In the Air!

In the Air!
400 feet above the ground in Orlando.

Florida

Florida
Taking my first step towards a new life.

Virginia

Virginia
Spending an afternoon at Marymount during my internship!

My rocks!

My rocks!
Wouldn't be where I am without my parents!

Graduation

Graduation
Walking for my Masters. An interesting book end as this all started when I graduated from undergrad!

Awesome Nurses!

Awesome Nurses!
After my port removal and saying goodbye to my chemo nurses before moving away from Michigan. Wouldn't be doing that without them!

Hair again!

Hair again!
Growing longer each day

Last Chemo

Last Chemo

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Silliness

Silliness
Something to remember and return to. A good day!

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Changes To Expect In The World Of Chemo

I don't think there is ever anything that can prepare a person for all the changes that happen during chemo.  You can verbalize them, make a list, sky write or use semaphore flags...it doesn't work!  While I haven't been able to drive since mid April because of the surgeries, I was hoping to be able to drive the further from surgery I got however, chemo reared it's ugly head and apparently, it affects my eyes.  Well, the fatigue does anyway!

At any rate, there are some odd changes that take place that, while I know writing them won't totally prepare me, perhaps knowing them will help some with the anxiety!

Anxiety...it is there!  The crazy thing is, there isn't too much you can do about that one because it creeps up on you.  However, that doesn't mean you have to give in to it!  Easier said then done, I know:)  I try to ignore it by doing things like watching TV shows or getting lost in a book.  That actually does help.  And should your anxiety make your stomach churn...keep a bag or box of mints nearby and suck on them.  I can't explain it but mints really do help!!

Your brain will get scrambled!  Words are hard to remember and even harder to say sometimes!  This can cause pauses in conversation and perhaps embarrassment.  I say, embrace it!  Your brain is being pickled from the chemicals...play it up!  Laugh about it!  Make a joke about it!  Tell people that a chemical pickling is taking place just now and you will have to get back to them about the words you can't get out ...but you're sure they get the point!  Be happy when you CAN remember the words and get them out all within a few seconds instead of within a few minutes!

Fatigue will enfold you!  Taking a walk can wipe you out for the day.  Cleaning a room can lay you out for hours.  Getting into a car and going somewhere is a huge decision!  Walking through a store will make you want to curl up.  THAT'S OK!!!  I think the biggest change is the fatigue.  Because of that it cuts down on what you can do.  I've found that talking on the phone for about a week and a half after chemo is very difficult!  Not only can't I focus on the phone...I get so tired trying!  Getting frustrated is very normal...but then you have to find ways to help get that frustration to go away.  I try by reading off my tablet (thank goodness you can enlarge the print on ebooks!!) or watching some TV shows.  More often then not I need to lay down to rest but don't often fall asleep (although that does happen some too).  Laying down just rests your body so keep your mind occupied!  Recently if I haven't been reading I've been watching Cake Boss on Netflix!  Hence my persistent craving for chocolate covered strawberries!!!  But most importantly, it makes me laugh!

Interacting with people outside your house will go down!  That is to be expected.  You have to stay healthy and wearing a face mask for you or a guest is, well, uncomfortable.  All my friends know a visit with me means they have to be totally healthy and not around people who are sick or not feeling well.  It can be difficult to set up visits like that.  And then the day comes and your dear, healthy friend comes over and you are too tired to do much other then sit in a chair and talk.  And then you realize talking is too tiring and so you listen.    Hint to all friends of chemo patients...being able to just listen really is a blessing!  It is the closeness of the friend.  The fact that they are willing to pick up the slack and do all the talking means a great deal!  It is so easy to loose touch with the outside world during chemo.  If visits aren't working, try to stay in touch over Facebook or texting.  However, real letters are wonderful!!!  They are a physical connection between friends.  Something to be held and read over and over again.  I know for me, I have one friend who texts me every day.  We talk about random things or sometimes I just listen.  He is like a touchstone for me.  He keeps me connected to that world outside chemo.  Where all my friends are.  The place I am working so hard to get back to.

So yes, there are many changes to deal with while going through chemo but there are changes that are good too!

I can never say enough about my infusion nurses.  Whenever I see them I always feel better!  They are able to help ease my anxiety, answer my questions and make me feel good about myself and everything going on.  They are a positive force in my life along with my family and friends but in a special way.  They deal with this every day and they are the calm in the storm for so many people.  They are an inspiration to their patients!  I would never have known them if I hadn't gotten cancer and I am daily thankful that I know them!

Another good that comes from chemo is a renewed appreciation for life as well as the beginning of understanding that this life isn't the end.  While I have no desire to leave this world just yet, I also am shown through my faith and through the many, many prayers that this life is a preparation for what is to come!!  Such an amazing future lies before you but you need to see your present.  What is around you right now!  Because what is around you is the creation of the One you will spend eternity with!  God's creation is this world and we so often don't see it because we are so busy with what we call life.  While I will be the first to admit that there are practical things in life that need to be met...there is also so much that we should see!  The sun shining on a green field or sparkling water!  The mountains that range from the stately, aged Blue Ridge to the younger, alpine peaks of the Rockies!  The prairie that captured the hearts of the the people who broke new ground and explored our country!  The wind through the grasses!  The cool breeze as you stand on top of a mountain!  The taste of good food!  The grand, old and entrancing cities and landscapes of Europe!  So much in this world that is such a reflection of God's love for us!  He gave us all of this and more often then not, we take it for granted!  That is something you don't do anymore when you go through all of this.

I never thought much of a Bucket List until now.  But I assure you, I have one now!  And it grows daily!  So while there are so many changes in life from chemo, not all of them are anxiety provoking.  Some of them urge you to become a better person, to turn towards God with open arms and run strait into His!  To appreciate the gifts He has given you in your family and friends and in His creation!  Embrace Him and His creation for as long as you can!  This is a good change you can look forward to!

3 comments:

Michelle Holcomb said...

Thank you for your kind words! You're such a strong person. We are thankful to know you! God has truly blessed us by putting you in our lives!

Catherine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Catherine said...

Thanks Michelle!! I'm trying:-):-):-)