therapy, maybe forever. I need to wrap my arm in bandages. I need to learn how to keep those bandages clean!! Argghhh. The bandage I have on my hand gets dirty FAST and with the crying (tears of joy) on inauguration day, I touched my face once too many times and gave myself an eye infection. So I’m an infected newt.
I feel good right now, as I have just entered week 3 of my chemo cycle. But I look, uh BAD — swollen, dried out, infected, bald and eyelash/eyebrow-less.
So now, when people see me and exclaim, “You look GREAT!!” I realize that they were expecting me to look like I was on my deathbed. Ha ha. Hmmm…
I had a dream that a guy from work became my, well, I don’t know, ‘gender’ guide. He was leading me on a trip/retreat and helping me find a redefinition of my sexuality. It was some guy at work I’ve never dreamnt about nor thought about much, but he’s someone who seems very integrated in terms of how his inner and outer selves express themselves.
Radiation: I’m not going to do radiation. I did a lot of research and consulted a lot of people, both survivors and doctors. In short, the studies that say radiation improves survivability for my stage cancer don’t address my particular type of cancer, 100% estrogen positive. That makes my cancer extremely responsive to hormonal drug treatments. With my lymphedema already a known factor, there’s really no benefit to outweigh the very documented risk of worsening my lymphedema. So, uh, after this last chemo…I’ll get my port removed and be DONE!!!
(Except for the lifetime of hormone drugs and the lifetime of lymphedema management)
Funniest thing I learned in December? Silicon based sexual lubricant is DAMN SLIPPERY if you get it on the bathroom floor.