Six months ago I had my last patient visit to the chemo lounge and my last infusion of cytoxin, taxotere, and steroids; my last little lie-down on the radiation couch was almost four months ago. My whole mad cancer adventure began over ten months ago, mid April last year.
I am thoroughly tired of cancer and cancer treatment by now – I’m tired of thinking about it; I’m tired of dealing with it; I’m tired of Komen, and pink ribbons, and breast cancer blogs; I’m tired of talking about it, of having it a constant part of my life, of referring back to it always; I’m done. I’m done with active treatment; I want to be done with it all, to put it in the past and get back to my life and myself.
I am incredibly tired of cancer and cancer treatment being the main focus of my life.
And I can’t move beyond it just yet because I’m still in it, I’m still dealing with it on a daily basis; I’m still going through the changes. I’m not in active treatment, I should have my life back – but it’s not quite there yet, the life I got back is an utterly different color and texture than before, it’s not working yet. There’s been attrition, things have been lost. The effects of treatment are still reverberating through my body, through my life. Who was changed and who was dead.
The effects overlap and chase each other’s tails; there’s no clear trail – am I this tired and lackluster because I can’t get quality sleep, or is it a separate and lingering effect from treatment itself? What about the ongoing ennui, general listlessness, and depression? What percentage of those can be attributed to lack of sleep, what to biochemical fuckery, what to attitude? And why does it matter? Can’t I just get over it already? Why can’t I just get over it already?
It’s like my hair – it’s come back, but it’s not the same, it’s an utterly different color and texture than before chemotherapy – and about 10 to 20 percent of it didn’t come back, it’s decidedly thinner (the attrition rate on my body hair has been higher, probably closer to 40 or 50%, and, no, I’m not best pleased about that).
I entered chemotherapy a relatively healthy person – now, six months after my last treatment, I feel decidedly unhealthy.
I haven’t slept through the night in over three months. I go to bed early, I go to bed tired; I wake up three to four hours later, dripping with sweat, and the rest of the night I spend tossed between restless sleep and wakefulness.
I am constantly tired.
My legs burn and ache. The big muscles on the front of my thighs, my calves – this is an after effect from chemotherapy that was getting better, now it’s getting worse again. My balance is slightly askew. I seem to drop things a bit too easily, they slip from my grasp. My body runs pillar to post, hot to cold, shivering or sweating, never seeming to find its balance.
I have gained ten to fifteen pounds, my clothes fit differently when they do still fit – but worse, my body fits differently. It’s not a comfortable place for me anymore, it doesn’t fit.
I am continually tired, I have no stamina, very little drive, and less patience. Everything seems too much of an effort – from cleaning my house properly to cooking real food to doing anything much beyond the very basic required maintenance. I stay on top of the dishes; I change my sheets and towels and do laundry before the clothes run out, but I haven’t been able to pull off the major work of re-organizing from the home disaster and reconstruction yet (it’s been a year now since *that* started – I don’t really know where anything is anymore).
The laundry list of complaints goes on – perpetually dry eyes, the prickles and aches from the surgery site, the continuing underlying depression, the stiffening and creaky joints, the this and that – it’s all minor, really. Hardly worth whinging about – and on a very basic level, I hate that I am; I feel I should just pull myself up, stop whining, get over it and get *on* with it – but in true gestalt fashion, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
I’m waiting for spring. I’m waiting until I can truly put this year behind me, and find my self again.
Until then, I’m holding on.