I really doubted that I would get any rest or accumulate any strength with only three weeks between chemo and birth. It turns out I may be wrong.
I was discharged on Sunday afternoon from Buffalo General Medical Center. I spent the remainder of the day playing with George. Nick Hopper that I would have been discharged on Saturday so I could rest for one day, but I could see how it would make any difference. I showed up to Roswell at 9am on Monday feeling like death. Well, death is hyperbole; I felt empty.
I felt tired and drained and fatigued and sad and yet I met my daily responsibility. I find comfort in putting my head down and doing what needs to get done. It’s something I’m trying to unlearn a little bit. I am glad that I’m better at recognizing this trait as something of a double-edged sword. It’s good because I persevere through difficulty, it’s bad because I am likely to burn out and lose my temper because I ignored what the discomfort was trying to tell me for far too long. For example, if I notice I’m hungry, I may ignore it to get one more thing done, before I know it I’ve delayed a meal for ninety minutes and I’m hangry now.
Anyway, I felt and looked empty on Monday. My nurse pressed me to tell her how I was actually feeling after my first feeble answer. I realized that she probably wouldn’t have known that I was hospitalized, and my oncologist would probably like to weigh in on the results. Kathy knew the drill: recently hospitalized chemo patients get an impromptu doctor visit before pokes, before settling in with snacks and blankets for treatment.
Dr. Soniwala came to my infusion chair and explained that he was unsurprised with the results of all the testing, and pleased with the evaluations. He also put into perspective several compounding concerns for me to consider. I suppose cancer takes a toll on my body. I suppose it’s normal to have elevated cardiac enzymes during 5 weeks of chemotherapy. I suppose it’s also normal for asthma to flare up following the seasons, especially during pregnancy. I suppose pregnancy is also stressful on my heart. I also suppose that anxiety will add fuel to the dumpsterfire. And so I have a negative feedback loop where the only solution is to stop having cancer, stop chemo, stop being pregnant, or get a cure for asthma. Easy peasy. Simple. Brilliant. Perfect. Just great.
Obviously, some of those solutions are more feasible than others. Asthma’s cure is a long ways off; my asthma is generally well controlled, except it’s not under control during this pregnancy. I can stop being pregnant, sure, but not just yet. Babies develop significantly better when fully cooked and you don’t go opening the oven before it’s done cooking. I do look forward to realizing this “stop being pregnant” solution. I would love to stop having chemo too, but again, not yet. The dumpster fire hasn’t gone out yet, so the firefighters have to keep smothering it. And lastly, I cannot just stop having cancer. But I promise, as soon as mRNA becomes widely available to cure cancer, I will get it if need be.
So back to Monday sitting in my infusion chair at Roswell. I feel empty, I look awful, my blood counts are fine (overlooking the tropanins), I have not missed a single treatment in 3 months, the tumor is responding and shrinking, I’ve just got out of a 3 night stay at the hospital… Dr. Soniwala recommended I go home. Rest. No chemo this week. Recover some strength.
And I am surprised that 9 days after treatment I feel noticably better. I can think clearer. I have more stamina. I feel more cheerful. I recognize myself.
So this week is a reprieve, a cleansing breath, a gift. And I think that I’ll have enough time between the end of chemo and delivering my daughter if all else goes according to plan.
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