Hmmm…the Roller Coaster that is Cancer. After chug-chugging my way, somewhat merrily, up the rail to write my last chipper blog, I found myself plunging dismally down the other side. Lack of good sleep due to side effects and repeatedly disruptive neighborhood gatherings, along with cumulative discouragement conspired to knock my physical and spiritual knees out from under me.
It’s more comfortable to write about this in retrospect. While it’s one thing to display my blithe and sunny side, the dark days cause me to seek more private means of asylum. However, part of my reason for blogging my experience is to illuminate a life-situation that many of my loved ones have not experienced, and to hopefully help anyone who might stand to gain from the sharing of this. It’s not fair or right for me to pretend that wearing the “Linda Miss Sunshine” crown is something I’m able to do all the time!
So, I’ll indulge in a bit of whining, but stick with me…I’ll end on a positive note, I promise!
After months of having to sleep in the recliner due to pain and pressure that built up during the night while horizontal, I seemed to finally get that behind me. I was able to give up the pain meds which had been part of my life for months! My celebration was short-lived as I increasingly found myself wheezing when I lay down…back to the recliner. Seems one of the side effects of my chemo (Taxotere) is “pleural effusion”…a build up of fluid in the pleural space…which is what sent me to back to the doc for re-diagnosis this 2nd time around. So, I headed back to Scripps Hospital for my 4th thoracentesis, a procedure during which fluid is removed from the pleural space (via a needle in my back, not my favorite thing.) I have another Taxotere treatment, then another scan, but I’m considering switching meds after that.
Oh, yeah…the scans. How did I forget to mention THAT bump in the road? The plan is to have 2 chemo treatments, then a scan to measure “progress.” Well, the results of my first scan after 2 treatments indicated my disease is “stable.” While my 2 oncologists seemed to think that is good news, I have to admit I’m not thrilled at the prospect of staying on chemo just to keep my disease stable. I shared this with one oncologist, who says that the hope is that initial stability will be followed, on the next scan, with disease regression. I’ve got my fingers crossed.
So, at least the thoracentesis has enabled me to enjoy the simple pleasure of being able to sleep, ALL NIGHT, in my bed.
Well, that is, only as long as neighbors aren’t hosting 2 nights of large gatherings which went on into the wee hours of the morning. (Only a few days prior, the guests of one of the residents had to be reminded that although they were in party mode, there were those of us sleeping just a few feet away.) The downside of living in a rural setting is that you get used to quiet. Usually, the fact that our bedroom faces the street is not an issue…I mean over the usual course of the night, only 4 or 5 cars MAX might head down our dead-end street between 9 PM and 5 AM. So when inebriated party attendees leave at 11:30, and 12:15, and 1:45 and 2:10 and 2:50 and 3:30 and 4:15, guess who’s waking up as they forget to turn the vocal volume down on their conversations? This happened 2 nights in a row, on the same nights that I had chemo followed by the thoracentesis. I mean, I understand that there was a death in the family, but where am I supposed to sleep? Back to the damn recliner, aargghhh!
Thankfully, for now, the parties are over. The neighbor understands I’m not just being bitchy, I have a “medical condition” that means I’m SICK! I’m better rested. I’m making a point to start walking a bit, as I’ve lost much stamina from not being active enough. I’m focusing on eating to regain a few lost pounds.
The anticipation regarding Mother’s Day was more bitter than sweet. My husband and I celebrated with his mother and family on Saturday, but with my daughters and granddaughters in Hawaii, and my Mom gone, I admit to being a little melancholy about Mother’s Day. (Hubby headed out of town in the AM for a well deserved short get-away. We did not have children together, so I hold NO expectations there!) I DID get more than the usual number of calls and text messages, and enjoyed attending a lovely craft show with a friend. I treated myself to my favorite meal at Hernandez Hideaway, then soaked in a hot tub with a book before working on an art journaling project. So I made the best of my day, and re-earned my right to wear the “Linda Miss Sunshine” crown.