Tag Archives: steroids

Girl In the Mirror

Hello, fellow readers and bloggers.  I know its been a while since I’ve said much about anything.  Starting the week after my transplant, my days have run on and on against each other and I don’t even know what day it is quite often.

TMI moment coming up:  Stop right here if you don’t wanna read about it.  My soapbox, remember?  Ladies and gentlemen, I have been suffering from various viruses and GVHD. These have all caused and continue to cause severe diarrhea and nausea with vomiting.  Which all course has lead to me losing so much weight and three subsequent hospital stays.  Sixty-six pounds lost to be exact at this point.  I know what you’re thinking, especially you girls!  You will not believe how many women have told me how good I look.  GOOD??  I usually just nod and change the subject.  Listen up ladies, I would much rather have lost weight the right way or be a happy, healthy, chubby bunny.  Had I been given the decision to lose the weight via my own will power or because of a horrific disease, I would have definitely picked the first one.  So please don’t compliment me on the weight loss.  Its not something I’m particularly proud of.

My transplant day of November 16, 2012 was my miracle day.  God gave me a second chance at life through my own father’s stem cells.  Little did I know that that gloriously, happy day would turn into the most nightmarish months of my life.  I cannot describe how hard it has been to just get from sunrise through sunset every day.  Its a constant struggle between my mind, my emotions, my physical strength, and begging God to end my misery.

My reflection.

My reflection.

The reflection in the mirror deceives me with my gaunt face, sunken eyes, pale skin, and newly growing hair that doesn’t know which direction it wants to go.  I don’t recognize this girl and she scares me.  Cancer and treatment do some pretty horrible things to the body.  My skin is forever dry and I feel like I leave a blanket of snow every time I get up.  I have bruises all over my arms from having blood drawn every day.  I look like I just got initiated into a gang with all these bruises.

Food just doesn’t taste the same right now.  Things I used to love to eat make me feel nauseated now.  There’s not much of a selection for me to eat either that won’t cause said diarrhea or sudden onset of nausea.  It sounds like a prison menu.  No dairy, no fresh fruits or vegetables, no fried foods, no greasy foods, nothing spicy, no whole grains, and the list goes on.  I think prisoners might have it better than me now that i think about it.  There’s a constant bad taste in my mouth from all the medication and chemo effects.

The steroids have made me lose so much muscle mass, it’s so tiring to do simple things like brushing my teeth or getting my shoes on.  Even talking is a challenge.  Typing this is making my arms burn and I can barely keep my fingers from shaking enough to do it.  Everything leaves me out of breath.  Everything.

This is why I’ve been away so long.  Yes, I’ve screened my phone calls.  Yes, I’ve tucked myself away into my own little nook.  But I’m not sorry.  I need time and time alone to get better and to be alone with God while I try to figure out what it is He wants to show me through all of this suffering.  Yes, my life is an open book, but this book is gonna take a little longer to be written.  Like the great M.J. said in his song, I need to make a change for once in my life and I’m starting with the girl in the mirror.

Some change.

Some change.

I bought a guitar.

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A Whole New Monster

Wow, do I feel crappy.  This is really the best word to describe how I feel right now.  CRAPPY.  I’m sorry if the word offends but my body is feeling rather offended with the feeling of crappiness so I think I win.  These last few days after my tenth round of chemo have definitely been the hardest since I started treatment.  It’s beginning to take it’s toll on my body and it shows.

The doctor told me this would happen.  It’s not like I didn’t know it was coming but it’s still hard.  I guess I thought because the first six treatments hadn’t been so bad with the side effects, I was special.  But alas, I am not special.  At least not in the way that I would be spared all the side effects.  Here comes the list of all the things wrong with me right now and be warned; it ain’t pretty.  I suggest you stop reading right about here if you really don’t want to know.

Of course, nausea.  Oh, nausea!  We all know the feeling.  Although I have a big stash of Zofran at my disposal, it still creeps up on me.  The feeling washes over me and it’s all I can do to not lose my cookies.  If you’ve ever had a bad hangover, this is the feeling except its extended by a few days.  Fortunately, the meds do the trick in the end (although too slowly for my taste sometimes) and I’m saved from hugging the porcelain throne for a week.  That’s all I have to say about that.  It makes me feel sick thinking about it.

Then there’s the exhaustion.  I’ve always felt exhaustion after every chemo treatment but this one is a whole new monster.  You see, although I’ve been exhausted after treatment, I never found myself gasping for air like I did this time.  I’ll never forget it.  It was Friday, the day I left the hospital for home.  All I wanted was a long, hot shower in my own house and to slip into some clean pajamas.  I went to take said shower and noted that I felt a bit out of breath just standing there.  I put it out of my mind and proceeded to take the longest shower that ever lived.  As I got dressed afterward, my heart began to beat so fast I had to stop.  A mere walk across the room had made me feel like I’d just run a mile in 3 minutes and I was suddenly gasping for air.  My husband walked in on me panting and asked me what I’d been doing to be breathing so hard.  Absolutely nothing.

