I have a new theory. Everyone talks about how awful it is when your hair falls out. Women survivors, medical professionals, caregivers… They’ll all tell you stories about the emotional turmoil.
Yes. It’s big. It’s emotional.
But what if it’s the steriods?
I mean, think about it. Most breast cancer survivors start chemo for the first time with a cocktail that causes hair loss. And that same cocktail is delivered with a nice strong dose of steriods to prevent an allergic reaction.
The first time I did steriods was with the TAC I did in 2008. There were plenty of side effects. Nausea, low blood counts, menopause — and then the constipating side effects of the drugs for the side effects. I think all of that other stuff going on kept me from noticing the full effects of the steriod. I had a bit of a rush and a drop with each chemo treatment, it’s nothing like the ride I’m on now.
Chemo so far is a breeze. I have no nausea. No digestive issues. No need for side effect drugs. The first time, with Paul on vacation, I had a bit of numbness and some joint pain in my hands and feet that kept me on ibuprofen for a few days and for one single night, one single vicodin. (The vicodin actually worked for this kind of pain.)
But the chemo itself and the steriod that accompagnies it left me feeling better when I walked out of treatment than I felt when I had walked in.
And life with a ten-year old in sunny February Californina is just grand. We snacked. We napped. We played. We relaxed.
Coming back to work, February in Seattle, baldness and fatigue was a bit of a come down. So I am not going to say I approached the second chemo with much enthusiasm.
But Friday’s chemo was also really good. No pain. No nausea. Just one dose of ibuprofen on one day for a slight headache.
But the steriods?!! Holy MOLY.
Steriods can be a complete mind-body connected fucked up experience for me. Energy and emotions are a single entity, swinging so high up, so fast — and then right back down, with even greater velocity.
I was up at 4am on Saturday morning, energetic and relaxed, yet stupid as a goldfish. What a waste! But kinda fun, I gotta admit.
But by Saturday afternoon, I had Francois on a march of truth, where I listed every emotional stamp I’d been keeping about our relationship, his actions, his behavior, my needs… Francois kept moaning “This is not fun. I am not having fun.”
I told the kids to avoid me if they didn’t want to get constantly nagged about chores or personal habits.
Sunday my daughter’s rejection of me and my birthday cake sent me into a long sobbing fit. I spent most of the afternoon sprawled motionless on the coach, watching my son devour one Harry Potter film after the next.
It was a funeral type fatigue. You know, the complete and utter exhaustion you have after a very emotional event.
I’m still very emotional. And it’s an emotionality that is tied with fatigue. It’s very physiological and intertwined. But I’ve learned some things.
Exercise. Swim! Get the body’s energy moving in the right direction again.
And…hide. I do not have a very practiced emotional filter. If I get this emotional, there might be some boundary issues and transgressions.
It’s a good thing I’m good at apologies.