Ten Days After Chemotherapy

This essay was originally published on January 5, 2015.

It’s been ten days since my last chemotherapy treatment, and, well, I still feel like crap. I’ve felt like crap for so long that part of me was hoping for a minor miracle: I thought maybe since the chemo leg of this journey is over, I would feel better more quickly. Turns out I was kidding myself; I actually feel worse if you can believe it.

I’ve read so much and spoken to so many people that I don’t even want to discuss the time frame for how long it will take to get back to normal. “Normal” has an entirely different meaning now, and part of me knows (but doesn’t want to acknowledge) that this is going to take a very long time. My eyesight is still off, my hands and feet would get me thrown out of the dodgiest manicure/pedicure parlor – yes, my fingernails and toenails are that scary looking – and the supply of bloody crust my nose produces is prolific. If I could sell the stuff, I would likely be a very rich woman. And then there’s my stomach, which can only be described as “bi-polar”, and off its meds. Have I disgusted you yet? I could go into much more detail if you’d prefer; all you have to do is ask.

It really isn’t my goal to disgust my readers, but the point I’m trying to make is that there has to be a better way. New ways to detect cancer are being introduced with some degree of regularity, but the treatment options remain somewhat archaic. Yes, many of them work quite well, but you have to put your life on hold until they work their way out of your body.

Part of what’s causing my high level of sarcasm and irritability is that I am chomping at the bit to get back to work. I need to, for financial reasons, and I want to, because writing is what I do. Blogging helps, but no one is sending me money for my efforts here, much as I would love that.

Cancer, and many other illnesses have a lasting impact on people’s lives, much as we don’t like to acknowledge their lingering effects. We read countless stories about how some individuals manage to keep working and maintain a high level of normalcy in their lives despite the toll the treatments take. I have a hard time finding much truth in that.

When I saw my radiation oncologist last week for the first time in almost six months, he asked me how I was feeling. My response was “ravaged”. That is an apt description for my experience. Even though I’m upright and muddling through, the treatment has indeed ravaged me. And it’s not over yet.

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