Friday, December 18, 2009
A nice break at just the right time - the holidays
Now that chemo is done, I'm enjoying not having to make my way to the doc's office every morning for a shot in the rump (Neupogen). Don't get me wrong, I love the nurses and staff at my doc's office, but it's great to not have to plan every day around a doctor's appointment and even better not feeling like a pin cushion. So far, the side effects of my final cycle are similar to the previous one - mainly swollen and backed up salivary glands, overall body aches, and due to the anemia I'm extremely tired all of the time and frequently out of breath. I'm taking a decongestant to aid in thinning out my saliva to clear up the glands, and just taking it easy to prevent anemia related accidents or issues. I can't carry Cooper for more than a minute before I need to set him down and catch my breath. When we need to go up or down the stairs, I let Cooper go up and down with me right behind or in front of him which he seems to enjoy and prefer anyway. Thankfully, I have not had any dizziness - just shortness of breath and occasionally a teensy tiny bit of light headedness. If I still feel this way by New Year's I'll reconsider the blood transfusion, but I'm hoping that won't be necessary. This is the most tired and physically limited I've felt since the bilateral mastectomy surgery. Even though I'm definitely experiencing the "chemo brain" phenomenon, I do feel clearer and calmer than I have in a really long time - though I admit this is something that comes and goes - sometimes day to day. My sister warriors and I in support group often refer to this as the perpetual roller coaster. I've decided to get off the roller coaster for the holidays and focus on my family and friends, as much as possible, while also working on regaining my strength so that my body will be ready for the next big step in this process - implant swap-out surgery in January. Oddly enough, this type of "work" involves mostly sitting/laying around. Since I'm so frequently out of breath, I'm not able to do a whole lot other than slow stretching and strength exercises. I'm looking forward to resuming my walks but it could be a while before I'm able to and that's OK - just another goal for me to work toward. Keeping up with Cooper (who turns 18 months old on Monday!) is getting harder and harder these days when Bob is away so I've been lining up help on the weekends now in addition to the normal week day help so that I won't get run down and overwhelmed and Cooper will still get the stimulating play time he needs as well. I'm looking forward to this weekend very much. We'll be attending a neighborhood holiday party on Saturday. On Sunday I'll go to church and finish up on some holiday baking and preparations thanks to the much needed and appreciated help from Esperanza and Susan who will be helping me with Cooper this weekend. I'm not sure how much I'll accomplish and I don't plan to push myself - I'll just try to enjoy doing what I can and whenever I get too tired I'll rest and watch Cooper play because that always makes me feel better. When I was a kid I really loved the holidays. I have lots and lots of cousins and we used to all gather at one house on Christmas eve to eat, play and open gifts. As the years went on our families started going in different directions for the holidays for a variety of reasons that are not uncommon to most families - loss of key family members, people getting married and sharing the holidays with in-laws, etc. When that happened it just wasn't as much fun anymore and gradually I became one of those adults that sort of dreaded the holidays. I enjoyed seeing my cousins' children having a good time, and I enjoyed sending holiday cards out but that was about all the joy I managed to find during the holiday season and usually just looked forward to the holidays being done with for the year. I didn't think I was sad at the time but looking back I am pretty sure I was depressed every holiday season. A lot has changed since then. A lot. Cooper's arrival into our lives changed everything for me last year and now that I've had cancer we have even more reason to find joy in every holiday - in every day. That's why every day IS a holiday for me now, regardless of what is on the agenda, as I wake up grateful for another day and chance to live and appreciate all of life's blessings and challenges. Every holiday is a new milestone for me and my family now. Now, I cherish every day and every holiday like never before. I wish all of you joy, love, and laughter this holiday season and all throughout the year. Make every moment count!