It wasn’t on my bucket list, but I am bald now. So I’ll put it on the non-existent list and cross it off.
About two weeks after my first chemo, my hair started coming out in clumps. I couldn’t even touch my head without gobs of hair falling out. It was disturbing to say the least. My sister kindly did the honors of shaving my head. She’s a great sister that one. Everyone should have one like her.
Not gonna lie, it was a shock to the system. I don’t look all that bad if I do say so myself, but it’s not the look I’m going for, you know what I’m saying? It’s two weeks later and I now don’t flinch every time I see myself in the mirror. Thankfully, I was able to get a few nice looking head coverings.
Now I just need to find a decent sun hat for sitting poolside. This has proven to be quite a quest. It’s like looking for the Holy Grail. Most hats I’ve tried on are too floppy or too Kentucky Derby and/or royal wedding fascinator looking. Just a simple little beach hat will do. Anyone?
Besides the bald thing, I am otherwise ok, which is the only word I can come up with at the moment. When people ask how I’m doing, I find that it’s not the easiest question to answer. I mean, I’m ok. I’m tired. Often, really really tired. That’s about it. I don’t like to talk about it, but I will. I’m trying to let the people who care about me be able to do that. It’s very hard to put into words or even want to express the toll this whole thing has taken. The whole experience is just ridiculous. It’s absurd. All of it.
Another side effect is that I lose words when talking. The word is right there and then completely disappears. I must look like an idiot as my brain tries to find it or a suitable substitute. Plus, I sometimes simply don’t remember things. True story: I drove my daughter to school one morning but forgot to stop the car to let her out when we got there. Suddenly I hear, “Uhhhh, mom…” I just started giggling because what just happenedddddd? Oh my gosh ha ha ha ha.
The worst is when weakness strikes. I can handle the fatigue most of the time. I can laugh at myself when words disappear or I forget stuff. But when the weakness comes, that’s difficult. It’s all I can do to get out of bed. Walking from the living room to the kitchen proves to be draining. Must… make… it… back… to… the… couch.
The pattern seems to be chemo day 1 I feel decent. The actual treatment is not a big deal. It’s the after party that causes all the problems. Day 2 is a good day. Days 3 & 4, sometimes 5, are the worst. These are the days I’ll feel the most fatigue and when the weakness will be present. Then days 6-14, I’m climbing up out of the hole. By the time I feel as much like myself as I can during this time, I have to go back again.
The good news, I guess, is that I have only one more round of the chemo they call the Red Devil. I have been told frequently that this is a very strong drug. Very rough. After chemo 4, I will switch to another drug that doesn’t sound quite so ominous for rounds 5-8. We shall see, I suppose.
There is, thankfully, an end in sight. At this point, I only have five more sessions. I keep my eye on that last day to keep me going. I am convinced that I will not describe myself as a cancer survivor, but more of a chemo survivor. I can’t believe people go through this all the time. So many people, all the time.
To be sure, there is a lot to be learned through it all, which I will probably write about sometime in the future after I get through this. What overwhelms me most right now I think, is, here I am trying to keep my game face on, and my friends have been so unbelievably caring and kind. How can I be tough when I feel like a mush ball? But I have so needed all that love and generosity and encouragement and joking around and hugging. So incredibly grateful.
I pray that God use this for good some how, some way in other’s lives. I don’t want to suffer just because it’s there to do. Use it for good in the lives of others. Let them see His great love at work in this. I know, without doubt, His love has been shown to me.