Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chemo Brain

It's been a crazy, frustrating, depressing ride the last 16 days. I began what will be three "rounds" of chemotherapy on November 2nd, Election Day. I feel as if the time that has passed has been as in a fog of some kind - or like time just kind of stood still. In this time I have discovered some of my frailties as well as strengths, but the process is not easy. How could it be, really?

I am "battling" stage one Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma, found during a routine (and first time) colonoscopy in late August of this year. To say the diagnosis threw me for a loop would be a gross exageration. My mind has been in somewhat of a tailspin since early September. Some would say I am lucky having found it so early and to have not discovered it anywhere else, despite copious testing. Lucky seems to me to be the wrong word altogether. Relieved is a better word. Good that it was caught so early and that I have doctors that are on top of things. But lucky? Not so much.

The plethora of side effects that comes along with chemo is scary, annoying and REALLY difficult to take. It's not like taking antibiotics when you have a sinus infection. To sit in a chair for six hours while toxic chemicals are dripping steadily into your veins is downright unnerving. Thank GOODNESS that the first one they give you pretty much puts you right to sleep for a couple of hours. It doesn't really hurt while the drugs are going in. It's a day or so after that all hell breaks loose.

I went to "patient education", taking my daughter along with so there would be another pair of ears to hear all about side effects and what was going to take place. Too bad I can't remember nearly a single thing said that day. Too nervous I suppose. My daughter remembers everything he said to me and each new side effect that takes a grip on me is met with a shrug and a "oh yeah, they told you about THAT." Like hell. I had no clue the extent and breadth of the upper and lower G.I. tract "issues" I'd have. Now I'm praying this stuff isn't doing permanent damage. In order of severity, here's what hit me: Painful constipation, Heartburn to the point of esophageal spasms/gastritis, headache, fatigue, mouth dryness/soreness, body pains - particularly my ribs and back, nausea, eye dryness/blurriness, forgetfulness, and finally - the capper - hair loss. It would have been nice to have medications to combat some of these before they hit. The nurse taking care of me says that next round at least they will know what to expect. I'll say.

All this is hitting at the holidays. Not that it would be any better another time of year, but it's really hard to think that I will not be able to taste (or have any taste for) Thanksgiving dinner. I may not have a sense of taste for Christmas either. And forget about all the stuff that needs to be done this time of year. I'm the one who does EVERYTHING for this family for the holidays. Let's see who steps up to the plate this year. I'm not going to push myself 10 days post chemo to host the entire family. This year I get to be the one who is waited on. Let's just see if that's what happens. I can't even figure out how I will organize all the stuff to get done when my head is in this fog, particularly the week or so following a round.

I'm blaming any balls I may drop along the way on chemo brain. What the heck. All the bloggers talk about the effect of chemo on cognitive function. May as well use that as a good excuse. Not that chemo itself isn't excuse enough already. It's just weird being the one sitting back and letting others do the work. But I am entitiled, I think, to a rest. And if no one else steps up to take over what needs to be done I'm going to become the worlds most annoying delegator.

That is if I can remember what needs to be delegated.

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