My doctor says I should exercise.  Ha!  How the heck am I supposed to do that if I felt like I was gonna pass out after walking across the bedroom?!  Exercise is gonna have to wait until treatment is OVER.  ‘Aww, was it the cancer that killed Cristina?’  ‘Oh no, it was the exercise.’  I can almost hear it now.  No thank you.

This exhaustion also makes me feel like I haven’t slept in days.  I trudge around the house dragging my feet only to plop myself down on the couch to try to take a nap.  Although I am tired, I can’t sleep because with the exhaustion comes restlessness.  My life would be complete if I could get a nap in sometime during the day but that does not happen.  I go to bed at 3am and wake up at 8am.  Not the best night’s sleep but at least it’s something.

There’s also this overall feeling of ‘ick’ that I just cannot shake.  It’s hard to describe but I’ll try.  Do you know that feeling you get when you know you’re getting sick and it’s gonna be the big one like the flu?  That’s kind of what this feels like.  Throw in some nausea and achy bones from an injection I received the day after chemo and voila!  Insta-Flu.  Just like the flu except none of the sneezing or oozing.  Unfortunately, I did get fever after my ninth treatment complete with the chills and everything.  So, it was exactly like the flu that time, but I digress.

My appetite has suffered a bit but not as I thought it would.  I thought at least I could lose a few pounds out of this but it looks like I’ve gained them instead.  The enormous amount of steroids I’m given during treatment is the culprit for both my ginormous appetite and my restlessness.  I eat and eat and still feel like the plant from Little Shop of Horrors.  The problem is that even though I can eat, its not a very enjoyable experience.  Food tastes different.  It feels different.  Certain foods I considered my favorites are no longer that and some textures simply make me sick to my stomach.  Food doesn’t have the same allure it did before like in the cartoons where the smell is a hand beckoning Tom & Jerry to come hither.  I eat to live right now, simply because I have to.

Feed me, Seymour!

It’s officially the third day after my tenth round of chemo and I’m counting down the minutes to the moment I feel somewhat normal again.  It could be one more day or it could be seven more.  At this point, I just don’t know how long it will be.  It feels like an eternity.

Oh by the way, my eyebrows are officially gone now too.

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Chemo Session #10: Are You the One?

Its 6am and I’m in my hospital bed but I can’t sleep.  The hospital never sleeps.  There’s a constant stream of shoes squeaking up and down the hall, nurses coming in at all hours of the night to check my vitals and change out my IV bags of chemotherapy.  They’re just doing their job but it’s messing with my beauty sleep.  The steroids they give me are messing with my body and my sanity.  They make me so jittery like I just drank 10 cans of Red Bull and so my mind begins to race with all sorts of nonsense.  Some of it is silly like I was contemplating asking for another blanket on the intercom in a British accent. Should I use a cockney accent or something more regal like the Queen of England?  Or maybe something like Merry or Pip from Lord of the Rings?  I watched it before I came to the hospital so that explains that.

Anyway, there’s also more important things my mind begins to run away with.  I can’t stop thinking about this chemo session.  It’s the 10th cycle and the most aggressive one I’ve received to date called R-HyperCVAD.  Woof!  It sounds like a part for Artoo-Deetoo.  That’s the little robot from Star Wars and now I’ve made references to not one but two ultra geeky movies so now you know I’m a full-on geek.  I’m going to get on with what I’m trying to say now.

Preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.

You’ve heard that expression before, right?  That’s me right now.  Preparing for the worst but placing hope against hope for the best.  You see, doctors are vouching that this session will finally put me into remission which will then allow me to receive my life-saving stem cell transplant at MD Anderson.  If I’m not in remission after this, then I don’t get my transplant and God only knows what these doctors have planned for me next.  I hate to think about it but its an inevitable possibility staring me right in the face like a snarling, salivating pit bull.  I have to clarify something. Just because I’m preparing for the worst doesn’t mean I don’t have faith and hope in God that I’ll be in remission.  It only means I’ve learned that I don’t know what God has planned for me.  Too many times in this journey have I not prepared for the worst and the worst happened. That can’t be good for anyone’s sanity.

Still, I hope and pray with urgency to God that this be my ticket to the Promised Land of MD Anderson where it floweth with stem cell transplants and world-class doctors.  I plead with Him day in and day out that this be one of my final hurdles in this never-ending nightmare they call non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  And so I ask:  Chemo #10, are you the One?  Are you gonna be the one to grant me the news I’ve been waiting for?  Will I hear the ever-beautiful word ‘remission’ soon?  So many questions but I try to pace myself.  I try to remind myself that this is not about me.  There is a plan for my life and what it is, I still do not know.  My goal right now is just to take all this one day at a time.  Like that old PSA said, “The mind is a terrible thing to waste,” and I don’t plan on wasting it on the could have’s and would have’s of life.  That’s for chumps.

Instead, like I said, I shall look forward and prepare for the worst but hope for the best.  There’s a hurricane a’blowin’ in the gulf of my life and I’m sure as heck gonna board up my house. Hopefully, it’ll pass by my house unscathed.

Hurricane Cancer

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