Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Day in the life

Here is a detailed account of Tuesday of last week. It was a chemo day, so most of my days aren't exactly like this.

8:34 am
I don't have an alarm, so I gradually let my body wake up. The sun is streaming in from our window, and I can hear birds and construction outside. I stretch a bit, and then doze off. When I'm awake again I shuffle to the bathroom.

9:40 am
I pull on my black leggings, a loose-fitting black shirt, and my gray beanie. I wear leggings everyday, and have just a few t-shrits that I rotate between. Then I slip to the couch, where Derek is sitting. He slides over: he warmed up my spot and the blanket for me. We kiss good morning, and cuddle for a bit. Derek had a crazy dream last night, and tells me about it. I try to remember my dream, but it's already evaporated.

10:06 am
"Do you want breakfast?" We eat the same thing every day for breakfast. A smoothie made from our homemade yogurt (probiotics yay!), blended fruit and Miralax. This has been a lifesaving combination for my constipation. Derek hops up  to make it, and I start scrolling through my Instagram feed, wrapped in a blanket. I get really cold after eating cold things. Today's smoothie has some pineapple in it and is particularly delicious.

10:29 am
"What time should we leave here?" Derek asks. Today is a chemo day. I remember that I had dreams about coming to chemotherapy last night. "Let's leave at like 11:30? Maybe a little before then..." It doesn't really matter what time we go. Our appointment is for 11:40, but come on, I have cancer. They nurses and doctors get it, and are flexible. Still, my body doesn't want to go. The fight of brain vs. body begins. For the next hour I swing from "We are so close to finishing! Going to chemo makes the end closer!" to "I really really don't want to gooooo. I don't want to go to the hospital. Please nooooo." Derek is patient and encouraging. He knows that the night and morning just before chemo are hard. I try to distract myself for a while by doing some family history work online. I've been finding and connecting a lot of my English ancestors, which is really exciting.

11:02 am
Derek warms up leftover rice, garlic chicken and asparagus for me. Lunch. I eat with my computer on my lap and take my anti-inflammatory pills (for the ulcers in my colon, which haven't been bothering me lately. Yay!)

11:23 am
"But I don't wanna gooooo." Brain vs. body fight continues. Just thinking about chemo makes my body shudder. Derek finishes packing my backpack with letters and a package I received in the mail. I like having "chemo presents." It helps me stay motivated. "What if we just don't go?" I slip on my Birkenstocks and a cardigan and keep whining a little. But I try to stay positive. "It's practically over, right?" and then "Let's just stay home." A lot of cancer fighting is mental, I swear.

11:35 am
We're finally leaving. We don't ever leave on time, and that's okay. I check on my herb garden on our balcony before we go. Even though we only get 3 hours of direct sunlight, my mint plant has been thriving. And my basil isn't dead yet. Watching them grow (and smelling them everyday) makes me pretty happy.

11:43 am
We get to the hospital and park. Derek carries both his backpack and mine and checks us in. We're friends with the front desk ladies and they're always cheerful and glad to see us. After a few minutes the nurse comes back to get us, and we head to the back of the office. I weigh in at 92.5, which is a 1.5 lb gain! For the win! We all cheer, and then take my blood pressure and pulse. It's low as normal, so it's time to take my blood. I love having a port since it makes for easy access to draw blood and take in the chemo. Buuuuut, the worst part is that every time we use it we have to flush it with saline in order to keep it clean and sterile. This is the worst, because every time we flush it (at the beginning, middle and end of chemo) I get a strong, nasty chemical taste in my mouth. Just thinking about it makes me nauseous and gag. I chew a stick of gum when they do the saline flush to help with the taste. Mostly it just makes me associate gum and mint flavors with saline, but oh well.

12:15 pm
We chat with our doctor about how I'm feeling and my side effects before starting chemo. The past few weeks I hardly been nauseous, I've had more energy than I've had in months, and really I've been feeling good. The only weird side effect that I've been dealing with are hot flashes. Our doctor's best guess is that my ovaries are pretty stressed out (extreme weight loss and chemo chemicals have killed my period since September) and that could be giving me hot flashes. An early menopause is possible, but unlikely. Definitely hoping for the best right now.

12:28 pm
Before the nurses come over to start my chemo, we chat with a lady sitting across from me. She's here for breast cancer and is just a few rounds of chemo in. She's got 10 more. We cheer for her, and give her encouragement. I think breast cancer is what most other people are being treated for, at least when I'm there. We have yet to meet anyone younger than us, but that might be because anyone younger would go to the children's hospital in Salt Lake... Anyway, I get hooked up to my chemo bags, and hop on my laptop. Derek has a work meeting on campus so he kisses me goodbye. I breeze through facebook, watch an episode of Parks and Rec (surefire way to cheer up) and then start writing this post. Derek is back an hour and a half later, he studies for his upcoming test while I keep writing.

2:44 pm
And chemo is over! "Sarah, just three more times and we are done." I tear up and cry a little bit. Today was 9 out of 12. That light at the end of the tunnel is a little closer, and I can't believe it!

I chew gum for the final flush, but can't stop shuddering. Such a nasty taste! I try to focus on the food we are going to eat to distract myself. We place an order for pick-up at Cubby's and walk back to the car. I forgot to take a picture, so we take it in the parking lot (I usually forget to take pictures...). My sister Ishel has sent me some videos of her and the babies she nannies. They are adorable and definitely brighten things up. Then to Cubby's for delicious burgers. We've successfully reintroduced gluten back into my diet, so when we get home I eat my first burger with a bun since October. It was delicious.

3:20 pm
I use the bathroom, and my pee is red. One of the chemo drugs is bright red, and makes my pee red for a day (it's normal). I take a pill for nausea, but my body is tired. I have a minute-breakdown, and Derek holds me. It's okay. Really, it's going to be okay. We watch two episodes of Jimmy Fallon to distract and cheer me up. I have a glass of orange juice to help get the saline taste out of my mouth.

4:38 pm
Bedtime. But not quite sleep time. Derek kisses me before leaving to take a test, and I watch 9 to 5 for the first time (wacky, but good) and then Legally Blonde. Normally I like watching cooking shows, but not right after chemo. Too nauseous. I eat an orange juice popsicle, and watch another episode of Parks and Rec. Leslie and Ben are "on trial" for their relationship, and it's pretty funny.

8:30 or 9:00 pm
It's dark, and I'm exhausted. I fall asleep pretty quickly and don't even wake up when Derek gets home. But I do wake up in the middle of the night, sweaty, a little nauseous, and needing to use the bathroom. Late night/early morning bathroom breaks are a regular nightly occurrence. I sleep all the way through the night maybe once a month.